Whatever you do... Don't sell yourself short as a Beauty Blogger!

{You may not know it and he may not look it... but that man IS a beauty blogger and he's clearly selling himself short!}*

Last week a pretty well known Youtuber made a television appearance which in my book is a pretty amazing achievement however within days of her appearance the odd comment or two appeared on her Facebook page stating that they thought she was a 'sellout'. Which is pretty far from the truth, as I'm sure she was taking up an amazing opportunity that rarely comes along to hopefully further her career and why not, she is amazing at what she does and she works very hard at it.

However this got me thinking about actual beauty bloggers that sell themselves short knowingly but most of the time un-knowingly and how we could all be aware of it so we don't all fall into the trap!

I mean I even know I've sold myself short in the past with my blog. I reviewed and hosted a giveaway of a Sugababes fragrance, it smelt okay but the bottle was awful and I don't think I would of bought it even if it was reduced to £5, but this was over 8 months ago when I didn't think my blog was anything special (not that I think it is now). Though in a perfect world I would of stayed true to myself and valued my blog more than I did... but that is hindsight for you. Of course it wasn't the worst thing ever, but I have learnt from it! 

I receive PR e-mails, daily, the same that many other beauty bloggers receive, but I hit delete on most as most are trying their luck... but 9 times out of 10 I will see the PR's request fullfilled on a beauty blog the next day, sometimes even within 30 minutes of receiving the e-mail. But of course I'm not here to say what is right or wrong in blogging as we all write our own rules, which is one of the true beauties of blogging.

But here are some of my thoughts on PR/brand practices I've seen in the past that I have personaly learnt from...

With all the scenarios below I really believe they are all a result of not valuing the power of our own blogs and also underestimating our hard work as a blogger. 

Scenario 1 
You receive a press e-mail with a press release of a new fragrance (plus 'exclusive' images) the PR is asking if you would like to feature the new fragrance plus the images on your blog. Right at the bottom it also mentions that you can e-mail for more enquiries, samples etc. 

The reality - A PR-blogger relationship isn't built on 'I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine', it's built on trust and mutual respect. So in reality if your blog isn't the type that suits press releases the PR company won't mind one bit if you don't mention the release. Equally the PR agency won't mind if you show some interesting in the fragrance instead via e-mail and request a sample to possibly review. 

The true reality of how some bloggers feel - I've seen this time and time again... within sometimes ten minutes of receiving a mass press release, I see a handful of posts with them 'exclusive' images in them. Why? Because most of the time the bloggers see posting the press release as an exchange for asking for a sample - even sometimes to encourage the PR company to send them the fragrance or to even make themselves feel better about asking for it. But 1. The PR company wouldn't of sent you the e-mail if they didn't want to work with you/offer you the fragrance and 2. If you are genuinely interested in the product and want to review it on your blog then you should never feel guilty or feel like you need to justify why you are asking for the sample. You have been sent that e-mail because the PR agency see you as a valuable source of free advertise (yes I know that sounds bad... but it's true) which also means you are valuable source of free publicity in the form of reviewing the product for them.

Scenario 2 
You have been blogging for some time, your page views are good and so you decide to look into placing advertising or affiliate links on your site. Though you really haven't a clue if you will make £1.00, £10,00 or even a miracle £1,000!

The reality - It's hard freakin' work to make anything - yes, even a measly pound for most people! But that aside, the true reality is 25% of your readers will think it's great that you are trying to earn money from something you love doing, the other 25% just won't care and then the other 50% if they knew you were trying to earn money from blogging wouldn't like it for whatever reason (forcing a hobby into something it isn't, not being true to your readers... blah blah yadda yadda). 

The true reality of how some bloggers feel - Now I can't talk for all bloggers that are thinking about offering advertising or even the ones that are already doing so. But I do believe we all know that a lot of readers don't love it so we are faced with the whole 'should I, shouldn't I mention it' dilemma and I think quite a few resort to spilling the beans via a post and then actually end up explaining why they are putting advertising on their blog and almost defending there own choice/right . But the reality is it won't make any difference to the readers that don't believe in advertising on blogs in the first place. But what will make a difference is if you start to think 'why shouldn't I earn money if I can for something I'm good at and having built up and spent a lot of time over'. Again it's all about appreciating your blog and feel it would be nice to earn some pennies for your hard work... as it truly doesn't affect your readers especially if you are going to be modest about the size and positioning of the ads. 

Scenario 3 
You receive a product for review purposes from a well known brand via PR agency. You like the brand on the whole but you hate the specific product. Not because you are allergic to an ingredient or it doesn't suit your skin type but because it's basically a crap product that doesn't do what it's marketed to do.

The reality - If don't mind writing quite negative product reviews then you simply grit your teeth (as lets face it no one loves being that negative) and you write it with honestly and if it makes you feel better you may decide to e-mail the PR company prior to the review going live stating your dislikes with the product in hope that they relay it to the product brand in question... just don't ask if they want you to post the bad review as of course most will say no! OR if you don't like posting negative reviews you just don't review the product! Course there is high chance of the PR company e-mailing to see how you are getting on i.e when are you going to review the product and in reality you would tell the truth stating that you don't love the product and therefore won't be reviewing it. It really is that simple!

The true reality of how some bloggers feel - You want to be honest so you decide to write the review so you can warn your readers of the product but you also don't want to knock down the relationship you have built up with the PR person/company. So you write a review that is somewhere in between the two - you mention the key point of why you don't like the product (so you are being honest) but then you mention the benefits of the product and what there is too like about it i.e maybe the price or the application. But you know you are only doing this for the sake of keeping a rapport with the PR company and not for your readers sake as in fact your review will actually come across as slightly confusing and/or boring and it will also bore you writing it. But in actual reality an honest (non-offensive) review should be seen as fair by a PR company - that is even if they read it! But if you don't ever hear from them again or they even ignore future e-mails then they are definitely not a company worth dealing with. Like I mentioned before you need to care about your blog, be true to yourself and know that you are providing content that people appreciate so that you can make the decision to be honest even when a product is bad and then you will not feel bad about it!

Last but not least if a brand asks something specific of you - to maybe post within a certain time frame, to include a link or to include a specific image after they have sent you a product... then of course if you want to do it, then you do them the favour and fulfill the request. But if you don't feel it's needed then simply ignore it! 

For example two weeks ago I got sent something without being asked, it just landed on my door mat. In the press info attached it stated how they wanted the brand name to be spelt (with a mixture of capital letters). Now this may be the way they spell out their brand name but my job as a blogger is to review the product honestly and to make it search-able for people via search engines, which spelling it their way wouldn't change anything one bit. So I will be typing the brand name with just a normal capital letter at the beginning and if they don't like it, then it's tough! I haven't got the time,energy, incentive or need to remember how they want their brand name to be spelt on MY post!

My main point is that lowering our standards really has nothing to do with PR companies, they are there to get the word out about brands in the form of free and paid advertising - so they are never going to change. If anything they are going to ask more of bloggers in the future as they recognize how big of an impact we actually make online and at the most offer payment in the form of gift vouchers or more free products! But in actual reality some bloggers are charging companies to host giveaways on their own blog and in parts of Europe making a full time wage through blogging is the norm... so even if we all get savvy with it, we are still considering ourselves small fry.

So it really is just about not being naive even if you are new to blogging and it's about appreciating our own hard work and really valuing own blog so that we write the content we want and to the best of your ability. 

If you really think you have an audience for 'X' product, ask for it. If you don't like press releases, don't post them. If you get offered to review a product and you don't like the look of it, refuse it! 

But most of all don't think PR companies are doing you a huge favour.

*How the hell could I find an image for this topic!
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