I am aware there’s a lot of controversy surrounding bloggers and “influencers” (I really hate that word) recently. By now, we are all aware that we need to clarify when we’ve received something from a brand to ensure there’s no question for readers or followers on social media in terms of our relationships with them. But with so many terms around, it’s not only readers who are confused by the terminology but many of us producing the content are in a similar boat!
I thought today, I’d share some of my thoughts on how and when I use certain terminology and what it all means. If it’s sometimes baffling to me – a veteran in this blogging game – then I can only imagine how baffling it is to others who are not in the business of blogging!
First off, I just want to say that I will always always do my best to talk about the relationship I have with specific brands. I will never knowingly mislead anyone and I’ve always felt very strongly about declaring anything I’ve received for free. I also want to say that I only ever work with brands I actually really like, whose products or services I would be happy to use myself, who I’d recommend to my best friends. If it’s not something I really like or don’t believe in, you simply won’t see it on my blog or on my social media feeds. End of.
There are plenty of brands that I love and look to regularly to fill my home and so when I’m able to collaborate with them to create content, I’m normally thrilled. It often means I’m able to share something I may struggle to do without the support and so it means the world to me to team up with them. I hope that the content I create with them is not only just as good as anything I’d create on my own but even better. Without brands supporting my blog, I simply would not be able to carry on blogging and supporting myself. It’s my job, it’s what keeps a roof over our head and our fur babies fed but alongside that, it’s also my passion. It’s what I love to do and I’m so thrilled to be able to do something I love and support myself and my family at the same time.
So here is a little breakdown of my understanding of all the various terms surrounding declaring when working with a brand and how I do it here on the blog and over on my social media feeds:
Sponsored (or #sp)
My post on How to Shop for House Plants is an example of a sponsored post by Push Doctor who were looking to create a buzz around their #GoGreener campaign.
This normally means that I’ve been paid to create content with a brand. For the most part, I’ve been given free reign to create the concept and execute it as I see fit. While they may provide details in terms of the kind of messaging they’re keen to include to support a specific marketing campaign, the brand does not approve the content before you see it. I will normally run my ideas past them prior to doing anything and we’ll discuss the general look and feel of the content (whether that’s a blog post or an Instagram post) but for the most part, I have the freedom to talk about their product and/or service honestly and openly.
My blog post on the Simba Luxe Mattress is an example of a review style post. The mattress was provided free in exchange for my honest review of the product.
This normally means that I’ve received a product for free in exchange for a review of the product on my blog or my social feeds. Sometimes, there is also a fee paid but not always (I will normally state in the disclaimer at the bottom of the post whether or not I’ve also received payment). Again, I normally have free reign to create, shoot and style the content as I see fit and the brand does not have prior approval of any content – you see it when they see it and I’m always free to be as honest and open in my review as I would like to be.
Ad (or #ad)
This image on my Instagram feed was a paid advertisement for AC Hotels whom I travelled with recently to Spain. You’ll notice the image is marked with #ad.
This one is a little different. An advertisement according to the ASA is when the brand does have the right to dictate what will be contained in the blog post or Instagram post. It is a paid feature, not unlike what you might see in a magazine. The brand may request seeing the post prior to it being published and will have the opportunity to make any changes to it prior to it going live on my blog or on my feed. Sometimes they may provide specific wording they would like to be used. I don’t normally do these on my own blog (I prefer to have total editorial rights to my content) but you may see it from time to time on my Instagram feed.
Affiliate (or #aff or #affiliate)
My post on berry, blush and gold picks from Oliver Bonas was not paid for nor was I commissioned by them to create the post but did contain affiliate links.
Essentially, affiliate marketing is when you use a specific link within your content that when clicked on, the brand is notified that you have referred traffic to them and you get paid a (very small) commission either on the click itself or if the person clicking the link goes on to buy a product from that retailer. There is no contract in place here nor is there any obligation on the part of the content creator (blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber, etc) to use the links so this is where affiliate links differ from sponsored content.
I tend to use affiliate links in a lot of my product roundups and you will usually see a disclaimer at the start and/or end of the post saying that I receive a small commission when using my links. To be honest, the commissions are TINY (like a few pence) so I will always only link to products that I like, have used myself or would recommend. The person clicking the link will never pay any more for the product when using the link. The commission is essentially just a small thank you from the brand for referring traffic to them.
Gifted (or #gifted)
My recent post on the updates we’ve made in the living room contained gifted products that I was not under any contractual obligation to share like the Lavender and Lillie candle.
And finally, when an item is gifted, this means that I am not contractually obligated to share the product unless I want to. A “gift” generally means there are no strings attached to the free product sent, it’s simply sent to me to try out and if I like it and want to share, then I’m free to do so. No money exchange takes place here. This happens a lot more often for beauty influencers where PRs have their address and simply sends on new products as they become available, hoping they will use the products in front of their audience and they usually have no idea it’s even coming. It’s less common in the interior design niche but I will often be contacted by brands, asking if I’d like to try a product out. I will always let them know there is no guarantee of coverage although you’ll usually see me unboxing anything in my Instagram Stories – that’s my way of thanking the company for sending things my way! Sometimes you’ll see the products on my blog, sometimes you may not.
So that is the way I tend to use all these terms around declaring content! I hope this has shed some light on what I normally do here on Swoon Worthy but if you have any further questions or require more clarification, please do let me know in the comments!