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To blog or not to blog

A lot of my friends and acquaintances still find it odd as well as rather amusing that I have this blog. That I, the girl who looks like she slathers on foundation with an Ikea roller-system and rather spends money on records and books than beauty-products, writes about colors, formulas and brands.
I rarely get what it is they find amusing about it, but then again, I do read a lot of so-called beauty-blogs. Or rather, I read makeup-blogs as well as nailpolish-blogs. The word beauty doesn't seem fitting, it's not beauty-blogs I'm reading.
And by stating that, we're back to the chicken or the egg-dilemma; would there be a makeup-industry if it wasn't for our obsession with beauty? Or did the makeup-industry kickstart our obsession and does it keep us consumers like puppets on a string? Are we all helping them along with our blogs? Who are we supporting, customer or manufacturer? Is there even a distinction any more?

I know this is the type of entry most readers rather skip, but I think it's most definitely something to keep in mind when we read all these blogs. I am starting to think less and less people are thinking about  
  • what they just read
  • what  impact it had on them  
  • why it was there for them to read
Do blog-readers question what they read or are they just a little bit naive thinking it's all about love, peace and happiness?
How much material on a blog is based on pure interest and how many posts are influences by companies sending out material, goodies and review-examples? How many entries are written as a way to get listed by the PR-companies, to get noticed? How many readers read the disclosure policies and how many bloggers truly believe what they're stating about their own blogs?

These last few days, I've seen a lot of entries that I have found quite out of place. Where you can't help but ask yourself - Are these entries are paid for? Where's the fine print I am missing?
It's also quite common that you see the same information spread over a wide range of blogs but everybody's pretending like they just made it up. A brand gets massive coverage in blogs just by sending out an email stating that if said blogger give the brand some space on their blog, they can expect a massive goodie-bag and to be on the list.
I've seen it explained by bloggers as "People want to know / We're just giving them the information / It's just news" but is it really? What would be the difference between an ad and news?

What would you like to see in a blog? What do you avoid? Do you read blogs that have paid ads? That have paid posts?

15 comments:

Skulda said...

I think I'd feel a little weird about reading paid posts. If it's paid you feel like it's being paid for a *good* opinion on the product or brand instead of on honest opinion.

I am a blogger who recieves some free products to review, but my opinions are always honest. I did a review on "Cheeky Monkey" cosmetics once and I wanted so badly to like the products but I honestly didn't really love them. They were kinda... MEH. And I gave my honest opinion on my blog and the company never contacted me back again regarding my problems with it. *siiigh* Dispite that one bad experience I still tell the truth, and luckily it hasn't been anything bad lately.

And dude, who cares if your friends joke about your blog. It's your opinion on things you feel like talking about. SO WHAT if you aren't the most make up savvy of your friends. It's not up to them to decided whether or not you should write about what you want.

KarenD said...

I find I'm reading less and less of the blogs that seem to be in it as a business venture, with paid ads and quotes from press releases, though I read plenty where the bloggers get free samples to review.

I once read an article that described Cuban women melting plastic tumblers to make a nail polish substitute because there was none of the real stuff to be found. Did that desire to adorn their nails come from earlier exposure to beauty company ads? I don't know.

Megan Harmeyer said...

Let me comment on my own blog first. I blog for nobody other than myself. If other people chose to read my blog - good for them and for me! I don't get any products from any company (and though it would be cool to be one of their minions, I'm kinda glad I'm not).

I read quite a few blogs on quite a few topics. And by read, I mean I actually read them. If I take the time to read them, I usually take the time to comment (as I hope people who read my blog will do the same). It kinda bugs me when blog after blog will "push" the same product (be it makeup, polish, whatever) - it almost makes me NOT want to buy the product. What I want out of a blog is different depending on the blog. I think, mostly, I read them to get ideas and information about a specific thing (product, project, family stuff, etc).

Overall, I like the blogging community. It really did fill a creative void I needed to fill. It has given me a sense of community, as corny as that may sound. I'm not an overly social person; I have 1 person I truly consider my friend. This lets me be "friends" with people with like situations and similar interests I wouldn't otherwise "meet".

As for your friends not understanding why you blog, I say this: When I mentioned that I was thinking about starting a blog, my husband told me (basically) "who'd want to read that? I'm not interested in reading a blog - why would anybody else?" Supportive, huh? He's down with the program now but I almost didn't start because of him. If that can't deter me, why let your friends put a bug in your ear? I like your blog. You offer a little more substance that your average blog and I really enjoy that.

Megan Harmeyer said...

Let me comment on my own blog first. I blog for nobody other than myself. If other people chose to read my blog - good for them and for me! I don't get any products from any company (and though it would be cool to be one of their minions, I'm kinda glad I'm not).

I read quite a few blogs on quite a few topics. And by read, I mean I actually read them. If I take the time to read them, I usually take the time to comment (as I hope people who read my blog will do the same). It kinda bugs me when blog after blog will "push" the same product (be it makeup, polish, whatever) - it almost makes me NOT want to buy the product. What I want out of a blog is different depending on the blog. I think, mostly, I read them to get ideas and information about a specific thing (product, project, family stuff, etc).

Overall, I like the blogging community. It really did fill a creative void I needed to fill. It has given me a sense of community, as corny as that may sound. I'm not an overly social person; I have 1 person I truly consider my friend. This lets me be "friends" with people with like situations and similar interests I wouldn't otherwise "meet".

As for your friends not understanding why you blog, I say this: When I mentioned that I was thinking about starting a blog, my husband told me (basically) "who'd want to read that? I'm not interested in reading a blog - why would anybody else?" Supportive, huh? He's down with the program now but I almost didn't start because of him. If that can't deter me, why let your friends put a bug in your ear? I like your blog. You offer a little more substance that your average blog and I really enjoy that.

Natalia said...

I can imagine there might be some "naive" readers. But I don't think is the majority. I can speak for myself. I don't have a blog I'm just a reader who is totally aware of the business that can generate to post about a product. In fact that is what I am looking for. I also understand that is not everybody's goal. I live in a ridiculously small town in Switzerland, getting to Zurich or to Geneva and return costs me around US$ 75, too much. My interest is to buy products on-line. I know I wouldn't even know the existence of certain products if I didn't read blogs. So that's how it works for me. Blogs are for me just like beauty magazines, they show me what's on and I'm deciding if I would like to have or not what they're showing.
As per the experience lived from the blogger side, I couldn't tell because I'm not a blogger. But I doubt that someone who has posted just for "interest" in being "paid" or "rewarded" would honestly admit it. Because, blog world is the "alternative" way!!! hahaha that might have been "alternative to commercial way" in the very begining, but we do live in a capitalist world, and you can't avoid capitalism getting in everything.
If you're aware, then you know whose comments are sincere, and whose comments you can skip and continue looking at the pictures.
I still haven't found a single blog about "beauty",which is such an abstract concept.
What makes your blog different, is your style. Your writing. Your stories, your pictures, but alo your contents. You're not posting complete collection swatches, but pieces of your life. Well I don't see how you can be compared to all the other "polish blogs" I'm reading. You're not a slave of the products, but the products serve you. That's that. Keep doing this, because is quite unique. And the others keep doing full collection swatches because we do want to see how they look like!

nihrida said...

Well, humans have always craved beauty and have beautified their bodies. It's OK to want to be beautiful. As long as it doesn't get out of control. =)
And about those paid posts you're talking about. I don't really see it that much. Maybe I'm just naive, but I really don't. Well, there are some blogs that I follow and have ''weird'' posts from time to time, but I just skip those. I want to read posts from ''real people'' not from the puppets of the beauty industry.
I love it how we get to see more and more about the people behind the blog. Not just nails and color and formulas, but life in general. I really like that. =)

Nailtastic said...

I don't want to read paid blog posts at all. I would never accept money to write a post about a brand and to me it's very off putting when I find one at a blog. I want to read honest opinions.

I blog about nail polish since my friends aren't interested and it's boring to talk to myself about it. To me it's the perfect way to share my interest for polish with people who feel the same about it.

gio said...

While I think there are some naive readers out there, I also think it's easy to spot the bloggers that do it because they love it from those that are in it only for free products and money. If I see a blog with too many ads or that only posts rave reviews, I get kinda suspicious and stop reading them. As for paid posts, I don't see them much either and the few I see I avoid, but sometimes I get the impression that some bloggers rave too much about a product they received from a company and "forget" to talk about the cons those products have.

That makes me wonder the integrity of the blogger. I understand that one may be afraid the brand will refuse to work with them again if they post something negative, but I think the most important thing for a blogger is to be honest with their readers, otherwise they will eventually go away.

I have received products from brands in the past but I when I review them, I always tell my readers about their pros and cons. If I truly love a product I rave about it and if I receive some meh, average products then that's what I say, that's they're only ok and average. And if they're bad, I don't have a problem in saying that as well.

At the end of the day, I think that receiving free products from companies are a great way to try something you wouldn't otherwise have been able to try (I have been sent products that aren't available in Italy for instance) and share them with you readers, as long as you're honest. People are interested in how the products really perform, they wanna know what the texture is like, how long it lasts etc and if you're honest, it shows and they keep coming back. But if you sugarcoat everything, pretty soon people will get tired and find other, more trustworthy blogs to read.

I also love your blog and your style, keep up the good work!

schmut said...

->Skulda: While it is a little fishy that the company never contacted you again, ie only wanting good publicity, it proves that the company in question actually reads the blogs. Sometimes it feels like companies just flood the blogosphere and only care about the brand being mentioned.

->KarenD: I guess you nailed it with
"I find I'm reading less and less of the blogs that seem to be in it as a business venture, with paid ads and quotes from press releases, though I read plenty where the bloggers get free samples to review. "
While I like to get some info on what's happening, seeing the same stuff plastered all over, especially when it's big brands that place ads in all the magazines as well, just get's boring.

->Megan: I definitely think that the nailpolish-bloggers have created a tight-knitted and honest community quite like no other I have stumbled across.

->Natalia: Getting info on products you wouldn't hear about otherwise, sure, that is a big plus. But, if it's just information straight from the horse's mouth, no personal touch at all other than "this is a must-have" - then you could just subscribe to that brands newsletter.
When you take time to read reader's comments to posts, especially on the bigger blogs, you realize that a lot of readers are frightingly naive and think that just because it's a personal blog, it's personal.

->Nihrida: But haven't you noticed that the nailbloggers seem to be somewhat different compared to those that write on all makeup? Maybe it's because it's such a limited genre, a small world with not that many companies involved with bloggers, that it manages to revolve more about personal interests than money in the bank?

->Nailtastic: That is the reason I blog as well - none of my friends could care less about certain hues, shades and finishes. To them, a nailpolish is a polish.

->Gio: I love the international aspect of makeup/nail-blogging - you get to hear and see about items that aren't available in your country and a lot of the time, you don't get to see a sugar-coated review with photos gone through some serious airbrushing. But, at the same time, I can't help but notice the blogs that are starting to look more like online stores, click this click that and be just like me because brand xxx adores me.
Maybe I just need to read less blogs? Or blogs with less followers?
And hey, thank you for the praise.

mythology20 said...

Great post very thought provoking!

keep blogging your writing skills are great!

I think we all have to do what makes us happy! If many peopl like to see their money hanging in their wardrobes or in their makeup bags then thats ok too :)

follow me too :~)

Sarah said...

Personal blogs are the best. I am always looking for new, small blogs. There you can also find other stuff than just the newest collections. It is easy to find info on the newest collections, but I really love noticing old polishes I haven't seen before.

Colette said...

I think most bloggers start out with the best of intentions - when it comes right down to it, writing about something they love. But if & when the opportunity to make money or get free products comes along it's hard to say no.

I don't mind blogs that have paid ads or paid/sponsered posts - as long as that hasn't become the only thing on the blog, to the point where it becomes generic. When I read a blog, I want to feel like I'm chatting with a person - not reading like a magazine article.

Lily said...

Interesting points. When it comes down to it, beauty blogs are a lot about marketing and business. Bloggers chooses to blog about their opinions on products and companies utilize that to their advantage. I have nothing against it, but it does make me think differently of the blog. Or if the blogger then becomes affected by paid posts or ads they lose their original intent, I lose interest in them and the blog.

Personally I love blogs that has informative and/or creative posts. and if I get to know the blogger more there's a more personal attachment, it's a great way to make friends and learn new things.

It's great that you posted this :) Gets people to think about something different

~Lily

schmut said...

->Mythology20: You're right, to each their own

->Sarah: Getting info on what's in the vaults, what people bought years ago and still use, that is most definitely something I also like about blogs.

->Colette: Maybe I am the naive one, not realizing how tempting money and internet-fame can be? I think youre spot on with the statement that most bloggers start out with the best intentions. Its easy to forget when you see a blog that's more ads and sponsored posts than personal reflections.

->Lily: I think this is why I have fallen for nailpolish-blogs (in partiular) - it's more about being creative with what you've got, doing freehand nailart,konads, fauxnads and frankens, than just showing your latest purchases.

SaintBella said...

Good post!
I often think about why I read a certain blog, but when I'm sitting there with my laptop, I click the link as usual and don't think more about it.
People would do good being a little bit more critical, I think.

I get some products for rewiew on my blog sometimes, but it's completely up to me IF I want to write about them, and if so, WHAT I write, and I think it's said fairly clear in my policy.
Even thought I'm mostly positive about products, I never write positive about it if I don't like it, and certainly not just because I got it for free.
I guess I'm just not that picky, I'm trying to see the positive about it instead.
I know I could (should?) be more critical, I guess it's just lazyness that stops me. Not that it makes it okay, thought.

There's also some products that I don't write about at all, simply because it's not that interesting.
I mean, why should I write about, let's say a shower cream that's just okay? Nobody's interested in that.
If it was surprisingly nice, I'd write about it, or if it was extraordinary bad. It's a grey zone between good and bad products and wich is worth writing about.
Sometimes I write about it anyway, but in that case it's because I've noticed that people are interested in it, or if it's a newly released product.

I have never experienced that a brand "bribes" me with products just to get publicity.
Of course this is what they want, but still, they don't demand that I write about them.
And if they do, I turn them down. It's not possible to buy posts at Saintbella Beauty.
They can send what products they like to me, but like I said, I write about what I want, if I want it, and I never write anything that's not true.
I blog for my own sake, but I write for the readers too. To put it simply, I write about what I would be interested in.
I think that's fair.

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