Friend Friday

posted on: 5/14/2010

My friend Katy over at ModlyChic has a Friend Friday , where she sends out questions to bloggers each week for us to answer. This is my first time to join in and she has some great, thought-provoking questions. Hopefully this is something that interests you and I can continue to do. And as you may know there is nothing that I love more than answering questions about myself. Visit her blog to see other who participate as well. Thanks Katy!

1. What's your main purpose in blogging?
You know when I started this blog, my purpose was to find a community in which I could share my wardrobe with others. Being from a very small town with a lot of old people who don't care about fashion, it was important for me to find others who had similar interests like myself and blogging seemed the best way to find that community.

I think that your purpose as a blogger will change and will grow with you as a person. I feel that my purpose more and more is to get the message out there that you don't have to be a size 0, you don't have to be rich, and you don't have to live in NYC to be fashionable.

2. Do you think bloggers should receive monetary compensation for their efforts?
This question is so touchy, I'm almost afraid to answer it. First off, I don't have a problem with anyone recieving compensation for something that they do and this includes blogging. In fact, if you can make a living off of a blog then you are obviously doing it very well and if you enjoy it, then why not get paid for doing what you love? I think that this is so controversial because so many people have blogs and perhaps it seems unfair at times that one person can blog about the same thing and get paid while another does it for free. Since blogging is relatively new, it seems like the standards haven't been set up for it like it is for other trades. You would never go to your job for free, would you? Then why would you expect someone who can make a living off of blogging to do the same?

It's hard not to look at this economically. Since blogging is essentially intangible I think that most people expect it to be free. The internet in some sense is free (as long as we ignore the costs of the hardware/wi-fi costs it takes to get it, lets assume you are at a public library using their free wi-fi right now), so perhaps this is where people find conflict in being paid as a blogger. I can log onto any website, at any time and gain information for free. News sites, social networking, retailers give out information for free 24/7. But to get this information to you it takes a large team of people working on the website, the products, the stories, etc. And it takes money to keep that team coming back to their jobs. So to offer these free services to you they have advertisements or sponsors. Sometimes very annoying advertisements that pop up or scream at you or dance on the side of your screen telling you that "Obama wants you to go back to school". However, those advertisements fund the information that you receive and keeps people employed, which, as we've learned over the past 2 years with this recession, employment is a very good thing.

So if you look at blogging as a service that someone provides, it makes it a little bit easier to accept when a blogger takes on sponsors or advertisements. Take Etsy for instance, people create handmade items everyday (some good, some bad) and list them for sale. Would you ever say to them, "I want this but don't want to pay for it. Give this to me for free?" No, never because it cost them time, labor and money to make the item. They created it and you want it, so you buy it. Thats the transaction. But when a blogger creates an outfit, thought or an idea they put it out there for free, mostly with no strings attached. Arguably the same time, labor and creativity went into this process. Then why is it okay to ask a blogger, specifically style bloggers, to continue to give you free inspiration practically daily without being compensated? It takes time, money and labor and all though you can't tangibly hold what that blogger provides, he or she is still providing you with something in the end. Another thing to keep in mind is that the money doesn't come from you as a reader, it comes from a sponsor who gets something as well. Quite honestly, when a blogger takes on sponsors, it has nothing to do with you -- its just that the relationship now has three parties involved, the blogger, the sponsor and the reader. You are still the person receiving the blog for free. With sponsors, i's a quid pro quo relationship (or should be), where the bloggers gets compensated for letting a company use a designated amount of ad space in hopes of gaining more customers. The blogger gets to continue blogging as he or she chooses and you get to partake in that blog if you choose.

So is it fair that some bloggers get compensated while other do not? I think you have to look at the big picture on this one. Going back to the Etsy example, not every seller on Etsy, in fact probably a very slim number of sellers can make a living off what they produce and sell. How can they do this? Because they create items that buyers continually want which allows them to make more items to sell more, creating a flow of revenue. (Many more elements go into this, like marketing your etsy shop, but this is the easiest way to put it.) Does that mean that as an Etsy seller if you aren't making a living off of your item that your items are crap? No, certainly not. And it also doesn't mean that if you don't make money off of your blog, that your blog is crap. On the other hand, perhaps, it doesn't always mean that compensation means that you have the best blog out there either. Simply put its a big, hairy market out there for bloggers and you should never think that compensation = success. If you do, then you will never make enough money to be happy. You should blog because you have an opinion, a thought, or an idea that you want the world to see or hear. You should blog because you enjoy it. If you do that, then your blog will be successful.

I put probably 30+ hours into my blog a week, not for compensation but for my own personal enjoyment. Does this mean that I will always do this for my own personal enjoyment only? I don't know. But what I do know is that I did not start my blog hoping that it would become another source of income. Would I take sponsors one day? I don't know, but if I did it would be to further the development of my blog. In the end, I don't think it's wrong to be paid for doing something well, bloggers included.

(If you'd like to read more about this topic, head on over the http://heartifb.com/ and look for the blogging + compensation discussion threads.)

3. What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
The time constraints that I have. Everything I do for my blog is in the after hours of my full-time day job. From taking pictures to editing to writing to layout design, it's all crammed into the 4-5 hours I have at night when I get home, on top of being a wife and a human being who has real emotional breakdowns once a week.

4. What's the most rewarding part?
The community that I've built. I love each and every reader more than they will ever know. I love the honest feedback people give me, I love hearing similar stories people tell me. I feel like I have a million different best friends and I'm so grateful for that.

Also, being able to be funny and to have people not only enjoy it but understand it. Writing is one of the best parts of my day and I'm so glad that I have people to share it with.

5. What is one goal you have for improving your blog?
One is having more time for it. Another is creating more of a schedule for blogging, perhaps coming up with new ideas to share with my readers. The sky is the limit with blogging! Isn't that a fantastic thing?

So you guys -- What are your thoughts on blogging and compensation? What is the most frustrating/rewarding thing for you? You've heard my thoughts, I'd love to hear yours.

24 comments:

  1. I don't have a fashion blog but I follow A LOT of them, and some I have been following for a very, very long time. I think fashion bloggers deserve to get paid for their work. I get more ideas and inspiration from fashion bloggers than I do from fashion magazines. However, it's disheartening when you follow a blog because the blogger is able to create an amazing outfit with very little money, or put together an outfit of amazing thrifted vintage finds, and now is sporting only designer duds and items from their sponsors. I suppose it's great for them when they are receiving all the perks of being a sponsored blogger, but when every piece of clothing on their list of items says "c/o" and "courtesy of" it's kind of a turn off. I read fashion blogs because the girls writing them are "real." And when a blogger has multiple sponsors and gets a million free items, to me, that blogger is no longer real. Instead of saying, wow, that outfit is so inspired, I just think to myself, well anyone could put together an outfit like that if I got all those items for free. It's even worse when bloggers are sponsored by a company they wouldn't normally purchase from, because their plugs just sound fake and the authenticity is ruined for me.

    That's why I love bloggers like you and why I was thrilled when I found your blog and why I look forward to reading your blog everyday. You're still true to yourself and it's obvious. Your blog is funny and so fun to read. Thank you for doing what you do!

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  2. Great topic. I agree that first and foremost, people should blog and start blogging because they enjoy doing it and being involved in the community. However, if they can get compensated for it, then why not?

    But I don't think it is something where people should just expect to get compensated or do, because I think it takes away from the truly creative and personal aspects of blogging which I think we all really enjoy.

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  3. What you wrote about blogging and compensation was definitely the most measured and rational account that I've encountered on that topic so far. I agree with Matt and Leah though that some bloggers do seem to have taken it too far to the point that they've gotten away from the original point of their blog. I follow several sponsored blogs where the blogger is a thrift and/or vintage chick and her sponsors reflect that: etsy vintage sellers, etc. It seems like there are definitely ways to be compensated for the hard work it takes to maintain a style blog without compromising your style integrity, and kudos to all the bloggers who do it!

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  4. i'm glad that this came up b/c i've noticed lately that several of my once favorite blogs have become sponsor-city!! i think it is awesome that they can earn extra money doing something like this and i have nothing against sponsors in general. the real appeal of some of these girls was that they shopped at many of the same places i did and had real budgets to work with. their blogs just aren't appealing to me much anymore. i love modclothjust as much as the next person, but i can't afford to spend $70 on a dress EVERY TIME i want to buy something.

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  5. AMEN SISTER. LOVE THIS LINE.

    "ou don't have to be a size 0, you don't have to be rich, and you don't have to live in NYC to be fashionable."

    ur great. xo, Kim www.crowded-closet.com

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  6. I agree with Kim above - One of my favorite things about following fashion blogs is seeing real-life, real-size girls working awesome and inspiring outfits. I think you have a very balanced view on sponsorships for blogs. I don't believe that you should start a blog because you expect to get paid or sponsored by someone - you should blog because you want to contribute to the conversation, to express your own point of view on whatever topic floats your boat.

    Thanks for taking the time to write, post, and edit and all the other stuff you have to do to maintain this blog - it's definitely a highlight for me each day!

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  7. Kendi.. you're luck you're married, otherwise I might consider switching sides. Pretty AND smart? Unfair.

    Moving on.. I agree with the general opinion thus far.. Coming from a former sponsor on these blogs, I definitely think bloggers should be able to be compensated for their creativity and time. However, Kim said it best that I'm starting to get turned off the blogs that receive a free item from Modcloth, or a different sponsor every week, but then still try to claim they are 'on a budget.' I'm not sure I would ever be able to just take free items from a company, especially if they are a sponsor, because I wouldn't feel I could be honest about my evaluation of the product, PLUS I just wouldn't be comfortable with that. Also, coming from a small business standpoint, that's one of the reasons I stopped sponsoring blogs. It just didn't make sense to me to pay a monthly fee for an ad that would get ignored because of the weekly items Modcloth is sending out. I work too damn hard on my creations to go giving them away all the time. I refuse to believe that's the only way to market in the blogosphere.

    As far as you're concerned.. quit your job and devote all your time to your blog.. That is coming from a purely selfish POV because I happen to enjoy giggling out loud, and your writing does that. just think about it.. that's all I'm saying.

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  8. Just a well written thought provoking post! And I love what LeahandMatt had to say - it is disheartening when every single things starts to be 'courtesy of' - it makes it no longer tangible and also I don't think it exactly endears your readers to you when every single thing is that way - the occassional thing, or heck even a couple times a week but every day? That's a bit much IMO. I think that is what makes blogs like this one, 'My edit', and 'Academichic' so appealing - the bloggers are fantastic and the outfits are inspiring but not in a 'I can never ever have that' kind of way. You do great work and I hope that if you want to be compensated, you will!

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  9. Agreed on all counts. I agree that bloggers should get paid for their services, but I've noticed that once they start receiving freebies and promotions all of the time, the original draw I had to them changes. No longer am I reading about an average girl like me who's working with her closet and growing in her style, but now she's almost a celebrity, better than me, unreachable. The things in my closet that are "c/o" are from my mom, not Coach or ModCloth.

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  10. Great post. Kendi, I love your blog because you have a fantastic sense of style, a great attitude, and good thoughtful writing. one of the things I also love is that you have NO sponsors. Don't get me wrong, I read and love a lot of blogs who have sponsors and great senses of style, but...I find that some of these blogs are entirely different from the blogs they used to be pre-sponsors. I found their thrifted wardrobe a bit more realistic and fun then, "dress: courtesy of Modcloth" partially because its frustrating that we all aren't offered free modcloth stuff, but also because if Modcloth picked out that dress for you, then how do we truly know what your sense of style is? Rather, Modcloth is creating your sense of style for you. I have no problem with compensation, but sometimes it seems as if the bloggers themselves let it go to their heads and are untrue to their original fashion sense.

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  11. First, I love the idea of Friend Friday! Second, my friend and I talk about how if we lived close to you we would so make sure that you are our BFF.. is that creepy? a little? Don't worry we're both far away in Canada.

    Moving on... I completely agree that bloggers are free to be compensated for the work that they do, and they should not feel guilty or like they're going to lose their reader because of it. However they should also try not to make the compensation affect what and how they're blogging to the point that readers can no longer relate to the content. It is a job if you're spending hours creating content for your readers. I have had several blogs over the past 5 years & they are a TON of work, mine lasted a few months and then I just gave up. Life got in the way and I would forget a few updates and then just give up.

    Just like the other readers I read style blogs because they show REAL people REAL style. Yes, I am be unemployed & completely broke but I know that once I am working most of the things you (& others) blog about are totally within my reach.

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  12. Kendi - thank you for your very well written post. It's a good reminder to note that almost all blogs are free for the reader and if we could have more gals (and guys) that do this well do it full time - that would be awesome. It's a whole new world of inspiration... especially from a girl who grew up in a small town with only seventeen magazine as a style compass, I think personal style blogs are great.

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  13. Great post! I think your ideas on compensation and sponsorship are some of the best, well-reasoned, and practical I've read. Like others, I've seen other bloggers change because of sponsorship, but not everyone. I think anyone considering taking on a sponsor should really weigh how the sponsor fits with their style and also their audience. A good fit could really bring a great element to the blog. For example, while im nowhere popular enough for sponsorship, a nursingwear company could be a good fit for my blog because I'm a breastfeeding mother who has many breastfeeding mamas as readers. However, bad fit or even just a generic fit will really turn readers off which I think many other commenters are suggesting with ModCloth and a handful of blogs. Not to say, I don't like ModCloth, but is it the right fit for every blog. Not always.

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  14. Great post Kendi and loved hearing your perspective on this. Such an interesting topic and came to confront this as well through my own experience blogging. I had a company contact me and wanted me to review one of their items, write a post about it, and maybe even host a giveaway. At first I was so excited that someone was interested enough in my little space to reach out to others. Then the more I thought about the less it made sense- the company had nothing to do with what I write about on a daily basis, and not only was I not interested in posting something unrelated to my interests, but also for my readers it would be out of touch. Even if they'd get a chance to win something. So I share this story to say that I think the point of fashion blogging is to just share with everyone your own personal style and use the space as a venue for conversations and inspiration.
    I've noticed some blogs that I frequent where every other post is about a dress/belt/skirt/top was 'courtesy of' someone (mainly Modcloth!) and it just takes away the spark from the outfit b/c clearly they got it for free so of course they'll say all kinds of positive things about it and they want to nurture the relationship with that sponsor! At that point, it's no longer about creativity and self-expression and more about selling a product. And I find nothing wrong with that, as long as you're honest about it and not shielding it as an item you would have already owned if it wasn't for the sponsor gifting it for free. Just sayin!!
    I think I've rambled long enough, but think it is an important topic that should be discussed openly and honestly.

    Dea
    www.beachfloatabroad.blogspot.com

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  15. Great points about blogging and compensation. I completely agree with you. Thanks for participating in Friend Friday!!

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  16. Kendi, I couldn't agree with you more about your stance on sponsorship and monetizing style/fashion blogs, and all of the other commenters had such great insight into the way that sponsorship can sometimes dilute a blog's original message.

    I can't imagine that it would be easy to turn down freebies (especially super cute, on-trend freebies) but if you're blogging for the every day girl with limited resources and telling her she can look fabulous on a budget, then wearing a $100 dress in a post, your message gets way muddled and the blogger starts to feel like less of the girl next door and more intimidating somehow. Kudos to all of the bloggers that choose their sponsors strategically and still manage to stay true to their style and their readers!

    Also, I LOVE the comment from Jennifer at Aspiring Fashionista, because about 80% of my gifted and/or hand-me-down pieces come from my momma, too! ;)

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  17. Oh friend, you say it so well...
    I have no problem with bloggers being given some compensation for their work (may I add that in Canada the fashion blog product whoring is less frequent?) but I think it has to be done so carefully. The problem with sponsorships is that people start to talk in a voice that isn't their own once they go into theit sponsors. Readers go to a blog for a unique viewpoint and it's frustrating when Modcloth (sorry but I am totally picking on it for being so damn prevalent...)starts to 'write' your words. ALSO, if one starts a blog, start it because you love it not because you think you will get free mascara...

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  18. This is the first time I've commented, Kendi, but I love reading your blog every day. You are so beautiful and you write excellently. It's a pleasure to have a little peek into your life!

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  19. I liked reading this. You are so good at writing and I agree with everything you've written.

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  20. i feel like most people who are full time bloggers have lots of other "legit" side projects (book deals, creative consulting, etc) that i think justify not having a "real" job.

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  21. I just wanted to let you know that I'm finally home so I got to open the package that contained the dress that I won from FindersKeepers on your blog! It's great!

    www.always-hannah.blogspot.com

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  22. I really love your blog...The 1st time I came across your blog,I was attracted to all your pictures like it's honey to the bees....I might sound like a weirdo,but it's true...
    I even wanted to learn to draw fashion figures cause of you...
    You really are one of my fashion inspirations...Although I haven't reach the age to dress like you...If you don't mind,can I ask u to give me comments on how to dress up?
    Anyway,you have my support always..
    Keep up the good work!! =)

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  23. Thank you for sharing this.

    I'm glad you mention the whole 'back to basics' thing: do what you love. Especially if you're good at it, which you totally are!

    I also get your point on the time frame problems. I also get this - work can be overwhelming sometimes and the only thing I can cut off on is my blog (otherwise I would have no form of social life).

    And regarding the compensation - as long as you're not biaised by your sponsors or your provider, it's not a problem. The essence of blogging is to share your opinion - not to say what some people want you to say. There's magazines and newspapers for that. :)

    I like it when you post 'insider' posts like this one. Can't wait for another :)

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  24. Hi! I love your blog... it definitely make my day (specially when I'm down) Love the way you write, your humor sense, your live style, the way you mixed clothes and how sweet you sound in your words!
    When I grow up (more haha I'm 26) I wanna be like you! hahaha

    About blogger... I think it should be like it is right now... Is a "share based relation ship"... like friends... all of us have the same questions, the same situation and is good to read someone who tell us what she is going trough and how she make it!! I like read other people situation cause I see my self on it... cause I'm a human being! :)

    Thanks a lot for your blog girl1!! A LOT!

    xoxo

    Marce

    http://nouveau-americain.blogspot.com/

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