By Juhi Bansal
I am a pleasant person. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ll smile through the day even when it’s been really bad and generally always look at the half full side of the glass. I find hope on the bleakest days and look for inspiration in the dullest of things. But, there are moments when I’ve had too much and I want to speak out. I have the BEST family, friends, well wishers and readers. They do nothing but inspire me- every second of every minute. But, there are a few who (you can’t please everyone can you?) have a lot of time on their hands and just spread misery. Internet calls them “haters”. I like to call them “naysayers”. These are people who generally like to take the moral highground on a few things and judge others from that pedestal. Only if they knew there is no grey in righteousness. It is either black or white and most often all of us fall in the dark bracket. One of the things they like talking about these days is how blogging is a sham, or that bloggers feel entitled to ask for goodies or that they mislead readers or wrongfully call themselves “influencers” when they can’t influence. You see the irony in that btw, don’t you? 🙂 (How am I misleading when I can’t influence?).
Let me set the record straight, because for the last few days I am being forwarded conversations, screenshots, snarky comments etc and I’ve had enough. I CHARGE for features. Lets face it- there are no free lunches in the world. I pay my photographer, my website and social media managers, my interns, assistant and I have running costs. While I can get work out of most of these people in the name of exposure, I don’t. I don’t want anyone to do anything for me for free or “barter” because I don’t do it myself anymore. You will mostly see #sponsored or #ad or #partner on my posts. That means I was paid for the post. Or you will see me “thanking” a particular brand for sending a goodie bag. On my blog you will clearly see a c/o if an item was sent to me by the brand (I did not pay for it) to style it as I deem fit. I promote events- because I either like the line up of designers or I believe in the curation of the organizer- but I am not doing it for free.
However, you will never see me talk about a product if I haven’t used it myself. You will never see me review food outlets because I don’t think I have the expertise to do it. I either like the food or I don’t. I don’t know how “authentic” the cuisine is. I will never have you believe the service of a place was excellent if it wasn’t. But, if I have checked in at a restaurant I may not have paid for my food there.
Even with my blogger community, I never ask them to falsify information or lie about their experiences. So many times I let brands and collaborations go because of this.
Am I misleading you? Why don’t you tell me? What happens when you like something I am wearing? Chances are you will visit the estore or actual store check out the prices, sizes etc and if it works for you, you will buy it. The maximum I may do is add a particular brand to your consideration or choice set. I am not forcing you to buy it. I’ll give you my own example. I love Sonam Kapoor’s style. Infact, whenever I see her sporting something new from Rheson I immediately visit the site and check the item out. I have NEVER ended up buying anything. Because it is either expensive or I think it won’t work for me. I definitely don’t have more influence than Sonam Kapoor that people will buy an item just because I wore it.
As for me feeling entitled, have you ever spoken to a brand that wants to get featured? They think they are the best thing to happen to all of eternity. They feign surprise when you tell them your charges- “but I thought this was your passion”! Really? You will give me THAT spiel- you a creative person who’s heard this all your professional life! They accuse me of being arrogant when I am not ok with their terms and refuse to go ahead. If you are in the business to make money why would you want anyone else to work for free? Talk about entitlement!
Then there are brands that understand the effort which goes into all of this. They start on the right note and keep coming back to you even if your charges may seem higher than other bloggers who do it for free or barter. I would choose them every single time. I am not looking for a lot of work. I do this because it is my “passion”, and only on weekends, but I have bills to pay. I have to constantly choose between working on a collaboration or spending time on something else. Getting paid helps me justify the time I devote to it. It also helps me stay true to my work and I treat it very professionally. Do I work with anyone and everyone who pays? A big NO! I choose my partners very carefully and I urge my readers to be wary of anything anyone feeds them. Use your own judgement, make your own calls. Whether it is fashion, food or lifestyle- choices are subjective and what works for me may not work for you.
I was recently approached by a skin care brand who wanted me to say 1. I bought the cream 2. It was very effective. I did not even get into the discussion of pricing because I don’t work like that. If I did not buy something, I will never say I did. And as for something being effective- I don’t think there is any magical potion. If something gave you instant results chances are it was full of chemicals. I turned natural a couple of years ago and while I do see a change in my skin, it is very very slow and I would not have you believe it any other way.
IS the blogging bubble about to burst? It is like any other business. You start small and then a lot of people see a lot of value and enter the industry. There is no entry barrier and you practically just need a computer to jump the bandwagon. 5 years ago when I started there were hardly one or two bloggers around and now I have someone or the other writing in every single day telling me they are a blogger. There is enough space for everyone to survive. And, there is always someone who will do the same work for a cheaper price. But, not everyone sustains. Mostly when the initial euphoria of goodies and attention dies they give up. I have seen as many people quit blogging as the number that joins every month. At a time when you can buy followers and engagement- content wins. Will I continue to make money- I am not sure. May be I’ll have to change the business model a little down the road or move to newer platforms or innovate. I know it is “change or die” and I am ready for it but don’t write off the whole industry just yet. Repeat brand collaborations, the sheer joy in your readers comments and the love you get proves you are genuine and here to stay.
Sweater: Uni Style Image (more than 10 years old)
Dress: ZARA: Borrowed from sister (1 year old)
Shoes: Kate Spade (new)
Sunglasses: c/o Missamore (6 months old)
Pics: Bhavya Rathore
Totally my point Juhi. You don’t work for free for anyone than why expect that blogger will do it
Thanks for stopping by Shimmer Girl 🙂
What is more irritating is brands writing for collaboration and then just expecting you to post press releases and pictures- for free!
We are in the business to create content. Press releases are fine but the one sending the email is also not working for free right?
And no I dont want to do free work for exposure!
tell me about it! Exposure is always the keyword
Someone had to say it Juhi. Thank you for voicing it perfectly for us. It is a full time job and we have bills to pay. High time brands started treating us with respect.
NO MORE FREE WORK
Entitled really? And what about the unprofessional brands that don’t pay even after having delivered whatever was agreed upon. Why should they have an upper hand in everything?
Advance! Always take advance payments. These PR firms talk about a 45 day payment cycle and never stick to it.
It’s high time brands understand the value a blogger brings to the table rather than treating them as a medium to do things for free- passion doesnt mean no bills. Thank you for saying it out loud Juhi. And you are right- haters gonna hate.
Thanks for stopping by Bhumi. Brands always have a choice to work or not work with us. But, not paying and wanting to get work done isn’t one of them.
More power to you Juhi. Very well written.
thanks a lot Dimple. Urbanclap is one of the most fun brands to work with. Look forward to a lot of repeat collaborations :). BTW you owe me a phone call!
Yes. I know. I am horribly busy on weekdays with work and travel on weekends. But that is no excuse. We must catch up 100% this weekend.
As long as it is for travel no hard feelings :). But, yeah lets catch up this week/end.
I fully agree with you. Yes, we are working on it for our passion but the brands are making money out of it then why Can’t they pay us for creating content for them. We are working for our passion but not the photographers and what about the fees we have to pay for making our blog in working condition like domain charge, server charge, Internet bill. Etc. Kudos to you for speaking it out and letting the haters know that there is no free lunch in this world.
Respect is a two way street. Hope brands wake up to this realisation sooner rather than later
thanks for stopping by Dipika. And here’s to more fun blogger meets this year
This is a cycle and phase that every industry faces .No matter who says what .We know it and You surely do .You have a long way to go with this.
I know :). Thanks a lot Hashmita for your support always.
This is by far my favorite piece written by you 🙂 keep blogging and let haters hate. It is not easy to commit to this and your time and effort must be appreciated and compensated !
thanks a lot Harshu. This means a lot! How is the little one doing?
I really loved the content you put in your blogs, and this blog is just another blast. The fact is true and you are inspiration for many and I am one of them. I am following you since last 4 months and you inspire me a lot
Thanks for visiting Dilpreet. Hope to see you more often here and at events 🙂
Glad you are put all cards on the table JUHI! Go girl!
thanks a lot ma’am. See you tomorrow 🙂
Ultimate write up!!
thank you so much. Nice to see non-bloggers also reacting positively to this 🙂