Take a look in your wardrobe and at your shoe collection? Are all of those items, the shirts, jeans, trainers, boots etc all from the same shop? Same brand?
I’m guessing not.
Mine aren’t either. I have old faves and new items that are perhaps a bit trendy for me from Topshop, there’s a LOT of Zara in there. You’d be horrified at how much J Crew I have tucked into my cupboards and how many pairs of American Eagle Outfitters Jeans and shorts I have justified buying. And let’s not even talk about shoes…
Just like my everyday wardrobe is a gathering of pieces that I’ve liked from brands, collections and shops, so too is this blog. And it’s why I feel like it’s comparable to work with a variety of sports brands (and others) on this blog to bring you the best of what’s out there, pick my faves (and honestly review the others!).
Lets address the elephant in the room/on blogs currently (or at least the elephant that I’m super aware of…) and that’s the sponsored blogs.
Unfortunately, because of the way things have worked out with some delays in sign off, very last minute feedback, a re-shoot and some bad scheduling on my behalf, there will be a couple of sponsored posts over the next week. Not ideal and something I try really hard to avoid.
I like to share my honest life and training with you guys, the readers, and do the majority of that with unsponsored content. However, because I’m relying on this blog for some of my income to help me study to become a Dietitian (a four year University course that I’m enjoying but is £££ especially now that I’ve lost a lot of NHS funding after getting engaged).
I thought I’d open up a little on the subject of sponsored posts, as I know a lot of readers and other bloggers are very anti sponsored posts, while others like them.
There are a couple of main reasons why I work with companies on collaborative content that I wanted to divulge;
To Share Information
I ALWAYS try to give you guys some value added from the sponsored posts. I write something that I hope is interesting, useful, informative or at the very least, entertaining for you all to read and NEVER post regurgitated, pre-written content on my blog. EVER.
I’m actually really proud of some of the sponsored posts I’ve written, like this post I wrote on How to Choose A Healthy Ready Meal in partnership with Asda. The blog was designed to help you make an informed decision, regardless of where you shop and I hope that came across.
When new products/races/kit are released, brands will often get in touch asking me to share that information, whether it’s a kit review, a race recap, or event – if it’s something that I think fits with my blog, things I’m interested in and think you might too, then I’ll share it – like the North London Half Festival! I try very hard to ensure that the brands I work with are a good fit for me, the blog and you guys, the readers.
My promise continues to be that I will never be paid to write a review – instead I’d always rather include information about a product within a relevant, interesting post. I think it’s important to be able to ensure that the review blogs are honest and impartial… and I’ve definitely shot myself in the foot with this after posting some less than positive reviews on shoes/races etc in the past (like this one). However I feel that falling off the PR email list for a brand is worth keeping my integrity and authenticity!
I also acknowledge that I’ve worked with companies that you might not typically associate with a ‘health’ blogger – however, I am a huge believer in balance, and that our diets shouldn’t be perfect. So I do partner with brands like Robinson’s who I do very much use at home (we drink quite a lot of squash – a habit I can’t and won’t kick) but know they use artificial sweetener, which I don’t love. However, in my mind it’s better than a full sugar or fizzy drink. And if any gin brands come my way…you better believe I’ll be sharing that love on the blog 🙂
To Create Content
A lot of the opportunities I’ve had through sponsored posts or collaborations with brands allows me to create content to share with you guys. For instance, working with Adidas allowed me to run the Boston and London marathons this year – meaning months of training content plus race recap posts and videos which you guys seem to like 😉
Quite honestly I wouldn’t have the awesome photos that I have on the blog and Instagram without sponsored posts. I pay Anna (and before that Will) for their creativity. I am really lucky to utilise her skills to help tell illustrate my words. I think it really adds to the look and feel of my blog, and I’m so proud of the content we create together. Great photos are definitely something that attracts me to blogs and Instagram accounts.
Plus there are only so many riverside selfies that I can post on both my blog and social media…
I work with brands on sponsored social and blog posts – sometimes they come to me with a full, strict brief, an outline or topic, or just a title. My favourite way to work with a brand is when they give me a product and allow me to pitch ideas that will work for my blog (and hopefully provide interesting content) – such as this blog on post-run/workout hair styles. I never accept pre-written posts or content, and always ensure that the post retains my own voice, thoughts and integrity.
Most often a brand will get in contact with me asking to work together, either with a structured plan or a vague idea (or sometimes no idea!) but occasionally I will get in contact with a brand that I want to partner with and pitch ideas to them – with varying degrees of success ?.
Keeping it real – there have also been occasions where I’ve been asked to come up with content ideas, or been contacted about a campaign with a brand, only for them to say they’ve chosen someone else, don’t have the budget anymore or are going in a different direction. That always hurts, and makes me feel like I’m not good enough however I’m trying to learn not to take it to heart.
Because it’s Cool
Honestly, blogging at my level and those just starting up is probably the worst paid ‘job’ you can do. You work for hours and hours for nothing, or a pair of socks, working up to a free race entry, then trainers, then finally maybe a paid collaboration. After all, trainers will not pay my rent or keep my fridge stocked with almond milk. And often that’s OK. Heck, I made zero pounds from this blog for years and years (and spent a fair whack on hosting/design etc) because I loved writing, I loved communicating with you guys and I loved the cool freebies. I still do love all of that. But the money is a very welcomed added bonus.
However, working with brands on sponsored content is far from stress free. In fact, they are usually the most stressful blogs to publish. As brands become more blogger savvy, many of them send over detailed briefs, shoot lists, and the finished product has to go through multiple sign offs before it can be published.
Ultimately, I retain editorial control, which I stipulate before working with any brand, and have pulled the plug on partnerships that I felt became to ‘advertorial’ like. When I first started blogging, I was so grateful to any brand that got in touch that I would say yes to things I wouldn’t dream of now – however I do still feel imposter syndrome sometimes when a brand I love wants to partner with me and I have to pinch myself. I’m also very aware that there are a lot of brands who won’t work with me because I’m too opinionated, don’t have a six pack and do not look like a model!
Overall I feel like there’s a fine balance when it comes to sponsored posts. Unfortunately there are a few blogs (mostly from big YouTubers) that I follow that seem to only host collaborative content – it seems the bigger the influencer gets, the most paid posts they publish.
And don’t even get me started on the disclosure on Instagram – I get so angry when bloggers use the hashtags #sp and #spon instead of the ASA regulated #ad. Interestingly, regulations are much tighter in the US, and as I work with a lot of US brands, I’ve been adhering to the US guidelines which I think are much clearer for both the reader and the brand to differentiate sponsored and non-sponsored content online.
As readers, I would love to know your feelings on sponsored content?
Do you notice a big difference between a sponsored post and non-sponsored content on the blogs you read?
Any other questions you have about working with brands – either as a blogger or a reader?