Last night, Natasha and I received a message from somebody questioning our integrity. She had ‘suspicions’ that we weren’t disclosing paid-for posts, gifts and partnerships and wanted to confront us about it. So, the question is, are we telling the truth?
A few months ago the brilliant Sarah Clark of Little Spree wrote this post on blogging, which addressed many of the same issues I am going to address in this post. Like Sarah, Natasha and I have a background in magazines, and have worked in the industry (and more recently, in related industries) for nearly 20 years each (yes, that makes me feel old). It was this experience that inspired us to start our own ‘online magazine’, which over the last few years has evolved from a small blog to both a blog and an instagram feed. We wanted to write about things we really wanted to write about and we hoped people would want to read. (Like magazines we only write about things we love as we are not a ‘review’ site. If we don’t like it, it doesn’t go in). As Instagram has developed, some of this remit has changed and we now focus as much energy on the images as we do on the words.
Wear & Where is still very much a labour of love. Both of us put in long hours writing pieces, researching, photographing, meeting brands and designing layouts – there is many a night that I’m sat on the sofa typing away to finish a piece – all for free. But, as Wear & Where has grown, this has started to change. We would like Wear & Where to become a viable business, where we can focus some of the time spent on our day jobs on the website, because to be honest, I can’t work many more nights at the pace I’ve been doing. To do this, we have to think about ways to monetise the blog and one of those ways is through sponsored posts – both on the blog and on Instagram. And here it is – we turn down a lot more work than we accept (because it’s not us, we’ve done something similar recently, we simply don’t like the product, because there’s just no way we’re going to be featured in underwear….) and when we do take on a collaboration, we ALWAYS label it as such. Always have done.
As disclosed from the start of W&W on our About Us page, some of the products we feature are linked via an Affiliate system, meaning that if you buy, we get a small (and it really is small) percentage of the sale. You pay the same, we just get a cut. I think this is fair, you might not. But, you don’t have to buy through us, you don’t have to buy at all. Neither of us would want you to buy something you don’t want to! We love fashion, we love the little lift it can give us and we love when our readers find something through us, that gives them the same feeling too. Our small earnings from affiliates are, I feel, fair enough for the amount of work we have put in creating the content, researching and photographing it. But, I stress again, you don’t have to click our links if you don’t want to.
But what about ‘gifts’? Yes, on occasion (less than some might think, we are small fish in a big Instagram pond) we are offered something from a brand. How this works is that the brand asks if we’d like to choose something from their collection. There is no obligation to photograph it or to say yes. If we decide to go ahead, we will only do so because it’s something we love and would pay for if we had the unlimited funds to do so. If we love it, we will probably want to feature it on our feed, because we love it and we want to tell you about it. We also label these as gifts. We also, again, turn down more gifts than we accept.
So, how then do we create the images on Instagram? This is the tricky part. Instagram is a beast. Fashion feeds like ours demand new outfits. But, neither of us have unlimited funds. We can’t shop ’til we drop. And so, as with magazines, we do ‘call in’ items to photograph and then send back to the brand. We have also bought clothes we love, photographed them and then decided to return them, quite simply because we can’t afford to shop, shop, shop! We have also bought clothes – like the M&S coat and skirt below – that we love and so photographed, and then decided we love so much, we want to include them in a sponsored post. Now, I can see where this gets tricky. We are writing a blog post for M&S on party wear, and having spotted and bought this outfit, I want to include it because I think it’s amazing. So, it will go into the blog post (paid for) and on Instagram (not paid for). I bought it with my own money, but have returned it – so what is the answer?
In a nutshell, we label everything paid for and gifted. Anything else we don’t. We aren’t trying to pull the wool over anyone. We are sharing what we love with you – be that here on the blog or on Instagram. Going back to the start where we were sat around Natasha’s table dreaming of creating our own website: we write and photograph what we love, and we really hope you do too.