Style-Delights: The 'Business' of Blogging - Treading The Fine Line Between Blogging And Selling

December 23, 2011

The 'Business' of Blogging - Treading The Fine Line Between Blogging And Selling

A friend recently commented that my blog wants to make her buy the things I am writing about. I took it in the spirit she meant - she loved my blog. But it made me think - Are bloggers 'selling'  things to their readers (even unknowingly)? This year for Black Friday, consumers all across the country spent more than 52 Billion dollars (yes, Billion!) over the 4 day weekend! (They also used pepper spray, shot the bullets and got arrested, but thats a different story!) While reading about these figures, I wonder how many people bought things they saw on style, fashion and beauty blogs? How much of a sales force are fashion bloggers? And not only for the Black Friday but in general. Recent story in Financial Times underscores the fact that fashion bloggers are the new Ad & PR vehicle!  As consumers themselves, fashion bloggers are (or should be) the most authentic voice and purest judges of products, services and trends. But does corporate advertising and PR polluting this purity?

Blogging as a platform essentially means the 'truly free' opinions. The only bias comes from the blogger's thinking, not from the outside agency. But as the blogosphere gets crowded each day, blogs are becoming another source of sales for products or services. There is a very fine line between having an opinion and selling something. And sometimes without the intention, fashion bloggers cross that line. As I write my blog (and talk about products and services in my posts) I am trying to understand and answer these questions-
  • Are we unknowingly working for the brands? - We put the outfit post with the details of the clothes and accessories (to make it easy for readers to find those things if they like). But as my friend said, a good picture or a nicely put together outfit instigate the readers to get the 'same look'. There comes my next question -
  • Are we shopoholism enablers? In the movie 'Confessions of a Shopoholic' Rebecca Bloomwood says about the fashionable girls - "..they were beautiful, they were happy, they didn't even need money, they had magic cards (aka credit cards)" (And that's how magically they get in debt too!) I can't help but wonder (take that Carrie Bradshaw), how much magic card spending fashion bloggers are responsible for. We report about the It bags, latest must-have accessories and the season's best clothes, we put our pictures, tell people where to buy it - it all  'enables the shopoholism'. (on the other hand - somebody's got to stimulate the economy!) This brings me to my next question-
  • Are we commenting on the trends or pushing the products?- As the style enthusiasts, fashion bloggers critique, admire and suggest all things fashionable. I discover so many great products via blogs! That's why we love blogs - they are the real deal, real people talking about what they think is cool/practical/ has the best value. But is it really true? Are all bloggers 'just blogging'. Or are they the new billboard? The bloggers with a huge fan following can even sway their readers' opinions (and thus an advertising opportunity for brands/retailers). Recently I got to know about a group of influential bloggers (not naming names) opening up their online store that carries products from their 'hauls' calling it their 'collection' , but in reality it was the same mass-produced stuff you can get in most retail stores, may be cheaper too. Although who am I to judge if they have a market for that, but I am sure their blogs have moved far away from the true core of blogging! This brings me to my next point-
  • Are we contributing to materialism?- This is the most complex point when it comes to fashion and style blogging. Fashion itself is a term associated with buying. It is very hard to be stylish without investing money in 'stuff'. Fashion blogging has brought the phenomenon of 'street style' to a whole new level where street style often comes with a steep price. A lot of websites devoted to the pictures of street style or common people's fashion pictures certainly don't make you 'not buy'!! And the blogging 'icons' soon become brands themselves. This brings me my final point -
  • Are we selling out our editorial integrity?- Most of the fashion bloggers are still authentic, honest to goodness bloggers, but many of them have compromised the editorial integrity by selling products or services through their editorial content. And the disturbing thing is - they are not selling it in the pure form of advertising (by selling the ad space)- they are selling it by wrapping it up in their writing, decorated by their 'unbiased opinion' bow!
It's a complicated matter and has no one dimensional answer. It's also the result of the inherent nature of fashion and style - a major part of of fashion is buying! And I know firsthand - blogging is not easy work. It takes time and energy and we put many things in the back seat when we decide to blog regularly. So why shouldn't we get paid for it? You wouldn't work in an office where you didn't get paid for your time and effort. How to tread the line between getting paid for hard work and selling out the blogs is a skill that separates the blogger from seller! 
What do you consider the difference between blogging and selling? 


  1. Really is something to think about. Really interesting post. I love the Becky Bloomwood reference!


  2. Great post! You brought up great points that I think any popular fashion blogger should consider. Blogging is hard work and any good blogger would definitely want to stay authentic. Great stuff!

  3. WOW! this is seriously something to consider. so interesting. xox

  4. Interesting post! I definitely think the terms inspiring and advertising are synonymous with each other in the fashion blogging world - we just don't like to point the fact out. Now that I've started my own blog, it's become much more evident to me.

    Thanks for sharing!


  5. As a fashion blogger myself, of course I think blogs influence people and make them want to buy things but isn't this the case with everything these days? I don't see it as a problem if people think my blog makes them want to buy things because it means they like the stuff I blog about. I myself love so many things in magazines and so on.
    But the line for me is accepting money or freebies in favour of good review. i'd never do that but the later is very common practice in the proper media as well. I've worked in fashion magazines for a while and i did loose some respect for their reputation for that.
    as long as ur not actively selling stuff i think expressing ur opinion on fashion is fine! temptation is everywhere so it's up to readers to make up their mind and think about it. we r just there to expose what we like and there is no harm in that at all... as long as we r authentic and true to our identity as 'independent'. good post!

  6. This is some real food for thought.
    Thanks for the enlightenment :)

  7. Thanks All!!
    Rana, I totally get what you are saying, I used to work for a News Channel and political PR is as bad as fashion PR too! I am all for reviews and promotion if one is calling the spade a spade! But lately most of those blogs I used to admire when they started (and now grew huge) are becoming another shopping site..But yes, there are great blogs out there that make me buy things without shoving them down my!

  8. When the fashion blogger lists the names of the brand they are wearing then they are definitely advertising the Brand although indirectly

    The excessive use of magic card is I think inherent in some of the people, they can be influenced by style magazines or celebrities or fashion bloggers so putting the entire burden on any one party is not right

    As far as earning via your blogs is concerned, i do not think it is bad but I do think that the opinions given should be authenticate because the raiders/followers are intelligent enough to judge a bad product, sometimes before buying it and sometimes after the purchase. but in both the case, a bad recommendation can lead the bloggers towards bad publicity..

    that was my take on the questions you have raised :) :)
    Now as far as pushing the product is concerned, i think a sensible reader should be able to distinguish between right and wrong. Blaming it all on a blogger is not fair

    Materialism: Well anybody interested in fashion or style is already materialistic enough. I have loved many many blogs who are dressed in highly expensive designer wear, and I would love to have them in my closet but I am sensible and capable enough to create a similar look in my budget.


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