Commentary: Sponsorship

This is a legacy post that has been given a facelift.

Beauty Skeptic has no ongoing sponsor relationships at this time. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just a fact. In the past, I’ve done some minor sponsored content – i.e., received free product to review (Esqido Lashes and their eyeliners) – but I’ve never been paid for a post.

Personally – and I felt this way before I started blogging – I don’t take issue with sponsored content as long as it:

  • Is disclosed legally (i.e., per FTC guidelines or whatever governing body applies) and
  • Has been subject to the same scrutiny they would if no sponsorship was involved.

That’s my view and my approach to the matter.

Unfortunately, some content creators out there don’t feel that they need to comply with the applicable laws. It isn’t just a matter of legal compliance, though. In most cases where sponsorship is even viable, you have developed a readership, viewership, whatever following. These people like you, believe in you, trust your opinion. While it isn’t wrong to get paid for your work, it IS wrong to take (what I view as) bribes to shill products that you otherwise don’t care for or wouldn’t promote. It isn’t just a matter of legality, it is a matter of ethics.

Have you ever gone shopping to purchase a car and dealt with a car salesman who didn’t seem completely honest? Did you like that guy? Probably not, right? Then don’t be that guy.

Call it what you want, but it isn’t ethical. It happens all the time, but it is pretty crappy. The topic has been on my mind lately because a content creator with a considerable following has been publishing very obviously sponsored content without any disclaimers.

Consider this sponsorship scenario:

Let’s say I’m a person who exclusively shops for and uses prestige and luxury brands. That’s my jam, that’s what you can rely to hear from me about. Then, out of nowhere, I publish a post saying, “Oh hey so I went to the drugstore and bought all this stuff and totally love it! It’s amazing, you should definitely go buy it and try it!”

Well, okay, people try different things sometimes, that isn’t the craziest thing. Curiously, though, all the products mentioned come from the same parent company. Golly, what a coincidence!

What’s worse? This isn’t pretend. It’s real, I’m just not the person responsible. It isn’t even just misleading, it is insulting to that person’s followers. To me, it comes across as, “Oh, well, they’re stupid, they won’t notice the sponsorships.”

The Bottom Line

Ask yourself this:

Would you even consider purchasing this product with your own money?

If not, don’t participate in such an arrangement. Would you tell your mother, sister, or friend that X product is awesome? If not, you shouldn’t be painting that picture for your followers, either. And if you would tell your mom, sister, or friend that X product is awesome just because you received some compensation to do so…well, you need to reexamine your priorities and ethics.

Rest assured that any relationships will be disclosed for the sake of transparency, decency, ethics, legality, what have you. Anything I do agree to will not be accepted before considering whether or not it was something I would talk about regardless of the relationship. I have declined sponsorship opportunities because they do not align with Beauty Skeptic’s mission or values.

What is your opinion on sponsorship or sponsored content? Are you comfortable with it as long as it is disclosed, or do you think it is not okay at all?

2 thoughts on “Commentary: Sponsorship”

  1. I found you through the beautyblogs subreddit. I have to say that I love that you’re posting on this because you really have touched upon some of the icky parts of sponsorships.

    I have also been thinking about this a lot lately and I feel I’ve solidified my stance on the matter.

    For Sponsorships
    I have no problem with sponsorships as long as the product is something that naturally piqued the interest of the blogger. Even if the brand seems out of character for the blogger, if they are interested in it and see some merits to trying the product out I can’t really fault them for it.
    With that being said, like you said, I do have a problem with the practice if the blogger softens their rating scale because they received it for free or want to preserve a relationship with a brand. The primary relationship in a blogger’s eyes should first and foremost be the one they share with their readers.

    This is kind of a tangent, but I wanted to touch upon affiliate links as well since it’s also a source of revenue for bloggers that sometimes comes under scrutiny. I don’t mind affiliate links at all and often shop through them on blogs I read. I actually think that as long as a review is objective and thorough (presented both strengths and weaknesses of a product), the readers should not shy away from making a purchase through an affiliate link. It helps the content creator maintain the blog which let’s be honest, for most is a money-draining hobby, not a full-time profession.

    I’m a fellow blogger. :)

    • I think we’re on the same wavelength, yeah – it doesn’t necessarily need to be something, “in character,” or project normal, but red flags do pop up when someone goes, ‘on a shopping spree,’ and ends up with a bunch of brands from the same parent company that are out of character.

      I definitely think softening the rating scale or, “grading on a curve,” is unacceptable. PR product should be subject to the same scrutiny as products you purchase – if the company who is sending them to you is asking you to go easy on them, they aren’t being honest with their customers – why would you want to be complicit in that, anyway?

      Thanks for reading! I’ll be checking out your blog later today.

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