Parentshaped Disclosure Policy
I collaborate with brands in this blog space, it means I get paid for writing about stuff I love (and often already love), but what does that mean for my readers?
Blog collaborations can be be confusing, and the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) have tried to make this clearer. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure they have completely succeeded, because blog/ brand relationships can be very complex, but I think it is vital readers can work out what the relationship between brand and blogger is.
I think readers are generally really good at reading between the lines, we’ve done it for years with magazines and newspapers, where there are even fewer rules about disclosure. As bloggers and influencers increasingly become mainstream advertising channels though, it can be increasingly tricky to work out what the relationships is.
Judging by the number of people who ask me how I make money from blogging, I think it is very confusing.
If I have been paid for a post – in either money or goods, or the brand has some element of control over it I will state this. Control is a funny word – I wouldn’t write a piece I didn’t have control over, it’s my blog and you can always expect my ideas and opinions to be my own here, I don’t let brands see or alter what I write before I publish it. But ‘control’ could be something as simple as using a hashtag, or sharing news of a new product or service within a post on a generic topic.
I always choose collaborations that allow me to continue to write as I normally would, about topics I normally would or goods or services I think are worthwhile and meaningful to my readers. I often approach brands I think would be a good fit or pitch ideas myself.
We all have desperate times when we need to put money on the table, but there are brands I will never work with, no matter how much money they offer or how much I could do with that money. My blog, my ethics, my rules. If a brand wants to control a piece in a way that I am not comfortable with I say no, and often do.
Research is important. If I haven’t been given the opportunity to test a product or service personally I check the brand’s reputation online before working with them. Trip advisor, online reviews give me a good idea of the brand’s reputation and any pitfalls readers should be aware of. Family holidays are a massive investment and I take my responsibility here seriously.
Some of my collaborations are reviews, where we have been asked to test a product or service. I choose only to review and collaborate with brands that naturally fit into our family life, working with products or services we would genuinely be interested to use or explore.
Travel is my passion, I believe in experiences over things, I spend far too much time sorting things in my house, so I am very picky about the physical things I review.
I try to put myself in a paying customer’s shoes, take an objective look and be honest about any problems. Obviously one person’s ‘budget holiday’ is another’s fantasy, one person’s dream trip is another’s worst nightmare; we all have wildly different standards and expectations when it comes to travel. There is always going to be a strong element of ‘how did this work for my family’, and families with similar interests to us in my posts, it wouldn’t be my blog otherwise, and that’s possibly why you are reading the post in the first place.
Brands may send me key points that they would like readers to know about, but it is always up to me to research, be objective and write about them in a way I see as honest and truthful for my readers.
Thanks for reading.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments, open dialogue can only help us all navigate this in a way that works for readers, brands and bloggers.