The Blog Issue – Promotion

Posted in Blogging, Daily Outfits.

This is the second post in my Blog Issue series. You can read the first, on blogger jealousy, here.

Let’s kick off with a quick outfit post…

Missguided top, Mango jeans, New Look sandals, Zara Taylor necklace.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know I sometimes wear items that have been sent to me by brands. Accepting freebies (or ‘gifting’, as the US bloggers call it) is commonplace amongst fashion and beauty bloggers, but it can be a dangerous game. How do you remain true to your readers whilst adhering to a contract with a brand? If you’re receiving payment (whether in money or material) for a post, can you ever be truly unbiased?

In recent years, blogs have become fully fledged marketing platforms. Just like magazines before them, bloggers have a loyal and dedicated readership, who trust their word and (sometimes) act upon it. Brands are cottoning on quickly, and that means we see more and more sponsored posts, gifted outfits and blog advertisements. Some brands handpick their bloggers by taking the time to read and understand individual blogs that represent their ethos, but others prefer a blanket approach – I recently agreed to a promotional post only to find the same company had contacted a huge amount of bloggers, which led to said promo posts popping up everywhere. Can 30 different bloggers, with different interests, styles and personalities all really think the same thing?

I found this article absolutely key when thinking about the credibility of my blog. My opinion is that you cannot ever be truly impartial when writing about something if your discussion is being incentivised, which undoubtable affects the credibility of your stance. So how do you ensure you remain authentic?

Genuine passion is terribly hard to fake (just ask any copywriter who’s written a direct mail piece for a financial services client), so if you’re not keen on the brand or the product, don’t do it. If you’ve seen the same post on 20 different blogs already, don’t do it. And if you’ve already promoted 3 different brands this week, don’t do it.

Many of my favourite blogs are ad free and completely awesome. And many more of my favourite blogs have sponsors and advertisers. The similarity is, every single one produces original, unique and interesting content. They all offer me something different, something that’s truly their own, whether their post is promoting or simply pondering. And that’s the key to retaining your credibility – being yourself.

How do you feel about bloggers who accept freebies or display advertising? As a reader, does a sponsored post intrigue or insult you? As a blogger, are you (or would you) be comfortable accepting a gift from a brand in return for a review? Share your thoughts below.



I haven’t been approached by many companies, which I sometimes see as a blessing. There are a lot of blogs which you can see have been sucked into “freebies” I can totally see the lure.
However if I see 30 different blogs with the same review and nothing new to say I feel slightly mistrusting. Surely 30 bloggers, not one negative thing to say?? At all? Don’t believe it.

Great post, love the Blog issue idea.


Em x

I don’t like to see too many posts on a blog where a blogger has been approached. I’ve had quite a few companies contact me about featuring them but i’ve only accepted a couple, the ones that are something i’d be interested in anyway are the ones i’d go for xx

Vintage Vixen

First off, I adore those jeans on you, Jen, the fit is incredible.
As you know I’m an Ad-Free blog. I don’t buy magazines as I hate being bombarded by advertising and I always record shows on commercial TV channels and skip the adverts. I was driven mad at Terminal 5 at Heathrow by the informerical video advertising there, it was like an episode of Blade Runner.
I do get approached by companies and although the thought of freebies is tempting I always say no as I’m a second-hand, vintage wearer so most catalogue and high street clothing isn’t me and I feel that I’d be compromising my integrity.
As long as you truly believe in the product fair play to anyone who decides to go along with a sponsorship deal. As long as the reviews are honest and we get to hear the downside of the product as well as the sales patter then that’s fine by me.
Pop-up adverts on the other hand are the work of the devil.
Interesting post. xxxx


Wonderful words. I do find this a very interesting topic.

I feel a little in the shadows when it comes to promotion. I get the odd bizarre offer every now and again, but nothing really direct and nothing that has interested me so I have stayed clear xx

Amy from Forever Curiouser

great outfit and blog (i’ve just stumbled across it and i love it, following 😉 this is a interesting subject, I don’t mind the odd post but i mean the odd one, it just gets too much when it all becomes about the money and promotion;i know it is part of blogging, but too much of it puts me off the blog x


would you be talking about Aussie hair and their ‘angels’ or whatever they’re called?
now THAT’S what I call blanket advertising. how many blogs have you read in the last month or two where the blogger has been to an Aussie party?
not one bad thing to say! bet you wish you’d not had to cover that party now…
great post. taboo subject. will be inneresting to see what people say


I think this is a tough issue; as a reader I’m not too keen on seeing many freebies as it doesn’t seem to show the real person behind the blog.

On the other hand, a product sells itself and if the blogger is wearing a fabulous dress which happens to be a freebie, I’d still consider buying it myself. I also find companies that see bloggers as marketing tool quite interesting and forward thinking which is a good asset to the brand. As I study a module of marketing on my degree course I find new marketing strategies pretty cool too 🙂

Not much of a great conclusion I’m afraid! x


Great post. I do feel as if some blogs are just free advertisement for products and it is sometimes annoying when the whole of my reading list is dominated by reviews of a product that’s been sent to a lot of bloggers but I think that it can a good way to find out about new products and I like to think that bloggers are honest in their reviews, even if something has been sent for free (although that’s probably a bit naive)…I’m always honest in my reviews, regardless of who paid for a product and I think that’s one of the best aspects of blogging, that it looks past a company’s own advertising and hype. It’d be sad if blogging just starts to mirror how companies promote their own products. x

Intrinsically Florrie

Personally I’ve decided to stick true to my personal taste and myself ‘If I’d found this myself, would I have been interested?’
Yesterday I accepted my second ‘freebie’ ever as what was being offered was very ‘me’,. but I am going to make sure that I write a proper and honest review.
It would be great if I could grow my blog to earn an income but am currently ad free- I would not like this to become more important than the content. A few well chosen adverts is fine as long as they’re for the kind of thing that fits in with my blog. Actually some bloggers have the randomest adverts!

A very interesting post.

Florrie x


I don’t mind bloggers accepting freebies or selling advertising space on their blog, in fact if anything I’m jealous that their blog is successful enough to allow them to do that! The only thing that gets my goat is when a blogger does a post about one of their sponsors, just talking about their website. If they have one of their products (whether they paid for it or it was free) then they can say something that I don’t know and I’ll be interested, but I don’t want to read a post that just says that a sponsor’s products look cute. I can see whether they look cute, I want the nitty gritty on fabric quality/cut/customer service!


I really don’t know. I’ve been battling with this ever since I started blogging. I don’t like blogs that have flashy ads that interfere with the content – that really puts me off, so I would never do that. As for freebies, I think it’s fine, as long as the blog post doesn’t sound like an advert. When it starts to sound like an ad, I stop being interested…



One blog I follow, not naming names, is completely COVERED in ads for various companies. This is the sort of blog that I enjoy reading occasionally but find incredibly annoying when I do go on it. The blogger themself seems a very nice person, but I’d prefer to see more of her than her advertising clothes all the time…

Roo Paprika

I must admit, I prefer blogs that aren’t overloaded with ‘reviews’, it’s one of the reasons I turned to reading blogs in preference to magazines. I prefer the reality of real experience. However, I have no resentment for those that enjoy their freebies, good luck to those who do and enjoy, few things in this life are truely free though, I’d just prefer to read about something more real


i think i agree with grace mostly. i’m a little on the fence on it. it very much depends on how the blogger deals with the product they are promoting & their slant on it. i am so put off when i see lots of blogs all with the same global content. but each to their own i suppose.

un petit lapin

Simple look but I really like it. Nautical always does it for me.

Hmmm, I think if a blogger wants to accept gifts and promote the brands, it is up to them. It’s usually obvious when someone is promoting something, even if they’re trying to make it sound casual. I like to think I’m too cynical to get sucked in! I guess it’s also up to the reader to decide for themselves.


This is definitely an interesting topic, and one that I’ve covered.
I try to avoid sponsored posts. I’ve turned down a lot as I think you’re more biased when you’re getting paid.
As for ads, I don’t really mind them. As long as it’s not cloggin up all the space on the blog, it’s ok.
And product reviews: Again, I don’t mind seeing or doing these. I do like bloggers to e completely honest with reviews and I’m always honest as well. But it definitely needs to be kept in moderation.


personally, ads dont bother me. to be honest most of the time i click on ads i like and im intrested in, especially when im finding new stores that i hadnt heard of before, i think id not know about half the cute jewellery stores if it wasnt for their ads on other sites!

free stuff is more of a “beauty” blogger thing i think. i’ve only been offered free things like twice in my whole bloglife! its so easy to see those bloggers who want the freebies and the parties and the events! they are the ones who only review things they have been sent, and are the ones who get jealous when they dont get sent something everyone else has been sent. i think alot of beauty bloggers lack passion. they get things given to them on a plate, yet still complain when they dont get freebies! what annoys me the most about these kind of bloggers is that they are boring, and repetitive. i dont understand why they feel the need to copy and paste the press release and write one line of what they thought of the product. its so boring and so uninteresting. this is why despite being asked about 100 times a day to do more videos/reviews. i dont want to lose my integrity buy doing things that are done 100 times over.

i seem to have gone off on a rant about beauty bloggers, i dont hate on them as they are some REALLY good ones. i just think alot of girls are getting into the game purely to get these freebies.

I wouldn’t turn down advertising opportunities or freebies purely to i dunno for lack of a better phrase “keep it real?” i think they are a great way to get exposure for myself and the brand id be working with. i will only consider offers from people who i think would benefit from being on my blog, as well as something that fits with my blog and what it stands for.

ugh this is probably really conflicting but its something i’ve wanted to get off my chest for what feels like an age!


@Anonymous – I don’t wish I hadn’t posted about the Aussie event. It was an amazing, brilliant event and I’m not surprised no one had a bad word to say about Aussie – they are fab, they cater for every need and their events are faultless.

I wasn’t referring to Aussie at all in my post. Yes, lots of bloggers are Aussie Angels but none of us HAVE to post about the events. There’s absolutely no obligation from Aussie to do so… however, the events are such fun we WANT to post about them. And that’s down to excellent marketing and relationship building by the Aussie girls.

I didn’t want to name names in this post. The incident I’m referring to is something I eventually turned down, so it’s nothing you’ve seen on A Little Bird.

Hope that makes things a little clearer. Thank you for all your comments!


Interesting topic. I think as long as the blogger is honest about the item being given as a freebie, and it’s something that they would have willingly bought from their own money, then it’s ok. Sharing info on something that you love is good – as long as you’re honest all the way through the process it’s ok I think. xx

Danni and Maria

@ Anonymous – I completely agree with Jen, the Aussie girls are really really lovely and the events are always amazing. Of course this leads to some good PR but there is no obligation as Jen has said. I think when ads relate to the content and are not just generic it can work.As Florrie said, I ask myself if I would be interested if it wasn’t free and if I am then I go for it! It’s when you start to be dishonest or fail to disclose that you have been sent it that I think it becomes a problem!

Maria xxx


I don’t really have this problem – it’s one of the advantages of being a street style blog! I can stay ad free and avoid any potentially biased brand related posts.
However, I think gifting is fine aslong as the blogger picks and chooses what they are gifted. If you genuinely do like the brand and want to promote it then you’re still remaining true to your blog – particularly in your case.’Outfits and opinions’ – it’s your outfit that you love and your opinion – if you got it free, well that’s a perk!
I do secretly hate blanket emails though, it’s just lazy.
L x
P.S great jeans hun 🙂


I don’t mind reading the odd review on a blog and if you can tell the writer has put their honest opinion into it and that the product is an actual representation of something they are interested in then it can be interesting. I don’t really click on the sponsor links that much because I generally don’t pay much attention to them.

What I don’t like is when a persons blog becomes over run with adds so much that it makes it hard to read and I eventually lose interest and hit that unfollow button. Also is they are reviewing a product just because they got it for free. Sometimes I feel that people some blogs just say things are great because they got it for free and have no real integrity which is a shame because we want to hear honest opinions


I love love love your outfit in the post! So simple but ridiculously elegant and cute!

Bloggers accepting free products doesn’t bother me at all, but as for the subsequent reviews that are written I must admit I don’t always believe all of them. I’m usually wary when every product they review turns out to be amazing and the best thing since sliced bread. No, everything has it’s down points and they really need to be addressed too.

Honesty is the best policy in my opinion. I very rarely get offered free products but that’s totally fine because it’s not why I blog. When offered something I ask myself “would I actually pick this off the shelf in a shop and buy it with my own money?” – if the answer is no, false nails and fake tan I’m looking at you, then I’ll politely decline. If the answer is yes then I will, very gratefully, accept while making it very clear that if I dislike the product I will say so, or simply not review it at all.

I’ve been very lucky to receive some lovely products from companies I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of had they not contacted me. They’ve also educated me on issues which are now very important to be so I will be eternally grateful to my blog for that.

I’m not entirely sure where my ramble is going here. In a nutshell I think it’s a shame when new blogs are created purposely for the writer to rake in all the free products they possibly can. That’s totally not what blogging should be about. It’s about fun, not freebies!


Miss N

I would only ever feature items that I genuinley liked. the whole point of my blog is to share my passions, I would be cheating myself by lying to my readers.
Great post as always xx


Would love to read the linked article but the account has been suspended!
I can read sponsored posts and not, even if 30 other people have put the same post up, if I usually like the blogger I’ll read it, otherwise I rarely read the same blog post over and over.


@Phoebe – That’s SO weird! It was definitely there when I first wrote the post as I read it again this evening. I had it bookmarked but that link isn’t working now either. In fact, the entire Independent Fashion Bloggers site is down. Hopefully it’ll be back soon! 🙂 x


I don’t mind adverts on a blog as long as they aren’t getting in the way (i.e. those ads that pop up when you hover over certain words… UGH! so annoying!). They usually aren’t too intrusive and I actually quite like the NARS ones as they keep me up to date with what freebies NARS are giving away with their orders! 🙂

Regarding “gifting”… hmmm. Sometimes I see blogs, and I have to agree with lily here and say that it is mostly beauty bloggers who receive TONS of products. I absolutely cannot stand it when bloggers just copy what the company website says about the product and uses a stock image and adds a little line “oh its really great, i love it”. It actually angers me when I see those posts as the blogger hasn’t bothered to give an in-depth analysis of how the product looks, feels, smells, works – they could write something like that without even opening the bottle! It is almost an insult to the readers who have come to their blog in hope of finding a good overview of the product. But I suppose the main point of those cookie-cutter posts is for those few selfish blogger to promote that item and remain in the good books of companies who are then more likely to send them products to gain good publicity because they know that freebie = a good word put in, whether or not the blogger believes in the product or not.

However, I do enjoy reading HONEST posts about affordable, accessible beauty items that have been sent to bloggers and have often based my purchases on some of these posts. It makes me happy to see that even though a blogger has stated that they were sent the item free, that the review is balanced and informative and not necessarily a glowing one!

It’s understandable that beauty bloggers need new products to blog about (as who wants to read about the same foundation routine 30 x over?!), in fact it is kind of the lifeline of their future blog posts. This is in contrast to fashion bloggers who can technically buy their whole wardrobe from a charity shop and use 10 pieces in rotation with edgy accessories to create new, inspiring outfits everyday. Or even just DIY jeans into shorts and do something completely different! What I’m trying to say is that if a fashion blogger recycled a bin bag everyday with different shoes & accessories, it could be considered an interesting statement and quite possibly infinitely readable. Not quite so with beauty bloggers, as new products are constantly coming onto the markets and need to be tested before a general consensus can be made on its quality and the readership of a beauty blog will basically demand these reviews! The possible exception to this is make up gurus who use their existing make up to create different looks… but inevitably they end up posting “haul” videos and review videos too….



IN SHORT…the readers of a fashion blog keep coming back for inspiration on how to throw outfits together and develop their own personal style, with a few nods to up and coming trends (but no one is ACTUALLY going to buy the £3000 burberry aviator jacket no matter how beautiful and gorgeous the blogger says it is… they’ll just get the primark version). Readers of beauty blogs however, return for a different reason – to see new reviews of products in order to discover better makeup/cleansers/hair removal systems/whatever for themselves, and if someone was still using the SAME blusher/foundation/eyeliner/mascara/cleansing routine everyday, i don’t think that they’d have many followers as they wouldn’t really have much to blog about! therefore, i think that, to a certain extent, beauty bloggers NEED some gifting, in order to have access to new products which they can review and make an informed judgment on, using their experience and developed expertise from reviewing products in the past. BUT if they are just selling their (blogging) soul to get freebies and there are no swatches/good descriptions in the review then yes, that does piss me off.

Oh my days…… Am I the world’s most long winded person? Yes I am.



I’m not keen on ads so I prefer few or not at all. Promo pix drive me nuts. You can’t see anything properly in a promo pic. What’s the point of that then? And quite a few nail bloggers post them without any swatches. Waste of space. If I were given a freebie I might accept if I were interested but I’d write about it in just the same way as if I’d bought it. I can’t advertise anything because I’ve got ethical qualms. What if I advertised something I later discovered was tested on animals? Or something that had been produced by slave or child-labour? I like your blog. I don’t get the impression you just promote the latest thing to hit the High Street. It seems as if you dictate the pace which is as it should be. I think you have it right. Spot on.

LadyBugSays ...

Loving the nautical outfit Jen! I haven’t really been offered many freebies, and when I have I have only accepted the ones that I am interested in and that I think my readers would enjoy knowing about. Recently I have recieved alot of requests for advertising space from diamond jewellers and other companies completely irrelevant to my blog. needless to say I won’t be going ahead with these!


I’ve never been offered anything to review so I haven’t come up across the problem yet but I think I would accept, provided it was something I liked and that I was as truthful and honest as possible. I think it might prove a tad tricky for me to write about though because I do struggle with writing about shops I like without sounding fawning and overly marketing-y.

I don’t mind ads or sponsorship on a blog as long as they fit in with the spirit of it and don’t detract from what I’m going there to read about ie the blogger and their life/style/interests. I think you do it really nicely Jen – your reviews are always honest and are often teamed up with giveaways which is always a bonus, plus it’s really nice to see you wearing the pieces again because it proves you genuinely like them.

Kat O

I think you covered a thorny issue in a frank and sensible way. Pop up ads are immensely off-putting, but static ads are too bad. Cookie-cutter posts praising freebies annoy me as I don’t want to spend my freetime being advertised at, but that said, I love finding out about new products, but I always read a good number of reviews before buying. The honest review rules!

I just discovered your blog yesterday and love it! I tagged you in a post at Click&Make-Up

Kat x


I recently blogged about a piece of jewellery I bought and suddenly realised maybe I could work the system the other way around. Instead of me promoting them, maybe they could promote me. I e-mailed them and asked if they would mind posting a link to my blog and sure enough they put it on their facebook page.

The moral here is much the same as you’ve pointed out though: if you don’t truly believe in it, don’t do it. I blogged about my piece of jewellery because I wanted other people to know how much I loved it, and it’s a bonus that I got something out of it too. It’s the same principal if you accept “gifts” or have sponsors.

P.S. Another fabulous piece- I ADORE my Little Bird Fixes.


oh how i wish i could write as well as you jen, as i mentioned to you sometimes i find it hard to write what i want to say, which really does annoy me sometimes. i agree with you so much, i would only accept freebies if i feel right for me and my blog. i recently got an email from a company asking to pay for an advertising spot, i don’t want to advertise engagement rings (haha!) so obviously i said no.

so far i have accepted free clothes from funk rock, the reason why i said yes is because i loved their clothes and i knew that my readers would too, plus they seem like a very genuine, lovely company. as i said in an older post of yours, i went to pure london to view their collection and the girls where just so lovely.

i was also invited to preview the a/w collection of rare clothing, it’s not my typical brand but it was my first invite and i just had to go for the experience, and i’m so glad they did. the clothes where lovely, though they are out of my price range, and i met up with some lovely bloggers.

i have also been sent a £30 next voucher and been invited to the next model event, but i am always completely open with what i have recieved for free. i would never not tell my readers when i have been given something.

i don’t have ads on my blog at the moment, but i wouldn’t say i won’t in the future, i just like my blog to look fresh and simple.

i fear i am rambling and steering away from the subject. i hope one day we will see each other in person so we can speak face to face, though i bet you i will still have the same problem with my words, hehe.

i adore your blog jen, i really do.

Disco Goth

It doesn’t bother me one way or another, I’m pretty impervious to advertising. Also if somebody tells me they like something I will always form my own opinion rather than rushing out to buy the endorsed item.
It would be annoying if every blog was an advert and actually when bloggers have had things for free I just feel happy for them.


pip a la chic

I agree with disco goth…doesn’t bother me..but come on mostly everyone does it… I have more views on this but I should remain to keep my mouth shut.

Ayden ♥

Dude! So glad to be back and catching up on what youve been upto 🙂 I enjoyed this post, and Ive just had a wee read of your ‘jealousy’ one too. I think its easy to get sucked into the hype, and I will completely bypass a blog if Im having a nosy around different ones and feel like the writer is just out for the ‘perks’ and freebies. I think if you do get approached by a company, theres a right way of going about it and while there are some arse lickers, there are also some girls who are completely honest about the product and thats the kinda stuff we want to read! 🙂 anyways, Im off on a rant now. Muchos love xx


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