It’s a big question and one that has plagued me for almost 4 years now – is it possible to be an ethical influencer? Influencer marketing is still a murky and rapidly evolving beast and I’ve struggled to work out exactly where I sit within it all. It wasn’t until recently when one of my followers pointed out that gifting still counts as a type of paid promotion that I decided to really take a look at the topic of influencer marketing, focusing on how I’m involved. So, I’ve conducted a hard-hitting interview with myself and I’ve been as open and transparent about answers as I can.
How will you be transparent about what is gifted and what is a paid promotion?
From what I can tell from my research the most important thing is clarity. My goal is for any person reading my posts to have a clear understanding that the product/event that I’m promoting has either been gifted to me or I’m being paid to post about it. The most straight forward/legal way I’ve found is to include #gifted or #ad and #sponsored. If you don’t see those hashtags on one of my posts then you can be sure that whatever I’m sharing has been paid for by me, or is simply something I’m into.
I have gone back through all of my instagram posts and added #gifted to every single photo where I was ever given something for free.
Why aren’t you stating how much you’re paid per post?
I’ve thought deeply about whether I should or not, and I’ve decided not to because it feels very similar to me asking what you make at your job. What is more important for me is that my followers/readers clearly know the intention behind each post I put out there. I am always happy to send my Media Kit and pricing to anyone who genuinely wants to work with me and who I feel would be a good fit for collaboration.
Do you feel guilty about making money from Instagram?
No, because it’s damn hard work! To give some perspective, a single photo could take anywhere between 1-5 hours. This includes make up/hair, location scouting, actual shooting time, editing time, writing, posting and replying. That’s not inclusive of any time spent ideating, communicating with the brand and researching before the actual post. I also have to mention that my partner Jamie takes the vast majority of my photos, which means there are 2 people involved in every post. Without him, it wouldn’t happen.
I’ve had to work on allowing myself to receive money from my instagram work because (as I’m sure many creatives can relate to) it can feel weird making money from your art or passion.
But aren’t you the “Un-Material Girl”… surely you have heaps of stuff now right?
Yeah, I do, and it’s a serious issue for me. I’m actively working on purging my belongings again, so stay tuned for a massive garage sale soon. I have recently added a section to my Media Kit acknowledging the fact that if I am gifted or given a product as part of a paid promotion the brand must be comfortable with the fact that I may give away, donate or sell that item in the future. Sometimes brands simply lend me an item, I photograph it and I post it back.
So, do you work with any brand as long as they pay you/gift you something?
Not a chance! This is super important to me. I have turned down countless well paid/gifting opportunities from small to very established fashion brands purely because they don’t align with the values of my blog. I only collaborate and work with labels that I truly believe in and I have valued the integrity of my blog above all else from the very start. If I work with a brand it’s because I truly believe in them.
Have you ever paid for followers or paid to promote your posts?
Do you feel conflicted about selling things?
This is probably the toughest thing I grapple with because I often feel conflicted about selling things when I have my own issues around promoting consumerism. I remind myself that the brands I choose to work with are all innovators and pioneers. These are the brands that are changing the industry and creating the future of fashion, and most of the time they are the ones who need the most support and encouragement.
I also have included a section in my Media Kit explaining that honesty and transparency are values I hold very dear, therefore any personal opinion I share with my followers will be my true thoughts and feelings. There have been times that I have received a product, been disappointed with it’s quality, cancelled the collaboration and paid to return the garment to the brand purely because I would never want to promote something that I didn’t believe was awesome.
This jumper was gifted to me as part of a paid promotion with Frank and Dollys, the pants were purchased with my staff discount from Biomes Slow Fashion Department where I work. I bought the watch from The Horse many years ago, and the necklace was bought from Munay Designs at the latest Planting Festival. The hat has been with me for 10 years, originally from Sportsgirl, and my recent hair colour was done by Annie at Mikki Auld Hair.
Jamie took the photo, and he’s the real star of this show.