Guatemala shirt - vintage (boyfriend's), Belt - vintage (eBay), Boots - c/o Dolce Vita, Tank top - ASOS, Shorts - vintage, Long necklace - gift from Brit, Earrings & most bracelets & rings - Konstantino, Large cuff - c/o JFR
So, you may not know this, but the "write up" portion of my blog isn't open to paid endorsement...which is strange, because up there I just told you that Dolce Vita sent me a free pair of shoes so that I'd tell you about their contest. I made the exception this time for two reasons:
1. Dolce Vita is a brand I personally love. Their shoes, in particular, kill me. I have some amazing Dolce Vita heels that I wear and love dearly, so I felt a-okay about reppin' their brand on my blog. It's just more of the same that I usually wear! Speaking of...I've been meaning to show you guys the amazing leopard print Dolce Vita shoes I bought a couple of months ago. I need to get on that; they are beyond amazing.
2. These shoes are so awesome that had I known they existed prior to DV emailing me, I would have just bought them for myself anyway (fact).
3. The contest is so awesome that I would have just shared it with you anyway, without prompting, because I quite like free shiz and I think you do, too.
So, there you go. I broke my own rule, just this once, but I feel okay about it.
Sponsorships and advertising is a rather touchy concept when talking about fashion bloggers. It's no secret that there is a sea of "courtesy of"s on nearly every fashion blog. As someone who attempts to live in accordance to at least a baseline modicum of ethics, I find it interesting to consider the different angles of fashion blogger morality.
I never once thought there was anything unethical about accepting clothing gratis to wear on my blog. My thought process was always this: if I like the product and I think you'd like it, too, what's the harm in showing you? Bloggers are inundated with multiple requests every single day from companies wanting to collaborate. Believe it or not, we do exercise restraint. My house is already overrun with amazing vintage garments and accessories of which I refuse to let go. The last thing I want to do is compromise precious closet space by bringing in piles of new clothes just because they are free. In fact, nothing irks me more than when a company offers to send me a piece, I select what I love, and then they send me a bunch of other stuff, too, unsolicited, that I don't love at all. I find it to be extremely wasteful. That is product the company could be selling to someone who WILL love it, that is product out the window that adds to the demand chain and causes more product to be manufactured, and that is one more trip I have to take to Goodwill to donate it. The free clothing I do accept is because I genuinely like it and think it adds something special to my wardrobe, and I don't accept anything beyond that.
My personal ethical boundary is the idea that someone might pay me to wear an item on my blog. That, to me, was always a very obvious "no-no". The addition of compensation into the equation might cloud my judgement. Instead of looking at a company and saying, "Oh! You have some great things, so I'd love to partner with you!", I feared I might look at a company and say, "Well, I guess this is the least of the terrible, so I'll wear it once on my blog, take the money, and not worry about it again." That is why I, personally, will not accept cash compensation to wear an item. The only "compensation" that I will accept for wearing a piece in a blog post is the piece itself, but when you have a closet my size, that's hardly compensation at all usually, because I tend to wear different items every single day, so I don't get much use out of the piece after I wear it once on my blog! With the exception of staples like jackets, shoes, and denim shorts, I tend to wear a piece only once per year or so* (what can I say, I have a LOT of clothes, and I feel okay about that, because most of them are vintage, and when I get rid of old pieces, I just donate them back into the great life(re)cycle of thrift stores).
*Now, on a side note, I will say that I am still getting a lot of use out of my Wasteland X UNIF tee shirt. That is the one free item I have that somehow ends up on my body every day. It's what I wear in that awkward time when I am in between pajamas and real clothes, but need to step out of the house. I freaking love that shirt.
So, if I'm not getting paid to wear anything on my blog, how the heck do I make money off of it? Should I even make money off of it? Is the idea of making money from your blog an unethical idea in itself? I would answer that last question with "no". Blogging takes a lot of work, and while most of us do it because it's fun (and some of us do it because we like to look at pictures of ourselves and feel important [I fall into the latter half of the latter half of those scenarios -- I personally hate being photographed and looking at photos of myself, but it's fun to trick yourself into thinking you're doing something with your life, even if, in reality, you're just posting pictures of your outfit to a website every day]), at the end of the day, bloggers provide a service. Whether you look at fashion blogs to gain inspiration or you look at fashion blogs to balk in horror, you are deriving some form of entertainment from what we put out there, and at the very least, there is nothing wrong with us being compensated as entertainers (though I would blog for free all day, every day, and still love it to pieces). However, it's not like we're going to charge you, the reader, just for reading. Instead, we charge companies who want to get you, our readers, over on their websites as shoppers.
So, how does the compensation structure work? Ideally, I post content that makes you want to come to my blog. Maybe you like what I wear, maybe you like the way I write, maybe you like being perplexed by my odd fashion choices. Whatever the case, my job is to post content to amuse you in some capacity. If I do it well, I have a lot of site traffic. If I have a lot of site traffic, companies begin taking interest in my blog as a source of advertisement. They may "advertise" by gifting me a piece to wear (which, again, I only accept if I truly love and would wear anyway), or they may advertise by putting a banner up on my sidebars. How do I make money off of my blog? From those sidebar banners. Look at 'em, over on the left there. Those are my advertisers. Advertisers work in different ways. The ads from Chicwish, LSD, and Telltale Hearts, for example, were put up gratis, because I really like those people. I try to offer something special to women-owned small businesses by doing free ads in that manner. 2020Ave, Wasteland, Blowfish, Lucky Vintage, James Rowland Shop, and Sunglasses Shop are all paid advertisers. They pay me a monthly fee to keep their ads up there, hoping that you'll click on them. A lot of those companies I truly, truly love to pieces (I promised Lucky Vintage a free ad, actually, but then turned into the worst blogger ever and slacked off for weeks on end and never put their free ad up, so they turned into a paid advertiser), and I am proud to have them as sponsors on my blog. For Nasty Gal, Free People, and Urban Outfitters, I am part of their Google Affiliate Network. That means that they don't pay me by the month; instead, they pay me based off of clicks, or based off of a commission on any sale generated from the ad on my blog. Each of those Google Affiliate Network ads have different terms, and I don't remember them off the top of my head.
Now, the big question: how much money do I make from blogging? It varies from month to month. I usually only make money when I bring on a new advertiser, because they tend to sign up for multiple months in bulk. So, some months, I'll make nothin', and some months I'll make around $500. Most months, it's around $100 or so. That's it. Not that much dough, is it? It's certainly not that much dough when you consider the amount of money that goes INTO blogging. I do buy more "wow" pieces of clothing now that I blog, because I'm excited to share them with my readers, and the cost of that alone far outweighs any income.
With the right mindset, blogging can be extremely lucrative, and I'm sure that a lot of bloggers with the same amount of followers as me make a lot more money than I do from their blog. However, I am not in that mindset right now. I have my job, which I love, and Tunnel Vision, which I love. Blogging truly is a hobby for me, so I offer very low advertising rates and I don't ever solicit advertisers. When I pick up an advertiser and make a little extra money, I high-five my dog and go spend it on household stuff. Glamorous.