#sponsored #ad #affiliate #co isn't fake. Let me tell you why.
This is a post I've wanted to write for a long time. I don't typically "blog about blogging" mostly because I always hope to relate and reach people outside the blogging realm, but, I think this topic has been unfortunately tainted by influencers (bloggers) and has caused readers, followers, and even other bloggers to click away from and ignore certain content.
That being, sponsored content.
Ugh. You guys, this literally makes me so uncomfortable to talk about because it's so personal. But I'm going to dive in and explain what it is, how I approach it, and how I hope you view my sponsored/affiliate/ad content moving forward. Again, let me just reiterate, this is MY approach and every blogger does it differently - to each their own!
What is sponsored/affiliate/ad/CO content?
Sponsored or Ad content is typically made up of content that is paid. Sometimes it's just free items in exchange for a mention within a post, a product review, or social media shout out, but most of the time, the blogger is being paid to write positively about the mentioned product or business. Here is an example of this type of post on Joy Lynn: Vitamin Water. I was paid by a third party to write a unique post using Vitamin Water from Sam's Club. This was essentially an ad, but it doesn't mean that the post itself was "fake" - just that it had to mention the product. The other tips within that post are honest-to-goodness tips I keep in mind when I'm doing some serious thrifting. Think of it like product placement in movies. Just because the characters are drinking Pepsi, doesn't mean the movie is just about Pepsi. They just got paid to mention it.
Affiliate links are no more than a link to a product that, should you make a purchase, will give a small commission to the blogger. They're used all over the internet and are not unique to blogs or bloggers, but YouTubers, businesses, and more. They cost nothing extra, but affiliates are a very positive, passive way for bloggers to make a few dollars for recommending great products to their readers. Any Amazon link you find on my blog is affiliate linked. So if you click on the KitchenAid mixer in my sidebar and buy it, I get a little moolah from Amazon as a way for them to say to me, "Hey, thanks for sending someone over and giving us business!" However, if you click that mixer, decide you don't want it, but continue to browse Amazon and make a different purchase - without ever leaving that one session - I'd get a small commission on whatever you bought in that session. It has no affect on you, but it's the main way my blog personally makes an income and helps keep my running costs in the black.
C/O (compliments of, courtesy of) is nothing more than free product. Typically, this means an item was sent to a blogger because the blogger asked for it or the company sent a sample on their own accord hoping the blogger will like it enough to mention it. This doesn't usually come with any requirements and bloggers might like something they received so much, that they willingly write a review on it, share it on social media, or use it as a giveaway item. Companies might ask for a share on social media or a review, but no one is contractually obligated. The difference between free items in the C/O sense vs. the sponsored sense, is that free items that are sponsored are "in exchange" for a post/social media share/review. C/O items may or may not be used or shared at all.
What did you mean in regards to some of these being "tainted?"
How many times have you as a reader come across a post that's tagged as #sponsored, #ad, #afflink, etc... and immediately passed it by because those tags, to you, have become synonymous with "fake content?" Probably a lot. I'll even raise my hand for this one... I still do this.
The thing is, I get it. I understand why you do that.
It's because at one point you clicked on one of these posts and found the substance to be completely vapid and lacking, except when it came time to praise a product. The photos were filled with pretty staging and gaudy-labeled products as the star. The post, though intriguing by the title, ended up being nothing more than a glorified ad for chocolate milk from Wal-Mart. You felt used. Like you were the audience adding to the success of an online "figure" who just needs you for numbers and "support" for their ad company. This "trick" happened to you more than once, until finally, you developed an instinctive response to simply scroll right past any and all posts with "#ad" associated with them.
How are these approached on Joy Lynn?
I'm writing this post preemptively so that in my future posts, you aren't quick to judge. I want to communicate to you - you as an individual - how honesty and integrity works on Joy Lynn.
Thus far, to be completely honest with you, I've not pursued many sponsored opportunities. There are various places you can land sponsored gigs for money, but because authenticity is of the utmost importance to me, I cannot bring myself to write a meaningful article about frozen dinners from Target even if it comes with a nice paycheck. I have a hard time feeling as though that's true to my blog and honest and valuable to my readers.
Pitching to companies I love is also insanely daunting - even small area businesses. As much as I, of course, feel that my blog and my readership would be beneficial to these businesses, it's hard to go in and say, "Hey, I love your business and I want to share about your products on my blog, but it'll cost you $---." And unless you have a massive following with huge social media numbers, the big brands you want to work with probably won't even acknowledge your existence, let alone PAY you. Sponsored content is not my strong suit. I am not very "salesy," I care very deeply about authenticity and only promoting products and businesses I absolutely love, and I never want to disappoint my sponsors or readers. Maybe it's a fear of failure, but more than anything, it's a fear that my readers may see my blog in a negative light should it become too "sponsored." I hope that in the future, as I perhaps pursue some of these higher paid routes, I'll have the support and understanding from my readers that these posts are necessary for my blog's success and they are still real posts.
These links are the driving force on Joy Lynn. They are passive in nature, and I only link to products that I either own, are very similar to what I own, or would consider trying (like the ones linked in this post). I'm not pushy about them, they bring in only cents on the dollar, but are such an easy, positive way for readers to give back to this little online space. How many times do you order off Amazon in a month? Next time, I hope you'll think of me and click through one of my links before filling up your cart and purchasing :)
C/O (compliments of, courtesy of):
Though I think it's very important for bloggers to be paid monetarily for the hard work they put into their blogs, receiving products is also very fulfilling and can feel so rewarding. I've received several items over the years and only shared with you the ones I love. Social Print Studio, as an example, is a company I've purchased from for years, and when I pitched to them and they agreed to sponsor a post, I was ecstatic because they are such a genuine fit for my blog and I felt my readers would appreciate it too (here's that post). To this day, if I ever see someone looking for a great place to order prints, I point them to SPS because they are truly my personal favorite. Not because they worked with me, but because I genuinely love their company and products.
Really, it's just an awesome perk to be able to share with you actual items I would choose or purchase, but instead be given them so I don't go broke buying up all my favorite things. I have a few items for our upcoming trip that were sent to me, because I reached out to them, I picked their items, and I would have bought them anyway. If I didn't like them, I certainly wouldn't share them, but I do! And I can't wait to recommend them to you.
How do I hope you view my sponsored, affiliate, etc... content moving forward?
In terms of all the different ways I make a living off this blog, I hope with all my heart that you'll continue to be supportive. I don't push anything on my readers and never will, but in doing so I've sacrificed a lot financially, and in ways it's even held back my success. I do not buy followers (many, mannnyyyy influencers do) and I always want Joy Lynn to be 100% organic, authentic, and real. In order to keep this up, I need your support and trust. I need you to not ignore or skip those posts that are sponsored or affiliate linked or C/O, because those posts took a lot of guts, pitching, time, and energy to land. When I have the opportunity to share a brand with you, it's because I love that product and I think you really will too.
It hurts bloggers when they put so much blood, sweat, and tears into their online spaces, only to be shunned by their readers when they finally get a paycheck. As if readers suddenly don't appreciate their work if they get paid for it. How crummy is that? To work so hard to be honest and trustworthy, only to be pigeonholed by the word "sponsored" or "affiliate."
If you see sponsored here...
Know it took so much bravery, hard work, and dedication-to-authenticity to land and put together in a genuine post. It's 100% real.
If you see affiliate here...
Know it's one of the few ways this blogger can continue to follow her dream of creating a helpful, positive, wholesome online community.
If you see c/o here...
Know it's a product this blogger either asked for and chose herself, and feels so grateful to have the opportunity to receive and share it. Or she was given this product and really loves it and thinks you'll really love it too.
(Keep in mind: Not every free product makes it to the blog because it may not have made the cut in terms of quality/style/various reasons)
Finally, I just want to express my sincere gratitude for my followers and small, engaged community. Whether you're a blogger or not, I love having you here. I think about my readers on the regular, I love your comments, I write for you, and I share my heart here hoping it can bring something positive or relatable to your feeds of grim news and heartache. I do real here, and sometimes that means sharing hard things, but each and every day, when I open up my blog or my social media, I feel at home. I cherish the messages you send me and love when you tell what you like to see and read. I want to continue to nurture this space and take opportunities for growth, but I need your supportive words and presence to keep doing what I'm doing. I know it's easy to look at the life of a blogger (a career that many still think is bizarro - haha) or writer or creative freelancer, and think they have it easy and their life is just a staged photo, but behind the scenes are struggles, and insecurities, and many "no's," and few "thanks," and all for such little pay. But it's something I care for so deeply, in the way anyone cares for a work of their own hands or their small business. It's a place that feels worth the frustration and failure and slow growth when that one person reaches out and to say they feel validated, inspired, understood, or happy.
I hope I'm acting as a light for Christ, a light in the world, and a light to someone's day.