Blog Log #7: Balancing Blogging, Advertising and Ethics

Blog Log

Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


I have always felt that as bloggers, we deserve to be fairly compensated for our work just like any other profession.

Chances are that after you’ve been blogging for awhile, when you check your inbox in the morning, half of your emails are pitches from PR companies and text link inquiries. In the beginning, this can be incredibly flattering. After all, a lot of us put a huge chunk of time and effort into creating original content for our blogs and it feels great to finally receive some recognition.

But, it starts to become tricky when we sit down and actually sift through these offers. What’s legit and what’s garbage? How much of this content is actually a good fit for our blogs?

Here’s where I stand on advertising that’s not as straightforward as a banner ad (because there are a lot of other ways to collaborate with companies in exchange for payment these days):

Text Links

At this time, I turn down all text link offers. A text link is composed of words in an article that links to another page, usually that of a business. The business will usually pay you a flat rate to insert text links into articles they deem SEO-friendly. So for instance, if I’ve posted an article about how I keep my clothing organized, a closet organization company might approach me after the article has gone live and offer $50.00 to link to their business in the body copy.

My personal feelings regarding text links is that if you aren’t a fan of the site you’re linking to and are just doing it for the money, it’s misleading for your readers to click on those links. If I don’t believe in a product or service, I sure don’t want my readers to think I do. It’s not worth trading in your ethics for a quick 50 bucks.

The one time I did do a text link deal was about four years ago and I felt okay at that time because I was able to try out the product I was recommending beforehand. Basically, I reviewed a straightening iron and felt that it was fantastic quality and ran a sponsored post along with a link to a new page on my site that advertised the straightening iron. These days, I wouldn’t put a subpage on my site but at the time, it felt fine since I knew that what I was promoting was a quality product.

As a sidenote, if you’re running text links that are clearly labeled in your sidebar as advertising, while they aren’t pretty, this is a lot more straightforward.

Affiliate Links

I do believe in using affiliate links. With affiliate links, you place code into the product link within your blog post that allows you to earn a commission on items you recommend. And most importantly, it doesn’t cost the person clicking on the link any extra money. I use these links to share products I already own or would like to own. I occasionally recommend books that I’ve read and loved, camera equipment I own and clothing that I’m wearing in my posts. Simple as that. I try to use affiliate links sparingly because there’s nothing worse than overdoing it and feeling spammy.

Sponsored Posts

These days, sponsored posts seem to be more prevalent than standard banner advertising when it comes to big name bloggers. When done right, sponsored posts can be tasteful, creative and bring together bloggers with brands they believe in. I am a fan of sponsored posts when they feel like a natural expansion of a blogger’s brand.

My most successful sponsored post collaboration to date has been working with Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape. This relationship worked well for me because I already use the product in home remodeling projects and I’d also been interested in producing original DIY projects for my readers. This collaboration was particularly exciting because I was given free reign to think up any project I wanted with the only stipulation being that I used the tape. My two outcomes from this partnership included a custom skateboard deck and Christmas ornaments.

My advice in these situations is to only agree to partnerships that allow some creative freedom and also allow you to produce your own body copy. Chances are, your readers will be turned off by a cut-and-paste PR statement so really dig in and add your personal spin.


Who doesn’t love free merchandise?! When I first started blogging seriously in 2007, I was a full-time college student balancing both a full-time job along with an internship. I didn’t have a whole lot of money and it was always flattering when companies offered to send clothing my way to include in outfit posts. It was a simple exchange: If I receive an item that I loved, I’d link to their site in a style post. I wanted new clothes I couldn’t afford otherwise, they wanted traffic and we both walked away happy.

But these days, things are a little bit different. When I am approached with an offer, I always remember what Kat of Rock n Roll Bride says: “A free handbag doesn’t pay my mortgage.” And, she’s right. I consider these partnerships a lot more carefully now and though I very occasionally accept products in exchange for a blog post, I only do so if it’s an item I feel strongly enough about that I would purchase it anyway. Which is at most, a few times per year.

It’s the law to disclose when an item was gifted so I’m very clear in my description when an item was provided for review by adding a ℅ (care of).

Brand Collaborations

If you have a solid following but aren’t being approached by the brands you’re interested in collaborating with, why not approach them? To date, all of my brand collaborations have happened by being approached by other companies but I am hearing of more bloggers writing up their own pitches these days. If you want more information on the subject, the best article I’ve seen to date on this topic is by Bri of Designlovefest.

Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


Shifting Perceptions

While it’s always flattering to get noticed by companies, my most basic advice is that if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. It’s never worth compromising your brand in exchange for payment. Money comes and goes but regaining your footing after a bad deal is an uphill battle.

In the beginning, some of you may include paid text links in articles or work out special deals with brands and that’s okay if you feel good about it — you have to weigh the pros and cons and work out what’s best for you. But at the same time, it’s okay to change your mind as your ethics and business principles shift. As our awareness increases, a deal that felt like a good fit just a few years earlier may feel completely wrong now.

If you’re not at the point where you’re being approached for advertising and promotions yet, that’s okay too. I always say to myself that, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s always better to take your time and build a blog that you and your readers believe in versus rushing it and making bad business decisions.

It’s good to be aware of opportunities but at the same time, be razor sharp about what you’re delivering in return. Never sell yourself or your readers short.

Now, it’s your turn: What kinds of offers have you taken in exchange for payment and promotion? Are there some offers that you accepted and later regretted?

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Latest & Greatest #17: Woven Bracelets

Latest and Greatest

Latest & Greatest: Woven Bracelets

Over the weekend, I was showing Kat and Gala around Hawthorne, a street in S.E. Portland jam-packed with locally owned boutiques, restaurants and vintage stores. We popped in The Gold Door, a store that is filled with the smell of incense and brightly colored religious paraphernalia, skulls, imported decor and jewelry. I’ve always thought of it as a shop that’s perfect for picking up a unique gift for the eccentric and adventurous globe trotter in your life.

I spotted these handwoven plastic bracelets grouped on a table and picked up a handful. Gala thought they reminded her of Dries van Noten and I laughed at the designer reference, noting that the price was a whole four dollars each!

Latest & Greatest: Woven Bracelets

I left with these three and paired them the next day with my black flowered dress. I have a lot of upcoming travel and sometimes a handful of accessories are just what’s needed to spice up those wardrobe basics. These days, it’s the really small things that get me excited, including these plastic bracelets.

Have you picked up anything new to spice up your wardrobe lately?

Paris In Winter: A Style Shoot with Juliane Berry

Paris by Juliane Berry

Paris is that one place in the world that I’m completely obsessed with. I’m drawn to the beauty, the typography, the slower pace of life and all the distinct ways it’s the polar opposite of the U.S. Because it’s a place I’m not super familiar with (I’ve only been there twice, for a few days at a time) and because of the language barrier, it offers me a fresh perspective and a glimpse into a way of life that feels slightly mysterious.

Paris by Juliane Berry

The day after we arrived in Paris, photographer Juliane Berry met us in the 1st arrondissement for a photoshoot.

Paris by Juliane Berry

Juliane is wonderful because she’s originally from LA so there’s no language barrier and since she’s primarily a wedding photographer, she always has the best locations scoped out. I first met Juliane back in 2010 and she later became one of my clients (I’m so happy with how her branding came together).

Paris by Juliane Berry

Because it was the dead of winter, overcast and raining, when we arrived at the Louvre, it was completely deserted. Considering that it’s the world’s most visited museum (8 million visitors pass through its halls every year) it was quite unexpected and made our shoot a cinch. And I loved the glass pyramids by architect I. M. Pei.

Paris by Juliane Berry

When Juliane led us into the Palais-Royal, it took me a few seconds to adjust. Striped columns in varying heights covered the courtyard. It felt like I’d entered a new, twisted universe that had only previously existed in my imagination. Once again, it was nearly deserted as we wove our way through the columns.

Paris by Juliane Berry

Paris is the city of romance so it only made sense to dance my way through with Gala. Of course, our routines were hideous and made no sense but hey, we were having a good time!

Paris by Juliane Berry

As much as I love to travel and I have no fear of hopping on a plane and zipping across the world, when I arrive somewhere I want to meet up with friends. I’m not a fan of eating out by myself or staying in hotels alone. Though I’ve done both, I dread it! I want share the experience with someone that sees what I see, that gets excited and loves to document our newly discovered environment through photos, tweets and blog posts. I’m incredibly lucky that Kat and Gala share the same love of traveling that I do and along with that, common interests that allow us to navigate a new city with similar goals in mind.

Paris by Juliane Berry

I won’t lie, though the constant travel looks like pure glamour and nonstop fun from the outside, Instagrams and tweets don’t tell the full story. I tend to like a fair amount of quiet time by myself to think, work on client projects and recharge. That’s actually one benefit of traveling as part of a threesome though because I can easily slip away (while Kat and Gala go on a shopping rampage) and there’s still that extra person to venture out with.

Paris by Juliane Berry

What’s the one place you’ve traveled to that still holds the magic for you?

I Wore: Sonia Rykiel dress and All Saint boots
Photos: Juliane Berry Photography
Locations: The Louvre and Palais-Royal
Co-conspirators: Gala Darling and Kat Williams

The Week In Pictures: 3.29.13

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Wowza, what a week!!! It’s been a little quiet around these parts because Kat and Gala landed in my fair city Tuesday night and since then, it’s been completely, totally nonstop. We’ve been running around like madwomen from 9 am till 11 pm every day, picking up sponsor items from the post office, spilling coffee, visiting the finest establishments of Portland’s underbelly, revamping our workshop presentation with even more fresh content, shopping our way through Portland’s most eccentric vintage stores and of course, hanging out with my quite entertaining family. Our favorite photographer trio Made U Look arrives from LA today and then we will be in full-on workshop mode all weekend at The Ace. Exciting times around here!

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Tuesday was a big day for us. We did a live stream event for The Blogcademy and had a great time answering viewer questions about both business and blogging. I’m not a big fan of video but sometimes you just have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and go with the flow. We blew bubbles (Gala’s idea, of course!), somehow Gene Simmons came up in the conversation and before we knew it, an hour and a half had passed! Honestly, once you’ve done one live video, it feels a whole lot less intimidating and I can’t wait to do it again.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

There’s nothing like showing company around your city — it really forces you to adjust your eyesight and notice all the details you overlook on a daily basis. I spent yesterday taking the girls around S.E. Portland and they loved all the kooky colored houses, adorable independent restaurants and of course, the ridiculously cheap vintage shopping. I told them Portland was good!

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

I’ve walked past this mural dozens of times and never stopped. Like I said, having visitors helps to open your eyes!

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Last night, we joined my family at the Kennedy School. It seemed quite fitting having drinks in the Detention Room of the converted grade school! Kat and Gala got to meet my grandparents, who they immediately fell in love with. The feeling was mutual – my grandparents, who live up in the mountains, loved Kat and Gala’s eccentric accents.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

This has been the perfect week to show my friends around down, since Spring has sprung. Everything is in bloom and the weather has been beautiful (you know how rare clear skies are around these parts!)

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

And with that, I’m out — report cards and graduation certificates have been filled out, goodie bags are packed and our presentation polished. We’re packing our bags now for the fun times that await.

Have a great weekend, everyone! And, if you want to keep up with even more snippets and snapshots, feel free to follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

Link Love: 3.28.13

link love

Peggy Moffitt modeling Rudi Gernreich by William Claxton

• Four ways to overcome the fear of starting your business.

• Typographica rounds up its favorite typefaces of 2012 and best of all, you can click through and buy on the spot!

• I had to read the opening paragraph of this 58 year old male shopaholic’s story twice: In the last few years, he’s bought eighty-one leather jackets (including a $22,000 coat). And much, much more. Over half a million dollars worth!

• As a designer, should you ever participate in crowdsourcing? My thoughts are included!

• Having an open mind and a willingness to take chances will take you far.

• Looking for ways to organize your wardrobe? Here’s a roundup of visual inspiration.

• I’m fascinated by these geometric monograms that were created by French Goldsmith and Stylist Jean Puiforcat.

• 10 ways to get the most out of workshops and events.

• If you own a company, maybe you need one of these stamps by your side!

• This interview with blogger Victoria Smith of SFGirlByBay is super duper inspiring.

• I love Kathleen’s new column, Weekend Reading, a link roundup of intriguing, thought-provoking content.

• What does success really look like?

View more Link Love columns right here.

Join Us Today For The Blogcademy Digital Q&A!

The Blogcademy Digital Q&A

How’s your week going so far? Kat and Gala arrived in Portland late last night and we’ve been excitedly prepping for The Blogcademy digital party we’re throwing this afternoon. You’re invited and tickets can be purchased here!

This event is ideal for any of you who can’t make it to one of our live workshops but still have blogging and business questions you’d like answered. It’s also great for those of you who aren’t sure if The Blogcademy is right for you and want to get a small taste of what it’s all about.

To join us today, simply purchase a ticket here and tune in live at 1pm PST / 4pm EST! And if you’re not free to watch then, you’ll have access to the recording forever.

If you have a question you’d like to have us answer, feel free to do so during the live stream or to make sure we don’t miss you, tweet or email us at beforehand.

And remember, we’re giving away a Blogcademy goodie bag to one lucky viewer! You’ll receive a custom tote (your pick of the L.A. or Portland design), packed to the brim with awesome things including our exclusive workbook.

Get your questions ready and we’ll see you (digitally) very soon! And, if you’d still like to join us at our Portland or LA workshops, resister here and we’ll fit you in.

Latest & Greatest #16: Kate Spade Saturday

Latest and Greatest

Latest & Greatest: Kate Spade Saturday

Truth be told, I’ve barely been bothered to shop (beyond house-related items) since I returned from Europe two months ago. We’ve been very busy remodeling since the new year and I’ve had little time or interest in perusing the web in the name of fun and personal consumption.

But, all that shifted in a quick moment last week when I laid eyes on Kate Spade Saturday. A new lower-priced diffusion collection, it’s bright, mod and overflowing with two of my favorite things: stripes and yellow.

Latest & Greatest: Kate Spade Saturday

It’s very rare for me, but sometimes, do you come across an item, a collection or an entire store that feels like it was pulled directly from your stream of consciousness? Like you’ve been dreaming up specific items for years and then suddenly, they’re in existence, right before your eyes? I’m feeling that way about Saturday at the moment. I love the fun, youthful simplicity of their products.

Latest & Greatest: Kate Spade Saturday

And, not only are their offerings fun but I’m equally enamored by the bold colors, patterns and grids of their graphic design. All around awesome.

Have you checked out Saturday yet? What do you think?