The Business of Fashion Blogging

Hi friends! Just posting something that’s been on my mind lately. Regularly scheduled programming to resume shortly – I have a new outfit post coming up!

You may have noticed “courtesy of” or “c/o” in some of my outfits. For shits and giggles, I want to clarify what this means. I’ve never received any complaints or hate-mail (because I have the BEST readers, but I may be biased); I was simply inspired to write an open letter to you after reading this fascinating and stimulating post by Delightfully Tacky. I’m in agreement with many of the sentiments in the comments of the aforementioned post, in that lately I’ve noticed a few big-name blogs losing touch with their personal style and succumbing to outfits composed entirely of one sponsor, or repeated outfits by one sponsor, and as a blog reader myself, I tend to wonder how much of it was their personal style and how much was obligation. A lot of times, this isn’t addressed openly and honestly to their readers.

So I thought, hey, I may not be big-name or hugely popular, but I’m going to boldly go where few fashion bloggers have gone before, and write you, dear reader, an open letter. For fellow fans of musicals, cue the line from The Sound of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning…”

I’m a medical student, with no job, on a tight, tight budget. I started PSS as a girly haven for my love of fashion, accessories, design, and generally girly things, as well as an escape from the traumatic & sudden loss of my 20-year-old brother in October ’09.

After a while, sponsors came on board – sure, they pay for the ad space to show you their wonderful stores, but I want you to know two things about my sponsors. First, each is either personally contacted by myself since I am a fan of their products, or brought on board only after thorough review & approval. I also like to highlight Etsy shops I love because I’m all about supporting the small, single-person business – especially in this economy! What you may not see are the sponsor applications that I decline because they don’t relate to myself or my audience. (Some of them are quite ludicrous–yes, I’m talking to you, Stella Artois beer brewery!) Now, I’m not a hot-shot who gets contacted right and left for sponsorships, but yes, there are the occasional doozies.

Secondly: sponsor fees (advertising fees) do not make me a profit on my blog. They cover hosting costs (I’m not on a free service like Blogger, I love my self-hosted WordPress!), membership fees for things like web directories, blog promotion, and things like the shipping costs I incur when sending a giveaway item to a winner (which happens a lot, and tends to add up). Much as I would like for this blog to earn me some income, it simply does not. It just helps me to break even.

With regard to c/o outfit items – I’ll never wear an item that isn’t my style or taste, just because I got it for free. In fact, I’ve politely refused to wear or returned several items that were just plain ridiculous! Most importantly, nearly all of the items that are complimentary I picked out myself. So you know that it’s all me. And most I would have purchased myself if I weren’t a full-time student without a job. 🙂 Sponsorships are a two-way street, and when PSS and a sponsor are mutual fans of one another, I think it’s a harmonious relationship that benefits not only both parties, but you the reader as well, since most of the time I am able to procure a promotional discount for PSS readers. I am a big fan of the win-win situation!

I go out of my way to ensure that I uphold the utmost integrity with my blog. I only hope other blogs take my lead (and the leads of others, like Elizabeth). Sorry to get heavy on y’all with this post, but it’s an issue I’ve been seeing on some blogs lately, and it prompted me to tell you that I have nothing but the utmost respect for you, and that always comes first. I am just being proactive and hope that others will find their own path.

Interestingly, a lot of this chatter in the blogosphere has been precipitated by some backlash about ModCloth’s blanketing of gifted items to top fashion bloggers. Guess what? I’m a fan of ModCloth, and though I’ve neither purchased nor received anything from ModCloth (yet!), I think some mad props are in order to them for embracing the blogger phenomenon so avidly. That’s a good thing, right?

So who makes the cut when it comes to sponsoring Pretty Shiny Sparkly (and thus keeping it running)? Everybody you see in the list of sponsors in my sidebar. They are nothing less than amazing, and I have had the pleasure of personally communicating with every single one of them – and frequently. They also took a chance on this blog, and I’m so grateful for their support. Since most of you are like me and on a budget, they’ve provided you with some pretty fabulous promo codes as well. If you’re interested, feel free to click through to their amazing shops – bookmark for later, even, because every single one of them has my seal of approval, for what it’s worth. 🙂

Feel free to ask me any questions you have in the comments and will reply to them in turn. I’d also love to know your thoughts!


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  1. 05.29.2010 / 9:46 pm

    Thank you for this post. I think it's an important topic to bring up and discuss. I've also noticed an increase in top bloggers wearing exclusively items from one company, yet without disclosing what the terms were and what their obligation is to the company. While it's their choice to do so, I'd feel like I trusted the bloggers more who addressed it.

  2. 05.29.2010 / 11:38 pm

    I never see a problem with advertising or doing sponsored posts if it's something you like. That's the whole point, right? This Modcloth thing is interesting, but all of the Modcloth-sponsored posts that I've see bloggers do have been different because the bloggers style them in their own way, so I don't get what the big deal is…

  3. 05.30.2010 / 12:22 am

    I think it's great that you choose not to compromise your stylefor sponsors. Because what would a fashion blog be without unique personal style?

  4. 05.30.2010 / 1:26 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. I love to know how bloggers feel about this subject. I’ve been finding more and more that I have no desire to follow some of the larger fashion blogs because I don’t feel that they are truly themselves. If I wanted to be told what was fashionable right now and how to wear it…I’d buy a fashion magazine. I want to know what makes you…you.
    You have a wonderful blog and it’s very refreshing to see someone who really has a fun personal style!

  5. 05.30.2010 / 11:12 am

    This is so eloquently put. I have followed the conversation over on Elizabeth's blog and it's nice to see it continue on other blogs. I think what a lot of people don't understand are the things that you've just highlighted… the behind the scenes things. The sponsors that get turned down, the process of deciding on whether a sponsor is appropriate for you, how it can also benefit them, and so on. Thank you for the transparency you are providing on the issue.

  6. 05.31.2010 / 4:35 pm

    i really appreciate your uniqueness and ability to stay true to your own style, all while taking care of business behind the scenes to keep this blog up! great job and thank you for not being a "robot!"

  7. 06.01.2010 / 7:02 pm

    great post and point of view on this. your blog is obviously very authentic to you, which really differentiates it from the crowd.

    🙂 alexandra

  8. Christine
    06.02.2010 / 2:03 pm

    I completely agree! I dont think there is anything wrong with making a profit off of a blog, after all it can be a job, but I have stopped reading certain blogs recently that I felt were biased. Thats fine if people get stuff for free but if they have an entire outfit from one store or have a large percentage of their wardrobe from sponsors the outifts put together are no longer unique and inspiring!

  9. 06.09.2010 / 10:27 pm

    Thanks for writing this! You have my utmost respect for not accepting just about every sponsor that comes your way! I am a modest fashion blogger, and so it's important for me to uphold the same standards! It's really hard to make money on blogs even from people who have thousands of fans. I hope you get to earn enough to help pay most of your bills in the future. That's all of our goals! 🙂

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