Controversial Post: Can You Trust a Vintage Blogger?

WWII poster, source
This post is short and sweet, but I hope you guys will share your thoughts with me! I've seen a couple posts floating about on how blogging is changing, and I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

One article I read exhorts bloggers to remain true to blogging roots, by sharing our opinions freely and honestly, compensated or not.  Another--which I can't seem to find, so sorry--talks about how blogging is more and more becoming money-driven.  The idea in these posts is that bloggers are expected to monetize to be considered "real bloggers," and the use of affiliate links, sponsored posts, etc. is "watering down" the authenticity of blogging and hurting the trust between bloggers and their readers.

Personally, this came as a bit of a shock to me.  Plenty of bloggers I know have monetized, but it doesn't mean they've sold out and accept any sponsor that comes their way, whether or not it's good for their readers.  In fact, every blogger I've talked to is very careful in accepting sponsorships that are appropriate for their audience.

However, I know this isn't the case with all bloggers.  Some don't disclose their affiliation with sponsors.  Some jump at anyone who will give them money to post.  Others don't curate their post content and come off as "sponsor-spammy."  In fact, now that I think of it, there are some blogs I don't really "trust" when it comes to product reviews.  Not even necessarily because they're unethical, but usually because the blogger just has a different style than me.

So what do you think?  Do you feel you can trust bloggers, specifically vintage bloggers?  Do you find the use of sponsored posts, affiliate links, etc. to be breeches of trust or useful to you?  How do you determine which bloggers' opinions you can accept as honest and authentic?

23 comments

  1. I don't mind when someone occasionally has a sponsored post that seems like something they would have written about anyway. But the blogs that are nothing but reviews and giveaways are just not my thing.

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  2. I think there's sort of a delicate balance when it comes to working with brands and monetizing one's blog. It's always exciting when a brand you already love wants to work with you in any capacity, and I think that as long as the post (whether it be a product review, shop spotlight, etc.) is in-keeping with the blogger's personal aesthetic and "brand," then it's absolutely fine. However, when every post is a gifted review or a sponsored giveaway, it's definitely a turn off. There are a lot of bloggers I trust when it comes to this kind of thing (especially if they have given their honest opinions about a brand or company in the past without compensation!), but it's pretty evident when the blogger is just saying what has to be said in order to get paid. I think one's authenticity is imperative, and some bloggers get too caught up in the excitement of sponsorship -- which is very easy to do, I think. It definitely helps to build your own little network of bloggers whose opinions you can trust, and create a supportive, honest environment for yourself to keep you in check.

    xox Sammi

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    1. I think you're very right. You can tell a difference between an authentic love for a brand and someone who's just throwing in keywords to get the check.
      It IS easy to get caught up in the excitement of sponsorships, but the most successful blogs, it seems, learn to curate their sponsors and tailor them to their audience.

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  3. I think vintage bloggers have a lot less trouble with this sort of thing than other blogging genres just because vintage is so personal. And so much of our stuff is, well, old. Not so many new brands trying to get us to push their agendas since we don't exactly keep up with the trends. And when etsy shops have reviews on blogs they're more trying to get us to vouch for them being responsible and accurate... so it's different, I think.
    In general, I don't mind sponsored content on vintage blogs, but I can definitely think of a few examples of specific sponsor/blog match-ups where I skip over sponsored posts entirely because I just don't care for that brand or style.

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    1. I haven't found a vintage blog that seemed spam-y for this reason. Sure you could do a spot light or review, but you can't review the one item because you now have that item and that is the only one.

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  4. Great topic hun! I find vintage bloggers to be like any other bloggers. Yes, I see bloggers all the time accepting money from sponsors they don't like. Just because you don't hear about it one cannot assume that it isn't done. I actually find it disturbing how a blog isn't considered professional or well done bc it isn't bringing in money the traditional way. There are other ways like getting products for free to review or even selling online products like pdfs and courses and such. Its not all ads and sponsors. I blog bc I love writing and I love the topics I write about. The day I accept money-is the day my blog becomes a job for me. I already have a job that is basically 24/7 so I don't want the joy I get from blogging to be taken away from me. For many it is becoming a job and I just don't want to go that route. Blogging is changing heaps, I think whatever you decide to do, do it your way and don't let what others are doing deter you from that. I take people sponsored posts with a grain of salt. I personally find them to be the most boring posts bc its like reading a commercial. Who wants to read a commercial? xox

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    1. Yes, it's all very true! I also find sponsor posts kind of boring unless there's some useful content like a how-to, or the sponsor has some expert knowledge to share. I think with vintage it works out as not quite as "sponsor-spammy" because a lot of us look things up and WANT reviews on a very certain thing, like to see how a sewing pattern looks when it's actually made up, or something like that. I don't particularly enjoy "roundup" types of posts with a bunch of random products though. Definitely feels like a commercial.

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  5. I don't have any kind of an issue with people monetizing their blogs - I think a lot of us with that we could make money off of our creative outlets, and that's a tough thing to do. On the other hand, the term "sponsor spammy" kind of resonated with me when I saw it. It's not that I don't appreciate having brands that I haven't heard of before brought to my attention, especially if they offer really great designs or are really well priced, but it gets a bit frustrating when it seems like every post is just a new thing that's come in the mail. It does get a bit hard to maintain trust in a situation like that.
    I'm unsure if I really want to monetize my blog. On the one hand, money, yay! On the other hand, I try to be brutally honest if I'm reviewing something, and I don't know if I would be able to do that if I was getting free things or being paid for my reviews. It's not necessarily that I think I would intentionally compromise my values, but because I think it can be easier to overlook the flaws in something if you didn't spend your own hard earned cash on it.

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    1. Yeah, when it seems like a blogger gets ONLY free stuff, it's kind of hard to trust his/her opinion on it. They're in the "Blogger That Has Gotten Famous Enough To Not Buy Any of Their Own Stuff" category in my mind, and that gets tricky because the rest of us DO have to buy the stuff! Kind of makes me think, "Sure, I'd recommend that if I got it free too. But if I have only the money to buy one thing, is this really gonna be worth my while?"

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  6. For me if it's every now and again the blogger does a sponsored post that fits in their vein, it's fine. But if its every other, or even every post is littered with affiliate links and the like, it feels like I'm being pressured to purchase things?

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    1. I agree! I want content, not just commercials!

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  7. I half agree with what people are saying, but I feel like it can be obvious when people take blogging as a profession and use it ONLY as a source of money. The idea of sponsors, ads, and paid content is common in all types of media for years.

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    1. Yes, blogging as ONLY a source of money really isn't worth it either; I speak from experience. It takes too long, it's too much work, and it's too personal to just do it for money.

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  8. I don't think it's really vintage blogs that are so frequently subjected to sponsored posts and come off as spamy as it is general fashion blogs. I feel like I don't see to much sponsoring / affiliate posts going on in the vintage blogesphere. But it does crop up. For the most part, I like the occasional sponsor post, mostly when it is a garment in exchange for a blog post. I myself am very hesitant to buy on-line, but when I see another blogger writing about a company, especially one that falls in line with vintage, it peeks my interest, and usually I feel like I can trust the blogger, especially if their blog has few sponsors or affiliates. I think the sparseness of sponsored posts shows that the blogger is careful when going forward with a sponsor.

    I have gotten loads of e-mails regarding sponsors and have only gone forward with a handful. I often think about what my readers will think of a post before writing it. If I don't see a potential sponsor post as being of interest to them, money or not, I will reject the sponsor.

    With affiliate links, I used to have them, and they did bring in money, but they were of already established companies that I knew vintage bloggers used and loved, such as What Katie Did. But over time I hated the images, I hated the idea of ads on my blog that just sat there without me interacting with them. That's why I favor sponsor posts over affiliate links/ads. Posts show a blogger's perspective.

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    1. I completely agree. I do find clothing reviews especially helpful, since sizing differs from company to company.
      I think being choosey about sponsors, like you were talking about, is the key to keeping a blog honest and relatable. Great insight!

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  9. I think trust is about a relationship so I like to feel like I know a bit before I trust their opinion on a review. As a blogger, I do not support any companies on my blog that I have not had personal (positive) experience with because I don't want to mislead my readers. I don't have any paid sponsors yet, so that makes it easier.

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    1. That's a good call. And also why I take your reviews seriously! :)

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  10. Sammi took the words on this subject right out of my mouth, as that is my stance as well, too. I definitely work with sponsors, but I'm extremely selective, try to space out my sponsored posts, and never, ever say anything about a brand, product, website, etc that I wouldn't just as happily utter if there wasn't some form of compensation involved.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Which is why I trust your reviews, Jessica! :)

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  11. I think a few sponsors are ok, with spotlights, reviews or giveaways involving them once in awhile. I have stopped reading some blogs because almost every post was about a sponsor or something the blogger themself sells. It seems that the personal blog is alot more enjoyable to read than the one a person is using as their main source of income.

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    1. Yeah, and even bloggers that use it as a main source of income don't HAVE to come off as sponsor spammy! I don't enjoy blogs like that either.

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  12. As a reader of vintage blogs I really don't mind the sponsor links on the side of blogs. I can visit them if I want to, but I don't feel pressured. I have subscribed to your blog, but wasn't super aware of your etsy store. I wouldn't mind if once in a while you posted " store visits" featuring a few special items you have for sale with a little discussion of their history and what makes them unique. I also lurv your outfit posts, and would not mind if you included an item or two that was for sale with a link. Hope this helps from a reader/ vintage buyer's perspective, and I agree with all the posts above as well.

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