Blogging Tips For Bloggers #3

Blogging Tips For Bloggers

I celebrated my 3rd blogiversary a few weeks ago, so I thought it was time to write a new blogging tips post.  I love receiving emails from people who read my blog, and lately I’ve been receiving quite a few emails and tweets from people asking when my next blogging tips post will be up.  Well, today is your lucky day!  If you’re a new reader, and you’re interested in taking a look at my previous blogging tips blog posts, then I will link them for you below:

♥  Blogging Tips For Beginner Bloggers #1

♥  Blogging Tips For Bloggers #2

Let’s get to the good stuff, below are tips I’ve written to answer some of the most frequently asked blogging related questions I receive.  As always, these tips are NOT just for beauty bloggers – they are for ALL bloggers.  And remember, take my tips with a pinch of salt – we all have very different opinions and different ways of doing things.

♥  Whether you just started a blog, or you’ve been blogging for years – it’s always good to take a step back and think about your target audience.  Who is your blog aimed at?  This will determine the content you produce i.e. if you want to connect with teenagers and students, then write about more affordable options (whether it’s fashion, lifestyle or beauty).  If your target audience is women aged 25+, then you might want to look at featuring anti-ageing products, healthy lifestyle options and more mature fashion pieces.  It’s also important to consider your audience / readers when choosing your style of writing, blog layout / theme, and overall vibe of your blog.

♥  When you’re a blogger, reader engagement means everything to you.  Scrap that…I can’t speak for every single blogger, so I should rather say I’m the type of blogger who loves to engage with my readers – not only on the blog, but also via my social media accounts i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube.  A while back Facebook updated their newsfeed algorithm and the same has now happened with Instagram (as Instagram was acquired by Facebook a while ago).  For smaller blogger type pages, this has had a HUGE impact.  I won’t go into too much detail about what an algorithm is, because to be honest, it will put both of us to sleep.  *snores*  In layman’s terms, the Facebook / Instagram algorithm is a type of programming language that FILTERS and prioritises what each of us sees on Facebook and Instagram based on previous behaviour.  For example, if the algorithm sees that you constantly ‘like’ certain posts or images from your favourite pages, then it will ensure that those pages’ posts will ALWAYS show up first on your newsfeed.  The opposite is also true – if you follow blogger / brand pages but you don’t engage with some of them (whether it’s commenting on a photo, liking a post or sharing their content) then eventually none of those page’s posts will feature on your news feed.  The whole ‘switch your Instagram notifications on’ thing didn’t work for me, because I received constant updates every few minutes – it chowed my battery, and it started getting a bit annoying.  Make it your goal to create unique content that gets people involved and interested, make it easy for them to ‘like’ or comment on that special photo.  This new algorithm change has forced smaller bloggers (and businesses) to up their game in order to stay towards the top of their followers’ newsfeeds.

♥  Speaking of social media – I’ve received a few emails from fellow bloggers asking how one gets those social media sharing buttons at the bottom of every blog post.  Now, the ones I currently have on my new blog theme were built-in social media sharing buttons.  BUT when I had my previous theme I inserted those buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr etc) using a plugin called ‘JP Sharing’ from Jetpack (it’s free).  It’s simple and best of all, it’s not heavy on your website.  Keep in mind, I have a (self hosted) website.  I don’t know whether this plugin will work with Blogger or sites.  To install the plugin: Download ‘JP Sharing’ here, log on to your blog’s admin site, click on the ‘Plugins’ button in the bar on the left, and then click on ‘Add New’.   Once you have installed the plugin, you need to go activate it on your ‘Installed Plugins’ page.  It’s easy to set up, just follow the steps – if I can do it (without the help of Neal), then you can definitely do it.  P.S. When you go to download the latest version, you’ll see a notification that says: “Retired on June 2015 – JP plugins are no longer frequently maintained since the end of June 2015.” Don’t worry, the plugin still works perfectly fine (the developers are just not maintaining it anymore).

♥  There are a few different ways to collaborate with brands – they can send you product(s) for review, you can write a sponsored blog post for them (and they will pay you in actual money), brand ambassadorships and affiliate programmes.  The latter two are not that popular in South Africa, and I’m not sure why because influential bloggers can definitely drive product sales.  Receiving free products doesn’t happen the day after your first blog post, and I’ve said it before: Freebies shouldn’t be your most important reason for blogging.  It’s very obvious when a blogger only blogs for free products, and believe me: Brands, PR (public relations) folks and most importantly YOUR READERS can spot it a mile away.  People will question your honesty, your morals, and your ethics.  Because, what’s stopping you from giving each and every single product you receive a positive review just because you don’t want brands to stop sending you stuff?

♥  If you want to up your blogging game, then I suggest you check out Melyssa Griffin’s website.  Her site, The Nectar Collective, is basically a library of information, and tips & tricks to grow your readership, plan your content, make your blog more interactive, and perhaps one day even make money from blogging.  She hosts a lot of free webinars (almost like video conference training sessions) and whenever I have some free time available, I try to sign up for them and watch them.  Definitely check her out!

♥  Speaking of helpful resources – if you are looking for stock images that are both pretty and FREE – then head over to City Girl Searching.  Roxy recently broadened her horizons, and started #CGScreative – this is a online library where you can access free stock images, printable worksheets & checklists, and even sign up for her #BeautifyYourBlog e-course.  If you’ve been feeling a bit ‘meh’ about your blog lately, then I highly recommend signing up for the e-course (email course).  It’s FREE, and you will definitely benefit from it.

♥  And speaking of stock images – sometimes you either just don’t have the time to spend 30 minutes to an hour taking photos for a blog post (yes, that’s how long it sometimes takes me to get those 4 or 5 special photos), OR you don’t have the décor / equipment to take a photo for a specific blog post.  That’s where stock photos come in – they are a great way to take the stress and pressure off when you need to.  Please note: 99% of the photos on Pink Peonies are taken by me, in my beauty room, with my camera, and have been edited by moi as well.  But on the odd occasion I also like to use stock photos – for example in this blog post.  The photo you see above is a stock photo – I don’t own a Macbook but I really wanted to make this blog post pop, so I chose a photo that features a laptop (because we all use either a laptop or PC to blog) and some bright pink colours (because ya’ll know I love me some pink).  I usually search for pretty stock images on Etsy, Bloguettes, Creative Market, and I recently discovered Dear Miss Modern.  Good quality stock images can be quite pricey, so you have to ask yourself whether you think using the photo for a specific blog post is worth it (and if you are able to use the same image in other blog posts as well).  Stock photos can be used by foodie bloggers, mommy bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, and beauty bloggers (you just have to find the right sellers).  The sellers I feature below have a wide range of different stock photographs for sale i.e. desktops, kitchen baking, stationery, flowers, arts & crafts, fashion, makeup etc.

My personal favourites stock photo sellers on Etsy:

♥  Up Styled Shop

♥  Persian Kat

♥  Made By Kasia Shop (beautiful photos, and very affordable)

♥  Kristina Company

My personal favourites stock photo sellers on Creative Market:

♥  Diva Gone Domestic

♥  Design Love Shop

♥  Rosemary Watson Productions (her photos are a bit more affordable)

♥  White Hart Design Co (another affordable option)

♥  Little Sparrow Shop (also affordable)

Always make sure you read the stock photography seller’s terms & conditioners for use before you start posting their photos (they usually have T&Cs with regards to commercial use).  And if it’s someone who is providing the image for free, then credit them in the blog post (it’s the right thing to do).  These days I always watermark the stock photos that I have purchased, because I’ve had a few occasions in the past where people have taken / downloaded my images without asking for permission (and without crediting me).  If you’ve paid for the stock image with your hard-earned money, then you definitely have the right to protect it.  Obviously you don’t have to watermark your images (I usually add my blog URL or social media handle) but I recommend doing this to save you possible frustration in the future.

♥  So, you sent a brand an introduction email and you don’t receive a reply…what now?  Always remember brands and PR get inundated with blogger requests (tweets, DMs, emails, and comments) and have to be quite picky about who they work with.  Just because they decided to go with someone else, doesn’t mean they decided to go AGAINST you.  Who knows, maybe next time they’ll pick you to work with them on a project or campaign.

♥  Don’t waste time worrying about what everyone else is doing.  Do you.  Remember, you could be spending that time creating better content, thinking of unique ideas for blog posts or videos, and upping your photography game.  It’s great to get inspiration from others, but don’t try to be them, and definitely don’t let their success bring you down.  If you don’t like the way your blog is going, change it.  Only YOU have to power to do something about it.

♥  It’s a great idea to create a blogging schedule – it keeps you on track, and serves as a reminder of all the tasks you still need to tackle in order to publish that special blog post.  I see my blog planner as a type of strategy that keeps me alert and on top of things.  In case you didn’t know, I have a monthly blog planner FREEBIE that I post at the end of each month (for the following month).  If you are interested in planning out your blog posts in advance, then I suggest you check out my free printable monthly blog planners here.

♥  It’s great to work towards collaborating with brands, it’s a blogging goal most of us want to achieve when we first start blogging.  But there is a right, and a not-so-right way to go about getting noticed by your favourite brands.  Here’s what I suggest: Learn about the brands on your own first, do your own fair share of product reviews before you even start to think about contacting them.  Buy the products yourself, and write honest reviews.  Show the brands and PR people that you’re not just in it for the potential freebies.

♥  Most (if not all) brands will want to know whether you’re a true influencer, and how far your blog reach will be.  If they ‘invest’ products / time / money in you, then it’s only fair for them to make sure it isn’t a waste. Never EVER lie about your blog statistics. They will find out, and you will have a bad reputation for a very long time.  Trust me, I have friends who are in PR (local and international) – there are websites and special programmes that can tell them what your organic reach is, what your website ranking is, and even what your true blog stats are.

♥  So, a brand sends you a product for review and you end up not liking it at all.  Don’t be a sell-out just to please the brand.  What I mean by this is: Don’t lie to your readers, don’t tell them the product is amazing just because you are scared the brand might remove you from their media list.  At the end of the day, you’re not blogging for brands – you are blogging for your readers.  These are the people who support your blog and often spend a chunk of their salary on YOUR product recommendations.  I can’t tell you how many products I’ve bought / have been sent to me over the years that turned out to be complete duds.  I’m very honest when it comes to reviewing products – if it didn’t work out for me (for whatever reason), then I will tell my readers.  If you decide to review a product didn’t work for your skin type or hair type, be sure to also mention that it might work for people with ‘X’ skin type or ‘Y’ hair type.

♥  Word-of-mouth is still one of the most valuable tools in getting your content out there.  You spend so much time and effort creating your own unique content for your little space on the internet.  Always make sure you are happy with the blog post you are about to publish – and before you hit that ‘Publish’ button, ask yourself whether your readers will find it informative or interesting.  Make it easy for your readers to send your blog posts to others, and that’s where the social media sharing button mentioned I mentioned earlier come in to play.

♥  Always remember: Good things come to those who wait, you have to work really hard for a long time to establish yourself as a blogger.  Be consistent with your blog posts – publishing 1 blog post every 2 weeks just isn’t going to cut it.  Why would people want to return to your blog if it looks like you’re not really making an effort.  I speak from personal experience (not as a blogger, but as a blog reader) in that if a blogger only posts once every few weeks, I usually lose interest in the blog.

I know it can be tough sometimes, but it’s all worth it in the end when you start forming relationships with your readers.  To me, it really does feel like we’re all just a huge group of friends – my readers, my fellow bloggers…everyone!

Blogging Tips Sponsored Content Bloggers

And then one last thing – I want to start a conversation at the end of each ‘Blogging Tips’ blog post.  Each time there will be a different topic up for discussion, it’s a way for us bloggers to get to know each other a little bit better and to voice your opinion on a specific subject.  Today I want to chat about ‘Sponsored Content’…dun-duun-duuuun!  I’m starting out with a rather controversial topic – go big, or go home…right?  Here are a few things I’d like to hear your thoughts on (leave a comment below):

♥  What is your opinion on bloggers getting paid to feature products on their blogs, social media platforms, and / or YouTube channel?

♥  Do you think a blogger should disclose when a blog post / video / social media post is paid for by a brand?

♥  Do you think South Africa is warming up to the whole idea of sponsored content?

I know some of my readers (who are not bloggers) also read these ‘Blogging Tips’ blog posts – so even if you are NOT a blogger, I would really love to hear your thoughts on the above subject.  I’ll be sure to give you my opinion on this as well.

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope you have a lovely weekend!



    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 14:31

      Thanks for checking it out, Leigh-Ann. 🙂

    • 10 June 2016 / 21:44

      Omg thank you so much for this post! You have no idea how helpful and relevant it is! I’ve wanted to start my own little beauty blog for the longest time possible and your post really inspired me to finally get it started!


  1. Tammy
    15 April 2016 / 11:35

    So many great tips!

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 14:31

      Thank you, Tammy. 🙂

  2. 15 April 2016 / 11:35

    Thanks for sharing this….
    And I just wanted to say, I find your blog photography exquisite! I’d love to take photo’s just like you when i grow up! 🙂

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 14:31

      Thank you so much for the amazing compliment, Sharon – you really made my day with your kind words. 🙂

  3. 15 April 2016 / 11:50

    Hi Luzanne. Such a great post as always. As a fellow blogger I think that getting tips from others is great. I love the idea of bloggers getting paid to feature a product, not only because we are advertising the product for them but we put in the time and effort to review, take pictures and write or video reviews of the product. But I will say this, it needs to be a brand that you love and products that you love. Don’t just do it for the money and the exposure. It is a fine line. As you said many people think blogging is all about getting free products but they are wrong. It is hard work. I also think it is vitally important to disclose if you have been sponsored to write a post. Your readers need to know. They will value it more and know that even though you have been given the product, you still rate the product high enough to feature it. I wont feature a product if I am not 150% happy with it.


    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 14:49

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog post, Shalane. 🙂

      I agree with you 100% – I’m so glad brands and PR are more open to the idea of paying bloggers to work on campaigns and projects. I have turned down A LOT of sponsored opportunities in the past either because the product didn’t work well (and I won’t recommend it to my readers just for the sake of getting paid) or because the brand wasn’t a good fit for my blog. If I don’t believe in the brand, then I won’t recommend their products to my readers. Ever. I’ve also been asked in the past to not disclose if a blog post is sponsored, and I’ve always stood my ground and said either I’m upfront about it to my readers or I can’t work on the campaign with the brand.

      You’re right, blogging is hard work and takes a lot of time. It’s nice to be rewarded in actual money every now & again, and not just a ‘thank you’. 🙂

      I always disclose when a post is sponsored, I believe my readers have a right to know. Especially because I’m also a blog reader, and I would prefer it if bloggers disclosed it within the blog post or video. Not all bloggers to this unfortunately, but at the end of the day it’s their blog. We all do things differently. 🙂 xo

  4. Simone Cameron
    15 April 2016 / 12:00

    I personally think you put so much time and effort into your blog…from buying products, to the time taken to test and film and write….and take pictures and reply…so why shouldn’t you get paid to feature products? I definitely think there’s nothing wrong with that!

    I love that you’re always honest about a product, no matter how it came into your hands!

    Also I think what sets you apart from some bloggers, is the time you take to reply to every single one of us. Engaging with us. I was so disappointed yesterday, I went onto a blog and there were maybe 5 comments. The blogger replied to 3 of the comments….skipped my comment and another person’s. ‘thanks for stopping by’ would have been nice. She consistently does it, so I wonder why I even bother reading her posts if she doesn’t value my input, comments or answer my questions. As a result I pop in on that blog once every 2 months.

    There’s another blogger that NEVER replies to anybody. So I don’t see the point. basically you just want us to hear what you say or think with no concern from any feedback or comments.

    Anyways…maybe this isn’t a big gripe for other readers, but it’s defintely something I take note of. Your blog is literally the only one I support every single day/post (unless I’m on maternity leave apparently and I miss posts…grrr).

    Disclosure when paid by a brand…I don’t think it’s essential IF you’re transparent and we’re know you’ll be real about your true feelings about the product…like you are.

    Another annoyance…you can pretty much see when the blogger has gotten a freebie, but doesn’t really want to say: It’s not as good as XYZ. I read a review the other day and literally they just posted the details off the box of the product as the ‘review’. I was left thinking, um okay is this comparable to something else? Must I get it? It was so bizarre…added no value to my life.

    Okay I’m going to stop trashing blogs now.*can’t look face* Point being, you’re doing a great job and I hope other bloggers are really reading your posts and seeing how much valuable information you are giving them.

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:03

      Thank you so much for your comment, Simone. 🙂 I agree, it’s nice to get paid for featuring products every now and again. It’s awesome to actually earn some money, instead of just getting an email that says ‘Thank You’. Or sometimes no thank you at all.

      I’ve turned down a lot of sponsored opportunities in the past (especially lately) because I tested the product and I didn’t like it, so it wouldn’t feel right to feature the product (in a positive light) and have my readers go out and buy it. I also turn down sponsored opportunities when the campaign / product just doesn’t fit in with my blog i.e. doing a post on ‘How To Change A Car Tyre’ or something weird like that. You’d be surprised, I get the strangest requests sometimes. A few weeks ago I tested a product for a campaign and it didn’t work for me at all (like it really wasn’t good quality) and I told the brand I can either still write the blog post but it won’t be a positive review, or I’ll be happy to withdraw myself from the campaign. I ended up not being part of the campaign, and although I would have LOVED to have the extra cash in my bank account, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night knowing I had deceived my readers like that.

      Anyway, I think sponsored posts are good but only if you really believe in the product you are ‘selling’ to your readers. And I ALWAYS disclose when a post is sponsored, because you guys have a right to know. I also read blogs, and I expect the bloggers I follow to disclose it. When they don’t (and I can clearly see the post is sponsored) then I lose with in that blogger unfortunately.

      Thank you for being so supportive, and for always complimenting me (and my blog). I must admit, replying to comments is getting more & more time consuming because I have so many to reply to these days (plus tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram comments, and emails) but I still try my absolute best to reply to every single one. It might only happen a couple of days after the blog post, but I will reply. 🙂

      I totally get what you’re saying about replying to comments, though, I’d feel the same way. If I take the time to read a blog post and leave a comment, it would be nice to be acknowledged – doesn’t matter how short the reply is.

      Thank you for being such an amazing blog reader, Simone. 😀

  5. melissa
    15 April 2016 / 12:01

    Luzanne i must say all you content is really good and im not a blogger but you really give good insight and tips i do really enjoy your blogpost and you picture along with videos made. i am happy i came across you.

    hope you have a excellent weekend and thank you once again.

    **** also please be so kind to send me info on what you use in terms of Camera and editing program if you have time.

    lotsa love meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:04

      Thank you so much for leaving such a positive comment, Melissa. I really appreciate your support. 🙂

      I use a Canon 70D camera to take my photos and film my videos, and I use Lightroom to edit my photos. And for editing my videos, I use Final Cut Pro X. 🙂

  6. 15 April 2016 / 14:08

    This is such a great post, Luzanne. Going to share it over on Twitter, because I’ve had so many people ask for tips about starting a blog, and I feel like you’ve managed to put it all together in one neat (very pretty!) post.

    As for the sponsored content question – as a blogger, I am SO happy to see that it’s gaining momentum here in SA, because a lot of time and effort goes into blogging, so it’s nice to benefit from it on occasion too. I think it’s vital that bloggers disclose when a post/ video/ etc is sponsored… I think many bloggers are afraid of doing this, but I’m not entirely sure why they feel this way? Perhaps they’re afraid that readers won’t want to read it if it’s paid for? That their opinion will be biased as a result of receiving compensation? Sometimes I wonder whether the pressure NOT to disclose comes from brands?

    Anyway, just a few of the thoughts I had whirling about in my head. Really enjoyed this post. Hope you’re well – and hope we run into each other again SOON! x

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:13

      Thank you so much for sharing my blog post on your Twitter account, Chereen. I really appreciate it. 🙂

      I agree 100% – it’s so great to see more brands & PR are open to the idea of paying bloggers to feature their products. That said, though, I would never want to get paid for every single blog post I do, because you can’t exactly give a product a bad review when you’re getting paid for it. Whenever a brand contacts me to either do a sponsored post or giveaway and I’ve never used their products, I will always tell them that I need to test the product before I can accept payment or offer a giveaway. I would never want to give a prize away to a reader when I don’t like the product myself, and even worse: Have my readers go out and spend their money on a low quality product, just because I wanted to make a quick buck.

      Full disclosure is very important for me – as a blogger, and as a blog reader. I have no idea why bloggers are scared to say when a post is sponsored. If you have a reputation for being an open and honest blogger (and it’s clear you’re not just in it for the free stuff), then your readers won’t mind if you get paid to feature a product every now and again.

      In the past I’ve had a brand ask me to not disclose that the post is sponsored, and I just stood my ground and said it’s something that I have to do. It’s a non-negotiable.

      Me too! I hope we see each other soon – are you coming to the L’Oreal launch this week? xoxo

  7. 15 April 2016 / 16:12

    Love how informative and detailed this post is, Luzanne! You always go above and beyond, you work so hard and deserve all of the success!
    I have been trying to put more work and effort into my blog this year. I recently found Roxy’s blog and subscribed to her newsletter. I adore the pictures you take, have you considered doing stock photos? I think you totally should! I would totally buy them..I just started looking for some yesterday, actually. I didn’t think to check Etsy, will also look into the others you mentioned. I just don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. Haha!

    As far as sponsored…I really don’t mind them.

    Pinning this for future reference! 🙂

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:17

      Thank you so much, Lily. 🙂 I actually have considered starting a stock photo Etsy store, and if I can find the time to take a good amount of different photos with different décor items then I’ll definitely do it. 🙂 Stock photos can be SUPER expensive, my ultimate stock photographer is Shay Cochrane but daaaaaaaang, her stuff is ESSSPEEEEENSIIIIIVE! 😉

  8. 15 April 2016 / 16:19

    Thank u for yet another great post. You so inspirational to a new blogger like me. Sponsored content is obviously so great for bloggers cause it means you have influence and are making impact. I’m not sure how it works all-in-all but as long as you allowed to give an honest opinion are not just supposed to favour the brand-then I think its A-OK!!!Lastly my final opinion on the matter is that bloggers should totally disclose if they getting paid for a feature….Definitely.Thanks for the tips once again:-)

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:18

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Mahlaku. 🙂 I agree with your 100% and I think you hit the nail on the head with what you said! 😀

  9. Mary-Anne
    15 April 2016 / 16:19

    Loved this so much!

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:18

      Thank you, Mary-Anne. 🙂

  10. Brendah
    15 April 2016 / 17:56

    Great post as always Luzanne, this will really be of use to me because I feel stuck in a rut and haven’t posted a blog in a months. I don’t want to do an uninspired blog, so I will take a few of your tips starting with downloading your blog planner…xx

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:19

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post, Brendah – I really appreciate it. 🙂 Hopefully this post has inspired you a little bit to start with your blogging again. 🙂

  11. Sibahle
    15 April 2016 / 19:01

    Happy Friday

    I’m not a blogger but I support the idea of bloggers getting sponsored in terms of cash. Some bloggers are really creative but cannot afford that expensive camera or photo/video editing programme that will make their photos or YouTube videos more appealing. Receiving money will make it possible for their work to shine and they too can give their loyal readers a better experience.

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:20

      Very true, Sibahle – I agree with you 100%. 😀

  12. Yolandi Wilken
    16 April 2016 / 09:13

    Great post, Luzanne! I think bloggers should make money from what they do, especially if they’re a full-time blogger. In saying that, though, I also think only the bloggers who work really hard and put a lot of effort into their blog posts should have sponsored opportunities. And only bloggers who always write honest reviews, but I guess one will never know whether a review is honest or not. I always trust your judgement and your product recommendations, and I imagine you spend a lot of time creating the content that you are putting out there. There are some other South African (and even international) bloggers who don’t put half the energy you do into their blog posts.

    I think you should always accept sponsored opportunites, and not feel bad or worried. Your readers stand behind you 100%.

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 15:24

      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, Yolandi. You made some very good points there, thanks so much for taking the time to leave your feedback. 🙂 I also think sponsored content is great, but only if it’s done the right way. I.e. full disclosure, and only featuring products that you honestly really like, and would want to recommend to your readers (even if you weren’t paid).

      I don’t always accept sponsored opportunities – especially when the product didn’t work for me (I don’t feel comfortable giving the product a good or bad review and getting paid for it) or when the product / service has nothing to do with my blog. But it’s very nice to get paid for all the time and effort I put into the blog ever now and again. 🙂

  13. Olga
    16 April 2016 / 15:47

    Such a well thought out blog post, it’s so great to see bloggers are supporting each other. I blogged for a while but then stopped because: Life. But I’m slowly warming up to the idea of starting up a blog again, it just takes so much time. Not to mention the stress of constantly trying to improve.

    I think sponsored blog posts are great, but as a readers I often question whether the blog post is 100% honest. I never question that with you, because I know you always stay true to yourself and your readers. But sometimes I read blog posts from other bloggers where the post is clearly sponsored because it’s part of a campaign, and the blogger won’t even disclose it. That is extremely dishonest, in my opinion, and I will then take anything they say about the product with a pinch of salt. And it will also stay in the back of my mind the next time that blogger reviews a product.

    What are your thoughts, Luzanne?

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 16:19

      Thank you, Olga. 🙂 I totally get where you’re coming from, it’s sometimes very difficult to juggle life and blogging. But when you feel like you’re ready to start again, maybe start out small and only write blog posts about things you love. 🙂

      Thank you for the compliment, I’m really so happy to hear my readers know that I’ll always be open and honest about everything here on the blog.

      I’m going to repeat some of what I said to the other commenters above, because I feel I worded my opinion on the subject quite well:
      I think sponsored posts are good but only if you really believe in the product you are ‘selling’ to your readers.

      I have turned down A LOT of sponsored opportunities in the past either because the product didn’t work well (and I won’t recommend it to my readers just for the sake of getting paid) or because the brand wasn’t a good fit for my blog. If I don’t believe in the brand, then I won’t recommend their products to my readers. Ever. I’ve also been asked in the past to not disclose if a blog post is sponsored, and I’ve always stood my ground and said either I’m upfront about it to my readers or I can’t work on the campaign with the brand. It’s a non-negotiable.

      I always disclose when a post is sponsored, I believe my readers have a right to know. Especially because I’m also a blog reader, and I would prefer it if bloggers disclosed it within the blog post or video.

  14. Elizbeth
    16 April 2016 / 15:51

    This is exactly why I love your blog so much, you don’t keep all your knowledge and tips to share it with your fellow bloggers. For some reason bloggers like to keep their knowledge and how they do things to themselves, and I have no idea why because we need to support each other. It’s so refreshing to see a South African blogger who likes to help her fellow bloggers. 🙂

    I have no problem with reading sponsored blog posts, but I do think some bloggers deserve sponsored opportunities more than others.

    I love that you are always upfront when a blog post is sponsored, I respect you so much more as a blogger (and person). 🙂

    Much love, Liz

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 16:23

      Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback, Elizbeth. 😀 I hope you’re having a lovely week so far. x

  15. 17 April 2016 / 12:24

    Caught in a rut with my blog, this post is exactly what I needed. Thanks for that.

    Sponsored posts with full disclosure isn’t a problem.

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 16:24

      I’m so happy to hear this blog post helped you in some way, Janesse. 🙂

  16. R Fourie
    17 April 2016 / 17:11

    Hi Luzanne, I am not a blogger but I enjoy reading all the tips for your fellow bloggers – sharing is caring 🙂

    I think bloggers should get paid for all the hard work they put into every post ….. then I want a honest review and they must mention that they are getting paid or that the products were send to them. To me it’s more trustworthy if you are transparent.

    I really enjoy reading all your replies – dit wys jy stel belang / gee om en neem kosbare tyd om al die comments te lees. They will keep on coming back for more :-))

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 16:26

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post even though you’re not a blogger, Reonette. I completely agree with you – full disclosure is important.

      Baie dankie vir die wonderlike kompliment – ek waardeer dit baie. 🙂

  17. 18 April 2016 / 13:50

    Finally getting down to reading your post!

    I think that full disclosure is important. I think it is important to say whether an item is a press sample/sponsored, or whether you bought it.

    I think that also gives readers some confidence in you, showing that you do in fact buy products, and don’t just get freebies.

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 16:26

      Thank you for leaving feedback, Azraa – I appreciate it. 🙂

  18. iamajs
    19 April 2016 / 13:58

    Hi Luzanne

    I’ve been having the blogging itch for a while, the thing i struggle with is full time work vs. part time work + blogging.
    I love my my job, but i found that im passionate about a couple of other things as well.
    How do you successfully blog and work?
    Should your end goal be blogging only?
    Can it really work?
    The whole blogging thing amazes me its such an expressive place but jislike work…mom….wife…blog….does something need to give?
    Think i’ve asked a ton :-0 would love your perspective #daunting#strugglingtofathomthethought#womanpower

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 16:44

      I blog full-time, so this is what I do all day, every day. I was telling a friend the other day – my life is blogging. I eat, sleep, drink, think, and poop blogging. 😉 It can be really stressful sometimes, but for me it’s always been worth it. I don’t blog for the money (sponsored work is never guaranteed) or for free press samples, I blog because I love helping people. I enjoy being able to share my knowledge with women, and maybe help them to make a decision on whether to spend their money on a certain product. Or perhaps give them a more affordable alternative to a luxury product.

      I can’t say whether the end goal should be blogging – only you can answer that for yourself. For me, my end goal is being a successful blogger. But successful to me, might mean something else to another blogger. Some international beauty vloggers have started their own makeup lines and / or beauty products. I don’t really see myself doing that in the future, but I would like to work with a brand on creating some type of special lipstick shade or eyeshadow palette or something like that one day.

      Successful to me would be that my readers keep returning to my blog every day because they trust my recommendations. And that my readers share my blog with their friends and family because they truly enjoy reading my blog and think it’s worth sharing with their loved ones.

      I’ve been blogging for 3 years now, and for 1,5 years I blogged while working full-time. I made it work, but I had to work at night and my weekends were not my own. My whole weekend was always dedicated to the blog (taking photos, researching information, writing blog posts, editing photos, replying to comments, uploading blog posts etc). It was hard, and stressful but I eventually started blogging full-time. Don’t be under any misconception though, full-time bloggers in South Africa don’t make nearly as much money as overseas. You have to be a really, REALLY popular blogger with A LOT of organic influence to make decent money. It’s like being a consultant, one month you might make a few grand and the next 2 months you won’t make any money, and then the next month you make really good money. Being a full-time blogger doesn’t mean you get the same pay / salary as a full-time employee. Most of the time, you get paid in ‘Thank Yous’ and some free sample products. But we all know a bottle of shampoo won’t pay the bills, if you know what I mean?

      It might sound harsh, but I would never want anyone to quite their job thinking they’re going to make good money or earn a living through blogging in South Africa. We’re just not there yet. 🙂

      • iamajs
        22 April 2016 / 08:53

        can i just say YOU ARE AMAZEBALLS 🙂 my favourite blogger ever, thank you for always putting things into true perspective #realshit

  19. 19 April 2016 / 14:47

    Bookmarked, bookmarked, bookmarked 🙂

    I learned a lot from this, thank you.

    As for sponsored content: I say definitely. I immensely underestimated the amount of time and hard work that goes into blogging when I started out mine. I enjoy it a lot and am constantly thinking about new ideas and blog posts. However, working full time with hectic hours and doing postgraduate studies, I struggle to get just one quality post out per week. And then sometimes it will feel like work, where it’s supposed to be my hobby.

    For a lot/most bloggers out there it IS work. For the amount of work that goes into it, there is no shame in being compensated for it.

    HOWEVER, I do feel that this matter must be disclosed. I may be prejudiced, I just always look at a review differently if I know it’s sponsored content. If it’s a decent review with comparisons to other products, I will tend to trust it more. But I’ve seen very few, if any, sponsored content with comparisons to other products in the same review, and thát is to me what a review is all about. I want to know if one product is better than another. Whether in value, quality, how long it lasts, etc.

    Something also lacking in sponsored content: a blogger will very rarely say if the product is worth the cost or not. It can be a freakin fantastic product that makes you jump up and down, it can be the bees knees and all. But if it’s not worth the price, why bother? Most bloggers never comment something like “If I had to have bought this product with my own hard earned cash, I would” OR “I wouldn’t have. Although it’s absolutely magnificent in every aspect, I just wouldn’t have paid this price for it out of my own pocket.”

    I’ve brought too many of these so-called amazing products from beauty reviews where the bloggers received the product as a PR sample and never noted if it’s worth the price tag. Yes, they were amazing and delivered as promised, but just not worth the cost (some amazing almond shower oil comes to mind…)

    I know PR samples and sponsored content are two totally different things, this example just came to mind.

    For me, sponsored content or not, there still has to be distinguished between reading a beauty review of a product VS reading about the product on it’s own website/from an advertising perspective. When bloggers start being advertisers, I feel their credibility is at risk. Tell the readers that which the product’s website don’t tell them. And if you can do that in a sponsored post, then you’ve got the best recipe to become the next best beauty guru 🙂

    Loved this Luzanne, thanks for the insights xx

    • Luzanne
      19 April 2016 / 17:18

      Hi Marné! Thanks for your feedback – I really appreciate you taking the time to leave such a well thought out comment.

      I completely agree with you – sponsored work is great, but it should be done the right way. Full disclosure is important, as well as choosing each sponsored opportunity carefully. I have turned down A LOT of sponsored opportunities in the past either because the product didn’t work well (and I won’t recommend it to my readers just for the sake of getting paid) or because the brand wasn’t a good fit for my blog. If I don’t believe in the brand, then I won’t recommend their products to my readers. Ever. I’ve also been asked in the past to not disclose if a blog post is sponsored, and I’ve always stood my ground and said either I’m upfront about it to my readers or I can’t work on the campaign with the brand. It’s a non-negotiable. I always disclose when a post is sponsored, I believe my readers have a right to know. Especially because I’m also a blog reader, and I would prefer it if bloggers disclosed it within the blog post or video.

      I, however, don’t agree with that the blogger should compare the product to other products in a sponsored blog post. For example, if Tarte Cosmetics paid me to feature their products (I wish btw!) and I wrote a blog post comparing their products to Too Faced products, then it wouldn’t be fair to Tarte because they paid me to feature only their products. I have no problem comparing different products from different brands to each other in a normal review blog post, but I don’t think it’s right if you start mentioning other competitors within a sponsored post. A review, to me, isn’t always comparing the product(s) to other products because sometimes there just isn’t something to compare it to. A review, to me, is taking everything you know about the product into consideration and deciding whether it delivered on its promises and whether it worked for you / your skin type / your hair type. Yes, it’s nice to compare a product to another one every now and again but for me, it’s not what makes or breaks a review post.

      With regards to your comment about saying whether a product is worth the cost. When a brand would like to do a sponsored blog post with you as a blogger, I think it’s important to decide whether you feel comfortable giving the product a slightly negative review (maybe saying it’s not worth the money) even though the brand is paying you for the blog post. If you do that, chances are you probably burned that bridge…especially if you didn’t let the brand know beforehand that you were going to give the product a less than stellar review. I personally always ask myself whether the sponsored post is for a brand or product that I already know and love, if it’s not (I’ve never used the product) – then I’ll always tell the brand I’d rather test the product first before committing to a paid-for feature. If I don’t like the product / or don’t think it’s worth it, then I will tell the brand that I’d rather not do a sponsored post. Or I will tell them that I can still go ahead and do the post, but I’ll mention that it’s not worth the money. In most cases the brand will then reply and tell you they won’t be paying for that. It happened to me a few months ago – I started working on a campaign and when I tested the product it didn’t work for me at all (and it actually caused some irritation), I told the brand that and said that either I still do the post but I’ll list all the things I didn’t like about the product OR I can’t be part of the campaign. Eventually we agreed that it would be best if I wasn’t part of the campaign. The extra cash would have been nice, but I couldn’t live with myself knowing I’m publishing all these random blog posts saying everything is fabulous just to make money.

      I understand where brands are coming from too, you wouldn’t want to pay someone to give your product a bad review. At the end of the day, if you say you wouldn’t have paid for a product (even though you liked it) with your own money, chances are a lot of your readers probably also won’t invest in the product. So what you say, will still have a negative impact on the sales of the product (even though you may not have given the product a full negative review).

      I completely agree with your on your last point – that’s in essence what a blogger is, it’s someone who puts their own personal spin on their experiences with a service / product. I think it’s okay to showcase products i.e. Instagramming a photo of a product that you bought or was sent to you, but make sure you’re not reviewing it in that post. I often post photos on my Instagram of items that were sent to me, just to give my followers an idea of what’s out there or what they can look forward to launching. But I always try to mention that I’m still testing the product, or I haven’t tested the product at all.

      Shew, that’s a mouthful! 😉 I’m going to take a nap now… 😀

  20. Laura
    19 April 2016 / 18:28

    Hi Luzanne!
    How did you afford to buy so many different products when you first started blogging? I’ve just started blogging but I find that it’s very costly to try do blog posts that are unique and different without having to purchase different products. I have no intention of using a blog as just a money making tool but I do find it’s very difficult to do on a student’s budget. Any suggestions on how you managed it without having to spend too much money or having products sent to you? Thank you!

  21. 20 April 2016 / 02:50

    Hi Luzanne!

    Thank you so much for including my blog and resources in this wonderful post of blogging tips. You have always been a blogger I admire, especially because of your commitment to replying and engaging with your readers.
    Your blog posts are always beautifully presented and written, and your images of of such excellent quality. You have such a great eye 😉

    I can’t wait to actually meet you in person when I get back to SA.

  22. 21 April 2016 / 19:43

    This has been so helpful! I actually just recently started a blog myself and would love for you to check it out 🙂

  23. 22 April 2016 / 22:55

    Hi there!
    I’m a new blogger always searching for blogging tips and just when I was going to give up (they’re all the same: Don’t copy, Be true to you, etc.) I find this post. SO much valuable information! I love that you added your sources as well! I spent the majority of the day reading Melyssa Griffens website (sorry boss)!
    I look forward to more posts!

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