Like anyone worth reading who is an influencer, I’m going to start by telling you that I hate the term “influencer”. Influencer is defined by dictionary.com as “a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media,” but it has evolved to be a job title for people who have followers on social media (even if they don’t actually making a living from their accounts). Basically bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, etc.
Influencer sounds like something out of a Gary Shteyngart novel, which does make sense given that everything seems like something out of a Gary Shteyngart novel these days, but that doesn’t mean I need to roll over and accept the state of things. I am a blogger, a marginally better term.
And yet…I am an influencer. Sigh.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the reason for this post.
I ran out of my last fuck while playing with an Instagram ad agency’s influence calculator. It looked at the size of one’s audience, the engagement level, the locations where the account had tagged photos, and the sentiments expressed in the posts.
The sentiments expressed in the posts.
The description didn’t go beyond that, but I doubt that negative sentiments are rated highly.
There are a few different things going on that concern me about the state of blogging right now — machines determining if I’m a potential friend to brands is just one of them.
One is the fact that, inspired by the success of Into the Gloss probably, e-commerce sites want to get in on the beauty education game. Education, as long as you’re not actually, you know, educating people in the traditional sense that they learn to think for themselves, is extremely lucrative. If you’re a marketer-educator, you can tell people they must have x, tell them how to use it, and then sell it to them. Mind you, ITG started as a website and source of education and only then became a maker of makeup and skincare (Glossier).
Mainstream websites and magazines are little better. Most of them don’t follow FTC disclosure rules, sell coveted spots on best of lists, and often lazily recycle content published by places that still do reporting and press releases. I mean, look at articles on kbeauty, which often go no deeper than “x number of things you should buy according to a person selling exactly those things.” Tragic.
What’s the alternative? Independent blogs run by regular people that aren’t marketing arms of shops and brands or PR mouthpieces for sale to the bidder that ends up in their email first.
The problem is that in order to regularly update a blog, test products, and keep up one’s social media accounts, it takes a lot of work. And, frankly, it takes a lot of money. A lot of products. A lot of sitting in a chair. It’s certainly part of the gig economy.
Then there’s a thought running through The Internet that suggests that bloggers (and here I’m including Instagrammers and YouTubers) that buy all or the vast majority of their own products are more trustworthy than those who receive press samples for review at no cost. That blogs without advertising or affiliate links can be trusted over those with monetization. While I like to follow bloggers that seem to have a strong sense of control over what they publish, the themes of their blogs, and their ideas, I think it’s unsustainable for productive blogs (publishing, say, one new product review per week consistently) to operate without affiliate links or press samples. I seriously suspect that it’s not possible for bloggers who blog full-time as their primary profession to operate without at least doing occasional sponsored (as in paid) posts. I’ll crack open the blog’s books to show you the numbers that support my theory in just a bit.
My feeling is that you shouldn’t have to have tons of disposable income to blow on beauty products in order to be taken seriously as a blogger. I suspect that most people can probably get behind that statement although I’ve seen it suggested that x blogger or y IGer is somehow more legitimate because they appear to have a successful career (or wealthy spouse/partner) unrelated to their blog. It’s my ardent belief that you shouldn’t have to be wealthy overall or flush with disposable income to be taken seriously or considered truthful. And yet there’s such mistrust of bloggers when it comes to money that I was recently accused of accepting money to write a paid post when I specifically said in the post that I’d…declined…money…to write a post on the topic. I, too, am cautious when reading blogs that are unfamiliar to me, but the answer for me has been finding people I trust and sticking with them until they get so fed up with the system that they go on hiatus or retire their blogs altogether.
I think that the solution to the suspicion of bloggers might be more transparency about how small-time blogs like mine work as micro businesses.
It’s worth recording this for the sake of posterity and to give readers a sense of what it’s like to blog right now. My experiences aren’t representative. I have the advantage of living in NYC, the epicenter of all that is beauty. At the same time, I’m not always brand-friendly and I’m extremely paranoid about every offer that comes into my inbox and DMs in light of past experiences and what I’ve seen. I also have Real Job demands that prevent me from accepting certain offers that might be fun or useful but my job also provides the salary I use to support myself so I can blog for no pay.
About the blog
Stats (accurate when I pulled them, they change every day): ranked #1312 out of 14,361 influencers in the Fohr Card Directory with 107,190 followers across all platforms. About 150,000 page views over a 30-day period. About 10.7K followers on Instagram. 35,328 most visited website in the US and 187,396 most visited website in the world (estimated by the Alexa toolbar). So…more “maybe top 10%?” than top 10 LOL.
Money: the blog didn’t break even in 2016, and my freelance income had to cover blog expenses. My blogging income is totally tangled up with my freelancing income and it varies by month, but the blog took in $1,000 per month on average in 2016 and spent a bit more than $1,000 per month on average. Half of that goes to buying products. A good chunk of it pays for the home office and monthly expenses like software subscription fees, my bookkeeping software, various tech things. I’ve used blog income to take a Korean class and stuff like that relevant to what I write about. Don’t get it twisted: this fucker is something of a money/time black hole.
I’ve thought about giving up on blogging many times over. Last year, when the hosting bill came due I was sort of like…wtf am I doing with my life? Why do my parents, who I get along with very well, never see me? Why is my husband always going to hang out with our friends alone? What is television and how do you sit still through a whole episode? Basically, I realized that I worked constantly and it didn’t feel like there was a reason.
Since then, I experimented with freelance beauty writing and sort of got my act together in some ways. I’ve seen more of the beauty world from more angles, and I’m convinced that plenty of people want independent sources for beauty info.
It’s tricky to figure out how to give that regularly while not going totally crazy or becoming part of the beast you’re trying to unmake. No doubt plenty of people with blogs that have stats like mine are earning a living from blogging alone, but my vision for this site and limited opportunities for blogs mainly in the Asian beauty niche make it tricky.
I’m gearing up for a big change: I’ve negotiated with my job to give up 1/5 of my salary but keep all the benefits so I can work only 4 days per week and have one for blogging and freelancing. I’m not entirely certain how the blog is going to cover the lost income, but I plan to keep doing what I’m doing just more often, write more freelance articles, and reign in my spending on products. We shall see.
A Week in the Life of a Beauty Influencer
Morning: wake up and make sure nothing is on fire on the social media accounts. That sounds crazy, but I’ve been a kpop and Korean beauty blogger long enough to have woken up to some crazy fucking shit. Roll around in bed too long, answer a few messages, and get out of bed late. Grab the cleansing water I’m testing to speed things up. Do my routine quickly, but incorporate three more products that I’m testing; two are press samples that I’ve requested, so I don’t want to take my usual 15 months to review them. Look at the time and just slather on a small amount of base makeup, no glamour today, sorry world. Realize later that my PIH are totally showing, can’t bring myself to care.
Afternoon: On my lunch I do a loop of Korea-based shopping sites I like to see if anything new has been released. Check my favorite two Korean beauty news sites for intel. Answer comments. Check Twitter. Gobble down a sandwich at my desk. Dodge my boss when she tries to get me to look at a seven-page report while I’m eating. Side note: why do people think that it’s ok to talk to you while you’re eating lunch at your desk? Like, if I were a sane person, I’d eat outside the office, but I’m trying to get my stuff done mid-day. Anyway.
Evening: Walk home from about 30 minutes away due to a train problem. Am spotted by a reader while photographing a hotel and possibly falling into snow (!!!!!!!). Regret makeup laziness. Do not regret the walk home. It feels good to just walk and breathe for a bit; resolve to do it more, perhaps when the world is not covered in fucking mounds of snow. I remember that I want to shoot and edit a video of a mask that was cool for the ‘gram, so I plan shots while hopping in the shower; I’m cold (it was 26 degrees on the walk home). Remember that I want to code something fancy for the blog and decide to order dinner rather than cooking so I can do a quick test run. Test it, choke down some chicken, fail, fail, fail, fail, learn how to put some fancier scripts on the page for the first time, dislike the way one piece works, fix it, and finally succeed around midnight. I’ve wanted to do this for almost two years and tonight I succeeded. Sort of want to cry, but also scared this is another false start. Ask people on twitter if it’s really real. It is. WHY IS MY FACE WET!?!? Save mask review for tomorrow. Tentatively plan to announce my new blog feature tomorrow. Log in to talk to people on my IG. Remember I need to put on my Differin so I can keep my testing consistent. Stumble off to bed to poke at social media, do a lazy bedside routine post-Differin, and
read some porn look at photography tips (not even kidding, somehow that’s really relaxing).
Comments answered: 50 on Instagram and four on the blog in the afternoon. 16 before bed. I SUCK at responding to comments and I’m trying to get better at them. I now have an Instagram service that allows me to type comments on a regular keyboard more easily so I’m not an asshole who never says anything back. I cherish the invention.
Posts written: zero, but I revised the most important post on my blog and added something MAJOR to it.
Emails and DMs related to influencering:
- asked if I’d be interested in receiving some press samples from a brand I like in theory, but have never clicked with. Decline. Another product (that I’ve tried before and don’t like) offered. Decline. I ask if we can stay in touch in case I see something I want for a specific story. They accept. I mentally file that away.
- asked if I’d be interested in receiving press samples and making videos by a newer shop. Decline.
- invited to a kbeauty event happening while I’m out of the city for work. Regretfully decline. Why is all this good stuff happening when I’m gone?!!
- contacted by two PR people promoting products or services for stories (I’m guessing relating to my freelance writing). They’re mass emails, I don’t respond.
- invited to another event happening while I’m out of the city for work. Not related to my blog’s specialty, so it must be freelance-related. Decline.
- invited to join an affiliate program for a health/wellness thing that has nothing to do with what I write about. One-sentence decline just so I get off their list.
- I DM a company on Instagram to ask if they’re planning to distribute a product I love in the US. They let me know it is being discontinued. Review cancelled! I DM a colleague who reviewed it to let her know in case she wants to stock up/inform readers. Wonder if I should write the review anyway in hopes it comes back into production.
- I went to bed with a few unanswered in the inbox.
Morning: wake up earlier because Alessandro tore down one of the blackout curtains yesterday. Roll around, but actually get out of bed in part so I can put on some proper base makeup in case I run into one of y’all again! Ignore the piled up emails from last night and the ones that came in overnight.
Afternoon: tackle a rice bowl and edit my visual routine post to explain the code and scripts I added last night to make it clickable. Share it on twitter and facebook. Brace for news it isn’t working. It seems to be working. I relax a little. Make my new post newsletter on Mailchimp and send it (also announcing a post I wrote earlier in the week). Add this week’s featured post to the Lipstick League’s shared planning Doc. Quickly check Korea-based shops for new releases, but dive back into work.
Evening: I had to bring work home because I need the team at work to proof things for an early approval deadline. Tackle some email to clean up the inbox. Fix some broken links that have piled up.
Comments answered: 1 blog comment, a few on IG.
Posts written: a few lines in one older post.
Emails and DMs related to influencering:
- one email probably related to my freelacing from a PR agency that has nothing to do with what I do. Delete, no response.
- one email related to blogging from an influencer agency that has nothing to do with what I do. Delete, no response.
- I follow-up regarding a Western beauty brand consulting thing I did last month. Check is going in the mail this week. I fist pump because that money has already been spent on EXO tickets.
- offered a product for review. I quickly research the brand, ingredients, presentation and determine it’s potentially interesting. Follow up and ask how many other bloggers/IGers will be reviewing the product. Learn while waiting for a response that at least one person I know has been offered the product. Brand later writes back and says “only 50” influencers have been offered the product. I basically die and decline.
- receive a mass email inviting me to be part of an affiliate program. Look at the site and decide to maybe deal with it later.
- remember I have some emails stashed in a few folders and decide to deal with them because I should have written back ages ago:
- write back to a reader who spotted something I missed in a post, edit post to update it.
- write back to company that answered some questions for an upcoming post.
- write back to colleague who recommended me to an affiliate program.
- write back almost a month late about a press sample offer, decline.
- decide to declare bankruptcy on an email with an affiliate program because if I write back I can’t imagine when I could schedule the proposed e-meeting. (this is kind of crappy of me, but I’m getting tired by now).
- write back to a reader about maybe starting a blog.
Morning: work insanity.
Afternoon: more work insanity. Test a cleanser while taking a post-crying shower (the benefits from working from home one day per week), but otherwise stay glued to the phone and inbox in hopes of averting a stack of disasters.
Evening: disasters barely averted, I perk up a bit and write a new, fairly low-stress post for the weekend. Open a more difficult, weighty review and type a few sentences before saving the draft and switching. My best productivity strategy is to have so many drafts in progress that there’s always something that can work with my mood. Switch to a mask review. Eventually tap out. This day has been so bad even writing is hard.
Comments answered: 1 blog comment, a few on IG.
Posts written: 1 totally new post written, a few lines written on another, light work on a third. The thing that’s enjoyable to me about blogging is doing the work of writing reviews — the writing is what’s pleasurable, so just making some time for writing after a terrible day feels nice.
Emails and DMs related to influencering: my email got slammed overnight (due to people writing back to my responses) and I reward myself for making it through truly one of the worst, most stressful weeks at my real, full-time job by not dealing with it today.
Morning: wake up and think about what I want to write vs. what I need to write. Decide to do one of both today: a review of LJH cleansing water (a new product that lots of people have asked about) and a story that I’ve been working on really hard for about two weeks now that people need to know about. Alessandro insists that he should be on my desk to “help”. Whip out a review including photos and photo editing before noon. I am on FIRE.
Afternoon: Plan the blog’s post schedule for the next three weeks. Usually I don’t bother and just publish things whenever I feel like it, but I’m going to be out of town for work and so busy that I’m concerned about even being able to share posts on social media, so everything has to be written, edited, and scheduled so it appears automatically. Can’t find the brainpower to switch to another review immediately (the stress of the upcoming trip is not helping), so I answer some email and talk to people in comments, on IG, and on twitter. Eventually decide to start working on mask review photos and actually get into it, have fun, and roll right into writing the rest of the post and inserting the gifs and images.
Evening: eye my newly made editorial calendar and try to figure out what I can handle writing tonight. Test a mask. I need to write a post on what I spent this month and it’s going to kill me because I bought SO. FUCKING. MUCH. that just writing everything down is going to be exhausting. urgh Clean my office a bit because I’m rolling my desk chair over Cool Ranch Doritos and mashing them into the carpet along with all the other crap on the floor because the last time the cleaning person was here, Alessandro was hiding in the curtains and I didn’t want the vacuum to freak him out. Regret decision to clean when I realize that my vacuum needs to be cleaned. Do a fairly crap job, but celebrate no longer writing about beauty in total filth.
Comments answered: lost count, oops.
Posts written: one full review of a new product. The final half plus lots of photos for a sheet mask review.
Emails and DMs related to influencering:
- get an email telling me to update my profile for an agency that allows influencers with IG accounts with more than 10K followers and YouTubers with more than 1K subscribers or something like that to select products for review from a “free store.” The concept seems to grant more autonomy to bloggers/vloggers and they encourage/reward best practices like clear disclosure, so I’m hoping this is the direction things are heading. I don’t see anything I want at the moment, but I’m curious to see how this evolves.
Morning: I woke up and got cracking on some writing because the pressure is on to get everything done and scheduled before I leave for a work trip in about 9 days. On the way back from the work thing I’m stopping to see my parents; it’s been just short of three years since I’ve been home, in part due to how busy I’ve been with work, but also the blog.
I have seven posts in various stages of completion that need to be done by then to keep the blog functioning at a normal level. heh I open up a shopping guide and decide it sounds like I was paid by the site to promote them (not the case). Decide to reframe the post, cut a bunch, and scale back the scope to write more normally. It starts sounding much better and less marketing-y. I break when I get bored, but feel good about the direction.
Afternoon: I continue work on a monster review that I’ve been chipping away at for some time. I finally feel like it’s close, take the photos, do some final research, calibrate my fancy pH tester and use it, and copyedit the post. Feel happy and decide to bump it up to Monday so I’m around when it goes live.
Evening: we were supposed to record for the Snailcast tonight, but everyone is pretty burnt out and not feeling up to thinking and forming words into sentences, so we mutually decide to cancel. I need to write and publish a high-stress post while I’m able to be at my computer to put out any fires or misunderstandings. I can’t delay the post because I see people all around who need this info as soon as I can make sure that I have all the #receipts in order. Still, I dread writing it because it’s not a happy subject and it’s going to stir up some shit, and it could potentially be misused. Write it anyway.
Comments answered: 2 blog comments.
Posts written: a front half and a back half.
Emails and DMs related to influencering: I let my inbox go wild for a day.
Morning: Glanced at email, sighed, and rolled out of bed. Tested a foundation I bought awhile ago. Wonder if I should branch out into makeup. Deal with hectic morning at the office, but take time to hit Sephora to buy myself a new foundation I tried and liked. I have a rule: I cry at work, I get fancy lipstick. I cried twice Friday, so foundation it is. Tons of packages arrived today, including a giant package of press samples for review from a Korean beauty brand that I ok’ed a few weeks ago.
Afternoon: publish a review of Sunday Riley’s Good Genes during lunch and share it on social media.
Evening: clean up my inbox on the train home. Arrive home, poke at my calendar and sigh at the amount of stuff I need to write. Looking forward to a nice bit of post-trip laziness and writing more slowly. [ME COPYEDITING IN THE FUTURE: *looks at camera* that didn’t happen]
Comments answered: 8 on the blog, 45 on the gram.
Posts written: zero. Mondays are hard.
Emails and DMs related to influencering: I crawled into bed rather than answering email.
Morning: busy with work.
Afternoon: rush back from lunch to add a few links to the post for the new episode of the Snailcast (recorded a few weeks before). WOOT! Reply to comments on the blog and gram.
Evening: finish adding the words for a very basic haul post.
Comments answered: 9 on the blog, 15 on the gram.
Posts written: 1/2.
Emails and DMs related to influencering:
- open an email that says I’m invited to bid on writing a paid post about a skincare brand —honestly, I’m still confused about what the fuck was going on in that email. A wall of “NO” appears in my mind and I delete without answering.
- an invitation to join an affiliate program. I hold for later because I don’t want to be rude, but I can’t deal with this right now.
- invitation to meet for coffee or have a deskside meeting for a new product. This must be related to freelancing. I delete.
- email that’s totally random and it has to do with a product not even in my niche omfg I just want to sleep, pls kill me. Delete.
- press sample offer, probably related to freelancing. Delete.
- offered ticket to concert, can’t go due to work demands. FML.
- time spent blogging/IGing: who the fuck knows
- number of times I cried or wanted to cry: once from joy, twice from despair (Real Job-related)
- number of event invitations: three beauty events, one concert, all declined due to work
- number of press samples offered: about 10, if you count the ones related to freelancing, 5ish are just related to blogging
- number of blog posts written: 1 updated with new words and code, 4 new posts
- number of comments answered (roughly): more than 150 between the blog and IG, it’s tough to keep track.
- number of emails received: at least 23
These are my highly opinionated, biased answers to some blogging questions I got from followers on Instagram Stories.
1. How do you get free products for review?
[Note that I use the word “samples” a lot. What I mean are press samples aka. free products for review, not foil or deluxe samples. Most brands send full-size products.]
There are a few ways bloggers in general get free products for review. The most simple and efficient way is for shops, brands, and PR companies to email me and offer a product or products for review. My acceptance rate is something like…less than 5% of offers, I think. During the week I documented above, I accepted none of the samples offered. (Keep in mind that I’m offered some unsuitable stuff like eyeglasses and Western cannabis skincare that doesn’t seem to fit with what I’m doing, too.) Historically, I’ve been terrible at keeping up with my inbox, so apologies if you’re a shop, brand, or PR person reading this; for a long time I didn’t publish my email because I couldn’t handle writing the blog and dealing with the inbox. I prefer to sit back and let brands come to me, it’s an Art of War thing that I have a hard time abandoning.
In a very very few cases I’ve contacted brands and requested samples for review. Usually I’ve used products from the brand, have a very good sense that I’ll like what I’m requesting, and feel like the brand deserves more exposure (but maybe they don’t have the PR people on the payroll to make that happen). I write an email or DM something like “Hi- I write the blog fanserviced-b.com. I discovered your brand through [where I learned about them] and I’m interested in learning more about your products. Please keep me in mind if you send products to U.S. bloggers for honest review. Facts about my numbers of followers on Instagram and my blog can be found in my press kit (link to press kit).”
One of the most interesting ways bloggers and Instagrammers are receiving press samples for review is by joining really slick sites for influencers that allow them (usually with a minimum number of followers) to “shop” from a selection of free products for reviews. What’s cool is that these sites get rid of some of the admin work for receiving press samples and depersonalize the experience, so you can focus on the testing and review. What’s ultra cool is that they demand proper disclosure of samples in order to participate and qualify for future pr samples.
I’ve heard that influencers requesting press samples are often totally out of line, rude, and unprofessional. We’re talking an influencer with 1,000 followers on Instagram demanding products for review or an influencer with mostly fake-seeming followers requesting products. I think it’s totally fine to wait until, say, 50 offers have been made to you before cold contacting a firm you’re actually interested in working with about review samples.
The US Federal Trade Commission requires that online sites disclose products received for free in reviews — and sites need to do that before a reader clicks to buy the product. Disclosures like that can’t be buried in footers or whatnot, they need to be prominent and placed before buying links. Many bloggers handle this by inserting buttons or disclosure sentences before posts (kinda clunky, but whaddayagonnado) and a longer explanation footer at the end with links to a longer disclosure page in both places.
If you’re blogging to get free stuff…honestly, love yourself, your time and effort have to be worth more than that. 🙁
2. Are you offered money to write posts? Do you accept?
I receive offers to write sponsored/paid/ad posts routinely, as do pretty much all bloggers. No, I don’t accept.
I think it would be really hard to write a beauty post in my normal voice while being paid by a brand or shop. Real pros know how to do it; I’ve seen top bloggers maintain their voice and negotiate paid posts that offer readers something of value that seems totally in keeping with their other blog posts. I don’t think I have that kind of clout and skill at this point, to be honest. It is possible, but it’s so difficult that very few people could pull it off. This Shiseido foundation swatch post by Temptalia is a master class in how to do a useful, properly disclosed sponsored post; she provides something of value to readers, the sponsorship is dead clear, and she says that she won’t be reviewing the products (if at all) until months later, when the partnership term has ended. Flawless. Since I’m not remotely near that level and can’t negotiate deals like that due to a lack of importance and patience for administrative things, I just dodge paid posts. I’m able to do that because I give my blog my labor for free right now; I have a full-time day job that pays the bills.
3. How do you get people to look at your blog?
I genuinely wonder this a lot. I mean, obviously, share your posts, where appropriate, on social media. Write about things that people care about. Solve problems. Do at least one thing well. Write and publish consistently.
And yet…you can’t necessarily shake that up in a bottle and get results directly proportional to the elements put in.
I’ve come to realize that people who are extremely successful tend to be good at connecting. People are longing for it, but real connection is so rare in this world. Some of the biggest bloggers in beauty answer ALL of the comments they receive (!!!). Others are good at writing in a way that gives people comfort and joy. Others yet take photographs that show people something beautiful and pleasing or explain a difficult concept clearly. The thing in common is a sense that the post is about the reader and connecting with them to share something. Not all readers may want the connection you’re offering, it may not be their style or whatever, but sincere, pure attempts to connect draw people in, in my opinion, are what it’s all about.
4. How do affiliate codes work? How do affiliate links work?
I’m not sure how the affiliate codes used on Instagram work. I suspect that a brand offers up a code like “FANB4EVER” with a discount of 20% off or whatever and an affiliate commission of 10% or less to the influencer and they share it, but that’s just a guess. When I’ve had blog-specific codes, they just offered a discount or perk for readers.
I know a lot more about affiliate links. First, an influencer needs to apply to a brand’s affiliate program or be invited to join it. Most major Western brands and shops have an “affiliates” link in the footer of their site. Korean beauty sites based in the US tend to offer friend and follower referral programs and not affiliate programs (get $5 or $10 for referring a new customer, who also saves $5, $10, or 15% sort of thing). If accepted, you’ll be given access to a system with a dashboard that tracks sales and commissions. That’s also the portal where regular links to products can be turned into affiliate links with one’s unique tracking number or ID. If a blogger doesn’t want to do a lot of work and they have a self-hosted website or access to their blog’s CSS, they can add a plugin or code that theoretically turns all links into affiliate links automatically. The plugin doesn’t work perfectly and not all retailers participate in these subaffiliate programs, but tons do. The plugin makes it tricky to know whether a link might become an affiliate link in the future without you being tipped off (if, say, a new retailer joins the program), so it makes sense to pre-emptively disclose affiliate links on pages with shop links unless one is certain that there’s no way a page could result in an affiliate commission. Affiliate commissions are paid by shops; readers don’t pay extra for their products if they use them. They are a marketing expense for shops, which is why some people don’t like them.
[Repeating because it’s important.] The US Federal Trade Commission requires that online sites and influencers disclose affiliate links and codes that result in them being paid a commission — and sites need to do that before a reader clicks to buy the product. Disclosures like that can’t be buried in footers or whatnot, they need to be prominent and placed before buying links. Many bloggers handle this by inserting buttons or disclosure sentences before posts (kinda clunky, but whaddayagonnado) and a longer explanation footer at the end with links to a longer disclosure page in both places.
5. How do people make a living off of blogging?
Maaaan, fuck if I know lol. I’m guessing some combination of: they have a lot of traffic with good search engine optimization and affiliate links, publish frequently, do sponsored (paid) posts, live somewhere affordable, have multiple blogs, write somewhere that isn’t their blog for money, and aren’t the primary breadwinner in the family. And they likely don’t spend half their blogging income on products for review. hahahaha Fuck.