Working in the beauty industry and blogging about it puts me in the position of seeing the coin from both sides (as it were).
I see strange goings-on and usually dismiss them as a 'nothing to do with me', roll my eyes and just put my head down and get on with it. I've seen blogger (blagger) shopping lists and I've seen blogger demands.
In this day and age, when bloggers are still compared unfavourably to journalists (who also send shopping lists btw), I think it's more important than ever that we hold ourselves to a higher standard that that.
Today however, one of my brands received an email that was so unethical, inappropriate and with the potential to be fraudulent that I thought it may be worth a quick post to keep everyone's head in the game. The real game.
There has been a lot of talk about stats recently and I really feel for PRs and brands who are trying to decipher bloggers from blaggers and influence from paid-for stats.
We all know that stats can be bought. Twitter followers that jump to 60k in a week, Instagram, Facebook likes, we're used to that. All can be bought. I don't think a lot of PR's and brands - and more importantly - readers - realise that hits to your site can also be purchased quicker than topping up your Oyster.
I was going to demonstrate with a before and after picture of my own stats after I purchased a few hundred thousand unique hits, but as I carry ads on my blog, that would be tantamount to fraud. I am unsure if my ad agency have the software to detect such goings-on, I would assume so, but I have no intention of finding out. I take what I do seriously, this is not a game to me.
The tool that retailers use to gauge how often a product is searched for on Google - i.e. to see if there is a real demand for it and thus stock it, has thus far evaded being 'bought hits for' by this particular blog.
Google Trends can give you bang up to date knowledge of how many times a product, brand or blog has been searched for on Google. Now I don't know about other bloggers, but at least 50% of my readers come straight from Google. You lovely people just open Google, type in 'Caroline Hirons' and hit 'Search' ( and I thank you for it!) Every time that happens Google keeps a tab.
So, until that is unreliable - and it's bound to happen at some point, I would urge any PR or brand to simply do a Google Trends search if they are in doubt about a blog, the influence of a blog or even the effectiveness of their own press launch. Watching PR's compare their launches to their competition's is always entertaining. ;)
Feel free to use me in your analysis. I am an open book about getting between 100,000 and 200,000 uniques a month, depending on how often I blog and what the topics are. That equates to between 2 and 4 million page views a month for me (on a good month) because thankfully, my readers are engaged and will often read 5 or more pages/posts per visit.
Those figures will give you a baseline of where others will sit. I promise you this is no ego trip for me, you only have to search Zoella, Tanya Burr, Pixiwoo or Lisa Eldridge alongside me to give me a slap-down. And that's fine with me. Those ladies have worked long and hard to get where they are, as have a lot of us.
Interaction, influence and relationships remain the cornerstone of ethical blogging for me. I respect my readers, they respect me (for the most part) :) and more importantly, a lot of you buy my recommendations. That is always at the forefront of my mind when I blog and I would never put that in jeopardy.
There is a world of difference between influence and hits. Some of the smaller blogs that I read have a huge influence on their readers. They are engaging and have built up really loyal followers who they interact with on a daily basis. For me, and feel free to jump in on the comments, a blog that has comments, interaction with their readers and has a definite knock-on effect in sales (where appropriate) is one that I want my brands working with. Maybe that's not for everyone, but I'm happy where I am. I sleep easy.
So if you fancy a bit of fun:
Search here; https://www.google.com/trends
All you do is click 'Add term' - you can keep going and compare 4/5 different things at a time, which is very interesting and I warn you now, completely addictive. Have fun.
It is not my intention to bring anyone down or upset the apple cart, but when I am directly involved via my day job, I feel it is appropriate to respond in kind and get a message out there. It's simply not fair. Good blogging and great blogs should, to my mind, come from the heart, not a credit card.
If you are a brand or PR that received an email in recent days from a blog claiming to be the biggest beauty blog in the UK, feel free to search for that blog alongside mine or anyone else's.
And maybe just bear the result in mind the next time someone demands an exclusive or First Class.
Now if you'll excuse me I'm just off to put the kettle on and get back to cleansers before this taste stays in my mouth.