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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

are blogging networks worth it?





Now I’ll start this off by saying I’m not overly familiar with Blog Networks outside of the two I've been a part of (Handpicked Media and Glam Media). They aren't a new thing in blogging, They seem to have popped up everywhere within the beauty and fashion community in 2014. Becoming the new go-to between brands and blogs. As a new blogger, I totally see how daunting it is working with this people who seem to speak in an alien language can be. PR is a whole new world to most people, and admittedly it’s one of my least favourite aspects of blogging. Blogging networks are intended to be the middle man between brands and bloggers. Promising things like sponsored posts, samples and event invites - Sounds great huh!. But all the while I do ponder the benefits of being in a blogger network and if it really comes to anything at the end of the day. 

I had a little spat (well I say spat, it was really nothing) on Twitter about a new blogging network. Not over what they do - I do think its a great idea in principle - but I’d noticed they’d actually bought about 23,000 of their twitter followers. I mentioned it to warn other bloggers and brands alike because it's misleading. The social media practice and apparent flippant nature towards buying followers of this particular one that's rubbed me the wrong way. How could you trust someone who is misleading to potential brands & bloggers by making them seem like they have a bigger following than they do. It’s misleading and unprofessional, and I'm not even going to go into their rude replies to me.

I see why these networks are so appealing to new bloggers. Being promised what is now a lot of people’s end game in blogging - free things, events and money. But I cant help but feel that the reality of Blog Networks are not like that. I get why bloggers join, its free, and you think “oh well, no harm in trying” as you may or may not get something out of it. But even so, you’re signing up your details to something without thinking about the consequences. You have to remember they are going to be using your blog credentials to get brands interested in their network in the first place! So if they are going around ruffling the feathers of influencers and being sneaky, how can you trust them to help you?

I do understand the pro’s of Blog Networks, they sound like they could be great for new bloggers looking for guidance and brands to work with. I’ll take a wild stab and say the majority of blogging networks are legit and do try their best to get brands involved. It's just really worth thinking about if it will actually benefit you as a blogger at all. I do feel that working with PR's directly is much better as you're building a relationship with a person, but trying to connect with those people in the first place is pretty hard! It's very obvious, but brands and PR’s don’t have infinite budget for samples; there will never be enough samples to give every single blogger something. So how exactly is it measured who gets what within a network? I'd be very interested to know how fair networks when it comes to dishing out things because naturally they'll want to get the best coverage for their items so choose the bloggers with the larger followings. From my own experiences as part of Handpicked Media and currently part of Glam Media, they both promise the world but in reality it is not all that great.

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent , but I really want to stress the importance of being careful what you sign up of and give your details to. While it might seem innocent and that it doesn’t matter, data is valuable on the internet. You never know what will be done with your data once you sign up for something. Just be smart and cautious.

As I have no real experience with blogger networks, I’d love to know some personal stories about the ones out there if you have any. Have you got any benefits from joining any of them in the form of review items, sponsored posts and events? Do you feel like they are helpful or valuable to your blog? Please let me know in the comments!

48 comments

  1. I saw your tweets. There's so many promising blogger they will get them work etc, and they end up only working with the bigger bloggers. again this is wrong as they are using the bigger bloggers to advertise their services yet never work wight he up and coming. x

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  2. I saw the tweets (and tweeted myself), as I thought it was very misleading and their responses were really unprofessional. I can't understand how they didn't see anything wrong with it! They're promoting building a bit of a network yet their 'network' on twitter is mostly fake. Great post though, it's good for people to remember to think about what they're signing up for before they do.

    Helen xo

    ps. There's a £150 high-end skincare giveaway on my blog, if anyone fancies entering! Check out my sidebar.

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  3. I dont like how everyones perception of blogging has become all about getting free stuff etc..it takes away whats nice about the whole concept as well as making it seem like an easy lifestyle. People should realise how hard all of you work to make something worth reading and something your proud of & i totally agree with you about the blogging networks! I always think if its too good to be true then it probably is.

    Khrissie xo

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  4. I'm not a part of any blogging network (does Access All ASOS count?) but have been approached by some brands and their PR agents respectively. Since I'm a blogger with a relatively small following (especially in comparison to the likes of yourself), to have potential contact with numerous big brands can seem quite tempting but like you said, I'm quite cautious about who I give my details to and don't do so unless I research the brand/PR company in question. I'd love to expand my network of contacts and blogging networks seem to be the easy way of doing so but it does sometimes seem too good to be true and I saw the exchange between yourself and the new network in question and I most definitely will not be involving myself with them as it's clear they don't have a professional approach to what they do. So to cut a long story short, blogging networks seem like a great idea but working directly with brands and PR firms might even be better but I'm one of those people who is too humble to request samples and stuff LOL

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  5. Its great you have voiced this & your concern for those networks that are less genuine. I think the best network to be part of is the #bbloggers one. You can get all the advice & info you need on Twitter & I am happy being part of it.
    I saw your tweets back & forth with the network in question & can't believe how openly rude they were, this is not cool at all.

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  6. Thanks so much for sharing Lily, I registered with a network the other day and am still unsure how it will benefit me exactly, I'm going to be a lot more aware of what I'm signing up for in future I can't believe how dishonest some of these companies are buying followers is ridiculous and misleading :( x

    EmmiHearts

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  7. I am in two minds about this because on one hand it is so easy to sign up and seems relatively harmless but having signed up to a few myself - I've seen very little feedback from the site. It hasn't helped me in any way really and although I've pegged that down to me, I am wondering if they deliver what they promise? I saw your tweets and completely agree, buying followers is not on at all. I hate that?! Really good post and it's fantastic that you're raising awareness about something that most people might not even have considered.

    Jade | skinsweet

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  8. Thanks for sharing this, it's great advice! I'm not a member of any blogging networks but have toyed with the idea in the past. It always seems tempting but I always chicken out and get too scared to join in case it is all false hope! If I do decide to join any in the future, I'll definitely make sure to do my research first! x

    www.hannahhearts-fashion.blogspot.co.uk

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  9. It just seems like this crazy rise in new joiners to the blogging world has been quickly followed by hundreds of new networks and services, popping up to latch on to not only the popularity of the trend, but also to take advantage of the naivety and somewhat cluelessness of new and less-experienced bloggers, and possibly exploit them because they can get away with it.

    I tell you what, I'd definitely want to watch a documentary or like a panorama investigation into some of these less reputable netoworks/companies, to see what is really going on behind the scenes! If they're buying followers, who knows what other underhanded things they're doing?

    Katie xo
    scarphelia.com

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  10. I agree with Jade. I've signed up to a few as it seems harmless, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed, and highly doubt they will get me the opportunity to work with brands, I think that's something I will most likely do myself and have done in the past. These networks can be useful, but I think for bloggers like myself who only have a small following, not for me as they pull you in, yet then only work with the well known bloggers, of which I am not, haha. Thanks for the advice Lilly, great post
    www.allabouttink.co.uk

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  11. It's really interesting to hear your opinion on this. I've joined a blogging network but purely because I would love to go to events to get an insight into the industry (I'm studying a fashion related course) but again haven't been contacted once - I'm definitely thinking about leaving it!

    Sarah x
    This Is Blog Standard

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the advice! Interesting post! X.

      amylaurenxo.blogspot.co.uk

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  13. As a new beauty/fashion blogger, this post has been very helpful for me and made me think twice about signing up for something unknown! Thank you Lilly, x

    beautyolivia.blogspot.co.uk

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  14. Part of me just thinks I shouldn't really get involved in any of them. If they're offering the world and more to new bloggers with only a few followers, it doesn't make sense to be promising them samples etc as most PR's would prefer to give to a blog with a large following. I do think they can be very misleading.

    AMANDALOVES.COM | UK Beauty and Fashion Blog

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  15. I am so new that I actually have never heard of these! I am going to do a bit of research myself and check a few out, but they do sound a bit dodgy and probably attract a lot of the kind of bloggers I am not so keen on, the ones who aren't in it just for the enjoyment and passion for writing and creativity. Thank you for sharing your opinions on this.

    Kathryn | Bit of a Freak | UK Beauty and Lifestlye Blogger

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  16. I signed up to a few in the past but nothing come of them. I do get PR requests but this is generally directly by email via my blog which I prefer as at least the brands are more likely to have seen/liked my content. I assume these networks charge brands too to act as the middle man.

    Having fake followers is rather fishy though and I did see their reply back to you which wasn't handled particularly professionally.

    Jen xx
    www.kitsch-n-sync.com

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  17. I'm always wary of blogging networks as I don't know if I'll end up getting screwed over at the end of it :/
    Bea x

    Bea's Beauty Blog

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  18. Since I am really new to the beauty/fashion blogger world this post does really help me. I already saw youe tweets and I was a bit confused because I didn't know a lot about these networks. But after reading your tweets I saw tweets of some beauty bloggers who said that this network was the best thing that could have ever happened to them. Now I understand and I feel like I really don't want to join a network because I am really afraid what could happen. So thank you so much for writing this post, it really helps me and I'm sure it helps others too! madamxann.blogspot.de

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  19. I recently signed up for a network, which i'm pretty sure is the one you're referring to. They contacted me via email and the layout was quite good and they had a lot of followers on twitter, but someone pick up on the fact they bought a lot and had not actually worked with any major brands. Quite disappointing as I thought that would be great even though my followers are limited, but turns out it wasn't!
    www.peachy-milk.blogspot.co.uk

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  20. Great post. I'm a relatively new blogger and am still a bit wary of blogger networks. There seem to be so many and it's hard to know which are 'the ones' to go for...I'm still learning but I agree that buying followers is NOT going to make a business seem trustworthy or professional to me. x
    http://www.isitjustmeme.co.uk/

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  21. When I started out in 2011, blogger networks weren't really a thing. But then when they started popping up, I have to admit that I wanted to be a part of them because I thought I would be left behind in the blogoshpere if I didn't. Today, I am so glad I saw sense and just stuck to Handpicked because they know what they are doing and didn't have to lie about their influence with fake followers.
    I now think that if you want to be in a blogger community (should you really should), twitter chats like #bbloggers, #fbloggers and #lbloggers are the way to go.
    You see real bloggers chatting away and are there to help and support you 24/7!
    Joelle
    xx
    FebruaryGirl.

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  22. its quite intimidating being a new blogger and having these companies offering you everything on a plate, it can be quite hard to say no! i saw how rude they were to you in the tweets too, it was disgusting!
    Lucy xx
    Sailor Speak

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  23. I have signed up to a few thinking there is no harm but have heard nothing back. Don't think I will bother in the future. I saw your tweets and can't believe how rude and unprofessional they were. They then followed me but I certainly won't be joining up!

    Honey Go-Lightly

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  24. A controversial (to the networks, maybe) topic, but def a relevant one.
    Along with, what seems to be many other bloggers, as a 'new' blogger, I've signed up to networks in the past. Not necessarily for freebies, more for the recognition.. but being a 'new' blogger, with a limited following I've been told on many occasion that my blog needs to be more 'established'. Which is why I think some go to extremes of mental tweeting asking for followers.
    I think honest, truthful and friendly support from bloggers such as yourself is good. Thank you.

    Caroline.x
    notesfromcaroline.com

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  25. I'm a new blogger as well and was recently contacted by a PR company, but after doing some more research it was a pretty bad deal! Your advice is amazing, I think it's always good to err on the side of caution!

    http://starsandspaceandstuff.blogspot.co.uk/

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  26. Your article is of great advice to new bloggers, Lily. I would not wish for any beauty or fashion blogger to be victimized or scammed by any blogging network that promises so much, yet only takes your info and does what they want with it, however they want to.

    Blog networks can be good and advantageous, but be careful who you sign up with ladies because you never know how you can be taken advantage of in the web these days. Better safe than sorry.

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  27. The tweets were very unprofessional and you were totally in the right. There are so many start-up blogs who want to be the next big thing and some programmes are misleading in playing on their hopes, I don't personally work with any but PR contact I have had has been clear and effective. So many times bloggers are reeled in and don't get the benefits so we all need to be aware of what we're in for.
    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography - www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk
    Support my Photography Project here !

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  28. Really interesting read. I missed the tweets and the particular Blogging Network your describing but agree with as a new blogger it is incredibly daunting. I'm not particularly bothered about PR, working with brands but see the benefits and how lovely it must be. Yet as a new blogger with an interest in fashion and beauty as well as focusing on lifestyle there is a pressure to BE part of blogger networks.

    I really enjoyed the pace change with this blog post.

    Toni May | averageadventures.org

    ps. My latest post is about job hunting!

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  29. Thanks for writing the post, Lily! Very interesting to read your opinion on Blogging Networks.

    I've not been impressed with the Blog Networks I've joined so far. Same thing happened to me, they promise the world, and now it seems like I'm not even part of the network. One of the reasons why I joined the current Network I'm in, was the promise that Sponsored opportunities go in a rotation, so all bloggers get a chance to be involved.

    The first few 2 months were great and very profitable, but I've had nearly a year without being approached with any Sponsored opportunities, when I know people from the same network as me are getting the opportunities!

    I understand they have to get the best deal for their clients, but if smaller blogs don't get the chance to be exposed to brands and PRs, they will always be smaller blogs. It kind of sucks, but the alternative (not being part of a network) is currently just as bad for me. Oh well, that's life I guess!

    Ysis x

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  30. This is such a great post. Xx

    www.georginaclare.com
    .Georgina Clare.

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  31. It was really interesting to read a successful bloggers opinion on this! Any company that acts as unprofessional as that will loose it's following very quickly, as a little blogger in a big pond it's very scary and confusing at times! Some blogs are taken over by networks and it's ruining their content :(

    A little bit Unique Blog/Bloglovin/Instagram/Facebook

    xx

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  32. Really good useful post. I thought about signing up to a network but decided to grow my blog my own way for a while first to be sure it was what I wanted it to be. Ok that means I can't review loads of new stuff because I can't afford it (and my nearest Space NK is an 80 mile round trip) but I like the challenge of still writing decent content without just drooling over the latest Tom Ford lipstick or £60 bottle of cleanser.

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  33. This post was so useful I wish bloggers did more posts like this!
    The Lipstick, The Girl and Her Wardrobe

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  34. Thanks for posting. This was really helpful and great to hear your real thoughts.

    I'm finishing up my February Flake-Away series including my favourite cleansers, moisturisers and makeup along with a few DIYs. Check it out over on:

    www.sophschoices.co.uk

    Sophie

    x

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  35. great post!
    xx
    daniella
    simplybeautifulelegant.blogspot.com

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  36. I don't trust a lot of bloggers now who are associated with one of these blogging networks. Everybody who gets involved with them has had a personality transplant, most of them have anxiety but can't tell you simple details about it and never ever say anything negative about a product.
    Plus it gets boring when every blogger is talking about the same things at the same times and coming up with the same points.
    Most of the time I prefer newer bloggers who buy all their own products and aren't working with a brand to get you to buy a product.

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  37. Great Post :) Im apart of 2 blogging networks but nothing special! I love your set up :)

    Berrie-Blogs |Beauty Blog

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  38. Wow. This really is an eye opener and something to be careful of.

    http://gillianbarrie.blogspot.co.uk/

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  39. Fantastic post. They followed me too, and I've been reading their tweets. It looks like their profile is run by a twelve year old girl.

    STEREONANA.COM

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  40. Really great post! Very eye-opening.

    Ray | Obey Ray

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  41. this is definitely an eye opener to so many bloggers Lily, thanks for sharing about some of the sly blog networks, definitely wouldn't want to be giving them details when they do such cheeky things like that

    http://amelodyofdiaries.blogspot.co.uk/
    http://www.youtube.com/marieljanina

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  42. Wonderful post, Lily. I completely agree and it's great that you decided to do your research and speak out about this.

    Shree | PorcelainShree ✝ Beauty & Lifestyle Blog ✝

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  43. I spent so long putting off joining an ad network for so long (well, my blog is 5 years old, and I started thinking about it 2 years in!) and I had a bad experience with one which I managed to get out of by demonstrating how they'd been in breach of contract, but this meant that I sent back so many 'thanks for thinking about me, but no thank you' for the next 2 years. I recently signed with Glam and I'm happy with them so far, but I really took this as a business decision as I'm about to start blogging full time this Spring, and I went into it with an initial very clear view of what I would and would not agree to which I've managed to stick to. I also before I would consider joining met with the network so I could ask lots of questions face to face and get more of a gut feeling about the whole thing, which is something I really recommend bloggers looking to join a network do.

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  44. I am part of some blogging networks but am careful about which ones I join. I enjoy them because you also get to meet smaller blogs in the same position you are.

    http://www.cupcakesandskirts.blogspot.co.uk

    xx

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  45. I often feel like most of these blogging networks only wants to work with more well known bloggers / bloggers with thousands of followers.

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  46. I can relate to these issues, being a new blogger myself it is really hard to get you're name out there and it does feel like blogging networks are more geared towards popular blogs as opposed to the upcoming ones.

    http://makeupbykrishie.blogspot.com

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