Thursday, 1 July 2010

Selling your swag

BritishBeautyBlogger has lombasted the elephant in the room: How do we feel about our favourite bloggers and YouTube hosts appealing to us to buy their unwanted makeup? And how do the PRs feel about the free swag being turned into gold (well, ok, £4.26 before ebay fees.)

I think one of the reasons the post has received so many responses is, I would hazard a guess, that some people there protest too much...???

I stopped following a lovely person because the only posts were sales. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but (a) By the time I saw them, a milion had people had already claimed it, and (b) It was boring. However, fundamentally, the price was right, and I saw nothing ethically wrong with it - even if I could never be sure if it was bought or given originally. I do however think it is stupid to sell something marked sample, and let alone pre release; and I definitely think it's rude to your readers to sell something that they know you got for free. (And often recommended they go out and buy!) I also think it undermines the camaraderie of blogging to sell LE items at an inflated price - that's what ebay is for, if you must.

It is easy to see the attraction of selling on a blog - directly to beauty enthusiasts who might otherwise not happen to search for it on ebay, plus you get to avoid the heavy ebay fees. From a buyer's point of view, ideally I would see it as a chance to let someone (a virtual friend) try your product for a bargain. If it is for charity, all the better. However the post was geared toward the pure pursuit of making a quick buck.

In my opinion, beauty blogging in particular, is crowded out with rubbishly written, misspelled and fake bloggers. People who in real life would possibly shun you, let you into their world, and you relish the chance, although it's hollow. Many readers don't mind if a review is poorly structured and riddled with spelling and grammer mistakes... perhaps it even makes it more appealing, as it's not too lofty... Personally, I don't enjoy those. If PRs are simply going in for the "numbers game" without considering whether the blogger has integrity, then it really shouldn't shock anyone if occasionally they do see their samples surface on blog sales and ebay. Indeed I would imagine that PRs are used to their samples being sold off by even the most prestigious publications. I reckon the greatest ire comes from the fact that BLOGS ARE NOT MAGAZINES. No, blogs are NOT replacing magazines, they are eternally associated with a friendly fellow beauty addict, who isn't hawking their wares. Who is trustworthy and dependable and not vulnerable to corruption, because afterall, it's just a harmless hobby. However hard the lines get blurred, the fact that blogs have a homely immediacy means they have to walk the line. With a magazine, I think a poorly paid intern can be forgiven for selling off a LE Guerlain compact; but with a blogger who voluntarily set up a blog, ostensibly to showcase their love for beauty products - well in that scenario, selling a LE Guerlain compact that they were lucky to get as a sample - it's unforgiveable. 

I have often mentioned in passing how annoying it is for me to see makeup sales that are either selling at a premium or selling former proclaimed "must-haves"; but I never thought it was worthy of its own post. PRs must know it goes with the territory, and as for bloggers privileged enough to get freebies, if they can't act honourably one can only hope that they are known to the PRs who can then decide whther to deal with them again. PRs are not auditioning for Judgment Day, so I would not be surprised if, let's say, they found a key player in the blog world, who gave them tons of exposure but then sneaked off to ebay with their loot, continued to be indulged. It was a post worth doing for BritishBeautyBlogger, if only to put the scare into unscrupulous and insulting behaviour on the part of whoever it was... let's hope it works... But on the other hand, this knowing (and cliquey, as it implies a select few knowing) whispered witch hunt merely puts everyone on edge: who is the rotten apple in our midst?

I am not sure it is bad to sell your surplus makeup, but discretion is essential. If it says sample, perhaps best leave it as a gift; if it hasn't launched yet, perhaps wait. But once it's given to you, yes it is yours, so I don't think it's quite sinful to sell... just best not to, if only for your own conscience. 


PS. I have a load of Make Up For Ever lipglosses I bought way too many backups, I really want to sell them but have never had a blog sale and feel queasy even considering it. How do you feel about blog sales? I am interested to know, how do blog readers feel about blog sales???


  1. I think blog sales from people like Laura or Zoe (lollipop26 or zozeebo) as examples are great as you can just tell they are selling make up they have purchased because they have TOO much. I sold a revlon photoready and a Lip tar which *i* bought as they were not right for me and I think it's great that these unwanted products get to go to good homes.

    Saying that, I agree that endless blog sales are BORING and I find selling free stuff quite disgusting and totally unethical. I also dislike blogs and YT's which just blatantly try and sell their own products (Hello Lorraine) but this is just my opinion.

    In short: Love blog sales when people are selling off make up they purchased themselves and no longer need. Think it'a AWFUL and wrong to sell something you got free.


  2. Mmm I'm in two minds about it. I don't mind blog sales as such. I agree with Jennifer about certain blog sales from people you can kind of trust and that they are selling because they bought things during a compulsive phase and now they have too much maybe. I've never bought any make up on ebay so far...just brushes...So can't comment on that.

    It's ok to get free stuff and I don't mind the reviews of those products but what really bothers me is that there are some nice people I used to follow who are now posting all content about things they received...and that's it. As if they've changed and they put this kind of I need to please the PR company hat so that they keep on sending me more products. It's just too lame.

    That's my opinion anyway...
    Great post as usual.

  3. "In my opinion, beauty blogging in particular, is crowded out with rubbishly written, misspelled and fake bloggers. People who in real life would possibly shun you, let you into their world, and you relish the chance, although it's hollow". Spot on!!!! Sad but very true. I have observed a school girl attitude in the blogging world and it's both funny and tragic.

    I also noticed how much attention that post received, and a point that was being made repeatedly was that PR's would eventually stop sending bloggers free products if this behaviour was to continue. However, if you look at some of the best "lay" blogs, they are the ones that do not contain a disclaimer on every post. The fear that was voiced about PR's ending their relationship with bloggers just reinforces my opinion that one too many bloggers do it for the free stuff. That's just my opinion.

    Beautifully written btw. I always enjoy your posts, keep it up.

  4. @Jennifer Rosellen - I totally second that! Yes you've hit the nail on the head there.

    @Mercedes- Ms Purple Make-up - Yes it is sad, the more popular a blog gets, the more vulnerable it becomes to being contaminated. I have often remarked on that too, it does indeed sometimes feel like that. I do buy makeup on ebay, even sometimes LE MAC at crazy prices, but beware fake brushes omg been stung on that score. I've bought from blogs and vid sales too, no harm in it if done "right".

    @Georgia - Thanks! You make an excellent point which I hadn't noticed: the biggest fear was indeed that free stuff might not be sent out! I'd assumed the ferocious denials were to rebuff any inkling of guilt, but yes - it is broader than that. Ironically, the enthusiastic response to the post thus made bloggers seem unduly mesmerised by freebies, lending weight to the unfortunate impression of beauty blogging being the quickest way to get stuff sent to you! Oh dear.

    I am not on twitter because I get the sense that the cliquey tendencies and school girl behaviour gets even more magnified there... I am not sure if that's at all true!? but there are dozens of hugely popular blogs that I find a cringeworthy torture to read, I just fear the worst.

    I watched a video by Kokoloroo recently and she put it so well, she concluded that if she really wanted something she could just buy it. And truly, with makeup, unless you are talking about a Chantecaille haul (!), it really is within anyone's reach and hardly worth geting TOO starry eyed.


  5. I think it is probably legal, but stupid, to sell samples on a blog sale. I think too many bloggers underestimate the value of personal integrity. If you lose credibility (which you will if you appear greedy) then people will stop reading your content.

    I don't mind blog sales; I think they're fun. But what bugs me is when people try to sell USED makeup for nearly full price. In my book, once you've dipped your finger into that makeup (or driven that car off the lot, or read that book), it's lost a big chunk of its value. I personally wouldn't pay more than half the original price for any makeup that isn't "new in box". (I know a lot of people disagree, but that's how I feel about it.)

  6. @Ms. M - I agree! It really annoys me esp some people who have a Pro discount, use the item, then sell it for its full price, ugh it just seems really out of order. I totally see your point there!! xxxx

  7. Long time ago, I used to receive free beauty products from a makeup forum type beauty site. The only request was to review the product with your opinion. There was no coercing for a positive review just an email reminding me that a post was about to happen and to review it (everyone that received a product for free always stated this in their comment/review as well). Never once did I consider selling the product. I did give to family or friends if the product didn't suit me. Also, a few of the items were swapped (which at the time was, for me, stepping over the line a bit).

    I agree with a lot of what you've written as well as the posted comments. Although, I have to say that the assistant editor being axed for her selling items is fair. She has made the choice to be in that working world and should know that the pay is sh*t, if indeed it is....I don't know but I'd guess they don't earn enough to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In my eyes, she stole from her employer.

    I suppose that I'm naive since I'm not fully immersed in this beauty community (call it age or my past life volunteering for a beauty forum) but I'm amazed how how much product is sent out to people. I remember comments from the person who ran the beauty forum claiming that almost no one would send her products. Of course, that was years ago. In the last few years, it's out of control with how many people visit that site. I get the feeling that product could fill up her whole house now.

    Does anyone know if there are rules set forth by the PR companies about this sort of nonsense? I can't imagine though that there is an "risk" team keeping track of all these people they send product. I suppose new rules are in order for the lot of bad apples. C'est la vie....

  8. Geez, that was a long comment! Sorry Gail for all my hot air:)x