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Independent Woman

As The Coveted has been going through the monetization process I’ve been faced with a lot of questions regarding fair business practice, ethics and fashion. As a person who is a firm believer that fashion and shopping are not the same thing, I have decided not to make The Coveted a ’shopping’ blog, and focus solely on topics that inspire my personal style.

It wasn’t until I signed up for a fashion network that provided ads, that I realized I had to think carefully about what I wanted to allow on this blog. The network had me sign a 30-page contract, and I went through a whole application process. The ads they provided were mostly deodorant and razor ads, and a couple of razor ones. When I asked them about it, they told me that’s the ads they had, and I had to have them placed “above the fold” (within the top 1000 pixels) to keep my end of the contract.

Of course I felt conflicted about this. I wanted to be part of this network, they have excellent means of increasing traffic, and they are nice people…and I want The Coveted to grow, like most of us bloggers want for our own blogs.

In the end I decided to revoke my contract, and not be part of this network. I always tend to choose the most difficult path for some reason, for the sake of independence. And in the end I found that I’m happier finding my own ads, that way I can pick and choose to my own standards.

So at this time, I’m left wondering if other fashion bloggers are struggling with this process. I can’t be the only one, no matter how stubborn I am. And I’m also concerned with maintaining the integrity of the independent online media. With all these networks and contracts promising not to be offensive… affiliate programs, how do you know what’s a good business deal and what’s not?

And how do you know when to draw the line in regards to what constitutes as offensive content? If they ask you to do that, then, what’s next?

Also, the next question, is traffic… if you decide to be an independent blogger, what avenues can you utilize to increase traffic without joining these networks that seem to be popping up faster than I can keep track of. My question is what is their motive? If they aren’t bloggers, then what are they gaining from my work and creativity?

And the most important question is: How do I protect my creative integrity?

In an email conversation with Mahret at F&Art, I brought up the idea of creating an Independent Fashion Bloggers Union, or just a fancy blog that’s an open forum for fashion business and ethics.

What do you think?

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17 comments for “Independent Woman”

  1. jeannie…all very good points…
    i have decided not to join a network like that mainly because, like you, that isn’t what i want my blog to be about. i joined one network (that makes advertising optional) as a way to increase traffic to my site, and because they have an agreement with a magazine, which could add readers. i think the network’s motives are to make money for themselves and their advertisers. essentially they are using you to gain access to your readers and sell them whatever the new, hot thing is. in the end, you have to evaluate why you are doing this, what is in essence your blog’s mission statement, and what you hope to get out of it, and choose opportunities based on that. basically be true to yourself.

    honestly i think the best way to protect your creativity is to remain independent. it may be a long road but in the end it would be more rewarding and satisfying for you. i love your idea of a union or an independents network, where we can talk to each other and trade “war stories,” of just talk about issues related to being independent. it’s something i would love to be a part of.

    Posted by Kim | August 30, 2007, 12:47 pm
  2. Well as much as I understand that bloggers are trying to make money with what they do - to me it is still more or less a hobby - I am a little bit disappointed in all the ads showing and almost distracting me from all the well written articles and posts. Especially when you get ads between the posts. Please, no offence to anyone, but isn’t there a way to reduce it?

    Posted by Fenke | August 30, 2007, 1:13 pm
  3. I’d love to know more about what about the ads and/or networks particularly bothered you. I’ve worked in journalism where advertising is a necessity (if one wants to get paid), including online journalism. But I haven’t dealt with the blog networks or blog ads and I’m wondering if different issue are being raised than those I’m familiar with. If you don’t want to answer here, shoot me an email :-)

    Posted by WendyB | August 30, 2007, 1:27 pm
  4. Bravo Jannine!

    Posted by Mothra | August 30, 2007, 2:17 pm
  5. Well I think it would be great to have something similar to a Union for bloggers.

    The same goes with me concerning ads. I recently sign up with ad-sense, and I am regreting it. I don’t think my traffic have increased at all and for the money, well…it an insignificant amount really.

    Posted by Allure | August 30, 2007, 2:45 pm
  6. Well, the way you deal with ads will depend on your intentions. If you just run it as a hobby & have a day job, then it’s not a problem if you don’t show any ads. However, if you’re trying to make some money from it, unfortunately at the moment advertising is the best way to make the cash.

    To the person who has Adsense but hasn’t seen any benefit — it’s a gradual thing. The money builds up.

    Check out blogads.com. They basically act as an intermediary between businesses & blogs. You can accept or deny ads based on how they look, & the more traffic you get, the more you can charge for the space.

    Posted by Gala | August 30, 2007, 4:36 pm
  7. Jennine… I think you run an awesome blog and I read it daily. I understand that blogging can take a lot of time and with a full time job, and a desire for some shut eye its very hard… but I do think that ads are distracting, unless they really go with what you’re doing.

    Ads for shoes or vintage clothes don’t bother me, especially if you can vouch for them, but other than that they just look like- ads.

    Nonetheless, keep up all of your hard (and appreciated) work. You bring more to the table than just fashion (art, the stuggle of a fashionable life) plus your own feelings and make it personal. I feel like I know you! I like it.

    Posted by Jessica Joan | August 30, 2007, 5:32 pm
  8. i believe that good, honest, informative, and authentic content brings people to a blog and keeps them coming back. it’s not immediate. it’s a process that happens over time. the cream rises to the top.

    i have struggled with putting ads on my site. i have some google ones, but they aren’t lucrative….and i don’t really care. money is NOT my motivation for blogging. it would be nice, but i would prefer to set the terms of how i make money via my blog or any other venture, and not be influenced or felt forced to provide certain content because of the advertisers or networks i might be involved with (i feel like that’s happening a lot out there, though i cannot quantify it). there’s so much hollow, unauthentic content out there on the web, and i personally don’t want to be a part of it. others can feel free to do so, it’s their life, and their blog, party on…! and granted, some have ads on their site and it works…and isn’t gross and in your face. that’s great. but so many blogs (and hell, print magazines) seem so dominated by ads that the editorial content takes a backseat.

    thank god i have a feed reader…i don’t have to look at it. :P

    all that to say, you aren’t alone in questioning it all. it’s been on my mind for some time. i feel like no one talks about it….perhaps more should.

    Posted by tricia of bitsandbobbins.com | August 30, 2007, 7:22 pm
  9. This is a really interesting post. I’m a beginning fashion blogger, and I too am trying to avoid making my blog too much about “shopping”, it’s so easy to feature products I like or beautiful clothing I see, but I don’t shop a lot and I agree with you that fashion and style are about far more than buying new things.

    I treat all blog networks with suspicion, I sometimes think that they could benefit me, but then I don’t want to feel even slightly influenced by sponsors, I want my integrity. I need my integrity to keep blogging, if I’m channelling someone else’s intentions I will get bored. But at the same time, I’d like an income.

    Posted by ladyjulianne | August 30, 2007, 8:38 pm
  10. ah sleep, i used to do that…

    these are all really great points… i think at this point my blog as gone past a hobby… i don’t think there is anything wrong with being compensated for work, even if you love the work.

    i do agree with tricia, how having good content is the best way to increase traffic. content is everything, and without it, there is nothing.

    as far as advertising/union type stuff, it’s come to my attention via people who work in online advertising sales that some arraignments aren’t really fair, ie, affiliate/commission and cost per click payments, and it’s up to the blogger to become educated in how advertising works.

    a forum for bloggers independent of these ‘advertising networks’ may be beneficial to level the playing field… to avoid being taken advantage of.

    one great resource for independent online media (non fashion) is:’

    Media Alliance

    Posted by jennine | August 30, 2007, 10:35 pm
  11. @jess… thank you for your lovely comment. it’s really nice!

    Posted by jennine | August 31, 2007, 7:24 am
  12. Jennine,

    Your decision to retain your creative independence is probably wise because in the end, you are you may prove to be your own best revenue stream. The more information you gather, the more commentary offer, the more hits you receive.

    The more hits you receive, the better the chance that larger blogs, magazines, and media outlets will begin to seek your opinion. You then get to become known as an expert in the field.

    Once you are sought out, then you can charge fees for speaking engagements, workshops and the like.

    Just don’t forget your devoted audience of fellow bloggers as you continue to shoot for the stars!!


    Posted by pretty kitty publishing | August 31, 2007, 9:25 pm
  13. thank you pkp… don’t worry, i wont!

    Posted by jennine | September 1, 2007, 4:43 pm
  14. my situation is a bit different since i sell my things through my blog via RSS feeds from my store[s]. but i had thought of putting other ads on there. but no. it’s too much. and i like to say whatever i want. i say really ridiculous things sometimes and i love the freedom. i didn’t realize there were networks like the one you mention. i just like to visit other blogs and forums and places like flickr and find like minded people. and i get added to blogrolls and add others to mine. that really brings in new readers. i don’t get a lot of comments on my blog but i figure it is because it is a big ad for ME. or i am boring! hehe.

    anyway. i just think the more freedom the better. the less “big guys” the better.

    Posted by SwanDiamondRose | September 1, 2007, 6:13 pm
  15. I heard about BlogHerAds recently, a group that was made up of women bloggers. Like so many, I am new to blogging but want to find ways to increase traffic without distracting readers. Does anyone have any feedback on BlogHerAds? Thanks

    Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2007, 2:33 pm
  16. Hey,

    first: what would be so bad about razor ads and the like? I realize that they’re not directly related to your content, but your readers may be women and might want to click on those ads…

    second: I recently joined the BlogHerAds network and it too asks that you place ads above the fold, no other ads in that space, etc. So far, I’m happy with the ads that have shown up even though they are not directly related to my content.

    Anyway, I like that you’ve stuck to your guns and decided not to compromise your standards in the name of more traffic. Kudos!

    Posted by Henna | September 5, 2007, 7:53 am
  17. I do belong to an ad network or blog network. It’s up for debate if you have read all the scandals on the tech sites.

    Glam has provided me with fashion related ads and I have profited. Without them, I’d probably be in the red. What I make isn’t much.

    But I love in both worlds: print and web journalism. So ads don’t bother me. I don’t feel advertising should conflict with your content or your ethics. If an advertiser expects some coverage from you in addition to a spot on your site, you might want to reconsider that relationship.

    Glam has never asked me to write anything. It’s my content. Not theirs, although they do profit from it. But if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have some of the great traffic they bring in. it’s a win/win.

    Posted by sandra | September 5, 2007, 10:38 pm

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