There’s been a lot of debate in the blogging community recently about so-called ‘ambassador schemes’ that certain companies are running for bloggers and whether or not they are actually worth your time and money investing in, and whether or not bloggers are actually reading the small print on contracts for things such as image ownership, etc. In this post, I want to discuss if some affiliate programmes and ambassador schemes scamming bloggers?
Before we get into the discussion, I just want to make a quick disclaimer. I am a part of some affiliate programmes and obviously not all of them are scams, or not beneficial to bloggers. In the past I have been part of some of the ones I am going to discuss. If you are a part of schemes like the ones I have described, then this post is in no way shaming you for doing so, it is merely highlighting some of the issues I, and a lot of bloggers, have with this kind of ambassador program. Right, now we’ve got that out of the way…
When I started blogging and started to follow other bloggers and YouTubers on Twitter & Instagram, it was my ultimate dream to one day get a personalised discount code to share with my readers. Back then, I had no idea about commission and that I might get monetary compensation from this. I just thought it was so cool, and that if I ever had one that I’d have ‘made it’ as a blogger. So, when I was approached by a certain brand who offered me a 20% off code to share with my readers that would be ‘chloealr20’, I bit their hand off to say yes. Even though I didn’t read the catch, the products I’d be promoting for them I’d have to buy myself (at 50% off). However, at the time I saw it as a fantastic deal because I’d get 25% commission on all products bought using my code.
After a few weeks, my code had made me about £30, but I’d spent more than that on products that I was promoting for this company. In the time I was a ‘queen’ for this brand, they never once regrammed me, helped promote my blog on Twitter or give me any rewards like were promised in the initial email I’d received from them. So what was I getting from this program? Not money, not exposure. In fact, I was losing money. I decided, a few months later, that the scheme wasn’t for me anymore and stopped advertising my code anywhere. There was no benefit for me basically paying that brand to promote their products.
The fact is, we work hard. We have a lot of stuff on our plate. We need to actually feel like we’re being properly compensated for our work. It doesn’t matter how you feel compensated; it could be money, exposure, PR samples. Whatever it is, you need to feel like your work for a brand is beneficial for both of you. If you don’t feel like you’re benefitting from a collaboration, then just don’t do it. Sometimes, brands like this just like to take advantage of smaller bloggers that are just desperate for their first brand collaboration or – like me – are lured in by the appeal of having your own discount code.
I’ve seen a lot of people also complain about the brand Sand Cloud, which offer you 35% off their products and a hashtag to use ‘for a chance to be featured’ on their Instagram, which takes the piss. That doesn’t make you a brand ambassador, that just makes you a customer with a bit of a discount code. Companies like this hardly ever look at you or your blog when you apply, they just accept you right away because essentially, for them, it’s promo that you’re paying for. I personally find this really degrading to bloggers, who work so hard to create an image and content that they’re proud of. I got accused on Twitter of ‘starting a witch-hunt’ when I tweeted a screenshot of an email from a company I had offering this service – I was told that it was unnecessary and that loads of huge companies do it so why should I be calling people out. My response was this: what is unnecessary is that it’s nearly 2018 and some brands don’t appreciate the work that bloggers do and continue to try and mug us off.
So, all in all, I think that as long as you and the brand are both benefitting equally from an affiliate programme or ambassador scheme, then it’s definitely not a scam. However, if you feel in anyway like you’re not getting a fair deal then just don’t go for it – say no and move on. You’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future that are bound to fit you way better.