Meet Blogger A. She has three hundred thousand followers on Instagram, about fifty thousand on Twitter, and her blog receives thousands of page views on a daily basis. She was in the biz long before fashion blogging became mainstream, enough to get a head start and penetrate the market. For one appearance at a product launch plus a post-event writeup, she could earn twice as much as what the editor-in-chief of a website makes—in a month. This might explain the abundance of Chanel 2.55's or Loubs in her posts. She definitely has enough time to go scouring the world for ever new colors to add to the collection, since blogging is basically her profession.
Then there's Blogger B. She just recently registered on Wordpress and decided to post pretty photos of herself taken with her newly bought DSLR camera. Investment, she’d call it. Currently, she’s establishing herself as a fashion blogger with a few thousand followers on social media, plus invites to the hottest events in the metro. She doesn’t go home with a check (certainly not enough to pay the rent), though she does receive a loot bag filled with freebies. She will wear them this weekend when she shoots her outfit posts for the entire week, although she will upload them one by one to give the illusion that she's doing it daily. Hey, she's got a day job!
A comparative analysis of clout: Blogger B (left) vs. Blogger (A)
Now notice how your favorite style bloggers, whether class A or B, tag online stores in their outfit credits? This is the end point in a chain in which a brand sends a product, the blogger takes photos of it and pimps it on social media. The thinking is, the blogger’s followers will generate sales for the brand, or at the very least follow it on Instagram. That's why companies are willing to pay.
Now for Blogger B, the freebies tend to be enough compensation for a tweet or two—because hey, who’d refuse free shoes and clothes, right? Cost of endorsement: zero pesos.
But Blogger A, who has more followers on social media, would normally ask for a fee in exchange for her "advertisement." Depending on the blogger’s clout, measured in number of followers, a single IG or blog post paid for by a start-up brand—say, that online store that sells jersey dresses on Instagram—could range from one to five thousand bucks. But if it's a company, like a local shoe brand at the mall, a blog post could be about Php10,000. Now try to stalk your favorite bloggers and notice how many #sponsoredposts they upload within a day, and then go do the math.
Years ago, when Twitter was king before the age of Instagram, there were reports that some of the most popular bloggers earned one peso per follower for each sponsored tweet. Now, if Blogger A has 50,000, imagine the income she'd bring in with just 140 characters!
When it comes to events, that is, when bigger companies want to hire an online influencer to show up, the process usually goes through agencies. A contract would require the blogger to attend, tweet about it, post it on Instagram, then blog about the experience. And usually, the fee comes as a “package deal,” and it can go as much as Php200,000 per event—at least for Blogger A. All expenses, from the airfare to the five-star hotel accommodations, will be shouldered, too, by the client.
Let's say the blogger is to be flown to Hong Kong. A round-trip ticket would be around Php15,000. One night at a hotel might go up to Php20,000; that's Php60,000 for a three-night stay. (You might have seen their #foodstagrams of what they ordered from room service.) On top of everything, they get to go home with a six-digit talent fee for a blog entry, plus some social media posts thrown in. Not bad at all for a working-weekend-slash-luxurious-getaway.
As for Blogger B, if she's not getting paid a few thousand bucks to make an appearance, she’d at least get free exclusive "VIP passes” to the event that everyone’s been raving about. She’d naturally document her experience on social media and snap a photo or two for Instagram purposes. She might even blog about it if she got enough pictures. Either way, she leaves the party with gift cards and lots of freebies.
The client, on the other hand, was able to raise awareness for the brand, without having to spend on a huge advertising campaign with a well-known artista. In fact, an online seller who refused to be named claimed that her followers grew by the hundreds within a day after a popular blogger wore her items and tagged her on Instagram. So it’s still a win-win situation and everybody’s happy, right?
Ring her up, please!
Well, not everybody.
Everytime a blogger gets paid to tweet, Instagram or blog, there aren't just two parties involved. Yes, there's the blogger, and there's the client who pays the blogger. But what about the blogger's readers?
You see, a blogging platform is deemed to be a very personal tool. Bloggers, because they aren't celebrity endorsers, are seen to be unbiased reviewers of products or whatever's in the market. But how do you know when something they upload online isn't a #sponsoredpost? (To be fair, there are bloggers who make the distinction, but not all, or not all the time.) You might be savvy, but not all readers can tell the difference. For all you know, that Php30,000 watch that you saved up for, or even that Php50 shampoo you bought because you saw it in your favorite blogger's #flatlays, were just given to them on ex-deal (the industry term for a freebie in exchange for a service). Truth be told, there are even times when they compromise their personal aesthetic just so they can include the sponsored items in their #OOTDs. (Again, this isn't true of all bloggers.)
At any rate, they are the local Chiara Ferragnis and Rumi Neelys whose seemingly perfect lives would make you want to cop their #OOTDs in an instant. They are the It girls online who get a large sum to sell you a pair of track sole sandals or a pineapple-printed dress. You read their blogs, you religiously stalk their Instagram accounts, you check out their outfits, but ultimately, you're left with one mind-boggling question: Are you buying?
(Illustrations by Yayay de Castro)