During a visit to your favorite beauty and fashion blogs, you’ll come across ads about everything from luxury cars to discounted weekend getaways. What you’re less likely to find is an advertisement from a beauty or fashion brand.

Black women spend $9 billion a year on their manes and another $20 billion on clothing. It’s no surprise that hair care and fashion trends are hot topics in the blogosphere. We want to know what products we should use and where we can buy it…now! There is certainly a demand for this information, and the cyber-editors are supplying it.

But why aren’t advertisers in this market showing the love back?

When the support is reciprocated, it’s usually the same five or so Black websites that ad campaigns go to. The other (and arguably more relevant) Black beauty and fashion blogs that are driving them just as much business get tossed to the sidelines.

Editors across the Web are speaking out and taking a stand. “If you are not supporting the very women who give you buzz daily then why should we support you?” asks a publisher of a popular fashion and beauty website. “If the online community doesn’t let them [the brands] know that we matter as a trusted medium, bloggers and online publishers that want to transition to a profitable website or profession will never be successful.”

It’s common for various brands to seek out opportunities to promote their products and events. A beauty editor, for instance, is sure to have a cabinet overflowing with freebies – goodies sent from various companies for product reviews. One fashion editor from a high-traffic site opens up about her experience with a popular womenswear brand. “I was invited to a bloggers event by a brand to preview their spring collection. They wined and dined myself and other popular bloggers for about an hour while we previewed their latest looks. As we were leaving they started to seat editors from print magazines for an entirely separate event. I asked myself, ‘Why couldn’t we all preview the collection together?’ It was almost as if they didn’t want us to associate with the print editors, or maybe the print editors didn’t want to associate with the bloggers.”

There is treatment from brands that print magazine publishers and editors would never accept. Web professionals are in need of new media training and savvy know-how when dealing with multi-million dollar brands who pay thousands to advertise with print outlets with comparable readers as online outlets.

But for some bloggers of color who’s in for fun, some of these nuances to the business are of no concern. One beauty blogger says, “I started blogging years ago for fun and I love what I do. I enjoy attending events, and receiving free products to try out.” When we asked how her ad sales we’re going she admitted she struggles to earn money from her blog. “I mean, I haven’t really figured out if I want to make a business out of blogging. But I do spend a lot of time doing it.”

Even with a notable mention, free leave-in conditioners and curling puddings aren’t enough. Certainly valuable content is what drives visitors to a website, but ads and ad views are what fund it.

As new media continues to broaden, and becomes the medium of choice for readers 18-35, niche bloggers offering in demand content have to become critical of brands who are using them to market their products that ultimately drives their business. Bloggers of color have to ask themselves, who drives your brand?

Blogger/Online Professionals: What do you think? Do you think fashion and beauty brands support you past access to events and free products?

Sound off!


  • http://www.scandalousbeautyonline.com Erin

    I definitely agree with this. I think we are often an oversight in marketing strategies of fashion and beauty brands. Getting the press releases, pitches and product samples isn’t too difficult after you’ve built a solid readership, and that’s a milestone in itself sometimes. While listening in on the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference, I remember hearing many of the speakers talking about sponsorships and partnerships, loaded with trips, heavy editorial coverage and compensation. They weren’t bragging, but they stated what everyone wanted to know. I know this isn’t happening to them daily, but it’s still a push for us to know that it can happen. I also know that most of them get thousands of hits and unique visitors a day, also getting hundreds of comments a day as well. While brands look at stats and whatnot, one could also argue that we aren’t getting the support from each other to let our blogs truly “shine”. So many of us put hours of our lives into our blogs, not to mention our money and our hearts. Hopefully we’ll be seen by execs as bloggers and not just bloggers of color!

  • http://www.thestyleandbeautydoctor.com Danielle

    I personally haven’t experienced this since I use ad networks that change the ads on my site depending on what’s being discussed, so most of my ads are about fashion and beauty with some household products shown in between.

    But what I have seen is that in the fashion world that there are rarely any bloggers of color getting put into ad campaigns. Like you’ll see Rumi of Fashion Toast, Suzie Bubble, Bryanboy, etc. all in ads/media for companies like Forever 21 and H&M. In that aspect I would say it seems as if brands aren’t really checking for bloggers of colors. I was just saying with some friends not too long ago that black fashion bloggers like Moptop Maven and Lori from His and Hers Chicago (and many more) would be perfect for those type of ads/promotion. We’ll see I guess.

  • http://LivingFlyonaDime.com Living Fly on a Dime

    When I see brands offering up sponsorships and major ad campaigns, there are rarely any people of color included. I was happy to see that Lucky and H&M did a spread with Lilliana from Cheap Chicas and Karen from Where Did U Get That?

    I’m still new to the blogging world but what I have noticed is certain companies will contact me on a regular basis to post info about their products but when I mention them taking out an ad, it’s dead silence.

    But I guess I see why advertisers don’t court us: they don’t have to spend cash advertising to us but we spend our $$$ on their goods. It’s a win win for them.

  • http://singaturestyle.blogspot.com/ Sing

    The two most recent campaigns featuring bloggers; Forever 21 and Coach Holiday Campaign, featured no black women. I found that to be really sad overall because there are so many of us who have great style and start trends. Where is the diversity?
    I also find other huge bloggers who pay no attention to other fashionable black bloggers, no mentions on their blog rolls or features (not that we need “others” validation or attention). There is a clear ommission of women of color that is prominently featured in the fashion blog world not only from retailers but others as well.
    I appreciate media outlets such as this and Essence magazine for featuring black fashionable bloggers who I would have never known about otherwise.

  • Kei

    The issue is if any of the Black bloggers that have been featured has been paid for their inclusion or was it just being featured in the campaign with no compensation. Most of the brands will possibly include them but either for no money or way lower compensation that the white counterparts.

    Our own brands that target us RARELY (if at all) advertise on our sites. Ask your self (unless you are in an ad network) when have you seen a BLACK brand like Dr. Miracles, Softsheen, Miss Jessies, Carol’s D and more reach out to you and say I love what you are doing and I would like to advertise. They don’t …….when they do it’s because they wanna use you for a product mention or event coverage.

    When they get a chance they advertise they do so on sites like YBF, Media TakeOut and Bossip and we all know they rarely deal with fashion or beauty.

    Bloggers need to step up and stop doing reviews and attending events for free ish, or you will never have a REAL profitable site.

  • Bailey

    TRUE!! We can even go as far as sites like Coco and The Fashion Bomb – look at Who What Wear they get SO many advertisers and opportunities (Book Deals, Ad campaigns, sponsored videos) and our sites will never get to that level because brands (all – black and white) are not trying to align themselves with us like that. They like to use well your Comscore or your traffic is not high enough. But, for white sites they have the same damn traffic or less and they got money coming from everywhere.

    Its’ sad and honestly I blame ourselves. We put up with it. I applaud Dede for her route. Smart and savvy.

  • Kei

    I want to add if you are doing blogging for the fun of it, this conversation does not apply to you.

  • http://fashionbombdaily.com Claire

    Hey Coco and Creme, first comment;)
    Great site! Claire from the Fashion Bomb here!
    I’d say we are definitely largely overlooked. It’s frustrating, but it’s a function of the industry we are in. Digital definitely means that the message and method of transferring the message is a more democratic process…but even if we can compete with numbers and traffic scores, there is a disconnect. Black women are still not valued (it seems) in fashion.

    The Fashion Bomb benefits from being a part of an ad network that advertises everything from Crest to Gain to TV Shows…which is fine. We get support, but ad campaigns, freebies, and real connections with fashion companies have been slow in coming. As with everything, if we’ve got to work harder, so be it! I also want to encourage all the bloggers who leave comments here to become a part of Independent Fashion Bloggers and ask Jennine ([email protected]), the young lady in charge, to allow black bloggers on the panels. I think it definitely starts with exposure and knowing that we exist! I asked Jennine several times about diversifying panels, she seemed scared at the idea. But I think if enough people ask, she’ll think, “Maybe we should have one brown person up there?” Participating in panels also helps to create bonds with other bloggers, which is crucial. We’ve come a long way, but still have a ways to go!

  • http://www.thenaturallymeblog.com Tarin

    You are so right. I have a hair and skin care blog and it is like wading through muddy water just trying to get brands that are black operated themselves to consider advertising or sponsoring outside of free product reviews or event coverage!

    We have to start naming our price (how much time it takes to write posts, attend events, audience reach) in order to change the game. Time is money and online/digital media is just as credible now as print media.

    It also raises the question to the brands on why don’t they view women of color blogs equally? is it the reach? the audience? money?

  • http://mydreadlocks.com Natasha

    Brands like bucks (cash money) and breadth (large, responsive target markets gathered on one site or across a network) because that’s what’ll give ‘em the most bang for the buck. Little do they know that Black is the new green.

    There’s a book by the same title and I encourage you to pick it up if monetizing your time online is of interest to you. It’ll tell you what you know (we’ve got the cash and are waiting to be courted correctly) as well as give you some extra ideas on how to leverage your current business.

    In the meantime, have you considered network advertising like Danielle? From there, it’s affiliate marketing (Carol’s Daughter is more than ready to have you promote in return for commissions). Beyond that, there’s a variety of ways that you can get you past relying on slow moving brands in order to make your own, top-dollar brand. Just a thought.

  • E Bony

    I am so glad this issue is being addressed. I am a reporter but I am an employee and get paid hourly so I’m very different than a fashion or beauty blogger. One thing I’ve learned in this business, you don’t write for free. period. This is our time and energy, our passion and we deserve to be compensated. I don’t care if it’s for fun. Make money while your having fun.
    I think that some bloggers and vloggers are quite naive but this is a new medium and I’m sure relationships will form, strides will be made and people will share best practices and network. Personally, I would never do a free product review for an up and coming brand like Miss Jessies. I don’t do business with people who don’t do business with me. period. Black brands should be supporting black bloggers and a lot of these blogs have huge following so there is no excuse. We just give away product reviews in the name of helping other women…that’s all fine and good but really your only causing women to spend and your helping the brand.

  • http://www.thestyleandbeautydoctor.com Danielle

    Just a thought…okay a couple of thoughts…lol.

    Most of the time unless it’s a small company when we deal with fashion and beauty companies it’s likely a third party PR firm whose job it is to get the word out about the company and they don’t make any decisions as far as advertising. Many companies don’t have in-house PR.

    And perhaps most companies deal with advertising the same way they do with PR—they hire agencies or join networks or affiliate networks to purchase ads. Yeah, if they do this they could tell those of us who ask that that’s their method of advertising, but this is all just a thought.

    What I love about the explosion of blogging is that we become the CEO of our sites. We get to make the decisions, decide how much money we want to make, etc. And sometimes compensation doesn’t necessarily have to come from taking out an ad. A lot of those same PR companies that send you requests for free product reviews are also happy to promote your blog/site through the company’s social media (which many times is also run by PR). Sometimes doing that free product review can help with hits to your site particularly if it’s a popular item that people will search for on Google. And if you have ad networks on your site that pay you by hits, you get revenue coming to your site. But again, being the CEOs of our blogs/sites we get to make these decisions and make judgement calls when it appears that some companies are using the whole “review chain” to get free advertising (they do this to unsuspecting bloggers both black and of other races). But again, use your discretion and be the CEO of your blog/site. I get a lot of offers for product review/coverage in my inbox but I don’t post about everything because I like to filter based on what I think my readers would be interested in or things I’ve bought myself.

    And then unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people who blog also for the business side in addition to a genuine love for their topic. They do it for free product and that’s why even the companies that do advertise directly with websites have no interest in placing an ad on sites because there’s a legion of eager bloggers out there ready to do it for free. We need balance.

  • http://www.addictedtoallthingspretty.com Krissy90220

    I’m a new blogger with a year and a half under my belt and ran into a lot of major roadblocks when it came to getting sponsorship for my blog. I actually noticed that the brands I often blogged about would gladly send products to same handful of non WOC bloggers and there was a huge divide when it came to the same support for WOC bloggers. I was told by one PR rep that she doesn’t get many request from WOC bloggers. So I started putting myself out there more and everything went fine. As for the companies that I openly see not supporting WOC bloggers I made a decision not to support them anymore.

    I don’t do pay-for-post because my readers frown upon it and I see why when it comes to giving your opinion about product. No matter how honest you are it’s hard to tell readers “they paid me for this but it’s my honest opinion”.

    I get offers for advertising and negotiate those terms myself but I’m almost ready to look into an ad network. I think it’s important to have a strong relationship with other WOC bloggers that understand your passion and understand the business aspect of blogging. Share tips and information, link & give credit, retweet there blog post, and always work together.

  • http://www.thefabulouslife.net Lakeithea Anderson

    This was a great post! I been blogging since 2007 and not only my blog but also a online magazine I use to work for has always had the hardest time with sponsorships, ads, etc. I think what bothers me the most is that a lot of bloggers “white” that get so many sponsorships, money, and support are the bloggers that are blogging about their expensive clothing while sites like we run actually write full articles about these products and clothing. But, yet everytime a big designer brand is doing a campaign or other promo’s they are using the “white” bloggers. This is a conversation that comes up a lot among black bloggers. We always wondering what we did wrong but honestly we working our butts off. I can say I attend school full time, work an outside job but I run my site full-time to never get recognization or support. That’s why I don’t rush to post about these big companies!

  • http://pumpsicle.com zillz

    I’ve yet to have any issues when it comes to advertising. But good convo.

  • Jasline

    I am surprised that a lot of people are in to affiliate ads. It’s a joke. Even though we know we are big online shoppers, most of us don’t click the ads on the site when we are ready to make a purchase or shop online, so therefore you are giving away your ad space for free. I would add Google Ad sense to those spots, so even though it may not that much it’s something.

    Also, lots of people LIE BIG TIME about their traffic. You must be honest with yourself and not contact a brand like CoverGirl and so on when you have a low traffic number. And low traffic is different to everyone. You need to also understand it’s about Pageviews and not uniques or visitors as much. Concentrate on building your traffic for a couple years and reach out to smaller advertisers (small biz ad program) and do that for a while to make some money to keep running.

  • Jasline

    True on the pr firms, but the pr firms have a contact person they work for with the brand, and it’s not only their job to pitch you their client, but it would be a disservice to the client to not let them know about a great ad opportunity or pass along the message that you are interested in speaking with someone about getting them to advertise.

    The issue here is traffic, most Black women sites don’t have enough traffic – which is understandable. I think Clutch wants the brands to understand that even though we may not have big traffic, our audience is the audience that they really want to reach and that our readers are the ones that are going to buy your product, but they only choose to play us with offering free products and access to some “blogger” event. Whatever and I am over it!

    On blogging for business. Don’t let these people fool you – they want to do this fulltime and make money but they can’t and don’t know how to therefore they say “oh I do this for fun!”. Most would leave their job at a drop of a dime if they knew how to make money from their website.

    Black women online need some major business help. I am sure to be at SXSW with Clutch’s founder Dede to hear her panel of the Elevation of Black women in new media. It’s needed. Cause we are lost.

  • aj

    the problem is not the big companies they problem are the bloggers. casual fashion bloggers are a dime a dozen and most of you have no idea how to monetize your blog, gain converting organic search engine traffic or verify your traffic.

    blogging is a business. and if you run it like a business, then you can profit like a business. having a blog with a bunch of commenters means nothing to a big company. organic search engine traffic does.

    if you want to learn how to run your blog like a business, google “internet marketers”, they come in all different colors and the successful ones know how to make money.

    plain and simple.

    having a popular blog won’t always make u rich. having organic traffic that clicks on ads will.

  • http://www.thestyleandbeautydoctor.com Danielle

    agreed! affiliate ads never worked for me. and like you I prefer to use ad networks. So far like google adsense, shopstyle, and glam.com

  • http://www.kisforkinky.com kurlybella

    i had no idea two conversations on the same topic were going on on both sites. since there are more replies here, i’m just going to paste here what i wrote over at clutch and add a few more comments to that:

    i think that bloggers of color need to be on their game if they plan to make a profit from their blog. but this also should be nothing new when it comes to navigating any aspect of “doing business while black.” yes, we could beat the “why do we have to work twice as hard?” horse to death – and i’m not saying that is NOT a valid question – but i think spending more time in understand how to get around this hurdle itself is more valuable in the long run because who wants to leave money on the table why you sit around scratching you head?

    i do disagree with this point though: “Certainly valuable content is what drives visitors to a website, but ads and ad views are what fund it.” yes, your content must be valuable, but unless you are john chow, darren rose, shoemoney, or steve pavilia, you can forget about adsense, adbrite or any other ad network paying your bills full time while you vacation in the caribbean. the real money maker is in being your OWN brand and having your own product or being a brand so big, like chictopia, for instance, that selling other people’s stuffs makes you rich.

    love brown sugar makes an excellent point as well. larger brands DON’T see the value of advertising on blogs no matter the color of the blogger. unless your uncle’s last name is largerfield then you should not hold your breath waiting for armani or dg to come knocking and even when it comes to middle american brands like old navy and the gap, etc. they just send you back to their affiliate links.

    so where does that leave one? back to figure out how to work with what you are given. i think tackling that issue is what will help you stand out from the crown and what will get you a personal call from urban outfitters like your girl jane at sea of shoes or mtv like your girl (of color) gabbi of young fat and fab. if you are not doing it big and different, then you just won’t get noticed. and one should be prepared at all times if they want to market their blog. how many page views do you have? do you know your ad sizes and specs in relation to the CPM or CPA – whichever format you work off of??? do you have a media kit? how long is the avg reader on your blog? what’s is your bounce rate and what are you hot spots? what’s your readership sex, age range and income? – can they even afford or are they even interested in a certain brand’s offerings?? monetizing is not a game so you better have on your best poker face and power suit.

    yes, because of our skin we often have to work harder and faster, but blogging is also a business model for brands so before investing in you they want to know how you will increase their brand name. i support tons of bloggers of colors. are all of their design templates and layouts nice. no? is their content original? often times not. this close< to becoming a six figure blogger and ALL she does is market affiliate fashion links. but she is bringing it like nobody else is doing!

    you have to be very strategic in how you market online no matter what. there is so much to learn that i cannot go into in one reply, but i'll say that many bloggers of color could benefit from social networking classes as well as blogging 101 and how to market online classes because things like that will open up your eyes to understanding this whole "blogging" thing on a deeper level. the internet is supreme. ANYONE can come online and make it, but the sad thing is, most won't because they think they know what they are doing when in reality they don't and are too proud to get the help they need which is beyond me.

    find someone you know who IS making money online, who's blog layout and design is nice, neat and coherent and see if they will do an aesthetic critic of your blog or see if they will mentor you. then implement what you are taught, trust me when i say it will CHANGE things.

  • http://www.kisforkinky.com kurlybella

    okay, my comment was chopped and screwed! the last three paragraphs should read:

    yes, because of our skin we often have to work harder and faster, but blogging is also a business model for brands so before investing in you they want to know how you will increase their brand name. i support tons of bloggers of colors. are all of their design templates and layouts nice. no? is their content original? often times not. <– and even though most of us are blogging about the same thing – cause i mean, come one – fashion is fashion and hair is hair, i always ask myself "how is this blogger bringing it differently?" toyota and honda are both cars that sit on four wheels – what makes them different? and though i support many bloggers of color and will continue too, not many blogs have thought provoking content like clutch or even have a clean and organized aesthetic flow like the moptopmaven, to name a few. the budget fashionsita is a six figure blog run by a plus-sized black woman. there are a lot of factors at play here. as yoda would say: does not one rich make the affiliate program. so slapping up a couple of affiliate ad and links and praying for the best will not pay the bills.

    i did say that this was a valid question and agree with bettyboop that the industry is very narrow and one note. i think if we stay on our grinds and continue to work for originality and bring forward flowing and cohesive content, then in addition to reaping the rewards – whatever that may be for one – we may also start seeing changes when it comes to advertising and if we don't, we can voice even louder that this could be perhaps what some see as borderline discrimination. but before you yell make sure you are bringing it.


    as far as affiliate programs being a joke, i disagree. it's HOW you market affiliate programs, just like it's how you market yourself that makes your blog or programs successful. i know a fashion blogger who is this close to becoming a six figure blogger and ALL she does is market affiliate fashion links. but she is bringing it like nobody else is doing!

    you have to be very strategic in how you market online no matter what. there is so much to learn that i cannot go into in one reply, but i'll say that many bloggers of color could benefit from social networking classes as well as blogging 101 and how to market online classes because things like that will open up your eyes to understanding this whole "blogging" thing on a deeper level. the internet is supreme. ANYONE can come online and make it, but the sad thing is, most won't because they think they know what they are doing when in reality they don't and are too proud to get the help they need which is beyond me.

    find someone you know who IS making money online, who's blog layout and design is nice, neat and coherent and see if they will do an aesthetic critic of your blog or see if they will mentor you. then implement what you are taught, trust me when i say it will CHANGE things.

  • http://stylemom.com/ Nichelle

    Great chat, I agree with AJ above. Bloggers of color need to get their game up before complaining and petitioning. We are at fashion week, celebrity events, do YOU know the usual blogger suspects that are African-american that get access, who have paved the way and set a standard with the media/pr so other bloggers of color can get a foot in the door? There’s over a dozen.

    Also, we don’t hardly see any of the fashion/beauty bloggers of color at the conferences (blogher, blogalicious, IFBCon) where you can get the info, knowledge of how to maneuver the blogasphere as it pertains to brands.

    My 2 cents….

  • http://stylemom.com/ Nichelle

    Last year’s Coach holiday program had serveral bloggers that were of color. You may want to check the information. Coach’s Holiday Blog-a-Day campaign from Dec 2009 had 4-5 bloggers out of the 30 total that I KNOW where of color/african-american. And yes, I was one of them…..Also are you referring to “black bloggers” who only have a blog that is geared towards “black fashion” or black readers? Or are you referring to the “black bloggers” who have fashion blogs that cater to all readers, mainstream, white, black, or otherwise?

  • Coco and Creme

    Hi Nichelle,

    I think the issue here is not that they don’t have a token Black women that are bloggers/site owners, but they don’t have enough (they pretty much have too – or they will get called out in this day and age). Also, with the campaign mentioned. I am extremely happy for the other women included but were really popular/known women of color out there – such as The Fashion Bomb, Fly, Najwa Moses, The Budget Fashionista, etc included.

    Maybe they weren’t invited to attend cause they didn’t know…who knows… I think they don’t know WHO is hot and who is not and people that seem to be “in the know” are not and using their “new media expert” title to inform them wrongfully.

    As far as who they are geared too – I think both. But, because most bloggers started out of a missing voice for their demo – most sites are for and by Black women. The issue here is white and sadly BLACK brands are not supporting us and that is one of my major issues. Conferences like Blogher are great to attend to network to a point, but are we walking away with more than a few cards – is there any action being taken from the advertisers/brand reps you meet there – is it all talk?

    Are they upping their dollars to include more sites for women of color?


  • Jasline

    How does one “step it up”? Attending conferences (as I have before) cost money and are usually met with meeting executives from ad and pr agencies fronting like they are going to advertise more but don’t. It’s either you don’t have the reach or they just don’t feel like your content doesn’t fix. The point is it’s never good enough. Attending these things you mentioned as exposure are nothing but ways to spend money that we don’t have – it does give content but that’s all. Hence the cycle of them getting free press for their brands.

    In order to step it up. Money is needed. Sorry.

  • Jasline

    Is the blogger Black? I doubt it. You must understand the rules are different. Ask around. The same success does not happen for us – cause we don’t have the traffic or support. Are you making money? enough to be fulltime? Also, do you get ad campaigns, are you on the radar? Have you been on agency meet and greets?….

  • http://thebeautyxchange.com BeautyXchange

    I’m still new to this blogging world but what I can tell so far is that in order to get support/approval/acceptance from fashion and beauty brands we need to start supporting each other as black women first. I find that many of us women of color are not supporting each other for whatever reason (whether it be competition or what have you). Once we show support by connecting via twitter, facebook, googleconnect, leaving comments, etc – brands see that and may show interest. After all those numbers will speak for themselves.

    This was a really good piece with many insightful info from the comments.