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!

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  • 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.

  • 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.

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

    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.

    • 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?….

  • 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….

    • 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.

  • 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.