During a visit to your favorite beauty and fashion blogs, you’ll come across ads featuring 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 them . . . 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 just as much business toward them 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.”

Bloggers receive treatment from brands that print magazine publishers and editors would never accept. Some Web professionals could benefit from 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 are in it for fun, some of these nuances of 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 were going she admitted that 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 ages 18-35, niche bloggers offering in-demand content have to become critical of brands who are using them to market the products that ultimately drive their businesses. 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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  • Very intriguing conversation here…

    When I started blogging, my goal was never to be a business, however the moment that I realized that THIS is where I needed to be, I quickly got my act together. As a niche blogger in plus size fashion (The Curvy Fashionista), I had the advantage of holding my Masters in Marketing, so I understood the game to an extent. I knew impressions, SEO, branding, and social media and for the things I did not, I went to work trying to figure it out.

    Funnily enough, I have never thought of my race first. What was also working against me in the myriad of online media was my niche: Plus Size Fashion; so seeking out advertisers,ad networks, and sponsors was more difficult- showing my impact and how their dollars would work. I have been fortunate enough to belong to an ad network, but I have also researched affiliate programs and have been selective in joining the ones to bring in the dollars.

    I also seek out and establish relationships with emerging brands,and I have no shame introducing myself to the power advertisers. While I am still understanding and defining my site’s worth, I am reaching out to other bloggers who are making a living off their blog, are incorporated, and are challenging the status quo to gain a better grasp on my business.

    I think a lot of those who are successful online boils down to how they treat their blog. If you treat it as a business (nice design, content, traffic, seo, social media, networking, the passion, and the professionalism) and grind it out, you will flourish. Just like every other business though, you have to work at it and create that unique selling perspective…

    Just my thoughts… :)