In recent weeks I have noticed a lot of respected videographers trying to disguise promotional items they were sent for free as personal "hauls". Now let me say right off the bat - I do not think there is anything wrong with receiving free stuff and doing a video on it if the product is to your liking, even for clothes, tanning products, brushes, etc. In those instances, a video will benefit everyone: the company gets more exposure for a good but relatively unknown product, and the viewer will find out about a great new product that otherwise would have remained in obscurity.
I even do not have a problem with Youtubers making money through other means, such as commissioned videos - recently you might have noticed that some popular Youtubers like nigahiga, smosh, or hotforwords were paid for product placement from a burger company, or Adidas in the case of smosh. You know what - more power to them! They are able to secure another source of income doing something they love - good for them. It's obvious to the viewers, and they have not tried to disguise this sponsorship. I don't think it is wrong for a videographer to ask for a fee for product placement on a video, be it beauty videos or otherwise, because let's face it - that company can stand to make a lot of money from the sole work of the videographer, all they had to do was send out a couple free samples. It is naive to think that big companies wouldn't eventually catch wind of the potential advertising that could be done through Youtube - the only question is how to deal with this in a manner that is fair to everyone involved. I'm sure nigahiga, smosh, and hotforwords were paid well for these endorsements and so they should be! But even then, the videographer should have enough integrity to not endorse products that aren't to their liking.
But recently there has been a worrying trend of beauty videographers not being honest about some of these things - saying they "hauled" or "ordered" an item when it was actually sent for free. Why is there the need to be dishonest about these things? No one is fooled when there's 3 or 4 people doing videos on the same exact product or online store at around the same time. Maybe they were paid for it, maybe not - that's not the point. I don't think there's anything wrong with that if it's done in an honest and upfront manner - either by stating in the video that the items were sent as a promotion, or writing it in the sidebar, or by mentioning something in the credits like "sponsored by ...", or at the very least not alluding that you are just a regular customer. When people write "haul" it's understood as a person showing items they purchased themselves.
I have to say that I find this an unfortunate development in the Youtube community. I can say that I was recently offered a large sum of money (I won't say how much) from a company to upload a review of their product on my channel. I am sure this company was hoping to secure a glowing and positive review of their product by offering me a substantial payment, but the product was absolutely useless! Sure, I admit the money was a tempting offer but in the end I knew I would lose a lot of respect from my viewers, and the idea of giving a glowing review of a junk product that my viewers might go out and purchase because they trusted my review and waste their hard earned money on something I'd been given for free, it just didn't sit right with me. So I just passed on the offer and the money, and gave the product away to a friend, never to be seen on my channel.
The funny thing is, another beauty videographer has reviewed this product and given it a glowing review, and I can see this video was viewed many, many times. Now, perhaps this person did have a positive experience with the product and maybe opinions and experiences just differ - I'm not ruling that out - but I also wonder if maybe the allure of the money outweighed their personal integrity.
Now I know you are all thinking - name and shame! But honestly, it's not about that - I'm not going to cause a huge shit storm over this, but I just want you to know that I always have and always will be honest in my reviews. I have turned down money and commissions for many products that were just junk, and I will continue to do so. Also, some products I initially liked, but over time I changed my opinion about them for whatever reason, so in that case I just removed the video from my channel (I only did this once so far and I learned my lesson to take much longer to test before reviewing!) If I do receive a product that I can absolutely stand behind, I will not hesitate to do a video on the product, but I will not make out that I "hauled" and purchased the item myself. I have always tried to be upfront about that - for example when I received some of those eyeshadow or lip palettes from eBay from the seller, products I truly like and continue to use myself, or the promo package from Illamasqua, or my sponsorship from BeautyChoice. I have even received products from BeautyChoice that I did not do videos on because I personally did not have a good experience with them - and the company was completely respectful and fine with that, something I highly value.
My protocol is if I get sent a free promo product and I don't like it - I just won't do a video on it. I will not go on Youtube and blast the company and say how crap the product is - I don't think that is fair especially as opinions differ and just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean someone else won't. I am well aware of the size of my audience and my "power" so to speak, if I go on Youtube and say how utterly crap a product is, I know that could potentially cause huge financial damages for a start-up, small family run business that is just hoping to get their name out there. So, I just deny them that exposure on my channel - I think this is a fair resolution.
But again, no one has to purchase any of the products I show on my channel. I can only offer my own opinion on something, and if it's something you're interested in then maybe it's helpful, if it's a product you have no use for - then please do not buy it. I don't want people to run out and just buy everything I use or show, and I always, always want everyone to do additional research and get a second opinion on something before making a rash purchase that they might not be 100% satisfied with.
Lastly, I can only implore other beauty videographers to wake up and realize what they are doing - they are not only alienating their own viewers who have helped them get this far on Youtube in the first place, but they are also casting a negative light on all of us who make beauty videos, because many viewers end up generalizing and thinking that all of us are like that, willing to give less than honest reviews on products to make a quick buck. I can only hope that these viewers will differentiate and make up their own minds on who or what to believe.
I am not trying to glorify myself or cast myself in a good light and put other people down. That is not the intent of this post. The point is that I want my viewers and my subscribers to know, that I am always honest in my reviews, and where I purchased things or if something was sent for free. In the beginning I may not have been so clear about this because I honestly did not know it was such an important point to my viewers, but I realize that it has become this way. So, I make it a point now to mention if something was sent to me as a promo item or not. If I am ever commissioned in the future by a company to make a specific video, I will be honest about it and not try to disguise things.
Thank you for reading.
Note: I've become aware this blog entry has been linked on various videos. I do not condone Internet bullying of any sort. This post is not about about any particular person or persons, just my own experiences. I do not wish to get pulled into any drama or pick sides on anything that is going on. These are my own thoughts on an issue, that's it. Nothing more, nothing less.
PS: Comments will be moderated. I will not publish trash talking about specific people or videos - I am not here to start drama or make anyone look bad or piss people off. I just wanted you to know my own personal stance on this issue, that's all.
PPS: Completely unrelated, but an archive of my radio show interview is up now in case you want to listen to it. The interview with me starts about 30 mins into the program, you can fast forward to it. Click the BlogTalk icon below my profile to tune in. Click here to go there now.