Weekend Reads #31

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weekend reads

I'm writing this Thursday evening from a hospital waiting room as a loved one recovers from a successful surgery. On the ride to the hospital my sister mentioned my post of what to wear for a hospital vigil and I realized I didn't even think of it when I got ready today.  But rereading it I followed the instructions; I wore my Universal Standard black overalls with a cream Lands' End drifer sweater, my well-worn black engineer boots with shearling insoles, a dark green pashmina as a scarf outside and layering piece inside, and a backpack full of charging cords, snacks, water, a book, and electronics to pass the time. Clothing is a form of armor; it can give you strength when asking for a raise at work, going on your first date after a breakup, waiting for a loved one to get out of surgery, or just facing the everyday.  Fashion is not superficial, nor is caring for yourself and your appearance.  Some fashion is functional, some fashion is a form or respect, some fashion is fun, some boosts your mood, and some is a form of art and none of those are superficial. 

This stock photo I chose because it reminded me of our tree growing up.  We had many classic ball ornamets and my dad meticulously applied tinsel piece by piece. Today when this goes live, my family and I will hopefully be putting up our tree and holiday decorations (no tinsel but plenty of balls). I also hope to order our holiday cards; while we've done some pretty great shoots for previous years, this year it didn't happen.  But we have a great picture of us three from this summer that has a good story that I think we'll use and I'll be sure to share later this month!

Weekend Reads

Wow, Universal Standard partnered with GOOP for a capsule collection in sizes 00-40. I know there's many GOOP haters out there, but this is not a pairing I would have expected… but appreciate.  Hear me out.  GOOP is targeted towards a skinny white “sea of striped shirts, Spandex, large diamonds, and perfectly coiffed yet still somehow effortless hair” that is willing to spend crazy amounts of money for pseudo-science. So to partner with a clothing brand that is known for their size and model inclusivity is surprising but pretty awesome (also awesome is how the pieces are modeled on the GOOP site on a variety of sizes and shapes of women). The prices for the pieces in this collection are high… but the pieces are the fabrics and styling of designer brands that charge that much or more for similar pieces.  And to have such luxe, sophisticated pieces available up to a size 40 is virtually unheard of and what we need more of.   If GOOP can branch out and offer inclusive sizing, maybe companies like Everlane, Outdoor Voices, Cuyana, and Edun may finally follow suit.

Since we're on the subject of shopping and messaging… why is it that millennials say they care about sustainability but their shopping habits prove otherwise?

It's 2018. Texas will finally teach that slavery was the main cause of the Civil War.  I repeat, it is 2018.

Wow, takes the derogatory term “mouth breather” to a whole new level.

Oh snap, a follow-up to the article I shared last week about the best burger in America.

I wasn't the first to say this, but this is an example of a true patriot.

My friend Emily's wedding was positively gorgeous, and completely on her own terms.  That leather jacket is so awesome!

Come on, you know you want to check out Jenna Lyons' SoHo loft apartment.

Loved this piece on Sadye Whitt, who has worked at a Baltimore library for 56 years.

My friend Carelia from the blog My Small Wardrobe shared these on Instagram Stories and I just had to share with you as I know many of you deal with stretched earrings holes or ears that can't support heavier earrings.

Did you ever read the comic strip ‘Nancy'? It was created in Ernie Bushmiller who died in 1982. After his passing, a variety of individuals took over the comic strip. This year, Olivia Jaimes (a pseudonym) took over and has brought Nancy into the 21st century and made it funny and relatable again. This interview with Jaimes is so weird but so good.

This Week's Reader Question

“Thank you for your information on affiliate linking. I don't understand blogging can you tell me how sponsored posts work? How do you get paid is it from the links? How do you choose which companies to work with? How do you make a living from blogging?”

In general, bloggers are paid a flat rate for writing a sponsored blog post.  Depending on the brand and the contract, affiliate links will also be in the post offering additional revenue. How much you make on a sponsored post has to do with how much work you need to do (just a couple photos and 500 words, a video, how many outfit changes, how many social shares, etc.). There is a site called Social Bluebook which provides an estimated rate based on a blogger's audience size, but IMO that provides a verrry low rate and many bloggers double or even triple the rate they get in Social Bluebook. Another gauge is to charge for a sponsored post is take how many followers you have across all channels (social media plus monthly site visitors) and divide it by 100.  I find that to be a closer number for what you should ask for.  For Instagram-only sponsored posts, the bare minimum to ask for is $100 per every 10,000 followers but most influencers I know at least triple that or more. These days, with Instagram, brands will pay more if you have an engaged audience (lots of likes, comments, saves, and shares) versus a year ago when it was just about how many followers you have.

There's three ways to get sponsored posts: pitching, direct contact from a brand, or through an influencer network:

  • Pitching: You find the email address of the proper contact at a company and send an email introducing yourself, explaining why you think the brand is rad, and what you think the two of you should do together to be rad together.  I haaaaate pitching, but with such a saturated blogosophere it's often the only way a brand even knows you exist.  Also, it shows intitative and passion, two very good traits to have as an entrepreneur. Many creatives know how awful pitching is, whether it's to editors or grant funders or galleries.  It's just as demoralizing in blogging, but it's also just as necessary.
  • Influencer Networks: These are companies that work as the middle-person between influencers/bloggers and brands.  Bloggers join the networks for free and create profiles by connecting their social media and Google Analytics (how to see traffic for a site) and usually creating a bio and sharing details about their blogging brand.  Brands then pay the influencer network to manage campaigns.  The influencer network then connects to appropriate bloggers (say, 30 mommy bloggers under 35 years of age with at least 100K followers to write posts about a diaper cream), negotiates the rate, provides the campaign details and contract, reviews content, tracks postings and social shares, and provides the payment.  This is the easiest way to do a sponsored post, but because the influencer network takes a cut (no one works for free), the blogger often gets a lower rate than if they work directly with a brand.
  • Direct Contact from a Brand: Sometimes it's the brand, sometimes it's their PR person.  They email you (some DM, but I ask them to email me as it's more professional and then I have an email trail), and you together look for ways to work together.  This is usually a lot of negotiating, sharing your stats, looking for ways that it will be mutually beneficial.  Often such email conversations start with gifted product and it's up to us bloggers to take it to the next level and show the return on investment in us. When you see on Instagram Stories bloggers taking meetings or heading to NYC for the day, it's often for this; brands love to meet influencers in person to get to know their personality, brainstorm ideas, and build relationships.

If you read a variety of blogs, you'll see that sponsored posts come in a variety.  The longer blogging is around, the more creative bloggers and brands get with the content. Some read just like an ad, some feel like regular content for the site, some have creative photo shoots, or videos, or giveaways.  Many brands like to have a series of posts instead of a single sponsored post. Back in the day, the brands had very specific ideas and we bloggers followed them to get paid.  These days, it's important to know your own brand and aesthetic and sell that to a brand not only to have a super successful post, but to also recognize and respect your audience. For example, this year I pitched the idea of a real-life capsule wardrobe to a few brands, knowing that you all liked the idea of capsule wardrobes on a body instead of a flatlay. Therefore, I was not only providing content you wanted, I was getting paid for it.

Usually, you sign a contract when you do a sponsored post.  The contract will stipulate what exactly you need to do, any specific wording, links, hashtags, etc.  You need to read these contracts carefully for brands will use legalese and if you don't examine next thing you'll see your photo on a billboard in Times Square but weren't paid anything additional for it. You also need to follow a signed contract to the letter – if they say post at 2pm ET or use a certain hashtag or disclosure, do it. Blogging may be a hobby for some, but no matter your reason for blogging, a contract is a legal document that if signed must be followed.

Unless you're working with an influencer network, you need to send an invoice after the contracted work is completed.  Depending on the brand or influencer network, you will get paid via PayPal, paper check, or direct deposit. Some brands even provide payment with gift cards. Some brands and influencer networks are better than others with swift payment; I have a spreadsheet where I track completed work, the date I sent an invoice, date of follow-ups, and the final date payment is received.

As always, I strive to be transparent with the business of blogging so you can be an informed consumer.  Feel free to peruse my Business of Blogging archives, or send me an email or leave a comment if you have a question!

This Week's Entertainment

I have always loved Marina Diamandis' voice; “Primadonna” is one of my favorite rocking out or driving songs (Emerson even knows the lyrics). The latest song from Clean Bandit featuring Marina is gorgeous and I couldn't help but share it this week… twice!  The first video is the acoustic version, the second is the dance version with a far more entertaining video movie (with a bittersweet ending) to go along with the lyrics.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I clicked through to read your post on what to wear and bring for a hospital vigil. Having spent many consecutive nights in a hospital chair more than a few times, I thought you lost was spot on and I would add one thing – bring clean underwear. After spending many hours in the same clothes, washing your face and putting on a clean pair of undies makes all the difference in the world!

  2. I think it’s amusing that Gwyneth Paltrow named her company GOOP. GOOP is also the name of a heavy-duty waterless hand cleaner. I think Paltrow must know that and perhaps it’s even an inside joke with her.

  3. I love when you write about the business of blogging. I have kept a small blog at times and never tried to make it bigger or monetize it– and never had the slightest clue how people even DID that! I think many people who enjoy reading blogs/ looking at IG don’t really have a clue how it all works, and I think it’s great that you are so upfront. It shouldn’t be a mystery. No one wants to feel manipulated or tricked, and your honesty makes me trust your recommendations so much more.

    1. Thank you! I think it’s important to be an informed consumer; these days almost everyone is selling something and if I can help not just with this blog but across the internet I feel all this is worth it!

  4. Emily’s wedding is a fairy tale romantic movie come to life for two real-life people. Every photo showed love, care, time, and attention to detail.

  5. So many thoughts today! The hamburger story is so interesting but also sad. The schools in Texas—my goodness. It’s 2018 and they are just now acknowledging slavery’s role in the Civil War!?! Thank you for sharing the story about Christine Blasey Ford. She is a true patriot and a true hero. It continues to sicken me that that man is on the Supreme Court. Our country is just a mess, but thank goodness for all the tireless resistors.

    I hope your family member who had surgery is recovering well and that you and others are able to rest and rejuvenate too. Being the eyes and ears at the hospital is an exhausting job. Sounds like your outfit choice and backpack full of supplies came in handy. I’m with you; take chargers, snacks, etc. and wear comfortable clothes. Enjoy your weekend!

  6. I enjoy reading your blog. And I enjoy checking out the links to stories you recommend. Did you know that not everyone subscribes to The New York Times? And that they allow only a limited number of free reads of articles per month? Could you insert a little clue when one of your links is going to a NYT article so I could decide how to budget my free reads? For example, I don’t think I’d have used one of my precious reads on the article about mouth readers, and now I have one less article I can read this month. And it’s only the first day of the month! I appreciate any attention to this matter.

    1. Liz, I hope this is helpful to you. If you know the name of a NYT article (or Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, other publications with a paywall), you should be able to google the name of the article in a browser, click the link and read it free – regardless of how many articles you have read through an app.

    2. Hi Liz! I’m not sure if this helps, but one way I get around the NYT monthly limit is to clear my browsing history/cookies. Then the NYT website won’t “recognize” your computer and you have a clean slate with another batch of free articles. 🙂

  7. Hi Alison, I read this post lounging on the couch of my husband’s room on the oncology floor at Anne Arundel Medical Center. I needed a distraction. In terms of attire for spending the day at the hospital, I highly recommend what I currently have on : talbots flawless five pocket jegging, long sleeved v neck t shirt, & barefoot
    dreams, circle cardigan. Cozy & comfortable. Thanks for taking my mind off things for a few minutes. Best, Lisa

    1. Sending healing vibes to your husband. That is where I was too, my mom had a mastectomy at AAMC and she spent a night in the oncology ward. Much love to you Lisa, happy to provide a distraction! <3

  8. As a native Kentucky girl, I SO ENJOYED your link to Authentically Emmie’s Wedding at the gorgeous Brown Hotel in Louisville. There is nothing more Kentucky than using a bourbon Ballel top as a guest book. And that jacket… nice. Hope your mama (and you) are recovering well.

  9. Hi Alison,

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for nearly 6 years, I also follow you on Instagram and Twitter. I read every single one of your posts and I save many of them so that I can go back and click through the links and see the clothing or makeup you recommend or to read the articles you share. I have bought many items of clothing thanks to you sharing them and discovered eshakti, universal standard and rothbys through you. I love your series on real women and their skin care routines. It seems that I have a similar political and social mindset to you so I really enjoy reading the links you post in these round ups. I’ve left comments on a few of your social posts as well, though rarely on the blog itself.

    I share all of this not to gush like a fangirl but to say how disappointed I was to click on this post this morning in my RSS feader and discover that it was truncated. I read each and every post you publish- not because I remember to visit your website but because they are a great way to wake up in the morning with my cup of coffee. I share the purchases that I have made after clicking on the links you post so that you can see that even with reading in a reader, I am still clicking through your content and you’re still making money.

    I work in digital marketing for a large tech company, and my team is responsible for digital demand gen and the digital customer journey, so I get how you want to bring people to the website and have them consume more of your content. As a former blogger, and someone who is accountable for clicks and leads in my day job, I have nothing against it! But I do know that making someone take an extra step to consume content is a is detrimental to the customer experience and will ultimately result in a lower conversion rate.

    As you can tell, I feel (maybe too) passionately about this subject. I read a lot of blogs and rue the day that google killed reader, which made bloggers think that RSS was no longer a thing. I am willing to be that I am not alone here and that you have a small but interested community of people who read you every day by subscribing to your content and eagerly awaiting its arrival into our RSS readers.


    1. My traffic has tanked in the past year but my newsletter subscriptions have increased and I think it’s because my newsletter isn’t truncated and there’s no need to leave the inbox. I appreciate the convenience but my finances are affected. The goal was just to truncate the newsletter not the RSS but it seems it did both. I’m going to put it back to full feed until I can figure this out for the newsletter. Thanks for the heads up and for letting me know and not just leaving!

  10. Sending healing thoughts to your loved one! Love the Weekend Reads, as always.

    As for Goop/US collab – pleats on pants? No thanks. They have never flattered me – even when I weighed 100 lbs at 5’4”.

    The Tux jacket looks nice, but stance is low for is shorter waisted busty gals. So, I’m sure they are nice, but all the models are 5’9” and up.


    1. I also found the choice of pleats odd as they’re rarely flattering. And I find that often with brands that are in extended sizes… it’s just for tall folks. Good think US as a brand has some pieces in petites!

  11. Re: the op-ed about how millennials claim to care about sustainability but shop traditionally.

    1) as a generation, millennials are poorer than the previous generations. Simply put: being money-poor (“sustainable” 80$ t-shirt is just not feasible) and time-poor (aka: if you’re working 2 jobs, even thrift shopping takes time) makes sustainability difficult to sustain (ha).

    2) those of us with reasonable incomes are then faced with sizing issues. I wear XL/XXL/18ish, depending on the brand, and even at that size the pickings are slim. Aka: even if I was willing to pay 80$ for a t-shirt that matched my values, FINDING it in my size is rare as heck.

    3) the general knowledge that individual consumer habits matter, but frankly large-scale corporate legislation has more impact, and so, generally speaking, if I pay 5$ for an Old Navy tshirt and donate the spare 75$ to human rights organizations, or environmental groups pressuring for actual legislation, I likely have more impact than by being 1 person buying 1 tshirt.

  12. Interesting Pea Coat in the Universal/Goop collection. Do you think the button design is friendlier to those with big bosoms?

    1. I don’t know if it’s friendlier per se but such a unique design element will bring a level of style and interest to any figure. I really love unique details like that, it makes the look more about the look and less about the body.

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