Do you know what they say about not biting the hand that feeds you? Arguably, this post is ignoring that advice, hence the name change in the title. Subtle, I know. But I want to make sure what I write does not come across as ungrateful or putting down something that a lot of women in this space are proud of. For the record, so are we. Getting accepted to Shmike Shmoo Shmow Shmit was on our Vision Board as a measure of success, so I guess you could say that part of this post is yet another cautionary tale about how reality does not always live up to your dreams.
Long before sharing our innermost thoughts with strangers became a thing, I used writing to work out things that were weighing on me. Whether that weight was personal or professional, mental or spiritual, pen and paper helped me find clarity. So, I guess you could say the other part of this post is to resolve what is stopping me from taking this blog to the next level. And I am hoping to do so with the help of our followers and fellow content creators.
I am not naïve. I did not think that once I got my Shmike account, within a few short months I could retire on the clicks. I knew it was not going to be that easy, but I was not prepared for how hard it would be to just press publish on my first shippable post (and we are not talking about the technology…..a topic for another post).
It does not feel authentic.
Ah, the buzzword de jour. But isn’t that what was supposed to be different about influencer marketing? Aren’t we supposed to feel like we are getting recommendations from a friend rather than pushed to by a product by a celebrity making big $$$ (and probably don’t even use)? In real life, I am “That Girl.” I am the girl that tells you exactly where she got something and how much of a deal it was if you compliment her on it. What I am not is the girl that asks you to go out and buy said item so that I can earn a couple of dollars.
Besides, I cannot ask you to go out and buy what I am wearing most of the time anyway. A lot of what I wear are one-of-a-kind items purchased on eBay or at Goodwill or a local consignment store. I can rarely link to exactly what I am wearing and pushing something that is close, but not an exact match is even more uncomfortable than pushing the real thing.
Being asked to promote things outside of my brand.
Even after the pandemic meant we had to rethink most of our wardrobes, not to mention our planned content, we did not move into the segments that Shmike wanted us to. And as much as it made sense given the state of the world, linking to home décor, bedding, and kitchen essentials is not part of the AFL brand. Again, not faulting anyone who did, but we are a women’s fashion/empowerment space. It seemed like too big of a leap for us as opposed to someone whose business model was more fashion, motherhood, or lifestyle-based.
We did miss out on a lot of potential revenue-generating content because we did feel comfortable writing about candles and throw blankets since we did not have much to say about either (other than we know pretty ones when we see them).
It goes against our boundaries.
We talked about the importance of them here but for our own sanity we designed the AFL “product” or “brand” to be separate from our daily life. We treat this as a job (more on that to come), and as much as we are the brand or product, like any other job we are striving for work-life balance. Our core values speak to our desire for this space to be more than just us. We ultimately want our brand to be a place where women came to feel seen and validated, as well as listen to their hearts and not the rules when it comes to whatever goals they have for themselves. We just happen to be sharing our trials and tribulations as we struggle with much the same things as our audience.
Our boundaries when it comes to the blog means we will never feel pressured to take you along for a grocery store or even a Target run and we will never feel guilty for enjoying a meal out without documenting it. But this is just what works for our sanity and not a negation of anyone who makes these choices. The best part of this boundary is that we still get to enjoy watching other people’s content as a consumer and a fan.
Which I think is important to note. If anyone thinks still thinks this is a negative take, please know that we are still shopping on Shmike and giving these influencers our time and treasure. We support you literally and figuratively. This is about what works for us.
The pressure to conform.
There are many things that other bloggers do that we do not. The first one that comes to mind, given the time of year we are in, is gift guides. Not only do we feel this is a bit outside of our brand, but the market is oversaturated as far as this content stream. Non-marketing speak – there are too many of you out there killing the gift guide game and we do not want to compete. Other areas that come to mind are the NSale and fall décor. Neither of these fit on AFL even if they are some of the biggest revenue generators for Shmike’s influencers.
But I think the pressure to conform was never more evident than when I got a weekly email from the service last month. I had to do a double-take as I thought they included the same picture twice by mistake. They didn’t. It was two influencers who were linking to identical outfits sporting the same hairstyle, with only a slight variation on the color of their locks.
The “trends” these services are pushing are based on a few things, but never any Fashion Week or Street Style interpretations for the mass market. The trends are based on previous purchasing behavior combine with a brand’s willingness to give the most in terms of money, promotional dollars, and commission.
Following the trends is not something that inspires me. Finding new inspiration and putting my own interpretation on it through my own closet and vintage finds is where my sartorial joy comes from. Now if only I could figure out a way to link to that.
It promotes consumption and fast fashion which are at odds with my ethics.
My love of vintage, thrift, and consignment shopping is well documented on this blog. I have also shown how I first explore a trend by shopping my own closet first. Lastly, I do not believe that you must buy something new every time you have an event or even the urge. All of these are at odds with how a company like Shmike makes its money.
To be fair, Etsy is on the app, as are many sustainable brands. But that is the exception and not the rule. But even if I am able to link to sustainable options, wearing something that I have had in my closet for years, but asking you to buy something new (to you at least) is very, “do as I say, not as I do.” That is not the kind of parent I am, and it is not the kind of person I am either, even in the blogosphere.
But is there something deeper?
But I cannot write this blog post without reflecting on something much deeper. I do wonder if I am hesitant when it comes to Shmike Shmoo Shmow Shmit, at least in part, because I am a woman. How much of this trepidation is because I was raised during peak, “boys are leaders, but girls are pushy” time. I have had both report cards and job evaluations that included such sage advice as, “try not to come across so bold,” and “smile more.” Does this have anything to do with why I feel the need to couch, minimize, or even apologize for wanting to make money off the effort I put into this blog?
I see women on IG posts captions that say, “I just hit 1k followers and while it may seem like a small and silly goal to you, it is a big deal to me.” Why do we do this? And, more importantly, would we do this if we were men? I have never hidden that I would love to make money off of AFL, so why, now that I am closer than ever do I suddenly feel guilty about promoting something I never thought I would have the guts to achieve?
And why do we self-reject? Once we got accepted, my joy was short-lived. Before I even created our official account, I had already lost followers because I dared publish a post asking our followers to not only follow us on the app but buy something as well. Shmike Shmoo Shmow Shmit became the blog’s greatest mistake before we created our first shoppable post.
How can you help?
So now that I have unloaded my conundrum, I would love your help.
For fellow bloggers, IGers, and other creators
Did you/do you feel this way? How did you get over it? Did you have any other dilemmas regarding the Shmike Shmoo Shmow Shmit app or other ambassadorships/affiliate marketing programs? How did you come to terms with it?
How do you feel about shopping apps and ambassadorships appearing on AFL? Is there anything you would like to see or that particularly bothers you? Do you feel shopping links goes against our mission?
Leave comments below or check on our Instagram account or in our Stories to give input on shopping content for AFL. We appreciate your input! We are grateful for each and every one of you that have decided to follow us on this journey.
The outfits in the post are a perfect example: one is an older Ganni two-piece set that I could only link to something similar; and the other is an entirely thrifted outfit (with the exception of the Chucks and nobody needs my help finding Chucks).