C/O.

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Ah, the ever debated 'c/o' symbol in the world of fashion blogging. You've probably seen it floating around quite a bit. Usually with bigger bloggers, but occasionally on a smaller blog such as my own. What exactly is a c/o, why is it so controversial, and why am I writing about it right now?

A 'c/o' symbol stands for the words courtesy of. It refers to the blogger receiving the item  free from a company to try out and advertise for them. Sometimes companies simply want the blogger to wear the item and include a link to their site, and other times the relationship between a blogger and a company may be a little more complicated. The company may want the blogger to use various key words, do multiple posts, project a certain image, and other requests. Sometimes even lying and saying something untruthful about the productto make it seem better than it really is. Occasionally, companies may offer to a blogger money in exchange for ad space on their blog. 

It can be easy to let all of this 'courtesy of' junk get in the way of the purpose of blogging; to have fun. I know that's certainty been the case with me as of late, and it's been something I've wanted to address for awhile.

I had my first company sponsor me in July of 2011 and I was the happiest girl in the world. I never thought that something so extraordinary would happen to me. I mean, I was a tiny blog and I was just a 17 year old girl. What could a company ever see in me? I made sure to make everything perfect for the post for this company. I planned everything out to an absolute T, wanting to please the company as much as possible. Since last July, I've had various other companies contact me, as well. Not so many as that I can have every one of my pieces in an outfit have the c/o symbol like some big bloggers, but enough that at least once or twice a month I can put that silly little symbol on my blog post that supposedly means that a blogger has hit it 'big time.'

As my blog continued to grow, I was amazed at the number of sponsorship oppurtunites I was given. With every email from a company I was floored that they would want someone like me, and I was incredibly thankful. Still to this day I am just as thankful as I was receiving my first sponsorship offer. Things like that aren't supposed to happen to girls like me. Although it was highly exciting receiving all of these sponsorships from companies, I began to get well over my head in the past few months. Soon, all of my time was spent emailing back and forth with companies who had contacted me, planning out perfect outfit posts to get as much views as possible, and pretty much breaking my back to make the companies happy. I began to get so stressed and resent blogging. All of my night and free time was spent around these sponsored posts. I began dreading to post because it was so much stress. Blogging didn't feel like a hobby to me anymore; it just felt like work.

At this point, I had to look myself squarely in the eye and tell myself that what I was doing was wrong. Yes, receiving sponsorships is fun and exciting, but it shouldn't be what blogging is all about. Although I research every company I work with to make sure they are reliable and have a good reputation I found myself accepting sponsorships that didn't even have anything to do with what my blog was about. Of course, I didn't accept every offer given to me. There were many companies I turned down because they were asking something of me that I didn't feel comfortable with or they did not seem like the sort of company I wanted to represent. But after analyzing my attitude towards sponsorships, I began to realize how selfish and overbearing I had become. To the point I was so overwhelmed and stressed, that I came to dread blogging.

I realized that I need to cut back and look at the bigger picture of blogging again. I'm so ashamed of myself because I'm supposed to be someone you all can look up to. I feel like I was lying to myself and to you all these last few months. I've gotten so caught up in the superficial part of blogging, that I lost how fun it's really supposed to be. I'm so embarrassed for taking on so many sponsorships. I never want to turn into one of those blogs who are just a walking advertisement. The type of blog who looses all sense of individuality. I want my blog to be totally me and not a part of this and that company's advertisement plan. I just want to be me.

So I decided to cut back on sponsorships. To really contemplate and think about the blogger I aspire to be. I don't want to ever have to feel the pressures and stress about blogging again. It was truly the breaking point for me and made me realize what I've been doing wrong. I don't want you all to be disappointed in me. I don't want you all to think I'm not appreciative and thankful. I don't want you all to think that I lost myself in all of this. Because hopefully I haven't done any of those.

I know I've disappointed myself, but I pray I haven't disappointed any of you. I've been so incredibly appreciative of every opportunity I've had and even though I've taken on too many, I never let it get to my head. And although I am disappointed in myself, I am proud that I have not let go of my personal beliefs and still held up who I am in front of these companies who try to change who I am.

This post isn't to say that I'm never going to do a sponsored post again. No, that would be silly. It's an honor and of course, exciting to receive free items to try out. I don't know any one blogger who would turn an offer like that down. But I do think it's important to have a good perspective and outlook on the way you handle 'c/o' and control the amount you have. I know I like blogs less that have all of their clothes given to them for free in every post. It shows less creativity. It shows less realness. It shows less individuality. It shows less of all the things I want to be.

I still have a few sponsored posts that I've been working on that I need to post. I wanted to wait until after they were done to post this, but for some reason I just felt the need to post it tonight. Something was telling me to do it. So, I hope you haven't and don't in the future judge me too harshly for the way I've acted. Everything just flew at me so quickly at once that I lost my footing along the way. I want my mistakes to be the mistakes you all don't make though. When (because you all are so awesome I know you will!) you all get sponsorships, don't go all hog wild like I did with them. Slow down, pick out the ones that represent you and what you stand for the most, and HAVE FUN. I hope you all start on the right track, and I feel like I'm starting over on the right track and couldn't be more excited and happier

With much love, Lauren.
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7 lovely little notes:

Katie Q. said...

I'll be honest, when I see the c/o, it rarely changes my veiw of a blogger. There are many bloggers who do make a living off of their blogs and I sure can't resent that! I think it's wonderful that you've had all of these chances with your blog and I don't think you should beat yourself up too much about it. You are always so sweet and upfront about stuff, I don't think any of us could ever be mad at you! ^_^ (not to mention someday this will be amazing on your resume and you get to learn so much about the buiscness end of this, which is impressive and invaluable experiance. And I am so sorry about my awful spelling today!)

Lori Leday said...

I'm new to the blogging world and I was just wondering the other day what c/o meant. Thanks for clearing that up. Thanks a bunch for this post! As a newbie I'm looking for my page to reach a certain level as well. However, it's been such a fun and exciting experience already that I would never want it to become overwhelming. It's all about sharing and the interactions over shared interests that I love!! Thanks for this lesson! Love the blog!

Angel said...

Seeing the 'c/o' on blogs, I usually dont think about it. Its like you said, its means your blog is getting bigger and more popular. I mean if my blog was getting bigger and I was getting offers, I would take them if they related to th blog. Maybe you were just taking a little too many at once is all? :]

Laura said...

I agree with the other gals. I don't really mind when girls have "c/o" items because I know that it is still represented of them and they styled it there own way. Plus, I know that they work really hard and deserve to have sponsor-ships like that, so don't sweat it too much, girlie!

xoxo,
Laura
http://lauraisthriftingthroughlife.blogspot.com/

Emily:) said...

Aw Lauren, don't stress out too much from all the sponsorship stuff. You deserve all the attention you've been getting, and its amazing! Your living proof that any ordinary girl can become more than what she thinks she can, you just have to work for it and believe in yourself. I have to be honest though, I do like your non-sponsored posts better, but I still enjoy and read your sponsored posts too:)

I know I haven't been commenting very often, but I just wanted to let you know that I've still been thinking about you and reading your posts and looking at your pictures and constantly being inspired by you.

I wish you the best in everything
<3

Kezzie said...

I didn't notice that there were loads of sponsored posts! I noticed a few but nothing out of the ordinary! (still envious of the Stopstaring one!). It's good to take a step back but don't beat yourself up about it, it's your blog!

The Midwest Muse said...

I never thought that you were selling out or anything. There are some bloggers who accept c/o's that they aren't in love with or do tons of posts with free shit and it's annoying, but I think you do a good job at balancing it out and always stay true to yourself.

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