In September it was agreed that going forward all Rock My content would be advertisement free. No more paid for campaigns, no more affiliate links, no more ad blocks linking you to a particular website that have paid us to do so.

If you read our The Future Of Online Media feature earlier in the year, you will be familiar with how the company generates revenue. Our main source of income is our membership based hand-picked supplier directory hosted on Rock My Wedding. Prior to Rock My being sold to WLS Holdings, we would also receive payment for styled campaigns and the associated promotion across our websites and/or social media platforms.

We have always endeavoured to build the Rock My brand based on integrity and community, we have only ever worked with brands/products we would ordinarily be associated with/purchase ourselves. However, if we are essentially paid to encourage our community to buy something, our recommendations are not completely unbiased, whether we mostly use/like the brand in question outside of the campaign or not.

The meteoric rise of “influencer” marketing and in particular Rock My Style often being categorised by potential partnership brands in the same circles as various influencers, has been challenging to navigate to say the least. Our new parent company has wholeheartedly backed us in our desire to become 100% transparent, offering our readers unbiased recommendations and a place to discuss relevant topics and offer advice to each other, in a safe and positive online environment.

Dropping advertising doesn’t come without risk, and there is a lot of work to do in order to make the Rock My business successful financially with a strategy that retains integrity and continues to inspire and engage our community. It’s ambitious, but we’re confident and motivated to succeed.

This time last year I decided I couldn’t personally be involved, or involve my family, in any kind of paid for campaign. I have never been an influencer in the traditional instagram/generate revenue for my personal gain perspective, but Mabel, Iris and I have occasionally featured in Rock My paid for partnership campaigns where we have been photographed wearing a particular brand of clothing.

Full Disclosure: Earlier this year I borrowed a dress from a brand we were working with on RMW for my sister’s wedding (it was a sample so it was returned – it was not a “gift”). The brand were very helpful, the dress was beautiful and as it was a very special occasion/specific to my “niche” I deemed the loan appropriate. A lovely lady direct messaged me via instagram to say she had been inspired to purchase the gown herself as she had seen it on a real person (ie a short arse and not the 6ft model on the website ha!). I was glad to have been of (sequin) service, but ultimately I had this unexplainable sinking feeling that I could have afforded to buy the dress myself yet here I was, waltzing about FOC, influencing this nice lady into paying the full RRP. The feeling of discomfort (also see prize numpty) outweighed any potential adulation I may have experienced as an enabler.

As the poor regulation of what is an advert/gift continues and the controversy surrounding influencers implodes, I have become increasingly disillusioned with traditional paid for advertising as a revenue stream. I very rarely engage with #AD myself, so how can I expect this community to?

For clarification, there is nothing wrong with a brand/person being genuinely influential. There are many courageous and hard working folk and excellent causes being promoted in the right way. I don’t want this to be lost in the message.

As always your thoughts and feedback is most welcome in the comments area below.