Beauty blogging in Taiwan is incredibly commercialised. I have been an avid reader of Taiwanese beauty blogs for a couple of years, and for the last 3 months, a brand who works with beauty bloggers. For a country that is similar to the population size of Australia, I thought I’d share my insights on how the brands/BB relationships work here.
The rise of Taiwanese Beauty Bloggers
Almost all Taiwanese blogs are hosted on community websites, the most popular being www.pixnet.net and www.wretch.cc that have a dedicated section for the blogs that are hosted with them. Readers can easily trawl through these blogs by selecting the relevant category that they’re interested in, as well as by popularity.
Without any experience on using these platforms, I can’t give an accurate account on how to gain popularity as a beauty blogger in Taiwan. But my observation is that beauty bloggers can rise to the top very quickly (in a year or 2), and have common characteristics in that (i) they writing great contents consistently, covering not just beauty but fashion and lifestyle (ii) are pretty, young, and skinny and (iii) award their readers with prizes with every single blog post. I also can’t comment on the longevity of beauty bloggers in Taiwan, though I do know that some use the popularity and money to build side businesses (publishing books, become professional makeup artists/stylists, celebrities, opening fashion stores).
How brands contact beauty bloggers in Taiwan
Whether done in house or using an external agency, Taiwanese beauty bloggers are contacted via email almost exclusively, which is stated on the header of their blogs. There is no Twitter (Taiwan can access Twitter, but not many use it) or an equivelant social media platform, which I believe makes the first contact and subsequent relationship-building more difficult.
How much do beauty bloggers get paid in Taiwan?
By my estimate, there are probably about 100 or so professional beauty bloggers in Taiwan, and their rates range from NT$25,000 – NT$55,000 (USD$800-$1800) per post, equivalent to a month’s salary for the average Taiwanese. Multiply that by an average of 20 sponsored posts a month, 12 months a year and yep, a mind-blowing yearly wage by any country’s standard!
Top beauty bloggers (I’d say there are about 20 or so) also charge additional fees for using their images on the brand’s website/social media platform even if it’s to broadcast the blog post (up to NT$3000 per image), and appearance fees to events up to NT$6000 with no blog coverage on the event.
Do they deserve to get paid that much?
Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as saying the price is fair, as from my point of view as a brand, I do wish it doesn’t cost so much to get my products featured on blogs every single time, it is, nevertheless, deserved (except for appearance fees at events, I’d never pay that).
Firstly, I have to say that the quality of the content by professional Taiwanese beauty bloggers are great; each post has in-depth review of the product, step-by-step how to use tips, before-and-after; all illustrated with high quality photos. I really admire them for the amount of hard work they put in to each and every blog post; it is something I don’t think I can manage on a on-going basis. See an example from my favourite Taiwanese beauty blogger here.
Secondly, the rate per post is by majority, based on the blog’s traffic, which is openly visible on the stat counter on their blogs. On average, it’s NT$1.6 per visitor – meaning that a top blogger who charges NT$55,000 per post, rakes in over 30,000 visitors a day. So in essence, top Taiwanese beauty bloggers are celebrities, so expect to be paid as so; and brands oblige as it is an astronomically high level of exposure.
What about the “un-professional” bloggers?
Of course, where there are a hundred beauty bloggers who blog for money, there are hundreds more who don’t. Brands still work with those bloggers, as some are up-and-comers, and also to gain breadth of search results.
But since there are just too many bloggers in Taiwan to keep track of, and that the beauty blogging “industry” is so commercialised as a whole, there is BlogAD – where brands list the products they want reviewed, and unpaid bloggers register and apply for free products.
How does commercialisation affect blog content control?
To put it bluntly, brands control blog content in Taiwan to a large extent. This probably is an unhappy or even offensive situation, but when such a large amount of money is being exchanged, you can’t blame the brands to want only favourable returns.
For unpaid bloggers that apply for free products on BlogAD – the brands dictate the entire content: number of words, number of photos, keywords to include, what photos to include, key messages, time of publish are all commonly dictated elements that the blogger needs to comply with, should she want to apply for the gig.
Top beauty bloggers, of course, have more say in their content. Like all good beauty bloggers who get approached by brands, they only choose those that are of interest to them. If they have adverse/allergic reactions to the product(s), they will not write about it/them. And where the brands can request what angles the post be written from, top Taiwanese beauty bloggers don’t have to comply.
However, should these top beauty bloggers and brands seal the deal (and there are official contracts) on said products, brands have the rights to review the blog post before publish. It goes without saying that, like unpaid bloggers, professional bloggers can also only post favourable reviews. Brands can also request, within reasons, amendments to the posts so that the key messages they want are contained.
What about disclosure?
Almost every beauty blogger in Taiwan disclose – and usually in the heading or the introduction of the post, so that readers know up front that it’s a “collaborative” piece (ie. sponsored or products provided free of charge). Whether this is a legal requirement or not I’m unsure of, but regardless of, credibility is important to both brands and bloggers, and neither party want to be seen as doing “under table deals”.
For the readers, as long as bloggers disclose, it doesn’t affect their opinion of the blogger or the products featured. As long as the content and photos show the results of the product, readers are happy to trust the review.
I believe there are big pros and cons to the commercialisation of beauty blogging (and other types of blogging) in Taiwan. Whilst I do love the fact that beauty bloggers are recognised and paid for their hard work, I don’t love the fact that it inevitably affects content.
For me, blogging is and always will be my creative outlet. I like being able to write what I like, when and how I like it, even on the occasions when I hit a wall (like for this post, which I’ve worked on for a couple of weeks ). As a brand, I love working with bloggers so much more when I can build personal relationships with them, and have them write about my products because they actually really like them.
Again, I need to stress that this is not a reflection on the ”future of blogging”, should blogging for money becomes the norm. But I do believe this may provide some food-for-thought on how things may be, and think to yourself: is this what I’d like to be a part of?