First off, a week ago I was rushed by ambulance to the ER, and subsequently hospitalised for 3 days with a spinal injury. I lost control of and had a lameness in my legs too. I don't want to go into all the gruesome details, but it was scary and extremely, utterly painful. The worst pain I've ever felt in my life - and I'm not being overly dramatic. I've never had to be rushed to the ER in the middle of the night before, so incapacitated by pain that I couldn't walk or move. The spinal area is where many of your nerves are bundled, and an injury that affects one or numerous nerves - well it ain't fun, that's for sure! Since some might wonder: no - it was not due to an injury from my workouts or fitness regimen. But I will say that morphine is one hell of a drug!!
Anyway, I am slowly on the way to recovery. I am back at home but my movement is still restricted, and there's still some pain. Sitting for long periods is uncomfortable. I'm bored out of mind, I can tell you that. Lying around watching TV or reading all day is fun for maybe 1 or 2 days, after that it becomes mind-numbing and depressing. I'm giving my body ample time to heal, because I want to avoid surgery if at all possible. I'll have to see how things develop. I currently can't film any makeup tutorials due to this either.
This also means that my #SummerFit fitness and workout series on Youtube will have to undergo a - hopefully temporary - hiatus. I was told to avoid any kind of exercise and fitness for 6 weeks! Maybe more, until I am entirely pain free. After that, I'm uncertain at this point if I will be able to do the same intensity of exercise as I did before, and I might have to look into alternative workout routines that are suitable to my injury. It's really sad, going out on my runs was such a balanced routine for me and a literal breath of fresh air, and I'm going to sorely miss kicking around the fallen leaves on my forest trails this autumn.
OK so now that's out of the way, I wanted to address something that's been bugging me. I deliberated whether or not I should even talk about this, but in the end, I think it needs to be said. It concerns my "What's in my Mailbox" video series, and some comments I've been getting, which need to addressed by me. I'll go through some of the comments and my response on them.
"You seem really ungrateful for all the things you're getting."
I don't know why some people think I am ungrateful, I thank every single company (both verbally in the video and personally by email) for all the products they send my way. How many times do I need to say thank you until I am deemed "grateful"? Do I have to speak in a fake, bubbly tone of voice, or maybe bounce off the walls? It's really a condescending assumption to make, because the truth is - I am grateful for all the things I get sent my way. I am one of the few Youtube gurus who publicly shows all the items and packages sent to me. Other gurus get press samples too, but maybe they don't feel comfortable sharing that so openly. I do it for transparency, so you can see what items I get sent, and which ones I buy myself. To me, there isn't a huge difference anyway. I hold products to the same standards, whether I purchased them myself, or whether I received them for free. Also, it's fun to film and most of my viewers love watching these videos, it's a bit like Christmas every time!
"Why would you say something negative about a product you got for free? That's so rude!"
Let's get something straight: These products are sent to me by PR in the hopes of advertising a product (for FREE no less) and getting the name out there to their target consumer audience. They are not sent to me because Company X wants Julia to have a lipstick just because they like me so much. Well, they probably like my video and the work I put out there, but they also know that there is a HUGE audience attached to my work - namely you, the viewer and reader. A big company like Illamasqua or L'Oréal or what have you, probably is not going to send out hundreds of dollars of merchandise to a Blogger or Youtuber with 50 followers. It's not worth their time or resources to do so. I'm sorry if that sounds mean or arrogant, but this is the hard truth behind online marketing and just how things work. In today's age where print media is majorly on the decline, online media and bloggers play an increasingly important role for brands. It may be as simple as sending some free products to a prominent blogger, in the hopes of being featured on a popular online platform.
I have worked extremely hard for more than five years to get to a point where companies send me their merchandise for free, because it is in their interest to do so. The brand stands a lot to gain from being featured on my channel. A recommendation from me, a link, or a rave about a product, means someone out there will probably buy that product. Established Bloggers and Youtubers have a huge influence, and our opinions matter. I have often purchased a product that another well-known blogger or Youtuber has raved about - who hasn't? This is why I am extremely careful choosing what products I recommend, because I know the influence I may have. That being said, what works for me, might not work for everyone else, of course.
Also, I want to give an honest feedback to you - my viewers and subscribers. You are my number one priority, not the brands! I honestly don't care if some company gets offended if I don't rave about their product because I didn't like it so much. My critiques are honest and thoughtful, I have never trashed a company. Our input might help that company makes changes to a product, to be more popular with consumers.
Does a Book reviewer for the NY Times get admonished for giving a book a bad review, simply because the book was sent to them for free? In what kind a screwed-up reality are we in that a Blogger is admonished for *gasp* speaking their true opinion on a product? These aren't "gifts" and "presents" sent to me, these are press samples sent for review. And that's what I'm going to do: Review them.
"Why don't you give that makeup away because you have so much? Why don't you donate it to a women's shelter?"
I think it's actually really poor form to outright demand that Bloggers and Youtubers do giveaways. You would never go up to a stranger or a friend and ask them, "Hey, why don't you get me a present?" Would you do that? I just think it's rude.
That being said, I have held numerous expensive giveaways in the past (Hakuhodo brushes, Canon cameras, Stila palettes, etc.) and I plan to do more in the future. However, as all the samples I receive are already opened and used by me, I'm not sure how I feel about doing a giveaway with what are essentially my "castaways". Also, there is the hygienic aspect to consider, as some things cannot be properly sanitised. I do give away tons of used makeup to my family, friends and colleagues, who can often dig through boxes of makeup at my house and take home whatever they like. I have never resold or made monetary profit from any of the free press samples sent to me!
About donating it to a women's shelter: It's a great idea in theory and when it was first suggested to me, I actually contacted a few shelters near my area to see if they would take it. None of them would take my cosmetics! Many of them said it was due to hygiene issues, and others said it was due to a lack of storage space for non-monetary donations. So that's the end of that.
Also, I actually enjoy testing out and using the products - I mean that's why they're sent to me in the first place. I love showing you all what new products are coming out, what is worth the money, and what isn't. If I didn't have PR sending me those samples, I would never be able to afford to show you half the things I do! For example my Halloween videos - those are some of the most expensive and time consuming videos I make. If I didn't work together with brands, I couldn't afford to make my Halloween videos and costumes as elaborately as I do.
Most successful makeup artists, and top Bloggers and Youtubers are able to get the vast majority of their products for free. We have all had to work extremely hard to be able to attain this opportunity. Many of us still spend our own money on top of that for makeup products, camera equipment, and additional materials to do our craft.
"I'm going to start a Youtube channel / Blog to get free products! Can you tell me how to do that?"
Please don't. If that is the driving force behind you starting a Blog or a makeup channel on Youtube, you are never going to enjoy the experience. Do it for the right reasons! You will have to put in hundreds and hundreds of hours, and maybe years of hard work, to reach a point where companies will contact you to send you samples. I have heard of one website called Influenster where you can sign up to get free products in exchange for an online review, that might be an option for Bloggers who are just starting out. (I personally have never used their service so I can't say how they work.) If you are already an established Blogger with a huge following, publish a business email where interested companies can contact you if they like your work. All companies that have sent me products have contacted me directly, or I have met them personally at events and business meetings. I turn down the majority of offers from companies to send me products, and only accept offers from brands that genuinely interest me, and I think might be beneficial for my audience also.
I hope that's cleared up some of these misunderstandings. If you still don't understand, then please just don't watch those videos and leave nasty comments. The majority of my viewers who watch those videos really enjoy them, and I enjoy making them, so I will continue to do so.
Thanks for reading! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.