Is ‘Haul’ Culture Damaging Your Blog?
The topic of hauls has been on my mind for a while now. As guilty as I am of using the word occasionally to describe a Topshop-shaped dent in my bank balance, I think it’s time that we retire this word and the videos and blog posts that come with it…
An easy hit
Hauls are like an extension of the unboxing videos that are popular in the tech blogging community, except instead of one product, the point is that a haul features a collection of products. Sometimes this could be a shopping bag full of clothes but it could be beauty products, homeware items or a mix of all three. The word has replaced the notion of a shopping spree in the online community, and vlogs featuring the word ‘haul’ are some of the most frequently uploaded to YouTube.
Humans are a naturally nosey lot, and as a result these videos and blog posts are always very satisfying to engage with – it’s just like your friend excitedly showing you what they bought at the weekend. One of the reasons fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogs are so popular, aside from the tutorials and opinion pieces they can offer, is that they provide a glimpse into a different life – a magazine-worthy outfit post or beauty shoot. Whether or not this life is heavily constructed or not is irrelevant – who among us hasn’t lost an hour to reading ‘what’s in my bag?’ posts or watching make-up storage videos?
Why ‘haul’ is a dirty word
Young readers and bloggers are impressionable, and we have a responsibility to them whether we like it or not. Haul videos are often made by incredibly successful bloggers who can afford the shopping sprees they’re blogging about. While there is nothing wrong with this in principle, it does give the impression that to be successful [in the blogging community] you need to spend a lot of money and continually buy new items to showcase on your blog.
Disclosure is also a big deal, which Bonjour Blogger! has covered before. The waters surrounding product placement and sponsored content are still very murky in the UK, and if a haul includes products that a blogger has been sent to review or even for product review consideration, it isn’t always immediately obvious.
We are a nation that is just coming out the other side of a five-year long rescission. Youth unemployment in the UK is still worryingly high and as the many of the people that read these blogs and watch vlogs are teenagers, are hauls encouraging them to spend money they don’t have?
I regularly see tweets and the occasional blog post lamenting a lack of money or products to blog about, along with the desire to buy what someone else has, and I’m not alone. Michelle of Daisybutter wrote recently about her worry surrounding hauls and the constant need of buying to share.
Life beyond the haul
Haul videos and blog posts are clearly popular but there are plenty of alternatives to spending a small fortune in Boots or Primark every month just so that you have something to blog about.
‘Shop My Stash’ posts, where bloggers revisit items they already own but have forgotten about, are popular and a great way to help generate new blog posts without the need for spending any money.
If you’re a beauty blogger, asking for samples at beauty counters is another way to trial a product you’re interested in without spending a fortune.
What do you think about the trend for haul videos? Do you think they’re putting pressure on other bloggers to spend money they don’t have? Share your thoughts in the comments…