After attending a couple of blogging events, I’m going to expose some of the dirty little secrets fashion bloggers don’t want you to know.

Attending a recent swimsuit launch was one of the scariest things I have ever done. It’s worse than going to a panel interview for your dream job. The event was attended by the crème of the crème of the fashion industry in my city, leading journalists, and editors. Then there were dozens of amazing women I follow on Instagram and top fashion bloggers, including plus size models.

Here are some of the secrets and tips I discovered while working with these artists.

1) The freebies aren’t free.

The main attraction of attending the swimsuit launch was the goodie bag with a gifted swimsuit of my choice in my size. Unfortunately, the size 16 I wanted wasn’t available in my first choice of color, nor my next choice. When I got it home it fitted around the bottom, but sadly not around the top. To receive the swimsuit, I was obliged to spend two hours at the event (on my over-time rate) – and then there was travel time to and from the event – and post an Instagram photo and story.

2) Beg, borrow, and return.

At an influencer event I attended last year, a popular fashion blogger came up from Sydney sporting an unmistakable black YSL clutch. I can’t for the life of me remember what else she was wearing because I spent the whole time wondering if it was real or not.

Later a food blogger with the same bag admitted to me that she often hired her handbags or swapped them around with her friends or family just for a photoshoot. The more expensive items were sometimes just borrowed from the company.  She admitted she spent half of the time worried about losing them and having to pay back something she could never afford.

3) Horrors of blogging events…

Some blogging events are fun and exciting. Other are poorly planned and badly catered. You leave the event wishing you hadn’t RSVP’d. I often turn up to an event not knowing a single person in the room. It’s an introvert’s nightmare.

I’ve been to blogging events where you end up eating cold meant-to-be-served-warm canapés because the people you are sitting next to want to get the best shot in the whole room.  Fashion bloggers begrudgingly take some photos and then move the food around their plate. I’ve yet to catch a fashionista eating anything containing carbs.

I’ve seen people carry two phones – using the second phone to set off a flash.  Blogging events are a sometimes a surreal experience.

4) Bloggers hate each other.

At one event I got talking with a male print editor, and he remarked that all bloggers he had met hate each other. He said that as soon as you got them alone they just started bitching about the other bloggers. It reminds me of my one of my favorite sayings:

When you compare, you despair.

5) Industry people are pushy.

I was so nervous attending the swimsuit launch that I booked in for a stylist’s appointment at our city’s main department store. The ladies were lovely but they started off with $600 designer dresses which I would never wear again. I had to admit my budget was significantly less than what they were expecting. I ended up with an on-trend off the shoulder blouse, which sadly I’m never going to wear again. I’m thinking about returning it.

The stylist suggested I get a fake a tan – which I really didn’t have the time, budget, or need for. I can tan naturally with my fortunate Mediterranean skin.

At another event, I commented on how a male gay couple (who were gym ambassadors) probably had nice bodies. I was drinking a beer, and the publicity person said to me that they would never be seen drinking a beer. Thanks for making me feel guilty about my beverage choice.

6) Making money by reselling eBay…

After I discovered that my gifted swimsuit did not fit, I search for other examples of eBay listings from the same brand. Yes, I found some other people selling the exact same swimsuit online. I’ve heard stories of influencers running competitions with their gifted product.

7) The statistics are fake.

Many bloggers are faking their statistics and follower counts. It’s fairly easy to do if your market isn’t educated. But if you are experienced in dealing with influencers, it’s also easy to spot. Traditional print advertising is based on readership numbers and demographics, however, with digital, you can get much better bang for your buck if you select the right target audience and right influencer.

For example, be wary of female influencers who show off their bare bodies and cleavage. If you scroll through the comments, you’ll start to see that the majority of their followers are actually men. And we all know that most men aren’t there to buy women’s swimsuits.

I love blogging, even if I personally hate the term “influencer”. There are many hours of unpaid labor, reading emails, and negotiating that goes on behind-the-scenes. It’s not all exclusive parties and freebies without strings attached.