(Cover image by Elle Levy)
I wanted to write this blog post as a way to document and hold myself accountable for long term efforts in the fight for racial equality. As well as inspire other bloggers to adopt any of these initiatives. Please do not congratulate me on this. I’m not looking for praise here, this is work I/we should have all been doing long ago.
Note: Below I share ways that this business is changing, I will not be diving into my personal life or full time career, but I can assure you there are changes happening there as well. Some of which I’ve touched on over on Instagram.
First, let me level with you:
This is not my full time job, nor is it something that I plan on taking full time. I have a set amount of hours I can dedicate to my business every week. While also prioritizing time for my career, my partner/family, my household, and my personal endeavors. To run Abby on the Internet, I currently split my time on content creation (photography and writing for blog and social media), admin work (content planning, emails, finances), pitching, social media engagement, etc. This is not an excuse for not making changes to my content and my business, I merely say all this so you recognize that there is no team here — no manager, no agent, no content strategist, no assistant. Just me :o)
Second, let me admit something to you:
I am ashamed to admit that my blog does not currently have any formal diversity/inclusion strategy. As my blog has grown, I have not realized its potential for igniting change in this industry. While I have a set of criteria for every brand I work with, it doesn’t include a formalized diversity requirement.
Third, let me share how I think I can personally contribute (via my blog/influencer title) to long term change:
Moving forward I have formalized a few items that I think are sustainable and impactful longterm ways I can both A. Make change via the content I share (front of house) as well as B. Make change in the influencer industry (back of house). Some of these things, as a consumer of my content, you will see. Some of these things, you won’t see. The things you DO see, may feel like they have the most impact (because you’ll see them regularly). But I believe it is the things you won’t see, that make more impact to the broken system itself.
Front of House:
- I will organically share more BIPOC-owned brands. This means, outside of official brand collaborations, I will seek out more BIPOC-owned companies to share on my Instagram and blog.
- I will support more BIPOC-owned brands with my dollar. This means I will buy directly from more BIPOC-owned businesses (and in turn, share them with my followers/readers).
- I will organically share more BIPOC bloggers and influencers on my Instagram stories. IE: in “Follow Friday” roundups and similar. Please follow the creators I share and support their work!
Back of House:
- I have created an Inclusion Rider (based on a template shared by Hitha Palepu) that will be shared with every potential campaign partner*.
- This rider not only requests diversity information about the specific campaign/partnership, but also the company as a whole.
- This rider also includes a list of BIPOC influencers that I will be recommending for campaigns.
- Please email me if you are an influencer and would like to use it.
- I will be actively pitching BIPOC-owned brands, and offering pro bono work with BIPOC-owned brands. This means I will be offering content creation, advertising, and promotion for free to small BIPOC-owned businesses.
- I pledge to donate 20% of my quarterly closet sales to organizations that support marginalized communities. May’s closet sale contributed to COVID relief (via Direct Relief, Feeding America, and Concern Worldwide). October’s closet sale benefited Fair Fight Action.
In all honesty this hardly scratches the surface of all the work that I need to do (much of which is also in my personal life). But it’s a start. I am always open to feedback on how to improve and tweak this list. Please feel free to comment below, or send me DM on Instagram.
*There will be instances where the inclusion rider is not strictly enforced — it doesn’t cover every scenario with every partnership. For example, I often work with small women-owned businesses (1-3 employees) who don’t regularly do influencer marketing. But it will always be required when participating in a large/corporate campaigns.