I work really hard on my blog everyday. I can go out on a limb here and say that it is much more than a full-time job. I work for free most of the time but I like my boss, so that’s ok. But will I work for free for someone else? It depends, but in general, no. Too many years of being in the corporate world has jaded me from ever going above and beyond to line someone else’s pocket with cash ever again.
During my daily dose of blog post reading today, I came across an article by SuzieSpeaks about a hashtag that had been trending. I did not go check out the fuss on Twitter or the original post that sparked the hashtag. To summarize, I get that the discussion was about an unfavourable review done by a blogger because of an unrequited exchange of product for the post.
I am not going to go into the “was it wrong or right”, merely because I haven’t read the original post and can’t possibly know what the original agreement was. Obviously, there was a miscommunication on both sides as to what was expected by the other.
The problem I have with all this is the word “review”. We see that everywhere in the blogging world. Commonly, there is an exchange of review for product. I have to say that this totally infuriates me! I do not believe that these are true “reviews” but a flagrant attempt by companies to get free advertising from bloggers.
These companies are not looking for honest feedback for their product but recommendations and links from a reputable, established blog. Not to mention the huge bonus of a blogger promoting that post across all of their social media platforms. If you know anything about marketing, you know that product has already passed a test market analysis in which free product was given to target customers long before it hit the shelves. They don’t need a “review”.
And really, reviews should mean reviews, good or bad but I don’t think a company would like it if you posted a negative one. Pretty much every blogger I know, only posts positive reviews. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of your readers to do the negative ones too? Shouldn’t you let us know what sucks? But I get it. If you post negative reviews, the chances of you getting asked to do more will probably go down.
It costs absolutely next to nothing for a company to give out free product. I have actually watched a video in which a marketing executive freely admits that their motto is to throw out as many requests as possible, sometimes to hundreds of bloggers, and see who bites.
The blogger on the other hand, uses the product, writes a review, takes, edits and adds pictures, tags, categorizes, and maximizes SEO, adds links to the product, the company’s home page and all their social media links. Then the blogger blasts it repeatedly on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest et al.
Personally, I think that bloggers should be compensated monetarily for their work on a review/sponsored blog post, for the promotion of said product AND for giving the company access to all of their blog followers.
Honestly, if you do posts for products, I get it. I’m not saying to not do reviews and I do not look down on those that do. I’m just saying to value yourself and the work you have done to build your audience plus the work you do on the product review post itself. I know many bloggers, five years in, still doing reviews for free product. Is that where you want to be in five years? Not sure any bank takes mortgage payments in face cream but I haven’t tried.
I’m just saying, be careful, especially when you are starting out not to fall into a trap you may never be able to get out of. Even if you do it just for your own reference, make a media kit. Define for yourself, what you will and will not do and for what in return. Make it clear to yourself and it will be easier for you to be more assertive when approached. I truly regret a few instances in which I did do things for free against my better judgement merely because I was flattered to be asked. Rest assured. You were not the only one contacted.
Of course, there will always be the cases where exposure from a high-profile company makes it beneficial for you to work for free. The return may not be immediate but can be measured in future benefit.
Keep in mind as well that free product is still payment for services rendered. Technically, a value must be added to the goods and added to your income for tax purposes. Isn’t that the extra kick in the pants? Not only did u do all that work for free but now the government wants their cut from that. Hope someone at the IRS office can use those poise pads.
Before everyone jumps down my throat, I did say that the decision is an individual one and what each blogger decides is their own prerogative. I am merely trying to point out that most bloggers are really giving free advertising in the disguise of a review.
Don’t like what I said? Well, it’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to. Check out this post by Ripped Jeans and Bifocals about sponsored posts too.
P.S. I have done a review of Estee Lauder Product I purchased myself. I got nothing but a hole in my wallet and nice skin.