Should Bloggers Take Products As Payment? Working For Free
The latest and most topical debate amongst bloggers at the moment is the subject of payment, and what our work is worth. Naturally, I thought I would get my little 5 pence piece opinion in and tell you where I stand on this debacle.
Now first off, let’s just address that it’s bloody amazing that blogging is starting to be taken seriously by brands and they are in fact starting to see the worth of influencer marketing and the amazing return on investment that it does have. This is brilliant for every single one of us, even if you haven’t had a paid opportunity or even if you don’t want one. It means that people are recognising the work that goes into blogging. And we both know it’s a hell of a lot of work. We don’t just snap a pic of a lipstick and then post it and gain 1,000 followers overnight. It’s tedious, it takes graft, and you will definitely want to give up at points.
I have been seeing on Twitter lately, a lot of bloggers essentially bashing other bloggers for accepting free products in return for reviews, saying that by accepting this they are devaluing the work of everyone and that it is a let down to the industry.
I don’t know about you, but I remember when I first started blogging in 2015 and I remember receiving my first e-mail from a PR company, offering me a product in exchange for a review and how over the moon and excited I was. Not because I was getting something for free, but because I felt recognised. I felt like this little corner of the internet that I had spent countless hours and weekends working on had been seen to be something that could be something. It was an amazing feeling, and I instantly e-mailed back saying yes.
I still to this day, if offered something I thought would fit the blog well and would be good for my readers to see, will accept a product on this basis. And I’ll tell you why.
Firstly, it is expensive more financially and creatively to be constantly coming up with new beauty led content. Sometimes a gal could do with a bit of inspiration from a PR product, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Secondly, you need to think long term. My blog isn’t massive, and most of us aren’t full-time bloggers, but I do want to grow this site into something (who knows what yet), and if I can start to build a relationship with a brand or PR in this way then I will. Just because you aren’t being paid this time, doesn’t mean there won’t be a budget the next time they contact you. And if they like your work then they probably will get back to you at some point, and then you are in a much stronger position to ask for payment to feature the product because they clearly like you work and see the value in your blog.
Thirdly, it’s experience. I have written articles for blogs for free because I want to build a portfolio of content before I start asking for payment. I’ve accepted products for free because I want to show the work that I can do with the product. How can you ask for money on something you aren’t sure of your own value on?
However, my thoughts change when it comes to working under certain conditions with a brand. Above, I am talking very specifically about brands that contact you and offer a product for a simple review, There are no conditions, they may not even require you to dedicate a whole post to them, it could be in your monthly favourites or a more broader style post.
When brands and PRs start giving you conditions that you need to work under, as in ‘1 dedicated blog post, 1 Instagram post and a tweet’ then I think you should be asking for the dollars. If they’re asking specifically for certain social media coverage, or requesting how you go about the blog post, then you are working for them. You’re not just trying something out and reviewing it, you are doing work for this brand. And I mean this gals got bills to pay.
I hope this makes sense and maybe gives you something to think about, but I really would stress to any bloggers out there that now feel bad about accepting a cleanser or a foundation for a simple review that we all done it, even the blog police on Twitter done it, so don’t feel bad, just do you.