Rant: Stop Asking Bloggers for Free Publicity
Photo credit: Etsy shop here
I know I should probably feel thankful for brands contacting me and wanting to "work" with me, since this is such a tiny blog (I have never gone above 700 daily visits), but this is really irking me. Every single day for the last couple of weeks, I have received emails from companies that want me to do a post on something - what I have for breakfast, what I wear to bed, my tips for staying focused when working, my tips on moving to another country, vegan places to visit in London - all of which sound very interesting. Right until the point where I enquire about compensation.
Inevitably, the reply is something along the lines of "we are a small company", "a start-up" or something else that boils down to the bottom line of "you're not getting paid". In all these cases, I'm not even offered a product to review - which I always gladly accept when offered, with no other compensation requests, and always write a nice post with as professional photos as I can.
Okay, blogging isn't technically a job (even if some people make a very nice living off it!), and it certainly isn't my job, but what you're asking is for me to invest my time and skills into the process of marketing your product. Which is all good and well - as long as this collaboration remains a two-way street. If you're not even willing to give me a product to review, a commission off sales or a gift voucher, then what's really in it for me?
This is where a few companies pull out their rabbit in a hat: the social media share. Oh we're so sorry, we have no money to pay you, but we'll share our favourite posts on social media! Fellow bloggers, please don't fall for this. Firstly, "favourite posts", which is the wording most of them use, doesn't even guarantee that your post will be shared. Secondly, even if it will be? This blog is not a business, I'm not selling anything, so the visibility they offer can't bring me monetary gain. I do, however, create opportunity on my site to bring them sales. As far as I'm concerned, the "we share on social media" excuse will only fly for really high-profile publications and platforms, say, if ELLE wanted to share my post on their website I'd do it for free in a heartbeat. But a relatively unknown "start-up"? No way.
One might argue that my blog is really too small to make these requests - when you've got the numbers, you can ask for the cash. To which I say: but hey, you approached me. So obviously I have something that interests you. And once again, you want me to invest time and skill into your brand. Only want to pay for results? No problem: give me a commission off clicks or sales. But a big fat zero? Bloggers are too smart for that.
Exceptions to the rule: charities. I have been asked to blog for a charity I LOVE and you will soon see the post here. Obviously I didn't ask them for a penny - I support the cause and will gladly invest time in creating a beautiful post for this organisation. But once again, relatively unknown "start-ups" need not apply. "Voluntary" can only be justified as unpaid if it's a charity - last time I checked, all blogging was voluntary and at will. Doesn't mean you don't have to pay for your publicity if you're a for-profit company with a product/service to sell.
Look, I know it's tricky to get your brand out there. I'm doing it with Vilda. But asking bloggers to give you free publicity is like getting a trolley full of food at the supermarket and swanning past the cash register with the excuse that you have no money at the moment but you'll share pictures of your meals on social media. It simply doesn't work like that. And I wish more bloggers would realise that and say no.