I love cooking, walking the dog, gardening, but nobody would expect me to bake them a cake, walk their dog or plant some flower bulbs in their garden for free. So why other people and, unfortunately, brands would expect me and other bloggers to work for free?
I visit trade and retail shows with work, I also attend conferences and seminars. At one of the last seminars I’ve been to, the topic was about working with bloggers. Of course I found that one even more interesting, as I’m a blogger too and I do work with brands.
The seminar was held by a shop owner and a blogger. I’m not going to disclose their names, because that is not important. I just want to talk about the ideas that were discussed at the seminar.
The blogger told us how important blogging is, with numbers and details. She talked about social media and how bloggers give a different perspective on a service/product because they are real people who use the product. After her, the shop owner started to talk about how beneficial was for her to collaborate with bloggers. Everything seemed ok until she was asked about the conversion rate. She mentioned a small number and then she said that bloggers are really great because they work for free. I was stunned when I heard this. The seminar was aimed at shops and brands that sell expensive items, so this approach was surprising.
Blogging is a hobby for me and I enjoy it a lot, but, even so, why should I work for free. I don’t talk about charities, product reviews or events. In this article, I’m talking about posts. For the last year I’ve received a lot of requests from brands and I have to admit that most of them I had to turn down because they weren’t suitable for my blog or, sometimes, because some of the brands had no budget.
Bloggers will know this, but my readers that aren’t bloggers might not know that we receive emails with incredible requests. One of my “favourite” was a request from a big brand that was expecting me to drive to one of their locations, take pictures and an interview, write a post and promote it on social media. Requests to write a long post, with a deadline, add links to their website on a topic which they are choosing and I should do that because they think that my readers will find the topic interesting.
Again I fail to see why I should do all this for free. It takes time to write the post, to process the photos in Photoshop, to make it SEO friendly and to promote it. Beside my time, everything I use for the blog costs money (laptop, Photoshop, camera, props if they are needed). The domain and hosting are an additional expense too. I’m not too bothered about that. Every hobby has its own expenses, for climbing you need special equipment, to go karting you need money for the cars and so on. But I wouldn’t want that business to take advantage because I’m doing it for fun and not for profit.
I asked other bloggers why they would work for free and their answers were fascinating. I selected only a few and, maybe, in some situations, I would do the same.
“I’ve posted for free on very small emerging brands to give them a leg up. But if it’s a massive corporation, I always get a bit offended knowing they turn over shed loads in profit.”
“I would be happy to promote a brand for free in order to establish a connection with brands , in the hope it would lead to better things. If I truly liked the brand or believed in a cause .”
“When I first started blogging I ran free advertising for small independent brands. This included a post about the brand and a button on my site for a month. As a new blogger at the time, this allowed me to make my first business contacts, and proved very valuable. Some even sent their products as a thank you, although that was never expected. Only once did a brand take advantage, I put so much work into a post about them, it was one of my best at that point, and they offered samples but wanted a delivery fee. This was a year ago and it still annoys me haha!”
“When I have an ongoing relationship with a PR/SEO and they’re desperate. I usually have a few gratis spots per quarter. I don’t mind. If they ordinarily pay me well or have lots of clients I’m keen to work with, you’ll often find a little charity goes a long way.”
Are you a blogger? Do you work for free? If you are not a blogger, please tell me what you think.