Why You Should Stop Blogging for Free

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Have a seat. Grab a cup of coffee or tea. If it’s happy hour, then by all means grab a cocktail (only if you’re of drinking age in your country 😉 Let’s chat for a few minutes about a topic I know many of us feel strongly about, and could be quite controversial. Anything dealing with money can always be controversial, so why wouldn’t I talk about it?

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I can’t explain how much it annoys me (not beating around the bush here) when bloggers blog for free. Just because a brand sent you a $20 dress, does not mean you owe them a dedicated blog post, a tweet, an Instagram post, Facebook mention and even a pin. Are you crazy? Keep in mind I am not pin-pointing any one blogger or saying your way is wrong and that you should ONLY collaborate with brands if you’re paid, but when it comes to these random unheard of brands and you’re not being paid it’s just so silly and not worth your time, or anyone’s for that matter.

Here’s why:

Your time is worth more than a $20 dress. Let’s be honest. Wouldn’t you rather get three hours of your life back to spend with family, friends, your dog, your significant other? Is a $20 dress worth that time? Abso-freakin-lutely not. This is how you have to weigh your income and what you accept from brands, because if it’s not worth it in the long-run then you really have no business accepting these items and getting into an agreement about what you’re going to post for the brand.

You’re cannobolizing the blogging industry. Yes, you! If you are accepting any and all opportunities for free, you are cannobolizing the blogging industry by setting the standard. If brands know they can get bloggers to blog and post on social media for FREE, brands will continue not having a proper budget for bloggers in their next marketing budget the following year. We need to change that right away, because brands have to understand that print marketing is not going to be as effective as blog marketing. It’s just the way the internet has evolved. The longer you’re doing work for free, the longer brands will choose not to pay bloggers for coverage.

Accepting samples is okay. Most brands do send samples to their PR list. It’s okay to be on a PR list and receive samples, but what I’m saying is you should never be required to do anything or say anything for those samples. They’re samples for you to try, share your honest opinion if you wish to do so and if a brand requires you to write something because they sent you product, then shame on them and you don’t accept the product, unless you 150% know you’re passionate and want to review the products or you know you’ll have a positive review. I know that a lot of businesses start somewhere, and they don’t have the budget to pay bloggers but they also shouldn’t require you to write anything about them in exchange for a few $10 rings which will likely tarnish. 

Tell them to leave you be. Sometimes a PR firm or brand continues to follow up asking when there will be a post or feature. While you want to maintain the relationships in the long run so you continue to receive samples, you have to be honest with yourself and them. If you don’t like a product, tell them so and that you won’t be featuring it anywhere unless they are okay with you bashing it. I have actually told brands to “stop hustling me for coverage” and to leave me be. They back away slowly and never email me again and sometimes that’s okay. Keep in mind that if you’re in this for the long haul (and you want it to be career-worthy) you can’t burn every bridge, but it is okay to burn a bridge here and there in order to stay true to yourself and your morals.

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Don’t get into blogging for free shit. Seriously? Hearing bloggers want to blog because they get free things makes me want to scream into a pillow for five minutes. You want some free makeup so you’re going to magically create a blog that gets recurring traffic? I’ve been blogging since January of 2013 and it is hard work, doesn’t pay off for several years and it’s not willy nilly blog here and there when I want a free lipstick. Half the brands I work with now had to be convinced why they should send me anything ever, even with the social following I’ve acquired over the years. A brand isn’t going to send you products just because you have a blog. There’s so much more to it than that.

Alternatively, don’t get into blogging for the money. You will be quite saddened to know it takes years to make a profit, let alone a true salary you can live off of. I mean, unless you’re a celebrity or a celebrity’s child or something, building a loyal following takes years. Before you can monetize your blog (I wrote a post all about monetization) you need to develop your blog, make sure it’s clean and well designed, user-friendly, and that you actually have a product that’s worth a brand’s time. If five people read your blog, it’s unlikely a brand will work with you in a sponsored collaboration. It’s unlikely they send you product altogether, so you need to be patient and build yourself over time. 

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Be clear in your disclaimer. My disclaimer is located on my Contact page but it explains that I accept PR samples, but I will not guarantee coverage of a product unless we’ve agreed on a sponsored collaboration. 

Know what you want. When you contact brands, be clear and concise in regards to what you’re looking to do. Are you wanting to collaborate once? Do you want to be added to their PR list? Do you want a sponsored (paid) opportunity? What are you wanting? Set the precedent from the first communication.

Blogging is a job. I spend hours taking photos and editing them. Then it takes me hours, sometimes even days, to write content to match the photos. Whether it’s a review of a lipstick line, a travel diary, a recipe, or pairing an outfit together, it doesn’t matter. It is a job whether we want to admit it is or isn’t, and it should be treated as such. It’s my favorite when a brand asks me to pay for their shipping of the product. That’s like my boss asking me to pay for the envelopes I have to use for work. It makes no sense. One brand even tried to have me pay for half the product. I was so aggravated I didn’t even reply to the email because that is preposterous. 

So tell me, what are your thoughts about this topic? I would really love to know in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: We spent a few hours at The London Hotel in West Hollywood, and that’s where these beautiful photos were taken. The last photo is edited for Pinterest, but was provided by Helene from Helene in Between as part of a free collection of stock photos.