Every single day I check my email inbox and feel a horrible lull of dismay, once again, the PR emails have miraculously piled up within hours and once again; I need to plough through each and every one. From the usual press releases about new designer collections and preview invites, to informing me about a pair of self-heating socks or lollipops filled with bugs that I really need for Christmas…my inbox bulges with them. Maybe I’m not being completely fair here, once or twice I might come across something quite useful and relevant, which of course I’ll follow up, but this doesn’t happen all too often often.
Amongst these mostly irritating emails, I often find review requests sprinkled in between which sometimes spark my interest, but here’s the annoying part, hidden away in small type right at the base of the email is this: “We don’t have samples, but I can put you on the waiting list if you require some.” Well, of course I require them! How on earth could I review a product without even seeing it or trying it for myself? I’m proud to have built up a trust with my readers over the years that I have written online, and to write a ‘review’ of a product that I have never encountered would be counterfeit and a complete violation of that trust – this is not something I would allow to happen.
I’m certainly not alone in my aggregation, I know many people in the blogosphere who encounter the same problem daily.
Sometimes, I will even be asked to provide written work for companies or incorporate one of their site features into my own website. The problem I have here is not with the asking, I am very open to hearing from people and welcome every personal request with open arms, the thing that gets me here is that the companies expect me to do this completely free of charge.
This is something that really aggrieves me to the point of fury. Asking me to write for free is like asking your hairdresser to style your hair free of charge, or walking into Waitrose, picking up your shopping and then strolling out without paying for your goods. At the end of the day, you are asking for a professional writing service, and should expect to pay for this service just as you would expect to pay for any other service in this world. I have spent years perfecting my writing skills and I have also worked for free in order to build up my portfolio – I’ve been at the bottom and worked my way up, I’m not about to hit a snake and go tumbling back down on the board again. Sure, if the written work will complement my portfolio or will help me to develop my writing in any way, I’m all for it. But this hasn’t been the case thus far.
Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to encounter some lovely companies in the past who have sent me samples without the obligation to blog about them, or who have provided me with a service in the hope that I’ll write favourably about them. These are the companies who are business-savvy and who are also recognising the fact that the whole blogging phenomenon works both ways. It goes back to a simple saying that I’m sure we’ve all heard thousands of times but that plenty of people don’t take heed of; “Treat others as you would expect to be treated.”
Over the years, bloggers have become invaluable to companies – what with their savvy knowledge of niche industries and many devoted followers, in many a case, they can help to either make or break your brand. Bloggers have mastered the finesse of writing for the web and targeting the relevant audiences so much so that some of them have achieved an almost celebrity status.
The bloggers of today are a knowing bunch of dedicated people who are clued up not just on the writing side, but in their knowledge of social media, SEO and how to get the results they want out of their time online. For many bloggers this is their full time work, their profession, and so to ask them, or indeed me, to provide our services for free, is frankly, quite insulting.
Do you think bloggers should expect to be paid?
© This post is copyright of Rachael Divers 2013.