“You are so jammy,” a non-blogging friend of mine joked the other week. “You get so much stuff through your blog.”
I laughed with her – she was jesting after all – and then promptly put her straight.
The thing is, I know that many people who don’t blog (journalists, family members and mates included) see it that way. They read blogs and roll their eyes when they see the blogger is reviewing something they have been given by a brand.
And I’m not just talking about “Mummy Blogs” here – beauty bloggers do reviews, as do travel bloggers, wedding bloggers, pet bloggers (I may have just made that last one up, but pet bloggers do sound pretty cool).
Anyway, back to my point. It’s not a straightforward case of bloggers being given freebies. Not in my personal experience anyway.
I’ve worked in the media industry all my working life (I’ll be 30 this year – so it’s not forever, but it’s a while). Before I began my blog I worked as a reporter and breakfast newsreader for a big commercial radio station. Before that, I worked as a reporter for three other radio stations. Before that, I worked on a magazine and – you guessed it – before that it was newspapers.
Back then, I didn’t really know what blogging was. But I knew a freebie very well.
Whether it was tickets to a pop concert, back stage passes to a festival, a bumper box of posh crisps or a free meal at a local restaurant, they were par for the course it seemed. Boxes of random stuff would regularly turn up in the various offices I worked in. It may not have happened every day, but it certainly wasn’t rare.
Broadcasting rules stated that we couldn’t (and wouldn’t) just chat on the radio about something we’d been sent. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but it certainly never happened at any radio station I’ve worked at. The same is true of the newspapers and magazines.
To the PRs, I guess it was all about making contacts and building future relationships. It wasn’t necessarily about getting their product a free slot on prime time radio.
Fast-forward a few years and, until recently, I worked for a radio station as a presenter AND wrote this blog. I also wrote the odd magazine article and continued to contribute to a few websites. I was at the coal face of freebies, you could say.
And you know what? The only “free” freebies were the ones that arrived in the office at the radio station. Considering most of these things came through the door with no expectation or agreement to write or talk about them, they were free in all senses of the word.
But the things that I was “given” through my blog? They had a different type of price tag attached. In each case, the PR sending me the product or the tickets or inviting me to their lovely event, was doing so in return for coverage on this blog. They knew that lots of bloggers have big, engaged readerships. They wanted to tap into that and to gain a bit of publicity.
I can’t speak for all bloggers here but, for me, if I have use for a product or experience and it fits the themes on my blog, then I’m happy to do a review. But that review takes time. I’ll often Tweet about it or might put a picture on my Instagram feed (especially if it’s a review trip). In the meantime, I’ll continue to write about other stuff that interests me. And that takes time too.
So, what I suppose I’m saying, is that those “freebies” you see me getting through my blog aren’t really “free” at all. Not in the old-fashioned sense anyway. I may not have paid for them with cold hard cash, but the payment takes another form: my time and my little corner of the Internet.
After all, nothing comes for free these days, you know?
If you’re a blogger then I’d love to know your take on the whole thing. I’m not talking blagging vs blogging (that’s been covered already), but I’m interested in how you view items or experiences you’re given for review. Are they freebies, in the true sense of the word?