Blogging as a career is pretty new, blogging in general however isn't, people have been writing online since online existed, it's only now with the rising popularity of social media that companies see the worth and influence that people online can have. I love this being my job, it's truly one of the best choices I made, but it doesn't come without it's pitfalls and annoyances, just like every other career. For me and I'd put a lot of money on it being an issue for many other bloggers too, is people and brands acting dismissive of your worth, it's not that they don't know because they do - that's why they're contacting you, but it's simply having the ignorance to think you wont realise what they're trying to do. Free products. If I had a tenner for every time I'm asked if I can do something 'in return for a free XYZ' it drives me up the wall, the statement itself is so incredibly contradictory yet it's somehow still probably one of the most common amongst my inbox.
If I, or any other blogger / influencer is being asked for anything in return for a product, then by that simple concept the product isn't free. If you're telling me it is, you're effectively saying my services are worthless, which if that is the case, you wouldn't be contacting me. I know there are a lot of others out there that put in far more effort and generally do more than I do, but still if you're looking for me to promote something for you, even if that promotion is 'just a quick share on socials', that requires me to at the very least; use the product, write about it, style and photograph as well as scheduling the content that I'm being asked to promote. It requires a lot more time that it looks on the surface, and my time is quite honestly worth a lot, when it's taking away from time that could be spent on paid work or in other areas of my job that need it more.

I can't pay bills with products, so unless something is a seriously good fit, I tend to decline now. For a long time I loved the concept of getting all of these things through the post, all the unboxing and newness, that quickly wore off when I realised a lot of the time I was doing a large amount of work in return for something that cost £20. You have to see the value in your work and I think the more we raise awareness to this kind of behaviour from brands, it's only going to increase the standards they'll be forced to work by. Never be afraid to reply to a 'in return for a free product' email and explain how actually it isn't free at all, you're setting the bar and I don't think any reputable brand is going to judge you for knowing your worth. That being said, I know sometimes the products we're offered are things we love, so it makes sense to accept!

I think it boils down to a chance thing with the wording, by telling you you're getting something free you instantly assume it's of great benefit to you, yet in reality when you look closer, it really isn't. Almost in the same way shops hike up the price of something, and then do buy one get one free, when in other stores the price of one is half the price of those on offer, meaning you're really no better off at all. Smoke and mirrors. It's not only important so that brands begin to recognise our value, but that others who don't fully understand blogging yet begin to also. I find it really frustrating when well meaning friends and family make comments like 'Wow, I can't believe you got a free holiday'. It wasn't free, it was a mutual exchange, their holiday for my services, but people don't see it that way, because again, they don't see all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, just a few happy holiday snaps and everyone thinks you're the luckiest person alive.

So in short, if you're a blogger reading this, I'm sure you're just as irked as I am by the words 'in exchange for a free product' and if you didn't see the problem in it before, I hope this post has somewhat highlighted how it really demeans the work we do. Brands are only going to take heed if we all sing from the same hymn sheet!

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