The truth about bloggers and freebies

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Thanks to a certain hotel in Dublin that’s now ‘banned’ bloggers (lol) there’s been a lot of talk online and in the press this week about bloggers and social media influencers and them expecting things for free. I’m going to saying something now that’ll blow your mind. There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. A. Freebie. Disappointing right? But that’s the gods honest truth about bloggers and freebies.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog and you’re doing it to get some freebies, honestly, don’t bother. What a brand want for that ‘free’ tube of hand cream is hours of your time and energy. Last time I checked, no one went to work in Maccies for 3 hours and expected to be paid with a bit of moisturiser so neither should you.

Bloggers and freebies – What is a blogger exactly?

If we’re getting really basic, a blogger is someone who writes about their life, usually in an interesting or funny way. They have subscribers or followers, just like a magazine or newspaper.

Let’s look at what a blogger actually does. I’ve marked with a (P) next to the jobs that are full time respected professions in their own right.

  • They’re a writer. Obv. (P)
  • An editor. (P)
  • They’re a photographer and a photo editor. (P) (this also means investing in expensive cameras etc too btw)
  • A model (P)
  • A social media manager (P)
  • An SEO expert (P)
  • A website designer (P)
  • A researcher (P)
  • An entertainer (P)
  • A marketer (P)
  • A PR rep/agent/publicist (P)

Oh, well would you look at that. They all have a (P) next to them. They’re all fully fledged careers in their own right and as a blogger you have to know how to do all of them – usually with no training. You have to learn on the job.

There’s also the role of ‘social media influencer’. Some bloggers are a bit snobbish about that term and think they’re above it all (and IMO they need to get over themselves), but it is what it is, if you influence people on social media, you’re a social media influencer. That’s it. I tend to define them as the people who are doing the same thing but not running their own website blog, e.g. people who just have a Youtube channel (add Presenter (P), Videographer (P) and Sound and Light Technician (P) to the above list instead of the website stuff) or who just have a pretty Instagram feed. Either way, it’s a lot more involved than just messing around on twitter.

And that’s the issue really isn’t it? Because everyone has a social media account, they all think they could do it and because they think they can do it, they don’t respect it. They think the world of bloggers and freebies is an easy ride.

Bloggers and freebies – The Dublin hotel thing

“She ‘works’ as a social media influencer? So she’s basically unemployed and sits on social media all day?” – this is an actual comment I saw regarding the whole Dublin hotel kick off.

If you missed it in the news, then basically what happened was, a girl who has 93,000 Youtube subscribers (no mean feat) and who had worked with hotel brands all over the world, contacted a hotel in Dublin asking for, what they termed as a ‘freebie’. She would include coverage for them on her social media and Youtube channel in return for a comped stay. The hotel then screen-shotted her request and proceeded to try and make a show of her all over social media in an attempt to go viral. In case you haven’t heard, it’s very trendy and hipster to make responses to bad reviews or unusual requests public at the moment so you can show the world how smug and clever you are and have everyone pat you on your tweed-clad hipster back. Except, in my opinion it’s unprofessional and elicits from me, nothing more than an eye roll and a mental note not to use that company in future.

It’s also a bit shortsighted. She wasn’t asking for a freebie. She was asking for a contra-deal, a business swap, an exchange of services; whatever you want to call it. If it was a freebie she would have been expecting to stay at the hotel for free and then do fuck all in return, THAT’S a freebie. Like I say, a freebie doesn’t exist because something is always wanted in return. What she was offering was to come in, spend hours filming, editing and then promoting that hotel out to the masses. If the hotel didn’t feel like her audience was right for them then fair enough, just decline the offer. If they did then it comes out of their advertising budget – I assume they place ads in travel magazines, on websites, on Facebook etc as most normal business do. Digital media is just a new form of advertising.

The hotel owner then went on to ask who would pay for the maids who would be changing her sheets, the waiter who served her in the restaurant and the lecky. Well according to the new Ainsley Harriet advert for smart meters, he cooked a meal for 18 people (with every kitchen gadget going) for 10p worth of energy. So let’s be really generous and say she uses a fiver of energy during her stay. The maid and the waiter are probably on minimum wage so let’s say the maid spends 4 hours tops, the waiter spends 1 and then let’s add in a chef’s half an hour, a receptionists 5 minutes etc and the whole thing comes to about £50. The price to stay on the date she asked for, according to booking.com would be £346. Who’s robbing a living now?

I’m not having a go at hotel owners, or bar owners who put 500% mark ups on bottles of grey goose or whatever, because you’re not paying for the product, you’re paying for the service and the experience and that’s fine, people understand that. So when a blogger gets a ‘freebie’ it’s not a freebie, you’re exchanging your product or service for their brand and service that they’ve spent years building. Building a huge follower base is not easy and not everyone can do it.

I’m more than happy to pay for a product or service but don’t then turn around and ask me or expect me to promote it as well – bloggers and freebies works both ways.

I’m lucky in the fact that work tends to come to me, I don’t have to go out and ‘pitch’ for it like Elle Darby did to this hotel, but I absolutely have pitched to businesses before and it’s only the same as a newspaper ringing up to sell advertising space – although arguably blogger collaborations are more beneficial for both parties. Once you get past the envy that ‘well no one’s paying me to tweet for a living’ you’ll see it’s a business like any other.

Bloggers and freebies – I could totally do that!

This brings me back to the fact that because everyone has a social media account they think they can be a social media influencer and they can ‘do it’ – well hun you didn’t and you probably can’t.

Leonardo Dicaprio gets paid millions for reading words and pretending. Could we do that? Yes. Could we do it like he does it? No.

*Googles latest Liverpool signing* Van Dijk literally gets paid to play a game. He kicks a football round and gets paid millions and is worshipped. Could we do that? Absolutely, loads of lads do it at the 5-a-side every week. Can they do it professionally? LOOOOOL in their dreams.

Bloggers and freebies – all the followers are fake anyway

“Pfft they just buy all their followers and then call themselves influencers” – another genuine comment.

Oh absolutely some people buy their followers, but if you stop talking out your arse for five minutes and educate yourself then you can spot them a mile off. Just use social blade – you can see if people’s followers are genuine straight away in graph form.

Has their following suddenly increased by 40,000 in one day but then every other day it’s 150-300? Bought hun. Have they steadily grown in large step ups and then all of a sudden gradually started to fall? They were buying followers and then they stopped and gradually instagram is deleting the bot accounts.

This is mine below. There’s a sharp spike at the beginning because that was just after I lost my original Instagram account with 250K followers and I was driving traffic from my twitter and Facebook and got some ‘shout outs’ from other insta accounts. The spike in July 2017 was from when I was one of the blogger squad at The Clothes Show and we were featured all over the press and social media and I was interviewed on ITV. The rest of the time it’s been steady, so you can safely assume that my followers aren’t bought.

scousebirdblogs social blade

Bloggers and freebies – It’s actually a career

Despite what everyone thinks about bloggers and freebies, bloggers aren’t freeloaders. I make more money from blogging than I ever did in any 9-5 job but what I make in money I absolutely lose in time. It’s not unusual for me to work from the moment I get up until the moment I go to sleep. I don’t have holidays and breaks. I didn’t even have mat leave – I was answering e-mails within an hour or two of giving birth. That’s being self-employed for you, there’s no one there to pick up the slack. I now have two full time members of staff, a part timer and I’m about to take on an apprentice. My profession is ‘so easy’, ‘something anyone can do’ and yet I’m about to contribute to someone getting a professional qualification in Digital Marketing.

I have a family, I have bills to pay, I absolutely want to be compensated for my time and energy – last time I checked, Barclays don’t take free hotel stays or meals out as part of the mortgage payments. In my opinion, bloggers should stop working for ‘freebies’ altogether and insist on a living wage but that’s by the by. Many of the people slagging off bloggers for ‘wanting freebies’ are the first to support Corbyn and his stance on rights for workers. Bloggers are very hard working – those who haven’t been able to make the leap to working full time on it yet are very often holding down another full time job at the same time.

So yes, blogging is nice work if you can get it (most people doing it have a passion for writing or photography and doing your passion for a living is the dream) BUT IT IS WORK and I’ll offer anyone outside who thinks otherwise. Come and work for me for a day and see what goes on behind the scenes if you still wanna slag off bloggers and freebies.

So Paul at the Dublin hotel, shove your hipster PR stunt up your arse, the blogging world won’t mourn for the loss hun and if anyone is looking for an amazing hotel in Dublin then I can wholeheartedly (and for free) recommend The Dean Hotel. It’s actually my most favourite hotel that I’ve ever stayed in – worldwide. It’s just that amazing.

ireland blogger and freebies

ireland

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great post, and one I’m sure lots of bloggers can refer to for all those people who get jealous and say they’d love to have our freebies (oh, yes that’ll be my husband who believes I don’t really do anything, when actually my blog/photography/social media takes around the same time a week as my full time job).

  2. It’s not necessarily the freebie itself that’s got most people’s backs up though. Firstly, she clearly had done no research. She has approached a hotel with a much larger following than herself who are notorious for publicity stunts like this, and not only requested a night or two, but a five night stay at peak valentines season for both her and her boyfriend. And the implication the favourable reviews would be due to the freebie rather than the service received. It wouldn’t have been half as bad if she’d suggested a much shorter amount of time and had the boyfriend pay for himself.

    This wasn’t a business proposal with a nice side effect of getting a free stay, this was a request for a free holiday with a poor exchange in return! I think it’s the clear one sidedness of the “proposal” that has annoyed people. Especially when she seemed to imply she had increased Universals business in Florida!! She’s got a large following but look her audience does not match the hotels clientel.

    And then I don’t think it would have ever blown up the way it did if she hadn’t made things a million times worse with her response videos. She should have acknowledged it was a poor pitch and made light of it or something, anything but play the victim. She is supposed to be a social media influencer but she clearly hasn’t understood her trade properly or she wouldn’t be in this shit storm!

    She shouldn’t be getting death threats and all that but if she wants to play with the big kids she needs to up her game!