Bloggers Don’t Just Get Stuff For Free!

    This past week, I read a colleague’s Facebook thread where someone commented that bloggers are really lucky and that they just get stuff for free.  They went on to say that all of the reviews that we write are doctored up just to get free items and that they are not honest and authentic.  Short of having my head blow up and confetti come out of it when I read this, it’s safe to say that it really struck a nerve.

    Let me begin by saying that yes, bloggers are in a unique situation where brands seek them out to try out their products.  However, this arrangement is not without its strings attached.  If only we could be so lucky that companies just jump at the chance to throw rose petals at our feet… There is a reason why they want us to review their products, because we have an audience.  So, when brands send products for review, the hope is that bloggers will share their experiences around the products with their readers.  You see, there is an exchange of services.

    As far as the authenticity of reviews is concerned, I’m going to speak for this blog as I can only represent myself.  Any reviews that I conduct are for products that I or my family use personally.  I get offers to review products every single day but I turn down more than I actually accept.  You see, to review products that we have not genuinely used would be fraudulent and, those of you who are regular followers know that I hate liars.

    I’m sure there are a few rotten apples in the blogosphere who do not abide by these ethics because there are undesirables in every profession.  The vast majority of bloggers, however, are decent people who have families and are invested in the relationships and connections that they have made with their readers.  At the end of the day, being true and loyal to all of you is more important than any opportunity that may arise to collaborate with a brand.  The integrity of this blog is my number one priority.

    To those people, like the person on Facebook who erroneously judged bloggers and what they do, I say educate yourselves.  Broadcasting false information on the Internet is a common practice and can be damaging to others.  When you stay up all night reviewing products and writing posts to meet deadlines, then you can talk to me about what bloggers do.  Until then,  ignorance is bliss.

Let’s Discuss:  What is your impression of what it means to be a blogger?

© 2013, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. Annie Wong says

    Hear hear! I would say for myself that I would give my honest opinion on reviews as well cuz what is the point of reviewing if you didn’t test out the product?! Also, blogging isn’t as easy at it looks either *shakes head* Great entry!

  2. I am a blogger and I come in contact with lots of people that think we just get stuff for free. It’s really difficult, time after time, to educate them about what we all do. Sure, there is no money exchanged for the service or product, but we pay with our time…which is oh so precious. We pay with our expertise in products and our creativity. We pay with advertising the service or product on OUR site.
    Some will just never “get it”, and sadly enough, a lot of those people are in my own family!!! 🙁

  3. Karen Hewitt says

    I wonder how many of these individuals would be willing to put as many hours as bloggers put in and then have someone say that they shouldnt get paid. To me this is exactly what people who think we shouldnt get ‘free’ stuff are saying. We put hours into reviews, not to forget all our marketing we have to do to stay relevant as well as all the research we put into our blogs. We do this from passion not for ‘free’ items and its a shame others dont see this

  4. Daisy Tremorev says

    It takes a long time to try things out and thoughtfully write about the experience. I love to read reviews that are detailed and have lots of photos and opinions.

  5. Truly one must walk in the shoes of another before offering an opinion and NPR stated something like this on their page too and I was really disappointed in their assessments. Perhaps sensing that people lie just to get stuff is a reflection of their inner self instead of the blogs they are viewing. What they fail to realize is most of us consider our word and reputation sacred.

  6. MalikaBourne says

    Many people do not understand business. blogging is a business that hopes to make an income. People wrongly assume that grocery bags are FREE. They aren’t the store has t buy them. Napkins and sugar packets are not FREE either the restaurant must buy them.
    I hope this post clears ups the misunderstanding many people have.

  7. Amen!
    My thoughts? Well, let’s see: first you’ll have to purchase a domain and registrar (you’ll have to decide if you want a shared plan, VPS, or dedicated server), create a blog, select a template, and hire a web designer, which can run anywhere between $450 – $2,000+ (or design it yourself if you’re savvy with web designing). Now, you have a blog!
    What’s next? In my case, getting contacted my reps after blogging for over a year (started in 2004), and then I started getting confident enough to reach out to them myself. I show them a sampling of my work for them to decide if they like my writing style. These conversations can sometimes go back and forth between 6-8 times before the product is sent. Depending on what type of product it is, I usually don’t open it or use it until I have taken pictures. Sounds easy? Oh, no. I have to decide on the background, the angles, and the lighting. This can take several tries before I feel like I have the perfect picture(s). After that, I have to go to Picmonkey to edit my pictures, resize them, and add a watermark. Then, I’m ABLE to upload the pictures and can start composing the post. This can take several hours because of many interruptions and/or mental blocks. Once everything is said and done, I have to share it via Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. So no, I’m not getting a product for free! Essentially, I view the product as compensation for my time and efforts in getting a company’s name out there. Sometimes, I much rather BUY the item than to take a huge chunk out of my time to review it. 🙂

  8. anitabreeze says

    Ha, I would love to see people who say things like that tackle a blog themselves. I can’t even begin to tally up the hours I spend working for free basically! But we do it because there is something about it that we love. It’s like all those musicians, writers and artists who never make a dime, but continue to make music, write and paint because they are driven to do it.

  9. I had other people in FB posting things like that too. It’s not really the case.. it always a two-way thing. Sometimes it’s irritating to read something like that especially when you are a blogger yourself.

  10. Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell says

    Oh my gosh, if we wrote about everything that people asked us to write about can you even imagine? I think most of us only choose things that we have an interest in trying in the first place. I couldn’t live with myself if I said something was great when it wasn’t either. I’d like to think we all feel that way!

  11. Certainly not free when there is extensive work involved. People will always say things no matter what the profession. The best we can hope for is to continue to educate and dispel the myths, which you’ve done very well in your post 🙂

  12. Elma Placeres Dieppa says

    Well said, ignorance is bliss! And bloggers have gotten to this larger than life status where you see the glam, but not the late hours or the hustle. Great post Maria, and I agree, I have passed on opportunities because they don’t ring true to me. Kudos to you for telling it like it is! XOXO

  13. I agree with you totally–it is the main reason I do so few product reviews-I will only review something I have actually used or am trying out right then and there! I do read a lot which is why you generally see book reviews–If you don’t see a personal review at the top then it is a book spotlight-I will not tell you how many books I have turned down!!

  14. ashabutterflys says

    I total agree with you. Blogging takes up a lot of time and they do not know how many countless night I stay up late working on posts after I put my child to bed. Some nights I just want to go to bed and sleep but I know I have work to do.

  15. Totally agree! Some of my friends still don’t understand, although one of my friends, inspired by me, has started her own blog! It’s great to have one friend who truly understands the blogging passion and that the “free” stuff is a genuine bonus because we work hard (and it’s never truly free; i lovingly spend hours testing products, drafting the review, then taking photographs).

  16. There are some bloggers who write crappy review and never really test the products out before writing about it and they give those of us who do a bad name. I like to think the majority of us have more integrity than that.

  17. mail4rosey says

    Pretty sure this is a soft spot for bloggers. I have sent products back that I couldn’t review positively. And you’re right, there could be a few bad apples, but in this case they don’t spoil the bunch. I think there are far more (bloggers) who do embrace integrity. As for free…the people saying that should see what we are going to have to go through at tax time, oy!

    LOL at the confetti line. That totally made me laugh. 🙂

  18. Dov Shapira says

    I agree 100%
    Blogging make the website come alive.

  19. Jai @ Mami's Time Out says

    Also there are FTC regulations surrounding reviews and sponsored posts. I think most people don’t understand it is a business and “getting stuff for free” is part of it. I’m sure you understand we both have two kids and work full time outside of the home and also blog. It’s a lot of work. I have to forgo other plans for blogging and twitter parties and whatever else. Just like any other business it takes drive and commitment to make it work.

  20. I agree 100% on this whole post. While Blogging is a hobby for some, there are Bloggers out there that do this as a business! Well said!–Ashley Gill

  21. Pretty ignorant indeed.

    I have made a grand total of 1 review in my blog, for a product I knew to be excellent. However I do sponsored recipes, and they take as much time, if not more, than non-sponsored recipes. I only work with products I love and use, which means turning down a lot of them, especially the bad ones who actually pay more.

    It’s not free: growing my audience, and having them trust me, has taken me 12 years of very hard work. Unfortunately this is a new business model and people have no idea what we do. Do you ever get the “but you are social media all day, how hard can that be”?

  22. Well put. The false statements from “experts” and “concerned people” that grow legs on FB, Twitter, etc. make me crazy.

  23. I agree. I think that it is much more difficult to do a “real” review than people think. Sure you could just say it is a wonderful thing but without trying it out and really putting the product through its paces you end up just hurting yourself in the long run. Eventually your readers will not believe what you say, and leave you. I know for me, it has been difficult to get products to review and giveaway, I guess I’m not as “interesting” as I thought I would be (or have a really bad pitch letter) so much of my reviews and giveaways are self sponsored. I get to tell you about things I love or like or even if they “miss the mark” in my opinion (although these are few and far between) without feeling like I have to “doctor” a review to get more.

    Would I love to have more products to review “thrown at my feet” – of course but for now I am happy being me.

  24. I have learned a lot from my fellow bloggers. Blogging to me allows people to blog about specific niches they enjoy and can help others with.

  25. I was at an event on Saturday and we talked about this same thing! It is true that some bloggers get lots of stuff but there is a lot of work that goes into it!

  26. I’ve heard people say things before – and I know over here at least there has been a trend of people setting up blogs just to get what they for free without doing much in return. Thankfully most don’t last long as they soon realise the time and effort you need to put in but it does seem to reflect on others and many think that’s how we all are. I know personally as well I like to blog the good and bad of a product I’ve been lucky enough that haven’t come across one I have completely hated – though a few skin care ones have brought me out horribly but luckily the companies involved have been happy for me to blog the truth as long as I of course stated that it was my skins reaction to the product and as with all skin care brands its bound to be different for everyone x

  27. I always wondered if some of these items were actually “free”. But after being around the internet marketing arena for a few years. Getting products from vendors is definitely not an easy task.

  28. Isabel Garcia says

    Blogging takes time and passion. Bloggers have a responsibility with the readers to share relevant content that will bring value to them.

  29. Jennifer Williams says

    Most of the bloggers I know will only publish an honest review and luckily the companies I have worked with require an honest review – the good or the bad does not matter, just honest. I am getting ready to type of a review for a product that did not work, this is not the first review I have done to say the product did not work for me, probably will not be the last either. There is also so much time involved in a review, most days, the time/work involved and up costing more than the product was worth in the first place. To say a product is free is obviously from someone that does not blog, just remember that as you read those types of comments and try not to let them get to you.

  30. Amberlee Cave says

    Thank you for sharing this! I hate being told that I am just a freebie hound! I mean sure, I do get stuff for “free” and I do love it, but we work for what we get as well!

  31. I am glad that you shared this. There are so many who have a huge misconception of who we are and what we do.

  32. Cathy Canton says

    This is a great post. I am a blogger and I have not done a sponsored review of products, but I do know there is a great deal of time and effort that goes into developing the relationships with brands to be given products to review. I also know that each post I write takes a great deal of time to write, rewrite edit, and take and attach pictures if that is required. In addition the “free stuff” aka product is considered income and must be claimed. So based on this bloggers in many cases make under minimum wage and are paid in product, not cash. Free is winning a contest and we all like that blogger or not, but lets not confuse that with the legitimate work bloggers do.

  33. Onica {MommyFactor} says

    Why can’t people understand that most bloggers actually do the work of really reviewing in exchange for review items. Reviews are hard work. LOL

  34. Linda Kinsman says

    I smiled all the way through your well written post Maria. To me, it is all about Integrity, not only in my blog posts and reviews, but in life. Thanks for shining your light and truth on the subject.

  35. Thank you for sharing, Maria! This is so true. I turn down a lot of items and have to contact companies when I don’t like their product, which is not fun at all. Reviews are a lot of work so I don’t consider anything I got as “free.”

  36. JadeLouise Designs says

    Oh that would totally strike a nerve with me too! I also only accept products to review that I would actually use and find helpful to my home. But in addition to that, it really bugs me when they say we get these things for FREE! That is just not true! We “trade” for our time. I usually spend about 2-8 hours on a product review post between writing out the review, editing, taking photos, editing photos and then promoting across my social sites. So it is a trade in services. It is definitely not for free. Then add to that, that bloggers must declare all products they get on their taxes. That’s right, it’s considered an “income” and must be claimed and pay taxes on. So I highly disagree with the term we get things for “free”.

  37. I think for the most part, true followers of blogs know who and who is not legitimate. Whom ever made this statement may have had a bad experience, who knows. There is usually a reason why a person feels the need to attack others and typically it is their problem not the person or persons they are attacking. 🙂

  38. There would always be people who think that way unfortunately. I would never accept a product that I cannot personally use, and trust me I use EVERYTHING we review. I’ve had to turn down quite a few as well because I couldn’t honestly review a product. I’ve seen bloggers review products still in packages and I wonder how they’re able to review it that way. I surely couldn’t. The amount of time we spend using/writing reivews/taking photos etc sure doesn’t make the product free!

  39. We don’t really do many reviews. We don’t seek them out. I think it takes an incredible of amount of time to do them and those who do them deserve what they receive. Most of the reviews I read are very professional and I think brands are getting a whole lot of bang for their buck.

  40. I think some of those comments come from those that are jealous. They just don’t understand how much work is involved.

  41. Katherine Bartlett says

    Bloggers work hard. My blog is a full time business and my family’s sole income so I know that bloggers out there work really hard.

  42. Lean Lacaba says

    Bloggers are people who strive to be different in a world that has so many things in common. I believe that the facebook commenter misjudged too much.

  43. I agree. I still think we should get paid on top of reviewing a product, but I don’t think any should give a dishonest review.

  44. They sure don’t realize blogging is a full time and it is hard work and time. We need to be realistic and would not like others to give us an opinion and then it is not true. We are loyal and give what is expected. We like some but we surely do no like all. Refusing means we know what we represent and will do it to be respected for what we write.

  45. I hate that bloggers are being labeled as just doing it to get free stuff. Ye the free is nice but this is not free. Reviewing hundreds of products and taking the time to review them is time consuming and a lot of work. I do not work for free.

  46. OH it soooo drives me crazy when people post that kind of stuff!! I am the same as you, I will not review a product that I wouldn’t personally use otherwise.

  47. Courtney Pies says

    It really upsets me when non-bloggers don’t understand what a blogger does. It’s a lot of work to “just get free stuff.”

  48. Melanie Roberts says

    It is a lot of hard work being a blogger.. it’s NOT just Ahhh get something free toss a review up and be happy..there is a lot more to that.. I’m like you I always give 110% and always always review products that I want or my family wants and I’m always honest about it as well.. if the product doesn’t fit my family, I will not take it, no matter if it’s a $500 item.. I couldn’t be honest about my experience… Sooo there is soo much more behind the scene that people DON”t See!!

  49. Thanks for putting this out there 🙂

  50. I agree with your post and the people that say those things just have no clue how it really works and shouldn’t comment on things they aren’t educated on.

  51. It drives me crazy when people say this. Review items are not “free'”. I work hard on my photos, photo editing, blog posts, and social media shares. They are far from “free”.

  52. This reminds me of an old motto I heard for Harley Davidson. It said “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”. That’s it…enough said.

    Wendy T

  53. I completely agree and a lot of people do not realize that a blogger does not alway get a compensation at all.

  54. cassandra m says

    I agree that people do not even realize what they say most of the time, as far as blogging some bloggers do not get any form of compensation and a lot post for charities.

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