Why No Blogger Has Ever Received Anything “For Free”

Hey guys, 

Today I want to address a common misconception about the blogging industry and one that has made me quietly seethe since I started my blogging journey four years ago. 

I have lost count of the amount of times friends, colleagues & associates have said something to me along the lines of “Can’t be bad, being a blogger and getting all this free stuff! Maybe I should start a blog.”

And indeed, every time there’s a backlash about our industry (take the unfortunate incident between Elle Woods and a certain Dublin hotel last year) the Daily Fail comments are full of people ranting and raving about how we’re a spoiled bunch of talentless, entitled snowflakes.

Why even recently, we were publically shamed as being “detestable freeloaders” by the voice of a generation who simply don’t understand the value in what we do.

But here’s the thing – brands wouldn’t pay millions of pounds every year in influencer marketing if that sh*t didn’t work.

And whilst it may look like we’re all living the high life going on press trips abroad, being gifted clothes or doing big collaborations, I want to talk about how absolutely nothing that any blogger has ever done has been “for free”.

Let’s start at the beginning

The entire notion of something being free means that you can take the offer of free cheese samples at the Christmas markets and eat it. If it’s too sweet, too spicy, too cheesy for you then rejoice, as you are free to turn your back do absolutely nothing more.

But if you could only get the cheese sample if you were to spend hours of your time trying the cheese (1-2 hourss), taking photos and videos of the cheese (1-2 hours), then going home to spend yet more time editing those photos and videos (1-2 hours).

Not only that, but you then need to write a 500-1000 word article on the cheese (1-3 hours), with research and links to the cheesemaker’s business AND then post all of the content you’ve created on all of your social media platforms (1-2 hours). Every last one of them.

Would that still be classed as free? Damn f*cking straight it wouldn’t, because there has been a significant exchange of work involved. Anything from 4 – 10 hours worth of our time, in fact, for a review we’re not being paid any actual money to write.

And this is why nothing, no clothes, no samples, no makeup, no experience given to bloggers is EVER just us “being given stuff for free.”

Something being FREE also requires there to be absolutely no work involved by you. That you take the product, the day or the experience and that’s that, you never have to think about it again.

It takes YEARS of quality content to build up any kind of following on social media. And some brands and people think that your time AND being put in front of that audience is worth as little as the cost price of their product. Which in the cheesemakers case, is pennies.

But going to events and on fancy trips isn’t actually work, right?

Yes, it is. Sure, blogging is incredibly fun. But is it possible to have a job that is hard work but also a lot of fun.

As with any job, there’s a real, significant amount of pressure that comes with blogging. One that I’ve been hesitant to speak about for fear of the inevitable #firstworldproblem type comments that will ensue.

But even during the grandest of experiences, you can never fully relax until the job is done.

When I went on a press trip to Switzerland last year, it was one of the best experiences of my life to date. Was it fun?

Of course it was. But it wasn’t a holiday. I had to go there and produce amazing content to justify the investment in sending me there. The only time I was “off the clock” to drink wine and eat cheese was at the end of the day when all activities had been done – just like any other job.

And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that pressure. It’s the same when you go to events. If you go to an event and DON’T get good photos or coverage, then as far as your followers are concerned, you may as well not have gone.

There a pressure to be “perfect” all of the time because blogging is such a competitive industry but really, we are all human and we all have down days (see my recent post “Here’s the number one thing you need to be a successful blogger or influencer”)

There are case studies of influencer success on every major brand’s billboards

Photo Credit: L’Oreal Paris

It’s time to accept that we will never be able to explain our industry to people who have been told that have to do a certain job, pick a certain career and then work their arses off doing long hours for the majority of their lives.

We will never be able to convince them that producing quality blogs, YouTube videos and other content is anything other than a narcissistic hobby.

If it hasn’t happened by now, it ain’t going to happen. Because there are case studies of success on every major brand’s billboard – just look at Loreal’s campaign with Lydia Millen, Victoria from InTheFrow and countless others.

Just walk into your local primark and see Alice Liveing’s fitness range.

If influencer marketing didn’t work, then why are these incredible, successful women on the covers of books and billboards and magazines at every turn?

And on a smaller scale, why are there are millions of bloggers who have started their little corners of the internet and with them, opened up a world of opportunities, friends and experiences for themselves.

Success is all relative to the person, and for smaller bloggers like me, even getting to work on collaborations with brands like Boohoo, Luxury Retreats and Simply Be has been a “pinch me” moment.

I count myself incredibly lucky to be in this industry and to hold some influence, no matter how small, on no matter how little a number of people.

And whereas on the one hand, I can understand the resentment towards blogging by older generations – when they see 20-somethings living their best lives, earning very good money, not constricted by the same societal norms and pressure that they’ve had hammered into them since a young age.

But on the other, the world is changing. I hope to god that when blogging’s exciting, new equivalent comes around for young people when I’m their age, I’ll encourage and embrace it rather than vilifying a whole generation for grasping the incredible opportunity that’s been given to them.

And I’ll certainly not be one of the people telling them to go and get “a real job”. 

We’ve already got one, part-time or full, and honestly, it’s the best one in the world, thanks.

As always, thanks for reading my loves.

 Hannah x

Outfit deets:

Snake print blouse: I Saw It First (L)

Snake print flares: I Saw It First (L)

Shaggy cardigan: Sacred Hawk (S/M) – old, similar here

Black flared heel sock boots: Missguided

Shani faux fur chain bag: Topshop

Wide brim fedora: ASOS men – old, similar here

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