Giving me FREE stuff? This is NOT a Review!

It has been a while since I wrote a rant about blogging. Judging from a few emails and comments I have received, this is overdue. 

In a day I email back and forth with many people. Readers, bloggers, PR reps, brands and business owners. Many of them are very familiar with social media, advertising and the power of word of mouth. Since they are emailing and online you would think they are familiar with the concept of a review and giveaway blog as well.  Yet, I still get the odd one who is way out to lunch. So out to lunch they have me rereading every correspondence between to make sure I did not miss something. 

Let me begin by saying my blog turned three years old this week. Woot woot! So I have seen my share of pitching, sent my fair share and participated in many campaigns. I would not say I am an expert, however I do make a living and some may argue that I know what I am doing.  So when a company is new to social media or new to blogging, I try to be patient. I try to help guide them and show them the right way of doing things. I set an example for all bloggers and teach them to value us. Teach them that a review, is not giving product away. It is not a freebie and we are to be valued.  Like all partnerships in life it must be mutually beneficial for all to succeed. So if they are coming into it thinking they are doing me a favour, then we have already failed. Social media is a form of modern media. It is fast, it is accessible. It is permanent. If I post a review it is always going to be searchable online. 

What is a review?

I get asked what a review is often. What it includes and how I proceed to do one. So here it is

A company sends out a product they are looking for some promotion on. A new product usually, that they would like to generate buzz on. I test it out and write up a post. The post includes pictures taken by me (usually) Stock photos if needed, product specs and my opinion. I am not interested in bashing companies so I do not post negative reviews. However I will include quirks, small trial and errors and my opinion on who the product is good for. 

What is an advertorial?

An advertorial is spec only, stock photos. An informative post usually paid for as an advertisement. No opinion just info. This includes sharing your latest promo, coupon code and press release. 

Both of these take time to do. They both go through my social media channels and are permanently on my blog. So these are not free. Compensation is required in some form. Even if this is product. So when a brand or small business owner says they are giving me a “Freebie”or providing me with a “giveaway” when referring to review product, I can not help but be slightly offended. These words show me they do not value me. They do not value bloggers and raise red flags. These words often result in me replying with a clear email, clarifying what they should expect and thanking them for their time. But not proceeding further. I have learned the hard way and know to trust my gut when it comes to situations like this.

I think being paid for reviews is a great way for all to be appreciated and valued. I do not know any brand, rep or small business owner who goes to work for free or product. But like anything in life, there is always an exception to the rule. 

Sending a blogger product without notice or approval does not require you a review. You assume we will have time to write about it. You assume we will accept your “freebie” For me, you are providing our local charity with a donation if you send me items without prior consent.  Don’t get me wrong. 99% of the people I work with, partner with on a daily basis are amazing. They have been more than generous and very appreciative. I appreciate them and what they have done for me. These companies appreciate our relationship and value me as a blogger. Sadly the small few stick out and this is the reason for the post. 

I was recently sent a great video that many bloggers and people in social media will love. We can all relate to this when it comes to working. Check it out

Video link if it does not show

And bloggers who want to accept being treated poorly, read this old post 

Lets make 2014 the year of value. The year of communication and the year of appreciation! 

I want companies to walk away from their experience with me, happy and feeling like we have achieved our goal. I want them to want to continue working with other bloggers. I hope when a blogger works with a brand, company , business it opens doors for others and leads to endless possibilities. 

So in conclusion, if you are going to approach a blogger for a campaign/partnership, review etc please treat them fairly. Appreciate and value them. Choose your approach and respect them and what they can do for you and your company. Be clear and open to ideas and suggestions. I realize some have had bad experiences with bloggers too. Hopefully you look at that as a learning experience and don’t let it be a problem for good bloggers. We are worth it! Communication is important and together big things can happen.

What do you think the best way to approach a blogger is?


  1. Fantastic post! You really capture the conflicts that exist between brands, bloggers and even readers. Unfortunately it is really challenging for some brands and bloggers to truly appreciate the worth of online advertising and the power of social media.
    My recent post Best of DIY Craft and Family Posts of 2013

  2. Great post Kim! It's so true. I'm so thankful for the many wonderful brands and companies I partner with, and have had great luck with them. This is definitely a good post for all companies (especially new ones) to take notice of and learn from 🙂

  3. I love when I am contacted by a company, and they outline EXACTLY what they are looking for, and what they are offering in return
    My recent post Hiccups – Fun For The Family (Product Review and #Giveaway)

  4. Judy C (Judy Cowan) says

    Congrats on your 3 year blog anniversary!

  5. I love that video, it really highlights how absurd it sounds when brands ask bloggers to work for low or no compensation.

  6. Thanks for this great post, Kim. As a new kids' clothing startup, we're working hard to build positive, mutually-beneficial relationships with bloggers, and this information is really helpful!

  7. Happy 3-year blog-versary!

  8. I'm not a blogger, nor a business, but even I see the benefits to the company with the product they want to "create a buzz" with–advertise! Let's say their product is worth $50. I don't know many places that anyone could advertise that inexpensively. Magazine ads run in the several thousand dollar range, TV in the tens of thousands. Even newspapers aren't cheap–several hundred dollars per ad.
    I love giveaways, and truly appreciate the time and effort that you, and other reviewers and bloggers like you, put forth.
    Happy blogiversary!!

  9. Great post Kim!! I don't think at all this is a rant, but just sharing some valuable information that this is a JOB not fun free Mommy time hanging around by the computer. Blogging takes a lot of time and if the company expects you to really do a great job sharing what they have to offer they need to pay for it.

  10. Great info Kim, thanks for getting this out there! You really hit the nail on the head in saying there is no value in the word Freebie, work, HARD work, is being done, there's nothing Free about it.
    My recent post P&G Says Thank you Mom! #PGmom #ThankYouMom

  11. Florence C says

    I read your post and watched the video. Congrats on your 3 year blog anniversary. I am not a blogger, but a reader. I appreciate all the time the bloggers put into their reviews and giveaways. Through bloggers I find out about many new products and information about them. Sometimes I am lucky enough to win something and I really appreciate it. Thanks to you and many other bloggers out there.

  12. So well put! Blogging is my life but I have kids to feed as well, and all my posts take time.

    My recent post Elle Canada Contest- Win A White Gold Diamond Ring

  13. bina edwards says

    I've noticed in the past, when bloggers all have the same giveaway from a company, they'll have the exact same photo (I only realized this cus it was the same woman in the pic in all the blogs lol) So, when they have a stock photo like that, does it mean you are asked by the company to use that? or that the item is being shipped directly from some place , like for instance, Disney (cus I know they ship their stuff directly to the winners)

    I still get a laugh out of that though, cus I it made me confused and I thought, HEY, didn't I enter this already ? but the rafflecopter wouldn't have my info !!)

    hope you are having a great 2014 and CONGRATS on another great year

    • Usually if the pics are stock and we are all , or many posting, it is a paid campaign. Usually through a third party network 🙂 Hope that helps

      Bloggers, or at least the ones I know do not ship prizes ever. We collect the info and the client (company or network) ships
      My recent post Easy Hamburger Stew Recipe

  14. I'm a fellow blogger and found this post via a mutual blogger friend, Elle of EatRunSail.
    You've done a fabulous job of outlining the difficulties many bloggers experience daily. And I love how you've taken a positive approach and seek to help brands who 'don' get it'.
    Bookmarking and sharing!
    My recent post Ultimate Booty Workouts giveaway | 5 books for 5 lucky readers

  15. MapleMouseMama says

    Awesome post Kim, I loved it! I am still kind of green when it comes to being approached for reviews etc so you have not only helped brands out there, but new bloggers as well. I find that because I started my blog for personal growth I find it hard to put a value on it, although it really is priceless. Thank you for this great perspective!

    My recent post Healthy #Chilli Recipe That’s Easy to Make!

  16. You explained it so well – and the video nailed it. In addition to reviews taking up permanent real estate on your blog (and as a consumer I do search for, read and consider reviews!) they take TIME to put together.

  17. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal says

    Yes!! Thank you! This post is amazing and I hope every blogger reads this! Some companies really need to get it through their heads that we spend a lot of TIME on our posts.
    My recent post When compliments feel like LIES… and what to do about it.

  18. Great post! This is something I've bee battling with and it's glad to hear your thoughts as I totally feel the same way. Companies need to value our time.

    Ps. Happy Blog Birthday!
    My recent post Snow Day Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies (Dairy Free)

  19. Falling on the floor laughing my butt off at the video! So so funny. Happy Happy Blog anniversary Kim! Where does the time go? I love the I'm not the taco stand line and the couple at the resaturant when they say: Okay we'll pay it this time, but what we are going to need you to do is show us how to make it so we can do it ourselves next time. SNORT! That's social media consulting. Um show us and we'll do it. I have no problem training where I have been hired to train. But do our media for a bit lady and set up the outreach and well we don't have the budget for that. So we are going to wing it. That is always a mistake. It is absolutely a lasting post on the Internet forever! That's worth money.
    My recent post My 2014 Word of the Year Is…

  20. Well said.
    My recent post Special Day 1 Mileage Report

  21. Ninja Mommers says

    Way to go lady! I totally agree. Bloggers are underrated and misunderstood. We use our time and social media accounts to help promote products we believe in and in no way shape or form should we accept any less than what we would charge an employer for that.
    My recent post Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review

  22. Lynda Cook says

    Congrats on your 3 years!! I am not a blogger but signed up to many, I also have done a few product reviews and they are fun to do

  23. MultiTestingMom says

    OMG that video – hilarious and so true, right?!
    My recent post I Want a Healthier Lifestyle!

  24. Nice post Kim! It is not a gift or freebie it is a job! Congrats BTW in your 3 yr blogiversary!

  25. Happy Birthday Kim, I'm going to be sharing your post this week on my blog as I'm discussing something similar. You hit the nail on the head when it comes to brands, businesses and bloggers and how we should be communicating . As always you have written a great post. I know I appreciate all the feedback, ups and downs and respect you've shown me as a fellow blogger and friend 🙂
    My recent post Men’s Ice Hockey Olympic Team revealed – #sochi2014 #teamcanada #vancouvercanucks

  26. Nicely said Kim. There are a couple people I'd like to send this post to. 😉 (As you said, most people are very good, but there are just a couple who make you shake your head.)

    In my previous job I used to pay for advertising in local newspapers and it was sooo expensive. When I see the value you get from bloggers for the price, I don't know why more people don't advertise via blogs!

    My recent post Blogger Style: Heather

  27. Matthew Tully says

    Very we’ll said!

  28. Well said Kim! And congratulations on your blog turning 3. You have come so far in such a short time!
    My recent post Happy New Year: Making Changes


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