Friday, 21 March 2014

Blogger or Blagger?

A note from Joelle... 
The word 'Blogger' is becoming an increasingly dirty word and it is really frustrating! Many people now think it is synonymous with blagging for freebies and showing off expensive gifts on social media. But is it fair to tar all bloggers with the same brush?
An article from the Independent popped up on my twitter news feed last night and it really got me thinking. In summary, a food blogger emailed a high-end restaurant asking for a free meal in return for a positive review on his blog. The bribery attempts didn't go down so well with the owners, (rightly so!) and the blogger was outed on twitter in front of the world.
This doesn't just happen with food bloggers though, it can also be fashion, beauty or any type where reviews and 'freebies' come into play. 
It got me thinking whether most non-bloggers think bloggers are just doing it for the freebies? And are bloggers getting a bit "up their own arse", demanding  things from established businesses?

Even I, myself was asked at a VIP magazine event: 'I bet you love getting so many freebies' by a makeup artist when I told her I blogged and that was why I was here. She didn't even ask which genre of blogging is was in and just assumed I was up to my neck in free gifts! This made me really uncomfortable and kind of embarrassed because, yes, I often get gifted things, but it's to review and not just to have because I'm a super important person! I'm not.

Lots of bloggers do receive free things but it's mainly to review and not just a spontaneous gift from brands (this is a new industry after all, where nothing is really 'free'). As long as they make it clear that things are gifted, there shouldn't be a problem, right? WRONG! There's a lot more to it in my opinion and this is where things start getting shady. 
The thing is... some bloggers will write a lukewarm reviews of the garment/product just to please the client and PRs, otherwise risking their relationship. 
Other bloggers even write a review straight away without even testing it out (beauty/skincare stuff) over a number of days. Some even refrain from using the product at all so that they can sell it - this really does happen! No wonder lots of brands are a bit weary of working with bloggers just incase they get ripped off!
In my opinion, if I read a blog's reviews and all the gifted items are beaming reviews, alarm bells would be ringing. Your readers are not stupid - they will know if you are buttering up a product!

So if you're not a blogger and are wondering what bloggers do with goodie bags, I'll tell you (although I can only speak for myself!).
If I am at an event, a goody bag filled with a mixture of sample and full-size products is often given to guests for free as a 'thank you' attending.  The products are mainly from the brands that sponsored the event or up-and-coming brands that are looking for a bit of exposure.
I like to research a few bits and bobs that I have been gifted and maybe review them after using them for two weeks. It can give great exposure and awareness of new products, especially if you tweet and tag the brands that you liked.
It's actually illegal to sell some of this stuff on, FYI. That is mainly because some products haven't been officially launched yet or it's just not meant to be sold individually. But most bloggers are good and stick to that rule.

 Most bloggers are kind and honest and just because most of us didn't go to journalism school, it doesn't mean are opinions are not valid.
On the other hand, of course there will always be some people who set up blogs just to 'grab a slice of the action' and hopefully blag some free items, but those blogs usually fizzle out within months. Plus, it's easy to tell and avoid those blogs anyway.
It's so easy as a blogger to get a bit greedy and be sucked into expecting free stuff as a form of payment for things. But there needs to be a fine line between blogging honestly and being a blagger! 
Some bloggers see it as a nice perk to sometimes get free stuff gifted or to review, but I see it as a high privilege that can (and should) be taken away from me if I start abusing it.
Brands turn to bloggers because they want honest opinions of their products and if you just write glowing reviews, you're wasting everyone's time! Brands NEED to know if something needs tweaking/isn't working out and that's why our opinions are important.
Also, readers need to know what's worth buying and what's not. Hey, times are hard and people want good things in return for their £££s!
I hope that article wakes up a few bloggers and they realise that bribery and even blackmail in order to get free stuff will never work out well for them in the end and could even ruin your blog's reputation! 
I also hope that non-bloggers don't just think bloggers are out to grab as many freebies as possible! Blogging is bloody hard and often a struggle to keep up with and we can all slip up from time-to-time. 
As long as we realise what is right and wrong, we should all just live (and blog) in peace!

I'd love to know your thoughts! Leave a comment below and I'll get back to you! 
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