Friday, 19 September 2014

The Fair Pay For Bloggers Campaign | Reactions of Brands and Bloggers

The Fair Pay For Bloggers Campaign - Brand and Blogger Reactions #fairpayforbloggers
I've been promising to write this post for a while - since I last wrote about the Fair Pay For Bloggers campaign in fact (that being my conclusions to the original post where I asked the question Should Brands Pay Bloggers For Product Reviews?). The debate has been raging on Twitter for a while (many tweets have been tagged with the #fairpayforbloggers hashtag), and I'm really pleased how it's got so many people thinking as well as talking. Not all reactions have been that positive, however, which just proves that the topic needed to get out into the open.


Reactions of bloggers

I thought you'd like to read what opinions bloggers have had about the subject - do note that some of these posts were written before I wrote my original post in July and I've found out about them since. However, with the exception of Bangs and a Bun's post, I discovered them all via bit of research since starting the campaign. I thoroughly recommend you take the time to read each and every one (Pin now, read later?):

Bangs of Bangs and a BunOn Fair Pay for Bloggers

"Brands, agencies – please can you recognise that we bloggers work really frikkin’ hard. Blogging (and subsequently bloggers as influencers) has come entirely too far as a medium for you to still believe we don’t warrant being reasonably compensated for our time. We’re not stupid"

John of Dad Blog UK | #fairpayforbloggers: It's About Time

"We are an influential bunch. If companies want us to promote their products to our readers, well, it must become standard practice to make it worth our while. The opinions we provide are trusted, down to earth, from the heart and take hours of effort to write and promote."

Lily of Joli House | Bloggers and Brands | Are They Serious?

"It’s kind of insulting when brands expect something for nothing. No compensation, no product to review. Just a few images to include on your blog maybe. What’s most offensive about this is that they may be under the impression that we’re lacking in ideas for content and will therefore be happy to write a free ‘advert’ for their wares"

Amber of Forever Amber | On Brands and Blogging

"Treat me with the same respect you would any other businessperson - or any other PERSON, period. My blog may not be the most influential fashion blog on the internet, but the fact that you’re asking to be featured on it tells me that you obviously feel you’ll get SOMETHING out of it. All I ask is that I get something out of it too (something that makes it worth my while, I mean.)"

Alex of Do It Anyway | Making Money From Blogging #fairpayforbloggers

"...I think this relates directly to the point Catherine made about reward for endeavour. The issue of course is whether recompense for writing a review equates to a review being “bought”, and all the negative connotations that go with that"

Charlotte of What Lottie Loves | Dear PR Company, Please Don't Take the Pi$$

"Bloggers have power and PRs and brands know this but yet it appears that some of them still wish to use our skills for free. Quite frankly I consider this an insult and slightly taking the pi$$. If you approach a blogger to work with them via their blog for a review then obviously payment comes in the form of sending them that product. As a blogger you need to place a value on your time"

Kate of WitWitWoo | Should Bloggers Work for Free?

"PRs should take time to build a relationship with bloggers, and compensate them accordingly for their time. I’m not greedy, I don’t make demands, and I’m always always polite… but I also have two mouths to feed and am a great believer in respect"

Tanya of Mummy Barrow | Ranty Friday - Approaches

"More and more I am getting sad and grumpy that agencies think they can approach bloggers and get an advert for their client on “successful blogs” (their words, not mine) basically for free. Press releases sent with “could you publish this”. Well why? Or, and here’s the killer. “We will write unique content for you and are happy to pay you $20 to host it”"

Thanks to all those bloggers who wrote their posts in direct response to mine... I'm very flattered - and thank you for the mentions.


Reactions of brands

I thought that it would make sense to actually give a positive spin on all this ranting and grumbling that we bloggers are doing (I like to call it "debate"...!) - it only makes sense that since writing my Product Gifting Policy I have had time to put it to the test and find out exactly what the reaction has been from brands and PRs with regards to my new method of working.

[I will also refer to brands and PRs as just "brands" from now on, but I mean both.]


To summarise my policy, the brands have two choices when gifting me something:


1. Gift me something and pay no fee. I choose whether or not to feature it (and in my own time).

2. Gift me something and pay a fee. I guarantee a post within an agreed time frame, include quality photos, an honest review, links of their choice and social media coverage.

I've been explaining this to brands and sending a link to my policy for nearly two months in reply to various offers I've received, which has been (on average) several times a week. So what's the reaction been? Have I put off brands from working with me? Have they thought my "demands" of being paid as well as receiving a free gift were unreasonable?


In a word, no.


This may be a surprise to some - especially those who claim that bloggers are not worthy of payment - but the majority of brands (who have had the decency to reply to my email explaining how I work) have been very accepting of my terms, in fact some have gone so far as to congratulate me for having a very clear policy in place. It seems brands appreciate knowing how you work from the outset, and that's only fair if you're going to charge for your work.


I would estimate that of the offers I have received where I have replied and offered the two choices (paid review post or take pot luck), these are the (very rough) results:



  • 25% have never got back to me. They couldn't have been that serious about working with me anyway, so never mind.
  • 25% have offered to send me the item without paying a fee.
  • 50% - in other words HALF - have been happy to accept my terms and pay a fee to guarantee themselves a post with their choice of links and all the trimmings.

Therefore, to all those (mostly non-bloggers) who poo-pooed the idea that bloggers shouldn't charge for writing a review because we're not worthy writers like "proper" journalists - well, tell that to the brands who have been more than happy to compensate me for my time and effort I'm putting into producing great content. Sounds a little big-headed, I know [apologies], but in a way I have to have that self-belief in order to sell myself and my services and my brand. 

If you're thinking about following suit and creating a similar policy where you decide to charge brands, I do feel it is necessary to offer great writing, great photography and above all, professionalism. Which I'm positive the majority of bloggers, who share the same views as those I've quoted above, always have at the forefront of their minds. We are not all a bunch of greedy 'blaggers' who go into blogging for the 'free stuff'. I hope that it's obvious to the brands who wish to collaborate with bloggers which ones do - and which ones of us wouldn't dream of it.


I feel this debate will run and run - expect more posts in the future...!


Please do share your views in the comments and on Twitter (don't forget the #fairpayforbloggers hashtag) - and do you have a policy yourself where you charge an admin fee for reviews or similar? What response have you received so far?
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40 comments

  1. Great post! I totally agree, pay or don't get reviewed!!!
    xo, Lee
    edfbylee.com

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    1. That's a very to-the-point way of looking at it, Lee! Thank you for reading x

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  2. Thank you for this post! I am a pretty new blogger and have just started to get emails from brands wanting to work with me, but I never know what to ask for in return. On one hand I don't want to scare them away (especially since I am so new to this), but on the other I work really hard and feel that my time is worth something. I don't know any other bloggers personally, so I don't really have anyone to ask for advice. This was very helpful.

    Tamara
    www.trulytamara.com

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    1. I'm really glad, Tamara! It's hard to know at what point in your blogging career you can start to ask for a fee, but I think that's a judgement you simply have to make yourself based on the offers you're receiving. What's great is that you're already aware that your time is worth something - knowing that right from the start is important. Thank you so much for your POV :)

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  3. Catherine you are brilliant. I've been at this for a short time, but have only either been paid for a post or chosen to write whatever I want with no gift or sponsor. If a brand asks a blogger to write content they should expect to contribute a small fee.

    As for "reviews being bought" I think that in order to buy an *opinion+ a company would need to pay much more than a nominal amount. The fee goes towards the preparation of the post, time, energy, and marketing that ensures someone out there sees it.

    Great debate and I'm personally glad that you have received 50% YES feedback from the brands you work with. Brands need to realize that a blog post has a much more powerful "lifespan" with respect to traditional media. Instead of devaluing this form of communication they should recognize the value of a keyword search YEARS after the fact. A newspaper is for a day, a magazine a month but blogging is forever.

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    1. Wow, Angela - your point about lifespan has never occurred to me!! You're absolutely right about that... more food for thought. And you've summed up my thoughts exactly in your second paragraph - if a company DID pay me to guarantee a glowing review they'd have to pay me a lot more than what I already charge, not that I'd ever dream of doing that anyway!

      Thank you so much for your comment, it's given me even more to think about :))

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  4. I love this campaign and that someone is giving a voice to it! When I first began blogging, I would take anything that came my way. I was the new kid on the block and had no idea how brand/blogger relationships worked and, because I was a new blog with a small following, I felt it rude or impertinent to ask for anything from the brands that contacted me. "Sure, you want me to write up a post for your brand without any product or compensation? Ok! I'm flattered you asked!" But like Amber said, I may not be the most influential blog out there but the fact that you contacted me at all means you stand to gain something from me! It took me a while to learn that.

    It was, in large part, my experience working with brands that actually DID pay for my time that led me to finally realize what these other brands were asking of me, but it was your posts that really opened my eyes to the entire concept of what is happening here. I was too naive and inexperienced to be insulted in the beginning but after you've put the huge amount of work we as bloggers do into perspective for me, it really makes me think about what I accept and what I don't. I'm not asking a million dollars and I'm not looking to take advantage of the relatively new line of work that is blogging, but I do want reasonable compensation for the work I do....and it's a lot of work! I began to just ignore the emails asking to create a post on my blog without product or compensation, without giving it a second thought. Now I am genuinely insulted that someone would even ask to use my blog as their free billboard. I work too hard on my blog and building a readership based on trust to do that to my readers! I blog on the assumption that my readers come for me and my content and what I have to say; to give them a face full of advertisements I can't even stand behind is insulting not just to me, but to THEM!

    Thank you for beginning a dialog and helping other bloggers to understand that it is ok to stand up for themselves, their work and their blogs!

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    1. Thank you Lindsey, and it was my pleasure - it's so nice to think I've helped you understand more about you do (sometimes it's just a "realisation" thing)! Good to hear that your readers are what's most important, not accepting any old **** to advertise your blog, whether paid for or not! x

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  5. Thanks so much for bring this issue to light! We teach the world how to treat us, right?
    OXOX
    Dawn Lucy
    http://fashionshouldbefun.blogspot.com

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    1. 100% YES, Dawn! If we don't bring up and talk about it, nothing changes, right? :))

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  6. When big companies with millions of dollars of turnover hire PR agencies who then approach bloggers in hope of free advertising, it's called exploitation. How would the same people feel if their bosses ask them to come in to work and tell them that no, unfortunately, they won't get paid. I'm sure their responses would consist of a few swear words and a prompt exodus.

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    1. That's what worries me, Marlene... the fact that PRs are most probably aware of this but don't teach the brands that the budget given to them has to also cover compensating the blogger fairly. I do like your analogy...!!

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  7. Yes I think one should get paid for work. Yes, I think everybody should be treated with respect. What worries me is how does a blogger keep his/her integrity when the opinion is paid for?
    Greetje

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    1. Hi Greetje, I don't know if you've read all the posts (knowing you I would have thought you have!) - but what I've been trying to make clear is that payment is not for the review, it's for the administration of the review and all the extras that go with it.

      Like Jennine Jacob (of IFB) said to the question, "Do you get paid for Product Seeding?” her answer was “...No. Unless you are required to use specific links, post specific verbiage or do specific tasks in relation to the gifting. If you are being sent a product, you are at liberty to post in whatever context on whatever time frame you deem appropriate."

      And it's those demands that demand a fee. I think there are unscrupulous people in all industries (some more so than others!), and if some bloggers are the type to write a glowing review when they've been paid a fee even if the item was a load of c***, then there's nothing we can do to stop them. However I should hope that it's pretty obvious when a review isn't honest.

      For example, my latest post (Neon Pink and Black with Distressed Denim and a Glass Pendant, 23 Setember) - did you think I kept my integrity with that review? I find it hard to write any other way than honestly, and I think I pretty much write write the way I talk. I included at the end about it having been written in collaboration with the brand, and I don't anyone would doubt me saying that the my pendant was beautiful, that it came in a beautiful gift box, that the prices are reasonable - all of those things can be checked by clicking through to their website.

      I'm just want to make it clear to everyone that the pressure from brands to get a post written within a certain time frame, share it on social media and include specific anchor text and links warrants a fee - not the pressure to write a positive review! To be honest if I didn't like the product I wouldn't accept it in the first place...!

      I hope this clears it up for you - and thank you of course for agreeing that we should be paid!! Catherine xx

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    2. I think that is the only way to maintain your integrity is to refuse products you don't like. As I know that advertisers want positive reviews. They don't like it and don't want to risk their brand by allowing and paying for negative reviews.
      Greetje

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    3. It does make me beg the question: if bloggers aren't being paid for a review and they accept a product they don't like... WHY?!!!! Why would you accept something that you just wouldn't normally wear - apparently there are that do! I have refused several offers of paid posts in the last few months: most notably two different brands that sell real fur products (mink, fox, etc.) - I have a no-fur policy and said no on those grounds.

      No way am I wearing fur, or being paid to do so.

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  8. Good for you! I'm happy to hear that you have accomplished a working fee and that brands are open to it.

    Monica, www.pear-shaped-gal.com

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    1. It's surprised me how well it's worked, Monica - but it has! Thank you x

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  9. Thanks for writing this, Catherine, and for including my link! After I read your follow-up to the original post on this, I decided to follow your lead and implement my own gifting/review policy. My policy is much the same as yours (i.e if you want to guarantee coverage, you have to pay for it), and the response has been much the same too... I was honestly quite nervous about asking brands to pay for posts at first (I felt like it was "cheeky" to ask for money when they were already giving me a dress or something, but as the demands have become less and less reasonable, I've started to feel that it's cheeky of THEM to expect me to do all of the things they're asking in exchange for a dress or a lipstick!), but most have been really understanding about it, and I've been surprised by how many of them ARE willing to pay if you ask them. I've read a lot of comments from people saying that brands just won't pay bloggers when they know they can get the coverage for free from someone else, but my experience has been that if a brand really wants to work with a particular blogger, they WILL pay for it. I guess the challenge for me now is to make sure my blog is one of the ones they really want to work with :)

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    1. Amber it was my pleasure to include your post! I agree with you 100% that it doesn't make sense that brands will just go to another blogger who doesn't charge - if they REALLY want to work with me then they will pay the fee, and that's what I've found so far as well (an am glad it has for you too).

      It's a bit like, well... anything in life you really, really want: If a bride-to-be saw a friend's wedding photographs and thought that they absolutely were the photographer for her because their photography style was everything she wanted her wedding photos to be, then I'm sure she'd find a way to pay them whatever fees they charge. Sure, she could ask a friend of the family who'd take the photos for free, but it wouldn't be what she wanted and they wouldn't be as great as she'd hoped.

      In other words, you'll pay what you think the product/service is worth to you... it may be nothing, it may be big bucks, but that's for the brands to decide. I charge what I think I'm worth (as I'm sure you do) and it sure makes the pressure of photographing, editing, writing, publishing, promoting etc. etc. a lot easier to deal with!

      Keep me updated with how it goes! C x

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  10. Interesting post Catherine, and well done you on getting some positive response from brands when you have gone back to them with your terms.
    I do this myself, and like you, I've had some fruitful experiences and also some cases where the brand failed to respond so they can't have been that serious about working with me anyway!
    I look to the food bloggers for inspiration on this, as many of them are successfully working with brands on recipe development and reviewing for a fee. You wouldn't expect a professional to work for the promise of some free cake frosting worth a few quid - you'd expect to pay a fee too, so the same should be applied to fashion bloggers.

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    1. Thank you Nadine, so glad to have your support. A lot of people have mentioned food bloggers: I can imagine that is a LOT of work to create recipes...!!

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  11. Dearest Catherine!! When I started my blog a year ago, I did it as a way to share my love of personal style and creative writing...and with a hope that it might, down the road, turn into a full-time career. I've since learned that blogging is a true "labour of love" that demands a serious amount of hard work, time, and commitment to go along with all the fun. And yes!! If I ever hope to become a "professional," then I'm going to need to be paid for said labour!! I've already made it clear to several companies that I am unable to provide them with free advertising...but that I would love to be contacted again if a budget for a blogger campaign becomes available. And I'm going to add a version of your gifting policy to my own "Sponsor" page; might as well make things clear from the very beginning, right?! All hail #fairpayforbloggers!!

    www.StyleIsMyPudding.blogspot.com

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    1. That's so great that you're clued up right from the start, Monika! I'm glad you've rejected the requests for free advertising... I still get plenty of requests like that now. It's very tiresome ;))

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  12. This is a tricky area. You're not supposed to be doing reviews for the company, you're doing them to inform consumers about a product through your own subjective opinion.

    If you do get into a situation where you're being paid for reviews then there's a clear conflict of interest between you providing an unbiased, potentially negative, review and continuing to receive payment from the company in question.

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    1. I'm not sure if you've read the other posts, Peter, but in the second one (the follow up to the first) I explained that it's not the review they're paying for, it's the administration of the review. The rest of my reply would be pretty much the same as what I replied to Greetje above, so apologies for the copy and paste, but the same applies! :)

      Like Jennine Jacob (of IFB) said to the question, "Do you get paid for Product Seeding?” her answer was “...No. Unless you are required to use specific links, post specific verbiage or do specific tasks in relation to the gifting. If you are being sent a product, you are at liberty to post in whatever context on whatever time frame you deem appropriate."

      And it's those demands that demand a fee. I think there are unscrupulous people in all industries (some more so than others!), and if some bloggers are the type to write a glowing review when they've been paid a fee even if the item was a load of c***, then there's nothing we can do to stop them. However I should hope that it's pretty obvious when a review isn't honest.

      For example, my latest post (Neon Pink and Black with Distressed Denim and a Glass Pendant, 23 Setember) - did you think I kept my integrity with that review? I find it hard to write any other way than honestly, and I think I pretty much write the way I talk. I included at the end about it having been written in collaboration with the brand, and I don't anyone would doubt me saying that the my pendant was beautiful, that it came in a beautiful gift box, that the prices are reasonable - all of those things can be checked by clicking through to their website.

      I'm just want to make it clear to everyone that the pressure from brands to get a post written within a certain time frame, share it on social media and include specific anchor text and links warrants a fee - not the pressure to write a positive review! To be honest if I didn't like the product I wouldn't accept it in the first place...!

      ... Obviously I can't influence or persuade ALL bloggers to have this approach, Peter, and yes there may be a conflict of interest for some bloggers. I only know that for myself, I haven't stooped to the level of accepting any old thing for payment - I have rejected banner ads on the grounds that I didn't feel the imagery or brand was suitable, so I did lose money that I could have earned there. Same as rejecting other brands or products for review that I wouldn't buy/consider in the first place. So I've lost money here and there, but that was my choice to forgo it to maintain my integrity that Greetje asked about :)

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  13. I love this debate. The fact that half of the brands who wanted to work with you agreed to pay their fees is great. They know that your blog is worth it and so is the hard work and effort that goes into each post! I love reading these debates, can't wait to read more :)

    Yazmin xx
    www.yazzyscorner.co.uk

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    1. Thank you Yazmin, and thank you for tweeting about it! The debate is somewhat raging, it's great to be part of something that feels like it's going to hopefully make a change for the better x

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  14. As someone who is considering (planning, actually) to start a blog, it's good to know the pitfalls one could experience as a beginner. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and experiences!

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    1. It's my pleasure, Oralia - I couldn't have done it without the input of all the other bloggers! Good luck with your new venture xx

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  16. This is a really interesting discussion - one that I had not really encountered before this post. I am just transitioning from a hobby blog to a professional blog, and I know it will probably be awhile before I am ever approached by a brand as I build my following and post count. It is nice to have a heads up with specific percentages. I'd much rather only do half and be compensated for the time and effort that goes into posting (not to mention the immense amount of time and effort that goes into creating a platform that is worth posting from) than bog my blog and time down working for nothing more than enjoyment. Thank you so much for your insights!

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    1. You're very welcome Bobbie, I hope it helps you for the future!

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  17. This is a really interesting post for me to read. I often receive products from brands and PR companies, but I never guarantee whether I'll write about it and when etc. Often I really like them, and will post about it, or use it in a tutorial, or share on social media. Sometimes they've sent me something I don't care for and haven't written about it. How do you approach the issue if they send you something, or even pay you for it, and you don't like the product?

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    1. I've only once received something I didn't like, Lena - and that's because they asked me what pieces I liked which I told them, then they sent something completely different (it was jewellery). I gave it to my mum as it was much more her colour!

      I've not yet received anything I didn't like for a paid post - I've only received one item I didn't actually chose for a paid post but luckily I really liked it. So I've not yet come across that situation. But as I put in my disclaimer/media kit, I wouldn't accept anything I didn't like, and I have offered to send things back I didn't like but I'm not going to pay for postage. I have left it up to the brand to arrange to get things collected but so far they never have (I'm pretty sure it costs them more in time and effort to arrange collection).

      I think I would rather not put up a post at all if I really didn't like something. I may well give the brand heads up to say I'm not posting about it and leave it up to them to decide - I think generally that's what most bloggers do. Hope that helps! C x

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  18. As someone on crossroads and coming to realise that my time and commitment is much more worth than a free lipstick, this post is godsend! I've been thinking of this since quite sometime now. Your post gives me the confidence to go ahead and jump into it. I've seriously come to a point where free blogging isn't sustainable. All that time and labour for nothing when I could be out there enjoying the weekend.

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    1. I'm so glad, hun! It's something that I'm amazed I didn't start earlier. I'm finding that I'm working out which are the brands that are worth working with, as they get back to me wanting to gift me the item with or without the fee. Those that never get back to me obviously aren't bothered about who they contact, otherwise they'd want to work with me whatever! Drop me a email if you ever need any more advice... I'll see if I can help. Good luck!!
      C x

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  19. I think your "advertising policy" is a fantastic idea. I decided not to offer paid-for advertising on my blog nor accept sponsored content or paid-for reviews; I only accept gifted items IF I feel I would buy the item myself and/or it's of interest to my readers. I make this very clear to all companies that contact me about featured content.

    I am all for brands and bloggers working together on fair terms BUT as a business owner, I often get asked by bloggers for freebies.. which is surprising. Bloggers complain companies don't take their "work" seriously, yet expect small independents to work for free to provide them with blog content.. more than a little hypocritical right?

    I think what we have to take from this is both parties - the blogger and the business - needs to agree to terms and conditions that both sides are happy with. We all need to respect each other and realise NOBODY should be working for free.

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    2. I completely agree with you on all points, Sophie - it's important that bloggers don't take the p*** so that we are respected as well, but sadly that's not always the case with some bloggers. I agree in supporting independent brands and start ups which is why I make exceptions with regards to charging a fee (I don't charge small indie brands).

      I think it's great that you have clear policies too - this I think is the most important thing to do as a blogger. Set your own standards, make them fair, and stick to them. The brands that suit your way of working will want to continue to work with you because they know what they're going to get and you'll always be consistent. Good working relationships are SO important!! Thanks so much for sharing your POV :)
      C x

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