How Hobby Bloggers and Pro Bloggers Can Both Work With Brands

How Hobby Bloggers and Pro Bloggers Can Both Work With Brands

Hobby bloggers want to accept gifted items but not do sponsored posts. Pro bloggers need to earn a living. There can’t be an easy solution to suit both… can there?

It’s a dilemma that’s been going on in the blogosphere for, well, at least as long as I’ve been blogging (seven years). I first heard of a blogger announcing she was giving up the day job to become a full-time blogger probably about a year after I started. I wondered HOW she was going to make money. Who’s going to pay her? And to do what exactly?

Now, we regularly see sponsored posts and #ad popping up on blogs and Instagram (and, to a lesser extent these days, Twitter and Facebook too). It’s not an unusual occurrence anymore as most people who write or follow blogs know that brands collaborate with bloggers and content creators and pay them to feature their brand or product. Seven or more years ago, not so much.

(To be fair there may have been a lot of sponsored content “back in the old days” but that was before rules about disclosure came into force more strictly – or at least before they were more widely known about. When I first started posting paid-for content I didn’t have a clue that you were meant to disclose it as paid, and the brands didn’t mention you had to do that either.)

The simple answer is Yes, there is a VERY easy way that both hobby bloggers and pro bloggers can work with brands, in the way they want to do it, without stepping on each other’s toes or making it difficult for the other party.

But why is there a problem in the first place? I’ve been reading a lot about the problems lately. No one can seem to agree, but I think there’s a simple solution.


The demands from brands on bloggers

Firstly, what are the types of offers that seem to cause conflict?

First of all I have to say I truly believe that NO ONE “has” to earn money from blogging. When I started blogging I did it purely for the love of it (not that I knew you could earn anything more than a few pence from Google ads) – I simply made something I loved doing into my career. I still believe that we have a choice and can choose to be a hobby blogger, one that earns a little to supplement their income, or a full-time, professional blogger. No one has to do or not do anything.

However, the mere fact that blogging is a hobby for some and a profession for others means that brands take advantage of these differences, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Unlike bloggers, there are no brands or PR agencies that are doing it for free. None of them are doing their job or running their businesses as a hobby. They are always, 100% of the time, professionals (as in the “a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs” meaning, thank you Therefore THEY are the ones that should know better.

Seeing as it’s their profession I get infuriated when I see them taking advantage of hobby bloggers. I get just as infuriated when I see professional bloggers having their work undervalued.

But can you see the conflict here? Hobbyists want to do some things here and there, accept the occasional gifted item. Pros want to do the same but earn a living at the same time. HOW CAN THIS POSSIBLY WORK, I hear you ask.

It’s a fair point – but the responsibility lies with the brand/PR to ensure that ALL of those they approach are treated fairly. After all, whether paid or not, they are asking people to work for them.


When brands and PRs treat bloggers badly

The reason why PR agencies treat bloggers like tools that will freely advertise for a company – large or small – and receive masses of compensation in the bargain, is simple (and it’s been going on for far too long in my humble opinion): too many bloggers undervalue themselves.

All too often bloggers don’t deem themselves important enough to swim with the “big fish”, i.e. the journalists, the PR companies, large corporations with massive budgets. Time and time again they underestimate their worth. They offer their blog as an advertising platform for next to nothing in return and often for no payment at all. I know because I’m often shocked when I find out how little a blogger has charged a brand for a campaign.

I think the millennials’ attitude of not having to work hard to gain success and expecting something for nothing is partly to blame for the way bloggers are treated. (And yes, I know it’s a sweeping generalisation to tar all millennials with the same “lazy” brush – there are plenty of people my age and older who are the same.) But blogging is seen as a desirable career option for many young people. They think that it involves no work, free stuff and loads of opportunities to go on flashy PR trips abroad.

So the PR offers free stuff, the blogger gets excited. Blogger agrees to X, Y and Z in exchange for the free stuff and puts in several hours of their time in order to make it look good for their blog and/or social channels. Blogger ends up doing eight hours of work (equivalent to a full day’s work) for a dress worth £30. Last time I checked, that was WAY below minimum wage… and you can’t even eat that dress or pay bills with it.

RELATED  I'm Now Writing on Substack (More Content For You)!

I KNOW what it’s like to be offered free stuff and get excited about it – I can clearly remember the first email that landed in my Inbox saying I could choose a whole outfit. I can remember my giddy excitement even now… I wasn’t immune! But since then I’ve learned to say no more often than say yes, and I charge what I know I’m worth. I know I’m worth what I charge because brands are willing to pay it.


Case study 1: You’ll get this for free in exchange for…

Let’s look at a typical example of an email that bloggers receive. I was sent the following earlier this year (every month I receive dozens of emails that read like this one):


Hey Everyone,

I’m putting together a campaign for {Brand}.
We’re looking for a handful of influencers to do posts with our {product}.
You’ll get the product for free in exchange for the posts and Instagram story post.
If the campaign is successful there might be future opportunities for collaborations.

If you’re interested please let me know asap and I’ll send further details and send you your {product}. If not no problem.


If you’re a blogger who’s ever been approached by a brand or PR, I’m sure this sounds familiar. You may or may not have taken them up on their offer (I definitely did in the beginning).

However, think of it this way. If you were a tradesperson (let’s say a plumber), would you say yes to this email from someone you’d never heard of before?


Hey Plumbers,

I’m putting in a new kitchen and bathroom for my house.
We’re looking for a handful of plumbers to do plumbing jobs with tea and biscuits provided.
You’ll get the tea and biscuits for free in exchange for the plumbing work and one other odd job.
If the plumbing is successful there might be future opportunities for plumbing work.

If you’re interested please let me know asap and I’ll send further details and make you your cup of tea. If not no problem.


I don’t know about you, but when you think of it in this context, it seems totally and utterly unreasonable. It REALLY makes me mad that a brand is blatantly asking you to do something for free for them because they don’t want to pay you this time. They want to see if you’re any good. Then they might consider using you again – but not even confirm whether they’d definitely pay you next time either.

And there’s the real bugbear… “might”.

If the campaign is successful there might be future opportunities for collaborations.” So – what if it’s not successful? What do they consider “successful”? And they MIGHT change their mind? They MIGHT decide not to offer you paid work? They MIGHT decide to work with other bloggers and not you – even if the campaign is successful? I’d never even heard of this brand and yet first time they email me they demand I do x, y and z for them – for no money. “**** you” is what the unprofessional side of me really wanted to reply.

I find this so insulting that I can’t even begin to fathom how they have the cheek to send these emails out. Not even addressed to me, they’re obviously using a blanket “throw it and see if it sticks” approach. Yet time and time again, bloggers happily take up these offers, and give the brand everything they’ve asked for.

And quite often get stressed out over it, and get chased for the content… I know, because I used to do it. All that work and all that stress for a pair of shoes or a necklace. Wouldn’t be easier to just buy the damn shoes yourself? Do you really NEED the shoes in exchange for that much stress and work?


Case study 2: You decide whether you’d like to feature it

Compare this email (again, a real email, but with the identifying parts changed) to the last one:


Hi Catherine,

I hope all is well? My name is X, and I’ve recently launched a collection of x, y and z products. I absolutely admire how you rock bold colours and prints in your outfits, so I thought you and your audience might like the bright colours and geometric forms in my designs. I know you normally work with huge brands such as ABCRetailer, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

You can have a look at the attached flyer or at my website: https://linktothexbrandwebsite

I’m only just starting out so, unfortunately, I don’t have any budget for a sponsored post or article. I would, therefore, love to gift you X of your choosing, and you can decide whether it is something you would like to feature on your blog or social media channels. If this is of interest to you, just let me know which design you would like and where to ship it to and I’ll happily send it your way.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,


Can you see the difference in this approach? “I don’t have any budget for a sponsored post… [so] you can decide whether it is something you would like to feature”. It was effectively a cold email (I’d never heard of the brand before), but the approach was so genuine I checked them out. And I loved the products. And I accepted two gifts from them, with no obligation to do anything with them. And yet I featured one of the products on my blog and Instagram, with the other waiting in the wings to be featured in my own time. I TOTALLY understand that smaller brands often don’t have any budget.

RELATED  Some of the Funniest Spam Comments I've Received on the Blog

I’m sure you can guess what I did with the first email… Didn’t reply, block, delete.


Is it a female trait to be lured by freebies?

I pondered a little while ago whether men would work for free like women do if they ruled the blogosphere. Are women really so excited at the prospect of “free stuff” that they’re blinkered to the minimal gain they receive – and how much they’re really giving in return? I’d lose faith in womankind a little if that were the case.

When brands cold email you offering something “in exchange for x, y, z as well as a, b, c and it must be done within one month to promote our new range“, it frustrates me that bloggers cannot see that these lists of demands are totally unreasonable unless monetary compensation is also offered.

BUT I have a way around this to make everyone happy (I hope)!


An easy solution to how both hobby bloggers and pro bloggers can work with brands

My solution is easy. Looking at the two email examples above, there are huge differences between the two approaches. The first was a blanket email and very impersonal with a list of demands, the second was a very personal email with zero demands and just an offer of something gifted. If a brand has no budget, that’s absolutely fine with me – I’m not saying I expect every brand to dish out monetary compensation to every blogger they get in touch with.

But if they cannot offer a blogger monetary compensation, they should not be giving them a list of demands.

[tweetshare tweet=”Bloggers: If a brand or PR cannot offer you monetary compensation alongside your gifted item, do not accept a long list of demands. It is YOUR choice to do what you wish with the item.” username=”cE9urabZjgea2r7SXR*3X)QtnRE2kE9$:1:0″]


This is how to deal with emails offering gifts, campaigns, collabs, etc. – it will work for you whether you’re a hobby blogger or a pro blogger (or even a part-time pro blogger):


  1. If you’re offered a gifted item, accept it if you choose. However it must be under NO OBLIGATION. Your blog, your rules.
  2. If they quote a list of demands (timescale, specific links, platform preference, guaranteed feature) then they should be offering monetary compensation to cover those demands.
  3. If they have no budget, accept the gift under no obligation or do not accept it at all.


If you’re a hobby blogger and do not want to produce sponsored, i.e. paid, content, that is absolutely fine… I have no problem with that! But by refusing to meet that list of demands means that it allows pro bloggers to do the same – and you’re also not being taken advantage of. ANYONE that is meeting a list of demands for a company, whether they are plumbers, cake makers, accountants, tree surgeons, bloggers, etc. should be paid with cash, not product, because they are providing a service that they have been asked to do.

YOU may be a hobbyist, but the person approaching you is not. It’s not your mum asking you to do something for you, it’s someone who’s being paid to approach you.


The exceptions

There are, as always, exceptions. I recently attended a detox retreat which was gifted to me; I wasn’t offered, and I didn’t ask for, monetary compensation to write a blog post about it. The retreat was something that was actually very valuable to me, so we agreed that I would write a post in exchange… and that was the only demand. Not even a demand, more a simple agreement. The PR had no say in what I’d write. I’d do the same if I were offered a very high-value item, something I’d be buying anyway, like a weekend away or a new mattress for my bed. However although I’d agreed to feature them, it would be with no input from the brand and with no other demands attached.

And with all of this don’t forget to make sure you’ve written a product gifting policy that makes it clear what’s expected of you, and what is expected of the brand. Never, ever accept any gift or similar without either a formal contract or agreement in writing that your gifting policy has been read and understood.

I doubt very much this solution will reach most PR agencies and brands (feel free to send them a link to this post however!), so they’ll continue to ask for everything in exchange for a piece of jewellery or a tin of dog food. STICK TO YOUR GUNS. Is giving up your integrity really worth it for a dress from a Chinese website?

This shocking “no budget” nonsense needs to end RIGHT NOW. If they have no budget, they need to find another way to achieve what they want to achieve without asking individuals to do all the heavy lifting for them.

Bloggers and content creators are not cheap, easy, gullible labour. They’re valuable commodities. I’d love for them to be treated that way – and if not, they themselves need to prove that they are.



Pin for later!

How Hobby Bloggers and Pro Bloggers Can Both Work With Brands (Without Stepping On Each Other's Toes) | Not Dressed As Lamb


  1. 27 November 2018 / 5:32 pm

    It’s an interesting topic. I’m a journalist and I see many freelancers suffering because PRs are turning to bloggers who will write about their product for free or a gift. It devalues creativity and ultimately will have a negative effect as there is no quality control – how can you trust a review when it’s on every blog/instagram page going at the same time? As a journalist, I’ve always been able to say what I truly think (I once wrote that Aruba was lovely but personally, I would never go back as it wasn’t my sort of piece). Bloggers should promote what they truly like, not what has been given to them for free. That’s what I do on my blog and what I will always do.

    • catherine
      29 November 2018 / 2:58 pm

      “Bloggers should promote what they truly like, not what has been given to them for free” – you’re ABSOLUTELY right, Elizabeth… I just don’t get why anyone would accept something they don’t truly like, anyway? And it’s the writing about it for free (when the brand adds lots of stipulations) that really gets my goat, and I’m ashamed of women/bloggers being so ready to do this. It upsets me that they can’t see their worth and think they’re doing the brand (often big, big brands) a favour. I know, because “I thought I was doing them a favour” (WTAF?!!) is said to me time and time again…!

      I’m a freelancer too and I too am affected by bloggers who write about products for free at the demands of the brand. If I insist that they pay me to do x, y and z for them I often get, Well X blogger didn’t ask for money, they were paid in clothes/shoes/dog food! So that’s why this is the only way I can see it working for everybody.

      I’m sure you know that I don’t feature anything I don’t truly love. Therefore when I’m paid to write about a product or service it’s something I’d feature anyway. But personally I can see through those bloggers who don’t write genuinely and honestly. Integrity is everything to good bloggers!!

  2. 11 November 2018 / 7:04 pm

    Excellent blog post, Catherine. Thank you. I’ve seen it all. I ignore about 95% of the requests that come my way because the products don’t fit my style. At first, like you, just to be asked was a thrill. Now, if a brand request has not included my name in the salutation, I trash the email before even opening it. I am still a hobbyist but am realizing my value. Your plumbing analogy is brilliant.

    • catherine
      13 November 2018 / 8:19 pm

      Thanks Melanie! I get where you’re coming from with the “delete emails without your name” thing – I nearly always do the same. It would have to be a pretty amazing opening sentence for me to read any further…!

  3. 7 November 2018 / 7:18 pm

    Oh I love this post and it’s full of valuable information. #BlogCrush

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:14 am

      Thank you Kelly-Anne! x

  4. 7 November 2018 / 5:58 pm

    It really is so frustrating when companies act like you’re being unreasonable when you ask to be paid. I have been much more ruthless this year in only accepting work that I want to do and meets MY terms, rather than being lured in with stuff that I don’t need or isn’t a good fit for my blog.

    And someone else really appreciated this post too and chose to add it to the BlogCrush linky. Hurray! Feel free to pop over and grab your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:18 am

      Oh wow thank you Lucy – I’m so flattered someone added my post! I’m glad to hear you’re being more ruthless x

  5. 6 November 2018 / 8:07 pm

    Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:18 am

      thanks Patrick x

  6. 5 November 2018 / 7:34 pm

    Right! Just found the time to link up with you again. Linking back from my post. Now I am going to call my mother first and then return and read your posts….. Bit busy.

    • 5 November 2018 / 8:26 pm

      I totally agree with everything you wrote. Had to laugh over your plumber example. So funny.
      I am lucky with my daytime job which I love and earns me good bucks. I chose to keep my blog a hobby. I have thought about going professional when I am retired (soon haha), but that is not what I want. As you said, it is a choice.

      • catherine
        9 November 2018 / 11:19 am

        It’s good to have choice Greetje, and I admire you for keeping your blog 100% a hobby! The plumber example does make perfect sense though, doesn’t it…

  7. 4 November 2018 / 10:32 pm

    Always writing what I’m thinking. Sound sensible advice as always. You nailed it!! I love that you write this stuff. You are so badass in a good way andthat you take no nonsense. Love it!! xo

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:20 am

      Thank you SO much Sharon! I think it’s what a lot of us think but it’s so frustrating when we’re often treated so badly (and with disrespect I find) 🙁

  8. 2 November 2018 / 9:22 pm

    Of course I agree with every word you wrote, God knows we’ve talked about this enough!
    Just yesterday I sent a rather chippy email reply to a brand for offering me a very inexpensive item in exchange for two unique Instagram posts including Stories linked to THEIR site.
    What made me fume was the fact that the last time I worked with them I was paid! When I replied I only work for actual money as this is my business, Mr PR said Oh but your followers will get a 30% discount and you’ll get affiliate payment on every sale.
    I felt like saying in capitals GEE FANKS MATE!
    Bloody cheek alright. Nope I’m not doing freebies unless Chanel call 😉

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:22 am

      Thats’s REALLY bad that they paid you last time but didn’t this time MT… it’s a classic example of getting you to do the hard work for them and offering something that they make out is really amazing – but doesn’t actually give you any benefit. I can’t stand that attitude and just want to say to them: Would you do YOUR job for what you’ve just offered me???


  9. 2 November 2018 / 5:06 pm

    Congratulations! Such a post was long overdue. I admire your braveness to write it! The example 1 emailers even become hostile and stalkers when you just ignore their emails. The only thing that helps is blocking.

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:23 am

      Hehe I do a LOT of blocking, Nicole!! Thank you hon x

  10. 2 November 2018 / 4:44 pm

    Woo hoo! Thank you for a considered way to finesse the hobbyist/professional blogger issue, AND for the the smarty-pants plumber letter! It made my day. I have been working on phrasing for these situations myself, and would love to borrow yours (With credit given!) if I may?

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:24 am

      Liz yes of course that’s absolutely fine… no need to give credit really, I’m happy for anyone to use these examples when contacting/corresponding with PRs and brands!

      Thank you, I’m really glad it’s helped you x

  11. 2 November 2018 / 2:34 pm

    Oh this post has come at such a good time for me! I an getting emails every day a bit like the plumbing analogy email that you quote here. LOL. PR guys really do need to stop trying to exploit. Am going to share the heck out of this and pin it! Thank you. #BlogCrush

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:25 am

      I’m so glad Jo. It’s so frustrating and I can’t work out whether they KNOW they’re taking the p*$$ or whether they really don’t think about what they’re offering. Thank you!

  12. 2 November 2018 / 11:55 am

    Hi Catherine,
    This is really great advice. I know I would feel uncomfortable dancing to the tune of the first email. I love the plumber scenario. My hubby is a musician and it would be unthinkable for him to go and do a gig and not get paid. I know all of the work he puts in, as bloggers do, I am finding this out, but so enjoying it.
    Enjoy your weekend!!
    Alison xx

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:26 am

      I’m sure your husband knows EXACTLY what it’s like, Alison – freelancers are exploited so much and it really frustrates me!! Glad the advice helps, thank you x

  13. 2 November 2018 / 11:38 am

    Well I haven’t been approached to promote anything on my blog yet. But as an artist I do know about bring asked to provide goods or services next to nothing. It drives me absolutely mad because of the sheer disrespect. (I can’t put food on the table with exposure. And how exactly am I going to get lots of stained glass window orders when friends see the window I made you, when said window is at the back of your house?!)

    However, like you I make exceptions if it’s something special. Hence, I reneged on being paid to run a kids’ art class in my old neighbourhood because money raised was going towards renovating the local windmill (and they did offer to pay me). So that was an occasion I was happy to contribute.

    And similarly to what you’ve written here, if other artists don’t set the bar low then it’ll have a knock-on effect. I appreciate the excitement of making sales, but it has to be worth your time and bring you something of value in return.

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:29 am

      “It drives me absolutely mad because of the sheer disrespect” – I couldn’t have put it better myself, Emerald!! I agree about the times when we do things because we want to help or we think it’s a worthy cause, and for example I just wrote about my pampering day out in London even though it wasn’t paid, but I wasn’t asked (demanded!) to do ANYTHING in exchange. So right from the beginning I felt no pressure to deliver and for no money, but as they treated me so well and I loved what they put on offer I ended up writing about it anyway.

      If only more PRs would see that THIS is the way to go!!!!

  14. 2 November 2018 / 10:58 am

    Great post, Catherine! And I need to take your advice and stop undervaluing myself. I have had some wonderful collaborations and some not so wonderful pain in the rear end ones as well. I am still learning from my mistakes!

    I actually had one insist that I use keywords in a post that were blatantly and obviously grammatically incorrect. I did the post but used correct grammar and they came at me all angry and such. I refused to budge and basically told them to shove it and never worked with them again…apparently I’m difficult to work with! Hahaha.

    One other thing that really bugs me is the constant influx of emails asking me to guest post on my blog for free. They send a huge resume about how successful they are and what great writers they are, so why do you need my little ole platform to share your writing? Start your own damn blog if you need a platform! Hahaha. Granted, I do accept guest posts…but from friends (aka, Susan who has been guest posting weekly on my blog, but she has been reading my blog loyally for quite some time, I have developed a relationship with her over time, and she is actually helping me out by providing amazing content while I am struggling to get work done). Enough of my rant!

    Thanks for sharing your tips and your insight! Have a great weekend.


    • 2 November 2018 / 11:42 am

      This happened to me, Shelbee. A request to appear on my blog with a guest post. But I have a small readership and haven’t got going yet – they really don’t do their research sometimes, do they?

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:31 am

      Thanks Shelbee…! I’m glad you ended up being “difficult to work with” – they seemed to miss the point that they weren’t working WITH you, they were demanding free labour. Takes the p*$$ and it makes me cross…!

  15. 2 November 2018 / 10:48 am

    I loved this part the most: “This shocking “no budget” nonsense needs to end RIGHT NOW. If they have no budget, they need to find another way to achieve what they want to achieve without asking individuals to do all the heavy lifting for them.”

    I’m so glad you published this and hopefully it will get some traction. I often get offered things in return for a ‘product review’. Which basically means an Instagram post or a blog post. They’re basically saying, Please write a blog post (writing, shooting photos, editing photos) about us for free, OR please take up space on your Instagram grid with our product for free, even though you haven’t seen it or used it, and even if you don’t like it when it reaches you. Um, BIG. FAT. NO!!! They’re really shameless sometimes.

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:33 am

      They ARE shameless, aren’t they Lisa?! I’d have thought that after all these years and bloggers becoming more successful and more of a useful commodity that PRs would see their value… but no, they’re there to exploit apparently. I also hope this gets some traction, I hope more bloggers write about the subject too…!

  16. 2 November 2018 / 9:58 am

    This is so so helpful and timely! Thank you so much Catherine. I am in in all honesty a hobby blogger. But I do get offered free products and the stress it is putting meunder is getting a bit too much to be honest. I have been thinking over the last few weeks that something needs to change so this will really help me formalise what and how to do it. Really appreciate your advice, thank you. Michelle x

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:35 am

      I’m REALLY glad, Michelle – it absolutely can work, can’t it? Accepting things with no obligation means you should be 100% free to do what you want with the gifted item. After all, THEY offered it to YOU, didn’t they…?!

      Good luck hon – and stick to your guns remember!!

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:35 am

      Anna I’m really glad, thank you!

  17. 2 November 2018 / 7:46 am

    Very helpful and straightforward post. I’m a hobby blogger with a day job and just got actual money for a recent post. Wasn’t a lot of money but it’s a small step for me as I don’t get approached often due to my niche. I have actually turned down offer of “exposure” for my posts rather than compensation which pained me a little but I know it was the right thing in the long run. Thank you!

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:36 am

      As they say, People die of exposure, Vicki…!! 😉 Glad you’ve turned things down. Thank you, I’m glad this has helped x

  18. Dellene Becker
    2 November 2018 / 4:30 am

    Hello it’s my first time linking, thank you for hosting

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:36 am

      Hi Dellene, and thank you! x

  19. 2 November 2018 / 4:27 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Such great advice that we all appreciate coming from a blogger who has been there! Frankly, I am not having this issue!! That’s not really a good thing, is it? Haha! But it’s good to know and I absolutely agree with you about the free stuff with conditions–wrong!!

    Thanks for educating us and sharing your expertise.
    xx Darlene

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:37 am

      At least you’ll be prepared Darlene – which I certainly wasn’t for many years!! Thank you hon x

  20. 1 November 2018 / 11:50 pm

    This is a helpful post, thanks. I’m relatively new to blogging and am just figuring out how to colab with brands.

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:37 am

      Thanks Julie, I’m really glad! x

  21. 1 November 2018 / 11:30 pm

    I’ve been irritated for a long time by brands that have a “honey-do” list for bloggers that they have NO intention of compensating, but somehow I’ve never thought of it in terms of your plumber example. That really DOES sound insane! I finally wised up and made a simple media kit so when I get an email from a brand I do actually want to work with, I can send off a quick form email with the kit attached to let them know I won’t be doing the work for free. Sometimes I don’t hear back, which is no loss to me! There have been some indie brands that I’ve worked with for a gifted item, because it was a brand that I did admire and I was fine accepting a no-strings review product. But for the most part I just end up deleting these emails. They’re a waste of my time and a bit insulting, honestly.

    I think the worst one I ever received was a mass email that was sent to about 400 bloggers (not even trying to hide that they were impersonal!) and so bloggers were hitting “reply all” and the rest of us were getting a long chain of emails as a result. It was so silly…even if I wanted to work with the brand or was interested in their product, that lack of professionalism killed it for me!

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:40 am

      OMG Martha I can’t believe that some people hit Reply All when someone has stupidly cc’d everyone in… THAT’S SO DUMB!! And it makes me FURIOUS that they’ve not blind copied everyone in. When PRs do that to me they get a very stern email back saying thanks for opening me up to spam 🙁

      Glad to hear you’ve got your media kit sorted, hope it works well for you! Thanks so much for commenting x

  22. 1 November 2018 / 10:49 pm

    Hi Catherine and this post is surely a must-read for all bloggers. My blog is my hobby and I have a day job. But, I’m pretty particular about what I shill. Whenever I receive an email like the first one you showcased, I click “delete”.
    But with the second email–I have collabed with a start up company with great success. And I am on my way to do a second collab with another company that I’ve reviewed previously.

    What also bothers me are the shady brands on Instagram. I get very annoying replies on IG and I actually called one of them out.

    I see the work that goes into blogging and trust me, I admire bloggers like you because you have substance and you’re always a great read.

    Thank you so much!

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:41 am

      Thank you Cathe, that means a lot! And I’m glad to hear you’re doing things the way you want to do them – without being exploited! x

  23. 1 November 2018 / 10:04 pm

    Thanks for this Catherine. As usual, your blogging posts are so useful to other bloggers. I love that you do these posts for the sheer love of community… the blogging community. I’m definitely going to save that info about a gifting policy. I’ve not accepted any gifts from brands so far. Mostly because the items that have been offered are not in any way interesting to me. One company wanted to provide me with free “luxury” pyjamas in return for a post on pyjamas. That one made me laugh. I replied that I probably wouldn’t show pictures of myself in my pyjamas on my blog… luxury or not. A few months ago a travel accommodation booking site wanted me to include links to their site on my travel and camping posts. I replied asking what was in it for me (although a bit more politely than that) and they said that maybe they would put a link to my site on their Twitter feed. I demurred. I don’t write travel posts to advertise the kinds of accommodation which I never would use myself. Now… if a lovely B&B in Florence has asked me to do this, I might think about it.
    I write my blog because I love to do it. I’m retired from teaching and have a pension, so I don’t need the income. I just want to write what I want, when I want. Too many years telling kids what to do has spoiled me for taking orders from anyone, I guess:) Still if someone from the brands which I regularly wear offered… I could be persuaded! But I don’t think that Vince or Rag and Bone would notice a little blog like mine.

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:42 am

      Wow that example about the travel booking site, Sue… what a damn cheek!!!! And thank you, I’m so glad you enjoy these posts x

  24. 1 November 2018 / 8:52 pm

    You make things SO clear Catherine, thank you. I’m learning everyday and your blogs help no end. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:42 am

      I’m so pleased to hear that Jacqui – thank you! x

  25. jodie filogomo
    1 November 2018 / 7:40 pm

    I think what some companies may not take into account is you get what you pay for, right? If someone is doing it for no compensation, they probably aren’t as big as so won’t have as much reach as those bloggers who are requesting compensation. So it’s a trade off….

    • catherine
      9 November 2018 / 11:44 am

      Funnily enough some PRs have NO idea Jodie – on occasions when I’ve been cc’d into an email (rather than bcc’d) I could see who else they’d contacted… they’ve got in touch with the most random group of bloggers. As well as me they contacted the UK’s top fashion blogger who appears in L’Oreal ads and stuff – and they’re offering some random cr*p for no money. They’re absolutely oblivious…!

  26. 1 November 2018 / 6:44 pm

    Whoop whoop dancing about the room right now! Thank you for saying what I am thinking. It’s so reassuring and gives me confidence in what I am doing xx Maria

    • catherine
      1 November 2018 / 6:59 pm

      I’m so glad Maria – sticking to this way of working WILL give more bloggers more confidence I hope! It’s a simple solution, but it can work to EVERYONE’S advantage 🙂

      thank you x

  27. 1 November 2018 / 6:40 pm

    Thank you for your perspective on this. I am a hobby blogger but eventually want to be a career one (I’m slowly, steadily building my following), and as a writer by profession—another field that tends to be taken advantage of in the “do this for free and get exposure” vein—the free product in exchange for XYZ thing irks me to no end. (My other favorite—we’ll send you these for free, but you have to pay $30 shipping! What a scam!) My policy is to accept free product only if it’s something I would have paid for myself, and if there are no (or very few) strings attached. As I recently replied to a PR rep, “Thank you for the offer, however I can’t pay my rent with granola bars.” 😉
    Cheryl Shops

    • catherine
      1 November 2018 / 6:58 pm

      My expression to PRs like that is “Thank you for the offer, however jewellery won’t pay my mortgage”! You’re right about all those things you mentioned Cheryl – it’s truly awful that bloggers are treated this way. The cheek that some PRs have amazes me 🙁

  28. 1 November 2018 / 6:30 pm

    Wow what a story. I think you are absolutely right, however…. I accepted too the articles that were of no worth. Because I did want new things to show on the blog. I am a hobby blogger btw. But, and I have a blog post ready where I link to your post, you wrote a year ago our so about do follow links and that started me thinking. A few months went by and then I decided I didn’t want to do do follow links anymore. And it felt much better. Since then I don’t say yes that often anymore. Just yesterday I got a mail from someone that I collaborated with, that she thought her gift got too little exposure. I explained to her how many hours it takes me to finish a post and that she had to see things in perspective. I was upset a bit on the beginning, but I felt good about it later.
    Btw, I send you a dm on Twitter about the button.

    • catherine
      1 November 2018 / 6:55 pm

      We all have to start somewhere Nancy, I get that, but it makes me cross that brands take advantage of rookie bloggers. It’s THEIR responsibility to make sure that bloggers are doing everything they can to be compliant – and also not to take advantage of them and treat them as cheap labour. I’m glad you explained that to the person you collaborated with, but it goes to show the importance of having a product gifting policy so that there are no misunderstandings!

      So sorry I haven’t been on Twitter for ages, I’ll look at your DM as soon as I can xx

DISCLOSURE: Items marked* are PR products (I never accept anything I wouldn’t choose for myself) and my opinions are 100% honest. I also use affiliate links where I may earn commission if you click through and buy, at no cost to you.