Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blog talk: free stuff

In recent weeks, I've been offered all kinds of free stuff because of this little space of mine. But, of course, that free stuff comes with a stipulation: I have to post about the product and gush about how it's just down right amazeballs. Up until this point on Gypsy in Jasper, I've refrained from such posts because I know they are my least favourite to read on other blogs and I also know that they are the type of posts that I skip over.

But, then, last week, I was offered a $200 hair straighter. And, my current hair straighter just happens to be a piece of junk and $200 is way more than I would ever pay for one, so, for a second, I thought, "Heck ya I'll do a sponsored post. Bring on the fancy new toy!" I even spent a few minutes daydreaming about my silky smooth, shiny hair and the gorgeous photos I could take of it to go along with my post praising this company. I was honestly so wrapped up in the imagery that I had to email Kayla for a reality check. And, ultimately, I didn't take the the straightener. She reminded me that although it's cool to get free swag, it's just not the Gypsy in Jasper way.

I'm not judging other bloggers who accept cool stuff, I get why they do it. And, I understand that that is what they chose for their blog. I just know that's not a route I want to take. This space was never meant to make me money. I don't want paid sponsorship or fancy sponsors who send me things. I just want to post what I like. I want to write honestly. I want to joke with the friends I've made here and I want to have a good time. To me, promoting someone just because they gave me something is kind of icky. I'm super stoked to promote Etsy shops I've bought from and blogs that I honestly love. But, I don't want to use this space to promote anything I don't 100 per cent believe in myself.

So, there you have it, my feelings on freebies. What are your thoughts? Have you ever accepted gifts in exchange for promotion on your blog?


  1. Interesting thoughts on this, I know it's a pretty hotly debated topic on blogs. I've only done promotion/giveaways for small businesses and Etsy stores, but not for bigger companies...the few that have asked anyway. :)

  2. I actually just accepted my first free girl/promotion exchange yesterday haha... I didn't realize it was such a hotly debated topic! I've only been blogging for about 3 weeks, and I started blogging because I was inspired by a blogger who does a ton of product reviews. Personally, I love free stuff, but I'm a bit of a minimalist so I'm super picky. I can see why you wouldn't want to muck up your blog with product reviews though. Personally, I would not review a hair straightner.... Because I have no hair to straighten. :)

  3. I love that you keep it real and actually talk about your process behind this--I don't hold it against bloggers who do product reviews at all, but I do know that I skim past those posts because I find them super irrelevant and boring. I totally wouldn't judge you for taking a $200 straightener, but way to keep it real!

  4. I have not ever been offored gifts or anything like that, but my blog is still just a baby. Even if I was offered I don't know if I'd accept. Just like you I wouldn't want to promote absolute junk. But, I would be willing to give an honest review of freebies (if that makes sense). I don't know though. Like I said I'm not in that position, but it's kind of in the same way I don't do sponsors, I just have links of blogs I love and friends.

  5. I like that you stuck with your integrity on this. I watched the video and agree - you should never say you love something out of guilt, only if you genuinely love it and want to squee about it to the rest of the world. I think promotions and giveaways are different fields and have different etiquette attached. Personally I don't really like a lot of giveaways because of having to involve my Facebook account with nearly all these days which I try to keep private. I do sometimes like produce reviews (especially of clothes) so I dont mind bloggers taking free stuff if that works for them and they do a good write up.

    And the people who send you free stuff shouldnt demand a positive review ever! You have to be able to write a bad review even when it was free and they have to accept that - which I have seen. I remember a blog I really like doing a lipstick review and saying she wasn't impressed. I thought it was good to see that she could still be honest.

    1. I totally and completely agree on the Facebook front. I NEVER like blogs on Facebook. All that does is bog down your feed and make you more and more accessible. I don't need anyone on my FB that I don't actually know.

      I agree that negative reviews should be welcomed. But, I know myself well enough that if the product was free, I'd have a hard time knocking it. I'd feel way too guilty.

      I guess for me, I just wish I could get free stuff and keep it totally separate from my blog. If they said, "Hey, we appreciate all of your hard work on your little online space and we'd love to give you a little something to show that appreciation.." I'd be like, "Heck ya. I'm down!" I don't know. It's just not what my blog is about.

  6. I would only ever write about something that I believe in as well. Or I would give my honest opinion, even if it isn't completely positive. I just think that's the companies problem and they should think about that possibility too. I will never change my content for money, never. But I actually really really like to read reviews, I have no idea why. So I've been making a few myself (about things I bought with my own money) because I just enjoy them. Everyone likes different things, right? I understand both points of view :) xo

  7. I'm really glad you stuck to your guns on this one. My blog is very small, but I do like to share love if it's something I genuinely like. However, I've never been asked or offered free stuff to do a review. I have considered the "what if?" scenario and I think I'd rather opt out. This is the same reason I haven't gotten involved in "ad sense." I want my blog to continue to be my spot for me, where I can put up whatever I want instead of being obligated to block off space for sponsors. I do enjoy product reviews and sponsorship giveaways - in moderation. In general, the more sponsors and ads run on a blog, the less likely I am to tune in. So thanks for staying the blog I originally started following and have come to love.

  8. Thank you so much for posting about this! I've been thinking about this lately, too. So far I have done a couple, but I accepted to legitimately do things that were related to yoga since that is near and dear to me. I have ignored offers from companies that have nothing to do with me or things I talk about. It's definitely a tricky topic...and I think it really comes down to the individual blogger and how they choose to handle it. I have definitely stopped reading blogs becuase it seemed to fakey and promotional, but some of my favorite bloggers also make their livings from their blogs, but they do it in a non-icky way. Totally a massive topic!

  9. great post! i agree that you should do what feels right for you and your blog space. thanks for sharing!

  10. I agree with you. You have to be honest with yourself and your readers and only promote things that you believe in. What a wonderful post.

  11. I'm so glad I was able to offer some insight, and honored that I'd be the person you'd call on for said "reality check!" It's hard to say no to free pretty shiny things, so hats off to you for being able to stand up for what you feel is the right thing to do for you and your blog space.

    I own a lot of hats, lady. And I tip them ALL to you. :)

  12. I definitely respect you for saying no to doing reviews. I do think it's important to note that when companies ask bloggers to review products, they don't expect a good review, I read reviews all the time where people say that they weren't entirely happy with whatever product they were asked to write about. For fashion blogs that focus on make up, this is valuable advice. Just like reviewing an online bookstore would be valuable advice for the readers of a book lover's blog.
    I definitely think it's something that a blogger must be careful about, because it's obvious when someone is reviewing products that don't "fit" them just to get free stuff.
    I've never done a review on my blog, even though I've been approached. I'm not sure what I'll do when an opportunity comes along that I'm actually tempted to take.
    Thanks so much for being so honest!

  13. So happy to hear this from you. I got the datevitation email or whatever, and at first thought yeah cool! then i realized i would never buy this shit and it was mindless consumerism. i'm not sure i fall 100% in your vision, but i do enjoy when people don't support something that they don't wholeheartedly believe in.

  14. I don't have a problem with accepting free stuff, no siree, but I never agree to heap on the praise unless I genuinely love the product. Any press is good press and most companies will accept your honest review either way.

    It's true though, you gotta do what's right for your blog.

    BTW, I happen to have two straightening irons at home and a head full of curly hair I don't intend to straighten so message me if you want a free product you don't have to write about. ;p

  15. I toil with this a lot --- to date, I've turned down a few things because they didn't suit my blog and I wasn't comfortable with the entire idea of it. I don't mind other bloggers who do it (except those where it seems like every other post is a sponsored post of sorts) and perhaps something will come along in the future that will seem like the perfect fit but for now, I'm with you.