6.05.2014

Blogging for free or fee?


Source : Africanbloggerawards.com
1) Do you intend to start your own blog?

2) Have you heard about all the freebies and money that a blogger earns?

 
If your answer to point 1 is yes because of point 2 , I would advise you to seriously reconsider. Sorry to burst your bubble, it is a wrong way to motivate oneself from blogging. Blogging is not the 'Goldmine' mainstream media painted . The gold may exist for the rare selected few, but it remains elusive to the majority. Besides if you intend to just blog for money, where is your credibility if you are merely a walking billboard or a paid mouthpiece?


Before I start, I would like to reiterate. Blogging does not make me money. It makes me friends; it allows my boys to enjoy new experiences. Occasionally we do get 'freebies, in terms of the products we review or events we attended. Although technically I would disagree on terming it as a freebie, as we do return a post in kind. In economic terms, this is known as barter trade. However if you have been around our blog, you would have noted that most of the content generated would be based on our own personal experiences. On numerous occasions, they are at our own expenses too. After all I started blogging as a hobby rather than for the goodies.

Yes blogging is indeed a tough business, which is why it should not be one (at least not for us at the moment)

Our philosophy towards blogging is simple. It opens doors for new experiences. Some of these experiences are unique and even priceless; that itself 'pays' for the post. I must admit , keeping up with relevant content can be demanding especially when you are doing this on a one man show ( in my case one man , two little boys and a very accommodating wife) This is why I open the doors to sponsorship, media invites and product reviews on our blog.

No, it is not selling out.

Rather through these, we can endeavor to bring our readers the latest trends, the best places to bring the family for a day out or an awesome product for the children. Bottom line,we welcome sponsors, especially those that come bearing the promise of a wealth of experiences that would otherwise be beyond our reach.

Our posts take time to conceptualize . Mind you, writing a post is not an easy task. First , you have to attend the event, do research if you are writing a product review, take thousands of photos , select and edit the 100 + photos you took, write your 1000 words post and finally edit it . From start to finish, it could take at least 6 hours, if not days to complete one decent post. If you think all these sounded like hard work, it is . So it is not unreasonable to be compensated for the time and effort invested, even if it is non-monetary. For the record, a post like this without much photos can take a few days ( or even weeks) to write and edit.

And I am not paid to write this.

In case you are wondering, blogging for free does not mean necessarily mean free to the blogger. For one , expenses like admission , transportation , food, lodging, not to mention invaluable time spend in order to gather information for a post . Without a little help from sponsors, these will probably burn a lot of holes in one's pocket.

Over the past 2 years since we started, we had met up with many benefactors who had in some way or another contribute to our existence on the net. We are thankful to all of them for the support. Mostly they were quite receptive to what we post, positive opinions , negative feedback , beautiful pictures, mediocre photos, warts and all. However there are occasions where we were given the spin around and taken for a ride. We do have a few unwanted encounters on partnership or collaborations that turn out sour. So we would like to address some quirks bloggers face with sponsorship or PR agencies.
  • Requesting for collaboration and upon agreement, then ask you to purchase the product or pay your own expenses for review.
We are not unreasonable folks, the sponsors can loan us the item and we can return after the review. But to ask us to purchase it on our own for review, we would not do so.

To illustrate , there was this particular incident when the family were invited for food sampling . Instead of a meal, we were humiliated by a staff who deemed us as unworthy to serve because our sampling was complimentary. We were made to wait for an hour , talked down in a demeaning manner and were asked to pay for water (?) In the end, we chose to decline their meal. We did received an apologetic phone call thereafter from the owner who invited us ( she was not present at that time), but the damage was done. Not only do we have to put up with an incredulous invitation from hell , our weekend was effectively ruin.

Sponsors need not pay us to blog, but that does not mean we have to pay people to blog about their products on their request AND be humiliated in the process. So for all the stories about bloggers expecting freebies, 'sponsors' are as guilty by demanding free publicity and on extreme cases, expect bloggers to pay and write for them.
  • Doing a bait and switch
It is always a happy situation when we reach an agreement to collaborate with sponsors. However for those who claim to 'select' us as the blogger to collaborate, only to turnaround to say that it was a mistake as they are just gathering names and stats, the experience left a sour taste in our mouth. We are most willing to share our stats ( no it is not 36-24-36) but do not bait us with false promises. Note to agencies - be sincere , we promise we would be nice in return.
  • No Follow up
The PR sends an invitation, we accepted. Afterwards there is radio silence. So where do we go from here?
  • Wrong product fit
I have emails that starts with 'Dear Mommy Blogger..You may be interested in the latest maternity wear'

I am a Dad. Nuff said.
  • Addressing you with a WRONG name.
Words like 'exclusive' or 'we love your blog' are meaningless if you get our names wrong. Do read our Bio or contact information before sending us a Dear Blogger post. We are not anal about being exclusive, but emails that are personalized will most likely get our attention as it shows you actually read our little blog. Emails that address us as someone else will make us scratch our head. How do we reply?
  • Weekday event during working hours
I do not blog full time. I cannot afford to. I need to put food on the table with a regular job. To top it off , my children are obliged to attend school during school hours. No, I will not skip work or pull my kids from school for an event, unless it comes with a million bucks... but that is another story titled 'Blogging and Greed' . Not all bloggers blog full time, not many can afford to especially if you are doing it as a hobby.
  • Press releases
Finally for those who constantly bombarded us with press releases (without any invitations or product trials) , thanks for keeping us well informed. Regretfully we would not feature them unless we are doing our annual events listings for the holidays for our readers' benefits. It would be unwise for us to recommend anything unless we had experience the event/ product in some ways. Only through real experiences can we give decent and fair reviews for our readers. We are not specialists in cut and paste.

Bloggers are known to be content creator or social influencers, but not photocopiers. So for press releases, it usually gets shifted to my special folder (otherwise known as trash) real fast.

Where is our bottomline?

After 4 decades of existence, it is great to find a hobby that I can share with my family. In a way blogging does that, as it allows me to explore the different aspects on photography and writing. The family , especially the children, get their lion share of new experiences to savour. I have no qualms on blogging pro bono. There are occasions when we use our own expenses for such posts. The content that existed in this journal were because I felt that they were good enough to share. The MAIN rule remains. We must experience what is written, else this blog would be nothing but a catalogue you can pick up at ToysRUs.

I have no intention of going down the road . Thus when such a situation happens, it is rather unpleasant dealing with it, especially if you are well aware that you are being take advantage of. I am sure that these situations are not peculiar to me. Most of the time the invitations are 95% legit but there will always the 5% 'lead to nowhere' situations ( increase to 50% if you include press releases)

Finally I would like to use this opportunity to declare the following
  • We are not a 'cut and paste 'catalogue
  • Respect is mutual, it is earned not given. It applies to both bloggers and sponsors alike.
  • Sponsors who desired a collaboration base on REAL LIFE experiences instead of reprinting press releases are most welcome with us.
To remove any reasonable doubts, we don't merely blog for income. We blog because we love to experience and share our adventures be it bartered or sponsored. For full disclosure, we do received items in kind in order to share the latest products or events with our readers. We are no so lucky to recieve 4K for an individual post or that 40k sponsorship.

So to answer our own question.

We blog to bring you real experiences, free, fee and the whole shebang..

If at this point you feel the urge to contribute to our blog as a show of support, do drop us an email at (thewackyduo @ yahoo.com). Any contributions to the children's educational fund are most welcome. (Disclaimer : This is not a solicitation post , let's call it Crowdfunding instead) 


Epilogue 

Bloggers have evolved from merely diary writers to content creators to social influencers. To put it in perspective, we owned the blogs we set up. From paying the annual domain fees, to updating the blogs with our own content ; Bloggers have become media owners in their own right. Thus it is the prerogative of the bloggers to market the blogs the way they deem fit. This is a free market. For those who chose to monetize their efforts, they are to be applauded for their entrepreneur spirit. For the successful ones, no matter how envious we are, we cannot belittle their efforts and achievements. Most worked hard for the rewards. More importantly both sponsors and readers love them for it.

Regardless of the debates of blogging for fee or free, there are always 2 sides of the coin to every tale. There are no rights or wrongs to this debate. There are only writers and readers.

Updated March 2016

With the IRAS guidelines on Bloggers for declaration of income for both monetary and product in kind, it had made blogging challenging for bloggers like us that blogs as a hobby. As we are usually blogging on a barter trade policy, this effectively means we are paying out of pocket for engagements in form of taxes. Given this scenario,  it is not just about blogging for free or fee but do we want to pay to blog about our interest.

Any thoughts?



18 comments:

  1. I am not a blogger or blogger wannabe, but I love this article. So well-written, peppered with wry humour. (Oh well, I guess you already know I am a fan of your blog. heehee!) =D

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    1. Thanks for the compliments Carol . Made my day :)

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  2. yo M, so lengthy post.
    At the end of the day, we blog for ourselves, and experience, $$ is bonus.

    For those who always say "bloggers so good, free this and that", I say "Start a blog" :)

    cheers, andy
    SengkangBabies.com

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    1. Andy , good summary. Should have added your line in :)

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  3. Well-written! I can identify some of the sentiment that you shared!

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  4. *Clap clap clap* Thanks for speaking for the majority of bloggers. Bloggers are often being misunderstood as earning an easy income from blogging. Blogging is not easy and definitely not just for the sole purpose of getting freebies.

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  5. You wrote out our feelings and summarized the key points very well in this article! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  6. Very well written with all points covered! There are too many misconceptions about bloggers in general and am so glad you wrote about it. And so bingo about those press releases that gets on my nerve all the time. :p

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    1. Thanks Adeline! My press release folder is twice as big as invites :)

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  7. Thank you for sharing what many other bloggers would have wanted to say. Keep up with the passion! :)

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  8. Enjoyed reading this post and resonated with it! Especially liked the Epilogue as your closing phrase. :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this post and thanks for dropping in Natasha!

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  9. You're 40 years old already meh?? Haha. Still look young :p

    Anyway very well-written post. If one doesn't have the passion to begin with, doubt the blog can last very long. Mutual respect and understanding is certainly needed if a blogger/sponsor relationship is to exist!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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    1. No typo here. Approaching the big 40 soon. Anyways they say 40s is the new 30s, so that may explain the youthful look .haha :) Thanks for your comments Ai!

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