I want to talk about something that really irks me. It’s a relatively new irk, brought on by modern sources of irksomeness like social media, bloggers, and *whispers it* asking for freebies. The moaning and groaning, the attempts at exposés, and people urging others to “name and shame” is so negative and tiresome. All this Freebie Shaming has got to stop.
What’s Freebie Shaming?
Well I’ve maybe just kinda made it up, but as it sounds, it’s trying to make someone (let’s call them Entity A) feel like a bag of shite for asking someone else (let’s call them the ever-so-catchy Entity B) for freebies; that is, some kind of product or service. For free. Gratis. Nothing. Nottn. Nowt.
Who’s Asking for What?
The people who do the most moaning about freebies, as any cursory dip into social media will reveal, seem to be both service providers (restaurants, independent businesses, etc) and equally bloggers (you know what bloggers are. I’m one of them. You’re reading a blog. It’s my blog. I’m a blogger).
Their roles in the potential exchange of freebies can be as either Entity A or B. Perhaps the restaurant (as Entity B) is aggrieved that a blogger (Entity A) has had the ‘cheek’ to ask for a free meal in return for a feature. Or perhaps a brand or someone who does their PR for them (Entity A) has asked a blogger (Entity B) to feature them in a blog for free and they’re insulted at the lack of cold hard cash.
It’s very easy to follow, just remember it like this: the A in ‘Entity A’ stands for ‘Asker’ (the person who does the asking) and the B in ‘Entity B’ stands for Bellend.
What’s Wrong With Asking for a Freebie?
Fuck all actually, you know.
People might lead you to believe that there’s something wrong with it because we live in a world where people pretend to support each other but in reality harbour an almost subconscious resentment of other people getting their mitts on anything they feel that person doesn’t truly deserve, be it a no.1 record, successful business, or a free meal.
Why Everyone Needs to Calm Down
If you don’t feel that the proposed exchange of goods or services meets your standards, your needs, your skills, or your vibe then that’s fine.
It’s worth bearing in mind though that the saying ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ rings true here. Bloggers, for example, don’t actually get a ‘free meal’. They just don’t pay for it in cash. To the uninitiated or disinterested it might seem an unbalanced exchange of goods and services but depending on a blogger’s readership, number of followers, reach, etc then in fact sometimes their hourly work rate might be greater than the value of the meal if they were a paying customer.
You might not understand it, agree with it, or even respect it. But that’s the way the world works these days and all the moaning arses who slag bloggers off for it just make themselves look bitter.
Similarly, not all bloggers mind blogging for free. True, ‘exposure’ doesn’t pay the bills. But some bloggers have other sources of income that do pay the bills. Some bloggers – believe it or not – blog for fun or from a passion for something, not to try and get rich or be online celebs.
You don’t have to belittle those who do take up brands’ offers without payment. Perhaps they want some more experience under their belt, perhaps it’s a brand they’re such a big fan of that they don’t need an incentive. Or perhaps they’re just not arsed – and neither should you be.
The Dignified Approach
If you’re a brand moaning that a blogger asked you for something that you weren’t willing to give, then what you’re really trying to achieve is making yourself look in demand or exclusive. Instead, you’re really making yourself look narky, unwelcoming, and out of touch. The absolute worst are the ones whose existence is owed to crowdsourcing and kickstarters but somehow the irony of their hypocrisy is lost on them.
If you go one step further and brandish about cringe inducing threats to ‘expose’ someone for asking for freebies then I hope your business folds because you really are a grade A shit.
If you get so many requests that it genuinely wastes your time, draft a standard response to any such enquiries saying it is your policy not to work with bloggers but thank them for their interest and perhaps link them to your Instagram account so they can tag you in photos if they chose to visit as a paid customer. No harm done: you get to keep all your precious food to yourself and perhaps get some incidental additional exposure by being friendly.
Again, this works both ways. So if you’re a blogger banging on about brands not paying you for services then the same applies: hit them with a standard response to say you only take paid work. There is no harm in them asking. They are trying to deliver under budget for their client. Stop acting like you’ve never asked for freebies in your blogging career and stop taking everything so personal. This isn’t about you. This is about them trying their luck.
Yeah exposure doesn’t pay the bills but you know what else doesn’t pay the bills? Moaning on twitter.