Should Bloggers be Asking for free stuff?… The Story of the Influencer vs the Hotel Owner
January 24, 2018
This post is based on a recent story about an influencer’s negative response from asking for a free stay at a hotel, that’s gone slightly viral (so some of you might be aware already). I also just released a podcast episode on this where I go into more detail that you can find linked here.
What caused me to discuss this issue?…
I actually found this story on Reddit, about an online influencer called Elle Darby (if you’re interested in finding out about the story just type in her name on Google), who emailed a hotel asking for a free stay in return for marketing on her social channels. This story exploded as the hotel owner had quite a negative response, thus leading to this influencer posting about it on YouTube. It turns out, this hotel owner is quite a controversial figure and probably the worst person that she could have emailed, hence the over the top response. Long story short (and the story does go on from both sides…), this influencer was frequently referred to as a ‘blogger’, and bloggers have been dragged into this debate. So this made me think, should bloggers be asking for freebies?
My experience contacting a company
I recently myself emailed a company operating tours in Iceland, asking if they worked with travel bloggers in this sort of way. The reason for this, is that I’d actually discovered this company because of a blogger. I was researching Iceland and stumbled across a post doing similar things we wanted to do, in the post, this blogger put at the bottom that she had received a tour in return for writing about the company and her tour on her blog. As someone who has written about and reviewed tours in the past (none of which were for any financial gain and I would write honestly and in the same way either way), I looked at this other bloggers stats, and it seemed like if the company offered it to them, they might be interested in working with me. So I emailed them referencing this other blogger as my reason for getting in touch and asking if they were interested. In the end they politely declined, and that was that.
This was the first time I’ve made any sort of contact like this as I’m the first to admit, my blog is still very small, so don’t worry, I’m not deluded in thinking there is massive value yet in this type of thing for companies. The only reason I did reach out, is that I saw a similar sized blog (if not smaller), had worked with this tour company (and also if any of you have been to Iceland, you’ll know how expensive it is…), so I thought it could be an option. The answer was no, but they were polite, nice to deal with, and I’ve booked with them anyway and will write about my experiences using them as honestly as I would have done otherwise, sponsored or not.
The big question… Should bloggers be asking for free stuff?
So should bloggers be asking for freebies? Are we as bloggers or social ‘influencers’, sometimes too ‘entitled’ in asking for things in return for exposure on our online channels? Or is it merely a marketing transaction, where one person is offering to market a company in return for something of monetary value? Do you think that responding in such a negative fashion to such requests is the right thing to do?
I know what I think about all of this, and I talk about my views in the podcast episode, but I’d be genuinely interested in hearing other people’s views on this issue and any experiences you’ve had in similar situations. So what do you think?…