What I think of bloggers who sell the freebies they get
One of the hot topics among beauty bloggers these days involve those who like to sell the freebies they get from brands. To be frank, we get so much stuff that it's truly impossible to even use everything, much less open most of what is gifted to us. Some bloggers see nothing wrong with selling while some prefer not to do it. In this post, I'd like to discuss the ethics of publicly selling gifts given and how this is perceived by both the bloggers and brand managers I've discussed this with.
First of all, let's not judge or condescend to those who choose to sell their press gifts. Many of them simply want to avoid waste and clutter in their house (believe me, it literally piles up!), and earn a little cash on the side too. Some just really need the money for more pressing priorities. It's just how it is.
They believe that the transaction between brand and blogger is finished once the blogger has written or posted on social media about the product/event/campaign. Once the feature is up, then the blogger thinks that she can do what she wishes with the products given to her. This is quite true but it's a bit different when it comes to selling the stuff. Some brand managers don't mind this, since they've gotten their desired exposure, but some mind.
Why? The main reason is that it devalues their brand, which then makes their effort in reaching out to the blogger rather a waste of time and resources. I mean, would Product X be good enough to buy if the beauty blogger who got it for free don't even want to keep it to use it? A good percentage of things sent to us will go to the discard pile because of incompatibility with skin type and personal preference, which is totally fine, but once we sell them on a public forum then we're basically saying "I don't want this." In public.
This is especially awkward when the blogger sells the product after a rave review, or after specifically requesting them from the brand. A recent example: a Fashion Blogger hinted heavily on a cosmetics brand's Instagram that she would like to try their products. Brand Manager then creates a kit of best-sellers specifically for FB. FB Instagrams it, doesn't even blog about it, and then sells the whole thing on Facebook after just a few days. BM is understandably upset because she cares deeply about her brand and took time out of her hectic day to arrange an unscheduled and unbudgeted press delivery. She also lost a few thousand pesos in sales because the customer bought from the blogger instead of her counter.
I know some magazine editors and writers also sell the things they get, but you don't see them putting it up on Facebook (or do you?). That's really the main issue: as a public personality, the minute you sell a used, free product publicly then you're undoing part of the work of those behind the brand. I've done PR for many companies and while I don't get upset about things like this happening to me and my client, I feel a twinge of regret that I didn't do my job better and chose more discreet people to work with.
It may be argued that this issue is just part of the cost of doing business. For bloggers, it's just a way for them to earn something back from the effort they put into running something as time-consuming and resource-draining as a blog. Because it is a LOT of work to create content, promote it, and be consistent about it. We have bills to pay. Most of the content we make is unpaid for by brands - versus print editors and writers who get a regular pay check - and a little cash never hurts. Blunt, but it is what it is.
Personally, I prefer not to sell the freebies I receive, publicly or privately. I do however give away products that don't work for me to my friends, family, and my readers. I only have limited space in my condo and I like making people happy with new things that just might work better for them. I don't announce this online. Everybody wins.
If you're my blogger friend and you sell what you get, then I've probably told you this in person: I get it. Do what you need to do, but perhaps exercise more caution and discretion.