Nothing is really FREE in blogging

First off this post has made me realize I’ve been online for 20 years. That is like almost half of my life. I started my first personal website in February 1997 (incidentally I started blogging a decade after in 2007). I was obsessed with the Sailormoon anime series. Geocities was my first home on the web and I still remember my url — http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Towers/3531. While my site wasn’t a blog, it was where I shared Sailormoon-related content. I created detailed character profiles, TV episode lists, shopping guides, etc. It was very well received.  Most of my readers were fellow Sailormoon fans and I enjoyed interacting with them in a forum I used to maintain.

While my domain and hosting were free, I had to buy my materials. I’d buy art books, mangas, videos, collector cards, and other Sailormoon merchandise (I still have a lot of them). But it was okay because that’s what fandom is. You’d buy these things even if you weren’t running a website. I had a lot to share so that was one of the main motivators for my Sailormoon site. There was no brand or company who would send me Sailormoon stuff. I built the site from ground up using my own resources.

GiftsWell Geocities died — that’s one of the dangers of free hosting. My Sailormoon site is gone forever. I have no back-ups because it was purely a hobby and I didn’t think that far. I can only go back to parts of it thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine.

Anyway back to blogging. I started blogging at Multiply.com. I don’t remember the year but I am guessing it was around 2006 or 2007 because I stayed there a couple of years before moving to Blogger.com in 2009. Moving to Blogger.com proved to be the right decision at the time. Suddenly I was getting invited to media/blog events. Some brands and PRs would also send me things to feature and review.

Now I don’t know where people get the idea that bloggers get a lot of freebies. The truth is, NOTHING in blogging is free. Sure it looks great on IG, you think wow she gets gifts everyday. But these things aren’t really gifts. Gifts are things you get for your own personal enjoyment without obligation and without any expectation on the giver’s part. The stuff bloggers get? They come with certain expectations and deliverables. Say Brand A sends you several colors of their newest lipstick. You are expected to do product shots, swatches, and a feature or review. If you don’t deliver, they will probably never send you anything again. That’s how it works. It’s not free. You’re supposed to give the brand and PR “gifts” exposure and media mileage. If you can’t or won’t, it’s going to be pretty much a one time occurrence.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If a restaurant invites you to try their dishes, you don’t just get to eat for nothing. As with products and physical “gifts”, you are expected to share your experience across your blog and social media accounts. Now a few bloggers and influencers are paid to do these things… but most are not. The majority will get free products or some GCs at most while some won’t even get anything.

There are brands and PRs who will bombard you with e-mails “for immediate release”. Kind-hearted(?) individuals will take it upon themselves to post all these things for nothing, hoping to gain brand and PR’s goodwill so that someday they too can be invited and sent “gifts”.

Then there are events. For the life of me, I still can’t figure out why people are so addicted to events. Because I can’t speak for everyone, I’ll use myself as an example. Let’s say I am invited to a canned food launch in SM Mall of Asia. If I accept, I’ll have to drive for an hour or more from QC to MOA (that’s just one way!). Then I’ll have to do coverage work at the event — make sure I get the gist of the program, take photos, talk to people, and the whole shebang. Afterwards I will get a few canned goods for my trouble. When I get home (that’s another 1-2 hours drive), I will need to blog about it and maybe share on my SNS accounts.

This is precisely why I decline most events. If they are far and require a lot of work, I am better off doing actual work to earn my keep. Is access to this kind of scenario worth the gatecrashing and all other unsavory behavior on some people’s parts? Please refer to Esquire’s TupperwareGate article for details. I’m not saying I agree with it but it’s the most compact summary of recent events.

Bloggers get freebies all the time you say? No not really. I’ve been saying it all along — NOTHING in this industry is truly free. Everything comes at a cost. Plus there’s the sad reality that products and GCs don’t pay the bills.

This isn’t a rant and I am not complaining. I’m happy with what I’m doing and I’ve always tried my best to keep it real. Blogging has opened many doors for me. I’ve met a lot of good people, traveled to beautiful places, and tried cool new things because of blogging. Just trying to debunk certain misconceptions.

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24 Comments

  • Reply Joy Felizardo August 15, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for voicing this out, for being the voice of most of us bloggers who treat blogging as a profession and sometimes goodwill. Super spot on! Pr’s and marketing staff send us their products because they know we have built a reputation for ourselves and we’re not in it just for the freebies or to get into events.

    • Reply animetric August 15, 2017 at 11:52 am

      I really believe that if you start a blog solely to get “freebies” which aren’t really free, you’re not going to last.

  • Reply Michelle August 15, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Awesome post. I think some people consider those tokens as “freebies” because they don’t see what comes with it: deliverables on blogsites and social media accounts. They haven’t
    also considered the travel time and expense that come with them. Kaya tama, walang free talaga. 🙂

    • Reply animetric August 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Traffic is getting worse by the day kaya nagiging mas hassle pa mag-attend. Noong 2008 I can drive to MOA in 30 minutes. Now di na ata possible yan.

  • Reply cheryl August 15, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I like the part, why bloggers addicted to event? With this Manila traffic truly a waste of time. A 2 hour or more traffic could be use to write 2 more chapters or 2 blogposts. Truly a good article Rowena!

    • Reply animetric August 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Thanks! Traffic is really the ultimate time-waster. O_o

  • Reply Andie Yey August 15, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Same reason I decline most event invites kahit I’m super new. It’s not pag-iinarte or attitude. I have to work and going to most events takes almost 50-100% of a day. Working lets me afford what is in the possible lootbag and more, tapos hindi pa ako pagod na pagod na pagod.

    • Reply animetric August 15, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Yes some kasi think na ang arte naman iniimbita na nga pero grabe talaga eh, lalo na with our current road and traffic condition.

  • Reply Ajay August 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    This is my favorite part: “products and GCs don’t pay the bills.” Bloggers don’t have a salary, plus we really should do the math of expenses vs income before committing to events

    • Reply animetric August 15, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Sad but true di ba lol. Kaya who can blame those who choose to sell their products and GCs? Some people need to convert them to cash in order to fund their blogging lifestyle because like it or not you need to spend for transportation etc.

  • Reply Karen August 15, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    This is so true. Nothing is free. You pay it back in terms of time, effort, writing skill, promotion.

    As for “addicted to events,” some bloggers want to attend all the events they can, the more the merrier. Some do it for the fame, some do it for the loot bags. Some even feel sad if they don’t have an event on a certain day. LOL, I sound like Alicia Keys.

    Ako, I’m not sad because I consider those free days where I can work on my backlog and other things. Hindi naman kailangan araw-araw may event. Pahinga din minsan 🙂

    • Reply animetric August 15, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      I can understand the excitement because once upon a time meron din akong phase na ganon. Popularity isn’t defined by number of events attended though. Look at the top ones like Anton Diaz, they hardly ever attend anything yet everyone knows who they are lol.

  • Reply michymichymoo August 16, 2017 at 12:49 am

    Amen to this post. When I started blogging, I didn’t even know about the events and freebies. It’s fun and flattering to receive gifts and invites to events, but most of the time, we end up spending more. Transpo pa lang mahal na, plus the time spent for attending events. I agree with the comments above, blogging is a commitment talaga. 🙂

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei August 17, 2017 at 12:13 am

      Yes like any other endeavor blogging isn’t something you can truly succeed at with a half-hearted attitude.

  • Reply GoodFoodTrip August 16, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Hahaha! I was hooked to that TupperwareGate-serye. I read your comment there too! Nakakaloka and astonishing she said she’s been blogging for several years but I never came across her blog or met her during events. Well, anyway.. Great read, as always, Rowena!

  • Reply Dinna August 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I always say, “Meralco doesn’t accept makeup pr lotion as payment” or “You can’t feed your family lipstick.” That seems funny but not for a blogger who is just trying to earn an honest living.
    While I started with print, being with bloggers and vloggers at events and trips has given me a glimpse at how hard they work. So many of them are honest and hardworking. There are some bad eggs, yes, as there are in print.

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei August 17, 2017 at 12:27 am

      That’s true. Every industry has its share of bad eggs and turning blogging into a full time career is not easy.

      It’s like the belief of some that if you become an artista you will become popular and wealthy. For every Daniel Padilla or Kathryn Bernardo we see there are scores of aspiring actors/actresses who will never enjoy even a tenth of the success Kathniel has attained. In the same way some think that if they blog they will eventually get access to all kinds of perks and freebies, be famous, etc.

  • Reply Dinna August 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I just boasted that I’m from print media and my post has a typo. It’s or, not pr. Sorry for whatever other typos.

  • Reply Dinna August 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I just boasted that I’m from print media and my post has a typo. It’s or, not pr. Sorry for whatever other typos.

  • Reply Mary Love August 21, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Totally agree! Sadly, there are establishments/brands too who try to get us to do more than blogging but expect to pay in GCs. If only Meralco, Globe, etc. also do x-deals.

    • Reply animetric August 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Some even try to get bloggers to do it for “free content” which is even worse. O_o

  • Reply ladymyx | myxilog.blogspot.com September 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    This says it all. I had my very first event with SM last month and I had to sacrifice my whole day for a pair of shoes and some GC, It was a nice experience being invited on events like that but yes, those stuffs don’t pay the bills.

    • Reply animetric September 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      True, you really have to prioritize and somehow make sure that whatever you choose to do is worth your time and effort. 🙂

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