A Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Why I Work For Free

July 9, 2019

This cuppa and a chat post comes off the back of a recent experience, and the discussion I then had a with a few people following on from that. It does talk mainly about the blogging industry, but I think my non-blogging readers may find it interesting too. Grab your cuppa people, lets talk about why I will work for free.

why i will work for free
Cuppa and a chat

I have wrote my blog for two and a half years now, and still love it as much now as I did when I started it. I love it when people message me telling me they have booked a hotel I have written about, or are taking a short break to a place I have featured. It genuinely, from the bottom of my heart makes my day. As I always bang on about, I want to encourage you to make memories and have experiences, so when you tell me that I have done that, my little heart swells up with happiness. Obviously, if you use my blog link to book the hotel or trip, even better haha!

why i will work for free
I write because I love it

Eventually, most people that write a blog, and I will go out on a limb here and say, 90% is probably a fair guesstimate, want their blog to hopefully become “a thing” That can mean many things to many people, and hugely vary in what they want their “thing” to be, but generally they do want their blog to become either a side hustle income, give them opportunity for gifted stuff or invited to events, or for it to become their job. First things first, I HAVE NO ISSUE WITH THAT. In fact, blooming good luck to you, you do you. I think its fabulous, and have voiced myself that I like to do small amounts of brand work throughout the year. I spoke about that in this post, What Does your version of Blog success look like?

However, I was slightly taken aback recently when I was contacted by a well meaning blogger after I published a post. I had written a hotel review, (An Executive Treat at The Grosvenor Hotel) and she messaged me to tell me that I had forgotten to declare it as ad, and she didnt want me to get into trouble. (For those of you that may not know, if bloggers are gifted or paid anything at all by a brand, we have to declare it an ad) I thought this was very nice of her, but explained that I had bought and paid for the room myself, out of my own money, so therefore it was not an ad. Well, this annoyed her and she explained why….

why i work for free
Writing about hotels for free annoys people apparently

She told me that I should not be writing a blog post for a hotel for free. I should be getting a fee or payment of some kind. In fact, she was cross with me for writing the “free post” as she felt “hobby bloggers” like me were damaging the blogging industry. Apparently, my working for free was bringing the fee’s that people could charge down, and I was making it harder for people to earn a living. That told me right!

I will not go into the backwards and forwards of our conversation, and I did see her point to some degree. I get that if so many of us are writing reviews etc without payment, why would hotels/restaurants/holiday companies pay a fee to a blogger. I did see her point, but it was a very one sided point. We did discuss it like adults, and agree to disagree. It did get me thinking though..

Why I will Work for Free

Every week, I will see someone that has written a post about “What you should be charging for xyz” or “Why you should know your worth with your blog” All sort’s of cheerleading posts telling us that, in the words of L’oreal, we are worth it! You can, if the mood takes you, buy 57 gazillion e-courses on “how to earn from your blog” or similar. I am not disagreeing with this in any way. I personally feel that bloggers give great first hand coverage on things, and if a company is gaining from them, then a working relationship and the blogger getting paid is fabulous. My trip to Portugal last year was a press trip, so I am not averse to sponsored posts etc, and will be doing more in the future.

why i work for free
My trip to Portugal last year was a Press Trip

However, my blog is not my job. My blog is my passion, my love and my escape from the stress that is hovering over my family. Yes, I do like to earn a bit of money from it, I am keen to do a little more brand work, and its amazing to get invited along to relevant experiences that I can tell you about etc, but it is not why I do it. Maybe one day it will be my job, who knows, but even then, I will write for free. The posts that I write, are from my personal experience, and 90% of them, maybe 95% of them, are bought and paid for by me. I tell you about them because I think they are to be shouted about, and I want you to go and have an amazing time too! I don’t think Im going to be the down fall of the blogging industry by telling you about my trip or hotel stay without charging the brand!

Also, and I appreciate this opinion could ruffle a few feathers, I personally do not enjoy reading blogs where it is all ads, sponsored posts or gifted items. In fact, I stop reading them. Be it right or wrong, but it does make me a little less trusting of what the blogger has to say if everything they write about has been paid for or gifted to them by brands. Im sorry if that is an unfair assumption, and I am not saying that all these bloggers write without integrity, but as a blog reader many, many years before being a blog writer, I can only speak my own truth.

why i will work for free
Im not here to bring about the fall on the blogging industry

I prefer blogs, especially travel/lifestyle blogs, where it is a mix of both paid (and I include “gifted items” in payment, it is a form of payment after all) and unpaid work. That shows me that there is passion and desire still to travel, and a genuine interest for the trip/event/meal etc, not just money on the table or a “freebie”. (One of the “bigger” blogs that I feel gets a great balance is The Wandering Quinn) If you are still sometimes putting put your hand in your pocket to buy whatever it is you are talking about on your blog, (and lets face it, you want us, the reader, to perhaps put their hand in their own pocket to buy it), then I feel more of a trust towards you.

Blogging is indeed a huge industry now, and so many people are out there living amazing lives through their blogs and the businesses that they have become. I think its fantastic that people can craft their own lives this way. I have worked for myself now for 20 years so totally get the draw of leaving the nine to five. I also want to reiterate (again) that I too have, and will continue to do, paid posts, gifted experiences and brand work. You can also bet your last pound that if someone wants me to fly to The Seychelles for a press trip, Im on that plane quicker than you can say factor 50!

why i will work for free
Just writing my notes on my Seychelles press trip…..

I do not want you to misunderstand my point. My point is that for me, I will always, without any doubt, “work for free” some of the time. Even if my blog develops into something more, I will share the things bought and paid for by me, with as much passion and enthusiasm as the things that are paid for or gifted to me by a “brand”. Even if my blog develops into being my income, I will still be as choosy as to what I accept to feature on my blog as I have always been. There has to be a genuine and experienced love for me for it to get on my little corner of the web. I don’t think that me working for free makes me a bad person, that I am cheapening the industry or that I am being an idiot working without a payment. I have always paid for my own trips etc, I will continue to do so…..and share them with you! It just makes me as excited to share things that I have loved with you now, as I was in my very first blog posts.

So, you know me by now, I value a discussion in these monthly posts. If you have a difference of opinion to me, don’t be afraid to voice it. I love to hear all sides and all points of view.

If you write a blog, do you still feature products/items/events etc without payment? How do you feel about bloggers working for free? If you are a blog reader, does it bother you if the blog you read is all paid for posts etc? Has the fact that blogging has become such a huge business now, changed your enjoyment of reading blogs? I would really love to hear your views on this. Tell me your thoughts!

xx

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22 responses to “Why I Work For Free”

  1. Nicola Murdock says:

    You are right to go your own way always.
    It is always wise to keep your integrity intact on your blog and I admire your honesty, we need more if that not less.
    It seems rude if someone to tell you different.
    I see the issue as there is far too many bloggers singing the praises of something they have gotten free or paid peanuts for as it makes it very difficult to see the truth!
    You have a lovely style of writing and I hope that trip to the Sayshells cones through soon.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Hi Nicola, thank you so much for stopping by. It is such an interesting subject I think. I am sure that it was just an outlet of frustration rather than anything to me personally, but I did kind of get her point. Thank you so much for your input, I love hearing other peoples views xx

  2. Susanne says:

    Ok a LOOONG ramble ahead! 🙂 And as usual, people are probably going to hate me.

    I think about this sometimes when I write reviews of whiskeys, but the truth is that I started doing it because I’m interested in whiskey, I taste many whiskeys, I like sharing about them, and writing about them helps me learn about whiskey. I’m not a professional writer so writing reviews as a hobby doesn’t disturb me.

    Doesn’t it always come down to the WHY you do what you do?

    Generally as you would probably guess, this whole discussion disturbs me a lot. First of all, bloggers who act like that lady did to you, should go back and do some reading about the history of blogging. Blogs started as hobby blogs. And the definition of a blog is still the same and it doesn’t say anything about making money or being an industry, even if many people on the internet would disagree. To me, the real blogs are the hobby blogs. As for sites selling stuff and doing sponsored stuff only, I consider them some type of commercial website with advertising articles, not a blog. I’m not interested in them, have never been and will never be. Sites like yours, and many others, with mixed content, are fine though, especially if the writer is, like you, clear about the intent with the blog, and shares some personal things – it makes the blog something written by and for humans. I can just skip what I’m not interested in.

    Lately I’ve been very annoyed by social media. Wherever I go it’s sell sell sell and all kinds of boring “fancier than thou” stuff. I’m not even happy about my Twitter feed for the whiskey blog account that I usually enjoy – it’s all about “look at this fancy single cask special special in-your-dreams-price whiskey that is so much fancier than anything normal people can buy”. Instagram bores me to death. I still write my whiskey blog but honestly I’m bored by that too, at the moment. Perhaps I need to take a break from reviews and find other topics (I have some on a list) – just that the last time I did that, I was quiet for 5 months.
    My whiskey blog has a lot of potential, and helps me connect with interesting people. I’ve written a few reviews on gifted items, but I’m hesitant about doing paid stuff, because I want to stay genuine and that people will still see it’s obvious I write out of a genuine interest. The real reason why I’ve never been interested in blogging for money is that I’m afraid it would change my blog, or how my blog is perceived. I use my blog to connect with people and maybe be known as someone who has a passion and decent knowledge of something, which may or may not lead to something I could earn money on, but I don’t want to earn money on the blog (I could consider using affiliate links or relevant ads if it’s something I could control when it comes to design, placement, content). I still haven’t seen ONE blogger who “sells out” and stay with the same interesting blog content or who doesn’t fill the blog with ads and sell sell sell messages..

    I’m very negative, haha 🙂 But you know me. I just want to write and chat with likeminded people. I like old school blogs (except the designs, lol) and I’m happy about people who make their dreams come true using their blog, BUT as long as they let people write hobby blogs in peace – there are different types of blogs and people need to accept that (I’m also included there).
    The internet of today isn’t my thing, and probably my change in lifestyle influences this too. I hate fake and when people tell other people what they should or shouldn’t do at least when it comes to things like these.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ahhhh I love your long replys Susanne, they always add so much to the pot. I have similar worries as you, in that I would never want my blog to become just a sales platform. I also worry that if it became “my job” then I would lose some of the pure enjoyment I get from it. I do like to earn a little from it as it pays my hosting, domain name etc. I think having a balance of paid and unpaid (and I include gifted in the paid) sits well with how I like my blog to feel. It is comfortable for me.
      I think its a good idea you have to try some new ideas. Why not? Its your blog, you can write what you like. You may find it sparks your joy again.
      I think the internet is a multi headed beast for sure. It has great sides, and it has a darker side. It is just staying out of the shadows!
      Thank you, as always, for your well thought out and thorough comment. You know I love to hear what you think, and always appreciate you.
      Thank you x

  3. Binny says:

    There is no rule so keep doing it for free <3 Your passion shines through and its your creative outlet. People shouldn't be meddling anyway!!

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      I think a mix of paid and unpaid is a great balance. If I love a hotel, I want to share. Im an over-sharer haha. Thank you for stopping by x

  4. Laurie says:

    I think we should all do what’s best for ourselves Kerry. Like you said. You do you. I like to earn to the best of my ability. I work hard for brands and expect them to pay. However, if I don’t like something it won’t make it onto my page. I get inundated with beauty stuff and offers of clothes but if I wouldn’t use/wear it, then I won’t be posting it on the blog. I do take some items unpaid for and those items if I like them will get a smaller mention on my weekly edits. If Dior was to offer though I’d do it for free Haha!

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ohhhh Laurie, I don’t even write fashion but if Dior came knocking,….. haha! I too like to earn from my blog, but I think if I decide to write up a review of somewhere unpaid, thats ok too isn’t it. I think also, if someone is building their content on their blog to showcase their style of writing etc, with a view to then start pitching to brands, they are doing a lot of posts for free. Even the huge bloggers would have been doing that at the start of their blogging journey wouldn’t they. It is so great to hear everyones views, thank you lovely xxx

  5. OMG! Can’t believe someone actually messaged you to say all that! (I can actually!) keep seeing stuff on twitter about blogging for free blah blah and it’s like yawn move on haha. I totally think if you enjoyed something/ liked a product etc you should write about it, why wouldn’t you, isn’t that what blogging is about, sharing our likes and dislikes in life. Sharing our experiences? Or maybe i’ve got the whole blogging thing wrong haha. I mean it’s great when people can make a career/money out of it, but I must admit sometimes when it’s all sponsored and ads how genuine is it? For ages I wanted my blog to ‘make money’ and become something, but it’s never going to be and that’s fine. I’m OK with that now and feel so less stressed about it. I started mine just to share random bit’s and to document stuff and I need it to get back to that. Anyway, I love all your reviews and hearing what you get up to and where you stay! People do seem to get bent out of shape about all sorts these days don’t they! xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      You are right actually, there has been a lot on twitter about this lately. Maybe its a bit of a bug bear for people at the minute? I do like to earn a little money on my blog, and being invited to review experiences I love even more, so if I choose to write reviews up just because I want people to know about them, thats ok to I think. I think having a mix of paid and unpaid is where I feel most comfortable on a personal level. Thank you so much for your input, I love hearing everyones views on these posts xxxx

  6. The dream is to have that balance isn’t it of paid and unpaid. People shouldn’t have a go if others just wanna share their experiences and thoughts should they, a bit unfair really. I love your cuppa and a chat posts Kerry, I hope one day we can meet in person for a good chin wag haha! xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Thats exactly it. Blog writing is time consuming and can be hard work, if the joy goes out of it and it becomes a chore, whats the point! Ohhhh that would be amazing! We would certainly put the world to rights wouldnt we Heather hahaha! xxxx

  7. kasiawrites says:

    What about all the free reviews of hotels that normally appear on most booking sites? I personally would look at those over any blog post about a hotel, paid for by the writer or sponsored. That’s just me. Having said that, yes, some people make money from doing hotel reviews and that’s fine. Just as many people make money from writing guides, books and other materials the someone else might offer for free. You should be able to write whatever you like on your own blog. Period.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Thats a good point actually. People write their trip advisor reviews all the time dont they. To be fair, I do not think this lady was having a go at me personally, I think she was just venting her frustration. That is what has always scared me about thinking of my blog as “a job”. The pressure to then secure those sponsored posts etc must take some of the fun out. Thank you so much for your input. It is so good to get a rounded view of other peoples thoughts x

  8. I feel that “treating blog as your job” is not a good idea always. Most small bloggers blog because it is fun or an escape from daily life as you said. When I started my blog it was an escape from daily stress, trying to find something positive in my life. If all bloggers were working on their blog to “get paid”, “get free stuff” where would fun be at? I love your travel posts where you write about hotels, reastaurants etc, you give your opinion and experience just the way you felt it and it is super genuine. I can’t say for most bloggers that they have that “genuine” feel to their blog, it is so hard to find nowadays. Looking forward to next blog post Kerry. xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ahhh thank you so much, I am so glad you love the travel posts, they are my passion.
      I think it’s great to get some reward for the hard work that goes into blogging if that is what you want, but I don’t think passing judgement on people that don’t is fair. Blogging never started off as a “job” . It started as an online diary for people to share life, so why do people think it’s wrong to still write like that! Thank you for joining in the discussion, I really appreciate it xxx

  9. Susanna says:

    Hi Kerry. YOU READ MY MIND! In fact I have a draft blog post of my own which is basically agreeing with everything you say! I am fed up of bloggers that do ANYTHING for money! It’s all sell sell sell. Where is the authenticity? I’m turning down most jobs I get offered at the moment as I feel like a show pony. I don’t want to lose the real me. I promote a LOT of local businesses in my town. I don’t expect payment or freebies. I do it because it might help them and I genuinely like their business.
    There is a lot of negative press about bloggers at the moment as being money grabbers and I don’t want to get sucked into that.
    Staying authentic is crucial for me as I know it is for you too. I will keep blogging my own way as I know you will too.
    Lots of love
    Susanna xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ahhhh see, great minds think alike. I agree with you totally about some blogs just becoming about selling. I find that especially in the fashion blogging world. I actually unfollowed lots of accounts that were ad after ad. Not because I disagree with them doing it, that’s down to them, but because it’s not the content I like to read. I’m not going to sit in judgment on them, but I feel I don’t deserve to be judged either for not wanting that for my own blog. I suppose like anything, when money is involved the game changes. I like having a balance of unpaid and paid, and will always and forever “work for free” when it suits me
      Let’s keep that authenticity in blogging Susanne, I’m with you xx

  10. I don’t like blogs where everything is gifted or sponsored. Often I unsubscribe. I want to know that people still have something to say when they’re not being paid for it. It doesn’t even have to be expensive products posts, but I am looking for people with stories to tell or opinions to share.
    Also, every week I’m offered really poor quality sponsored posts – I’m not going to sell out my blog just to make a few pounds for something I really can’t be proud of. I know it’s difficult if people don’t have another job or they want their blog to bring in income, but if your readers are leaving because they don’t like this kind of content, you won’t have anyone to read the rest of what you want to write.
    I’ve done a couple of posts with brands – not many, but I don’t really go out and look for them. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t take up an offer if it fit with the rest of my site, but my hobby blog is just that – not my main job and something I do because I enjoy writing and connecting with people. I enjoy sharing things I find interesting, or helping people to learn something.My business blog is different because it promotes my products and services. That’s ok.
    Overall I think the tide is turning. Certainly my own blog feed of blogs I follow has changed. It now includes people who write about much more varied topics. If I just wanted a bunch of reviews on gifted stuff, I may as well look at adverts in a magazine. I know a couple of people who say they really don’t like something if that’s the truth, but so many don’t, presumably because they fear they’ll be struck off the list of bloggers and influencers – I hate that word – that brands will want to work with. That’s not really objective, is it?
    Keep doing you – I think you’ll have a much more loyal following for it! XX

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      I agree with all you have said here Kirsty. Let’s be honest, a lot of hard work goes into writing blog posts etc, so for me, there has to be enjoyment, first and foremost. Yes I like to get rewarded financially occasionally for that hard work, but if I write about a hotel iv loved just because I’m excited to share it, I don’t see how that is wrong.
      I think we just all have to chill out and remember that everyone has their own reason and agenda for blogging, and that’s fine.
      Thank you so much for your input, it’s been brilliant hearing everyone’s opinion

  11. Jean says:

    Well I am not a blogger but do enjoy reading bloggers stories. I would like to think the people I follow write from the heart and not just because they have been paid for it, would they write it anyway after all it’s true life experiences we like to read about would it be the case if a fee wasn’t always paid, I hope so. Having said that, Good luck to people who make a living out of blogging.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Its a hard one Jean isnt it. I like to think that one the whole, bloggers do keep their integrity. I know on the paid posts I have done, I always still write my truth. I think having a balance of both paid and unpaid posts is the way forward. I appreciate your input, its interesting to hear what non-bloggers think too xxx

I love reading your comments x

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