When I first entered the world of blogging, I had no idea ‘freebies’ even existed. It was only when those disclaimer stars began popping up on all of my favourite blogs that I realised brands sent samples to bloggers in exchange for a review. To be honest, my initial reaction was – isn’t their review a little biased if the brand is involved in the first place? Surely, if they hated it – they couldn’t possibly tarnish its reputation by giving it a negative review. Surely, a freebie equals a positive review. Right?
In the early days, I wrote a really negative review of a Garnier Tanning product which I bought with my own money and had an awful experience with. It was streaky, badly pigmented and badly packaged. In essence, I hated it. And with all of my 4 readers to tell, I didn’t hold back with my review. I’m sure the brand weren’t concerned I would ruin their reputation but it felt good to be honest and publicly air my complaints. Hopefully, I thought, they might actually read my review themselves and take my feedback on board. I’ve now taken the post down as it was so badly written and the spelling mistakes are just embarrassing, however it felt good to be honest and this is the motto I have upheld throughout.
Now, things have changed a little bit and I am lucky to receive several samples each month to review and try out on my blog. As I also have written for a few other online beauty columns, several products have made their way to me through this, however the majority of products sent are done so for the primary reason they are expected to be reviewed on my blog. Admittedly, only about 65% of what is sent to me gets review on my blog, as I try to filter out what I think the people reading my blog would be interested in. However, it is very strange and a little overwhelming at first to have products sent to you, for you to then air your honest opinion. I’m no beauty expert, I just love writing about beauty, what if I don’t review it correctly?
I know many bloggers have the disclaimer on their site similar to this ‘If the product is marked by a *, this means it has been provided to me by a PR and therefore was not paid for by me. This does not however, affect my opinions in any way and I am always 100% honest with my reviews’. In fact, even I have this very same disclaimer on my site. Is it hard, though? To write an explicitly negative review when you know a PR has given you it for free? Well, yes at first. But it pays to be honest.
Freebies are a perk, that’s a certainty. I still spend a fortune (or what seems like a fortune) on beauty products and make-up (in fact, nearly wiping the entirety of my bank balance beauty shopping in Paris is telling of how much I spend) but it is nice to have products sent to you to test out, which you then discover you really love. I’ve made no secret of the fact I love a goody bag, or that I love a good freebie. I’ve been sent some amazing things. However, they are by no means the best part of blogging. The best part is having a voice to write exactly how you feel and that’s my stance on writing about freebies too.
I didn’t write this post to brag about freebies, or to dis-credit other bloggers who may or may not provide great reviews based on the ‘free’ factor, I just wanted to explore the topic – as I know it is one that surrounds the blogging community on a very regular basis. Whether you agree with bloggers being sent them, or not – I will admit, it’s great to have lots of reviews on products (honest or not) with photographs, before purchasing. If I am making an expensive beauty investment (that’s what I call at least), I will spend an hour at least browsing through blog reviews. In many cases, I’ve bought a product based on a recommendation and in many cases – I have been discouraged to buy a certain product (based on a negative review) and have found a different suggestion instead.
Whatever your stance on freebies, they are an integral part of the blogging world, but one we should be honest about. We shouldn’t feel obliged to write a great review if the product is rubbish, so make sure you stick to your own voice – even if a few freebies each month, is a real treat!