Today I was supposed to talk about my favorite recipes from 2020, but a recent article I read online on the Danish national news made me rethink that. So instead I’m gonna talk about the “promotional gifts as payment” that is often seen as the norm between bloggers and businesses, and why you shouldn’t accept it. And yes, I know a lot of you just gasped and started to shake your heads over that statement, but I promise you there’s a good reason for it.
So, let’s jump right in and look at it.
(Disclaimer: Most things I write in this post is based on Danish laws for bloggers and receiving gifts. Laws can be very different depending on where you live, and I urge you to read up on them, because no one wanna be hit with a fine or extra tax bill because of some missed law hiding somewhere)
Reason 1: you are worth more than the price of shampoo.
Imagine this, a really cool well known brand company contact you and ask YOU to help promote their new brand of shampoo. You get all excited because this could be a big thing for you, and you readily agree. You receive a shampoo in the mail, and quickly start working. You take a bunch of pictures, you try out the product for at least a week, you write the blog post, set it up and maybe even send it to the company for approval, then might have to do some changes. When you finally hit publish you need to promote it, share pics on insta and might even have to do a story about it.
And suddenly you’ve spend hours on this product, a product that cost the company probably next to nothing to give you, and that a lot of them can put in as “marketing expenses” and get some tax benefit from. And while the shampoo might be cool, it is far from worth the hours you’ve put into this product. Now, if a company had to actually go out and pay for a marketing company to spend the same hours on it, they would have to pay thousands, but they value your time to be worth about a few bucks.
But honey, I’m here to tell you that you and your time is worth a lot more. So stand up for yourself and demand to be paid what you are worth. You wouldn’t accept your boss at a 9 to 5 job to pay you with bottles of shampoo. So don’t let other companies do it.
Reason 2: Often you have to get money out of your own pocket
The next reason is a bit more specific, and is very much subject to change depending on where you live. But, bloggers working for companies are freelancers, and the product you receive is by law often seen as a salary. This means that you can be subject to having to pay tax on the actual sales value of the product you receive.
Reason 3: You can’t pay bills with shampoo
Now this one is probably the most obvious one. But if you wanna make your blog your living, well you need more than shampoo to pay the bills.
Reason 4: It hurts you financially
Now, we already talked about the fact that you might have to pay tax on the sales value of the product. But, did you know that it hurts you in other ways too? Have you thought about things like pension? Or vacation days? What about sick days if you’re put out of the game for 14 days? As a normal self employed person who receive real money, you would put a part of your income away fro things like these, but you can’t exactly divide a shampoo bottle up like that.
Reason 5: It hurts the economy
Now this might sound a bit far fetched, and I am not a economist, but, hear me out. If you received a normal paycheck, you would spend those money on food, and bills, and shopping. The money would be put into circulation, helping keep the wheels of the economy in motion. That paycheck would end up helping businesses stay alive and keep people employed. Your shampoo bottle does none of these things, however, meaning it helps no one but the company who get to pay peanuts for something that should rightfully be paid in cold hard cash.
I know that as a newly started blogger, it can seem like a big thing if a company contacts you and offer “free” stuff for a blogpost or social media exposure. But please value yourself higher than that. Help us all by demanding you get paid for your time.
It’s not okay that we as a group are accepting to be valued less. Other creative groups (photographers, writers, painters, cartoonists, and so on) are fighting to get the pay they deserve, and it’s about time we join the fight and demand to be paid what we are worth.
I know I sound like an angry old hag, but I do hope this has at least made you think a little.
As an end I would like to say that there is exceptions to every rule, and there are situations where tit for tat works very well. No one but you knows the actual situation, and it’s up to you to evaluate each offer and find the best solution.