But I have to tell you, all the recent discussion about
SwagHer BlogHer had me intrigued. What if I responded? It could be a teaching moment!
So I sent the nice marketing representative back an email saying that while I appreciated his email, I'm an eco-blogger who aims to avoid wasteful consumption. And having looked over the website of his company, I couldn't really see much of an environmental angle, and anyway current levels of consumption in the developed world are unsustainable. Then I told him to let me know if his company moves in a more environmentally friendly direction.
Well, the next day I got an email from the nice marketing representative wherein he thanked me for getting back to him, and pointed to a few products that his company sells that are made with sustainable materials. And then, and this is the kicker, he said if I wanted to review one of his products, he could send me anything worth up to a hundred dollars. For free.
Okay, some of you probably think this is funny, but I was completely shocked by this. Like ... for reals? A $100 product?! And all I'd have to do is write one lousy review? That's incredible! Who needs ethics when you can get free stuff!!
Okay, fine. I like my ethics. But, all the same, the offer was pretty enticing and I can completely see how others get sucked in to this product sponsorship vortex. Because blogging is hard work, there is little recognition, and it's cool to feel like you are on the cutting edge, reviewing the latest products on the market.
But ... at the end of the day, as a blogger, I am responsible to you, my readers. And frankly, I am not comfortable accepting a $100 product for free because I believe that that would compromise my ability to review said product impartially. Hell, I worried a little about accepting a free copy of Vanessa's book, but then decided that, frankly, my blog crush on Vanessa and her hair was more actually more problematic in terms of my impartiality.
Like I said before, I get it. I understand why some bloggers accept free products. I understand why some bloggers put advertising on their blogs. I too have considered advertising, and frankly, if a company that fit within my ethical standards asked to advertise here, I would probably think about it. It isn't entirely fair to castigate greedy bloggers; the issue is that media, as an institution, is typically funded through advertising. Which puts us non-consumeristic types in a bind. We can have principles or be paid for our work, but we probably cannot have both. And until anyone comes up with another means of earning money for web content, we'll continue to have bloggers promote companies for free stuff.
So, I have never before found it necessary to formally articulate ... any policy really, here at this blog. But things change, and I want to be as straight forward with all of you as possible. I will never accept money to review a product on this blog. Ever. While I reserve the possibility that I may occasionally accept a free product for review (such as Vanessa's book), I will henceforth make that crystal clear in my post. And I will never accept a free product for review that goes against my relatively non-consumeristic principles.
I haven't written the nice marketing representative back yet, but I plan to. While it would be nice to get some free stuff, the reality is that I blog to build a community. And as it turns out, this community? Is worth a whole lot more than a hundred bucks.