Why I Won’t Work For Free (And You Shouldn’t Either!)

I won’t work for free, so please don’t ask me to. work for free

If you’re not a blogger and you’re just happening upon this well-intentioned rant while searching for travel stories about yoga in Costa Rica or dressing up like a cowgirl in Wyoming, you’re probably thinking, “Um, yeah. Me neither. No one *works* for free. Why would you?”

Take a walk with me into my professional sphere — the mythical, magical travel industry — where every single day of my life, I get emails from companies (with plenty of money) trying to get me to do work for them for free. work for free

It can be a little tricky condensing all that my job entails into an easy explanation, but for the purpose of this post, I am a content creator. Sometimes I write whatever I want* based on my adventures, and I don’t get paid for that. That’s how my existence as a blogger began in 2006 with Big Apple Angie, and it’s why I created Angie Away, as a place to share the tales of my RTW trip.

*This hissy fit today is a prime example of me writing whatever I want. For free. Because ain’t nobody paying me to rant. work for free

Sometimes I write for magazines and newspapers, sometimes I am invited to speak at conferences or on TV shows about my travel experiences. I get paid for most of these endeavors.

Now that I’m an established online influencer, brands/destinations invite me to experience their offerings (hotels, tours, cars, products, etc.) and I’ll write about them or create YouTube content or take compelling photos they can use for their marketing/advertising campaigns. Other times, a brand or company will pay me to write a post about my experience for their website. There are dozens of variations on how these relationships can work. work for free

What’s important is that the partnership is a win-win for both entities. I get something and the brand gets something. work for free

Sometimes I get paid in cash (not Breaking Bad suitcases of it, but a reasonable amount depending on the project) and can I tell you a secret? I like those times the most! I can use cash for such luxuries as toothbrushes, chai lattes and not living with my parents.

On occasion, I’m happy to work out a trade provided I feel both parties are being compensated fairly. For example, if I want to experience a destination and I reach out to them, I might offer public relations or social media consulting in exchange for travel. Again, there are a dozen ways the deal can work, but it has to be of value to both parties.

That all seems easy enough and like a heaping dose of obvious common sense, right? Come over and take look at my inbox, which daily is filled with requests from companies trying to sneakily get me, and all the other bloggers out there, to create content – a.k.a. to do the job that pays the bills – for free.

There are three major tactics for requesting free work. First, they might offer something useless, like…

Content Creator Tips

1. Exposure.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I received yesterday:

“We want you to create an article where you discuss XYZ and link back to our page. What you include is totally up to you! We will be giving bloggers who write the most creative posts a shout out on our social media channels, so be sure to send the link along when it’s finished! As for a timeline, we would love for it to go live within the next couple of weeks.”

I should start by saying that the gal who emailed me was incredibly nice and I am sure we’d be great friends outside of this silliness. When I responded to her request for an article asking about payment, she said,

“Unfortunately, there is no compensation allocated for this campaign. We will be giving bloggers who write the best posts a shout-out on our social media channels!”

What in the actual heck? work for free

And can anyone tell me what the exchange rate is for “shout-outs” these days? ‘Cause I need to check with my landlord how many Tweets she will accept for this month’s rent.

If I spend my time creating content for companies, also known as advertising/public relations, then linking back to their site, which gives them authority and rank in search engine rankings, I’m gonna need more than “exposure.” I’m gonna need moolah.

Exposure is not a payment. It’s absurd to offer a TWEET, or even worse – the chance to maybe be considered for a Tweet — to a professional writer in exchange for hours of work.

Would you go to the dentist and offer to pay in exposure? Would you tell the guy who’s got pointy tools in your mouth that, unfortunately, there is no compensation allotted for this procedure, but if he does a really good job, you might Tweet about it later? Not if you wanted to leave there with teeth. It’s so icky! And patronizing! And condescending! And insulting!!!!!!!! (Can you see how serious I am based on the use of exclamation points?!  !!!!!!!!! I’m really serious about this!) work for free

Writing may not be as complicated as dentistry, but by Jove, it is a job. 

If a company wants you to do what you’re trained to do, they need to pay for it (preferably with money) so you can do your taxes on it and make a decent living.

(It doesn’t just happen to bloggers! Check out this absolutely absurd request from Mayweather/Showtime asking graphic designers to work for free. Mayweather won $80 million for his last fight, FYI.)

Content Creator Tips2. Sneaky Contests.

Queensland’s Best Job in the World competition in 2009 was a groundbreaking campaign because it was the first destination that really harnessed the power of social media for a worldwide PR effort. Finalists (me, in case you were wondering why I always cite it in posts like this) created a YouTube video and then amassed votes for the chance to spend 6 months as the social media-posting/ blog-writing Island Caretaker.

In the 5 years since, destinations have struggled to recreate the magic of this campaign. The problem? They often want to do it on the cheap, so they leave out the parts that made Queensland’s campaign successful… usually, the $100,000. Still, for your average consumer – NOT writers / bloggers/ online influencers – the chance to win a free trip is often reason enough to create a YouTube video and clamor for votes. (Note: regular people who win free trips aren’t expected to do work on behalf of the destination on these free trips.)

I’m not irritated by consumer-facing BJITW clones, so don’t get me wrong. What makes me crazy is the destinations who now try to recreate the Best Job experience with influencers — inviting me to create a video (something I get paid to do) and to harangue my followers who I work very hard to entertain for votes (so annoying), to win a chance to go on a press trip to their destination.

A press trip! A.K.A. a WORK TRIP where I will spend the entire visit churning out content for the destination.

Again… ex-squeeze me? work for free

Sure, these trips often take place in beautiful destinations, but they involve spending time researching, writing and creating posts not to mention the actual hours spent onsite at the destination, not working on other projects. The amount of work that goes into a week of this type of travel is staggering, and it lasts much longer than the actual week. It can go on for months. A trip I have to work on is not a prize.

Oh, and did I mention that after you get done competing against your colleagues, spamming your fans with requests for votes, attending the trip, writing up a bunch of posts and social media content, there’s usually no $100,000 paycheck at the end of the tunnel. Most of the time, there’s no monetary compensation at all.

Imagine emailing all the plumbers in your area to ask them to create YouTube videos for the chance to plumb your house. And then once you choose them, they get to plumb your house FOR FREE! Good heavens.

My motto: I am not going to compete with my colleagues for the chance to do my job. I’m not going to beg for votes so I can go DO. MY. JOB. FOR. FREE.

3. Free Product.

Every day, a publicist offers me something truly amazing, like a $6 bottle of suntan lotion from a well-known international brand, with the simple request for 500 words on my website about how it changed my life. Not gonna do it.

But, dude, FREE sunscreen! Get outta here!


I realize I may sound like a whiny, ungrateful jackwagon to all those who do really difficult jobs like nursing, firefighting and like, anything with math, so let me just caveat this whole post by assuring you that I LOVE THIS JOB and it’s the best and that’s why I chose to do it instead of, I dunno, accounting or something.

Yes, this job comes with perks and passport stamps and jealousy-inducing selfies, and yes, there are plenty of people who say they would do this job for free because of the perks. But once those free workers realize that they can’t pay for web hosting fees or visas or plane tickets with Instagram likes, they’d see the light.

The bloggers who do accept every free offer for exposure are the ones who mess it up for everyone else who’s trying to have a career, pay off or refinance their student loans or just, you know, eat food a few times a day.

If we all agreed, as an industry, not to participate in these ridiculous contests or accept “exposure” as payment, we might actually stop getting these insulting requests and start commanding some respect as an occupation. Anyone else willing to pick up a pitchfork with me?

/rant over. Now I could use a drink. Hopefully the bartender accepts Tweets…

*Sometimes it’s ok to work for free. Here’s some perspective from Seth Godin. 


Free Work

93 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Work For Free (And You Shouldn’t Either!)”

  1. Hey Angie! I love this. I was getting paid with only exposure for a while before I realized I had a kickass DA and pageviews & should already have been charging for my work. I think newer bloggers don’t realize their worth- and companies don’t research enough what our “reach” is. Now that I know, it’s slow but I am finally making money & I turn down all unpaid work unless it’s an equal exchange. You’re right though, we have to all stick together 🙂

    1. I totally agree! It took me a looooong time to realize my site’s worth. Hopefully this post will help other newish bloggers to investigate and be judicious with whom they are partnering. Solidarity!

  2. Alastair McKenzie

    Lol! Pretty much exactly word-for-word what Terry Lee (@TerryLeeTravels) was saying in his presentation (Successful advertising & partnerships) at TBU Nantes (#tbunte) last weekend.

      1. I’m with you Angie. My TBU presentation was saying that blogging is a business and we have to be business minded. The brands we work with are in business.
        When content marketing or PR agencies approach us they will have been paid. So there is budget it’s just not getting through to the blogger.
        Brands need to know, that payment is expected in return for our time, and for putting our brand, reach and influence behind their brand.
        A high value trip, or indeed any trip, is not payment it’s simply part of their marketing effort.
        Increasingly we are being paid and the battle is being won, but there is a distance to go yet. Understand your worth and don’t work for free.

  3. One zillion thanks for this post, Angie! We needed it, and we need more. I’m right back from the TBU Conference in Nantes, and ‘Why you should not work for free’ has been one of the ‘leitmotiv’ of the gathering.

    I am amazed by the lack of respect that many brands have towards travel bloggers/writers, but what really drives me nuts is why we should allow this (and this is first of all a criticism towards myself and how I acted in the past).

    It’s time to say NO, thanks. And if we all say NO, some brands will eventually have to face the fact that there’s no such things as ‘buying’ bloggers with a handful of peanuts!

    1. I’m with Simon and Alastair and Terry on this one (and was at TBU as well). I absolutely agree with getting paid for work done, period.

      Those of us who started blogging early (Angie, like you I started in 2006 although I had an email newsletter back in 1996) learned about exposure and links and SEO, and all of that was fine at the beginning, when struggling to get those first few hundred readers and when the medium itself was still questionable. Things have changed and the travel blogging industry has professionalized – but as long as some people accept to work for free, brands will continue soliciting free work. It will take an overhaul to convince bloggers that in the long run they’ll do better if they know their worth now… but it’s beginning to happen.

      Fabulous topic and one worthy of much lengthier discussion. And so entertainingly written!

  4. I’m a pastor. Early on in my preaching career, I struggled with whether or not I should get paid for doing what I loved and what God called me to do. Shocking, I know! (smiley face here)
    But there is Biblical precedent, not only for ministers but for all who labor. Here’s some references: 1 Tim 5:18 For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox while it is treading out grain,” and “A worker deserves his pay.” Lev 19:13; Deut 24:14; Deut 25:4; Matt 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1Cor 9:9;
    I love what you do, so keep on doing what you love with the same exuberance, and I am confident the rewards will follow!

  5. The number of emails I have to read through, delete, respond to, etc. every day offering me free products, asking for promotion, and, of course, asking for me to post their “guest post” is getting really annoying. Even when there is pay involved, sometimes it ends up feeling so low because of all the time it takes to do the back and forth of emails & negotiations. Thank you for making it loud and clear that we should NOT work for free, even when it’s nice to get those freebies.

  6. Interesting post. however, do consider that most PR people are trained tow ork with journalists who most certainly do not get paid to cover trips, products etc. What would journalism look like if everything was paid? The bloggers getting paid to do reviews is fairly recent and quite strange. it does take away from the reliability of reviews. Who will believe a review if it was paid for? Also, who says all brands are rich? There are tons of small struggling companies trying to make ago out of it (just like you were once) and why not review good stuff, that you get fro free, for free? What’s is it gonna cost you to be nice? After all, karma, what goes around comes around. Someone gave you a shot once, why not help someone else out? Do not assume, which your post makes it sound like, that all brands reaching out to you are cheap ases. (the paying with a maybe tweet does sound of as-ish though). They are just trying to work the system, as are you. They are just trying to get by, as are you. Sure the big, well known ones can pay, they can afford it. Many others cannot. So give someone a break and be nice. Just for the heck of it.

    1. Hi Anna – Thanks for your comment. I’ve worked as a publicist in several of the world’s largest agencies, so I definitely understand better than most that PR people aren’t always put in the best position by their clients. I know it’s not always the PR person’s fault that they’re being tasked with offering something ridiculous, like a Tweet for payment, to a professional writer in exchange for work. That often comes from management who may not be clued into what’s going on in the social realm.

      I also totally agree that not all journalism should be paid — and I most certainly never said it should be. I’m referring to brands with money who are specifically coming to me and asking for work on social campaigns. If they don’t have money for advertising/social media, then they shouldn’t be asking a professional for it. They have money to pay the publicist who’s asking for the free work, don’t they? Is the publicist’s job more valuable than the blogger’s?

      Frankly, my business is tiny. I do all the work myself, and if I’m going to eat and pay my bills, I need to be paid for the majority of the work I do. I’ve certainly paid my dues over the past decade in travel PR, journalism and now blogging, and I believe there’s value in trade at times, especially if there’s a great company or product or family-owned hotel I believe in that doesn’t have the capital for a big campaign. (I believe I mentioned that specifically in the post.) I do that sort of work all the time.

      But should I do the global brand a *favor* and work for free? I don’t think so. I don’t think the multibillion dollar companies are innocently “just trying to get by.” I think in many cases they’re just seeing how much they can get away with, and who’s dumb enough to allow free commercial content on their sites because of karma.

      You seem to assume I’m not nice and perhaps this is the first time you’ve ever read my site, so I can understand… it’s definitely my snarkiest post ever. Usually my stuff is much less intense. But I’m tired of having to explain to billion dollar brands why they should pay me to write copy for their websites or utilize my site’s authority and my hard-earned followers — for free. If I can pay web designers, graphic designers, IT folks, etc. for their work on my site on a blogger budget, which is laughable in comparison to the companies I’m referencing, then those companies can pay me for work they have requested.

      I just can’t apologize for believing that professionals – whether bloggers, dentists, house painters, plumbers, wedding photographers – all deserve to be paid for their work!

      1. Right, they’re on salary and are therefore held to a professional standard. Reputable journalists aren’t doing this pay-to-play crap…”Send me on a free trip and I’ll blog about it.” Why should I read your site when I know the stories are bought and paid for?

        1. It may surprise you to know that “reputable journalists” work for publications that survive on advertising partnerships… and those advertising partnerships very often include deals for positive editorial inclusion. If you see an ad for a destination in a travel pub, very likely there will be *editorial* coverage in the magazine. Coincidence? Only if you buy into your theory that bloggers are pay-to-play and salaried journalists aren’t.

          Furthermore, many of those reputable journalists you reference go on free trips, too. The difference is they receive a salary from their publication, while bloggers must find alternate ways of monetizing their content. The free trip is still free, the editorial is still supported by the DMO. Press trips have always been a part of the travel publicity game. Without them, travel magazines & newspaper travel sections would not exist as they do today. The key is individual writer integrity, whether we’re talking about salaried journalists or freelance writers or bloggers. It’s up to you, the individual reader, to discern whose voice is trustworthy and whose content is purchased.

          For what it’s worth, stories on my site are never bought & paid for… it may seem like an easy accusation to sling at any given blogger, but it’s never been the case here. I presume you’re not a long-time reader, or you’d know that.

          1. I had a BIL who works for publications like newspapers and magazines. He gets a good salary and free stuff to write an article all the time.

            So don’t kid yourself that what you read in a newspaper is not paid to play. I write about negative aspects of a product all the time!

      2. What he said !! I have worked as a journalist for many years. I worked at a newspaper where I got a decent salary and benefits. I worked at magazines freelancing and getting paid often $1 a word. They are paid. We write mostly promotional content. Or we offer affiliate links or shares or stories about the places we visit. The digital and social business is a different model than traditional journalism. You pay me for my influence and my audience and my space, my channel, my work and my words. PERIOD. Nobody gets paid in tweets !!!! These offers are ridiculous!

    2. Hi Anna, long-time magazine/newspaper journalist who also has had a blog (for seven years). I completely see your point on this; however, I’d just like to chime in to say that for everything I write for a print outlet, I most certainly get paid by the magazine (as in, I am compensated for my time by the publishing house, not by the company who I am writing about). Bloggers, on the other hand, are not paid for their work on their own site, other than by sponsored content and product reviews (banner ads are an archaic model that really aren’t being implemented anymore). It is a tricky, gray area, I will agree, but I just want to reinforce the point that many of us bloggers receive hundreds of press releases a day or global companies with millions of dollars to spend by way of marketing budget reaching out to us endlessly trying to get us to plug a product, share a Tweet about a promotion, blog about a contest. It gets exhausting. (Double that amount of press release garbage if you also work as a print journalist on top of having a blog!)

      Like Angie, I love partnering with mom-and-pop shops when they reach out and it makes sense. However, the reality is that the vast majority of ones trying to get on our sites are the big guys—the tech companies that are household names, the hotel chains with which every person in America is familiar—and the ones who employ ad and marketing teams by the dozens (who most certainly are getting paid to reach out to bloggers and try to get us to do their work for them for free), so if they want us to sacrifice our space and our audience to share their message? They most certainly need to compensate for that.

      1. Sorry, is being a professional blogger a right? Are you required to sacrifice journalistic integrity because someone has a gun to your head and is forcing you to make a living by writing paid posts? No, it’s a choice you make because you want the lifestyle. And the fact that “everyone is doing it” justifies nothing.”

        1. Is any job a right? I don’t think I made that point in my post. My point is: if a company deems my work / site / content / social influence as useful to conveying their message to the public, I deserve to be paid for it. I do the work, I get the money. That seems like common sense to me.

          And this post is not just referring to blogger campaigns. I believe I clarified that within the post. I am frequently asked to write for corporate websites for free. That’s not because I’m a blogger, it’s because I’m a trained journalist with a decade of published writing experience outside the blogosphere. So, yes, I feel like it’s my right to be paid when a business commissions me to write for them.

  7. THIS. Is. BRILLIANT. I feel like every blogger who gets these sort of requests simply needs to link to your post in their response. I am pretty sure I got the same email offering social media shouts. I rolled my eyes. Because, yes, I work in shouts. This is a huge problem in our industry because people DO take these offers of promotion, of FREE!!, of anything. It has gotten worse over the years as more people have “gotten into” travel blogging. Sadly, a lot of the motivation behind getting into this industry is the freebies for jack. It gets really frustrating and infuriating to see some of the stuff that goes in and the lack of integrity hanging about.

  8. You know, you probably would have an easier time getting a deduction in your rent in exchange for tweets than a brand would getting you to work for free. In that case, Tweets would indeed pay your rent. I will give a prize of 10 Tweets to the first person who can successfully negotiate this with their landlord. [snark over].

  9. Hey Angie, great reply, thank you. I think you misunderstood me though. I meant that the big brands can pay certainly, and they should,,(quote”Sure the big, well known ones can pay, they can afford it. Many others cannot.” ) but that most brands that reach out are small, mom and pops, one girl with a dream etc, trying to get by and launch a new idea, and all they can afford are free samples. Hence the comparison to you, we all start somewhere , we alll need help in the beginning.

    The tweet for a post thing is ridiculous, of course any brand that gets a review should promote that review and the media outlet posting it.

    1. It has not been my experience that most brands that reach out are mom and pops. I’m always willing to help a start-up that I believe in. I’m literally talking about the brands that pay millions a year for television advertising, then want to stretch their dollars by encouraging bloggers to post their commercial content for no compensation. Two very different creatures, I think we agree!

  10. This is perfect! I’m only sad that you didn’t have this up two years ago. We made the mistake of jumping into those voting contests early on. While we won a few, it wasn’t worth pestering our friends, family, and followers for votes. Two years ago we decided that we were done with voting contests. I’m happy to announce that we’re two years sober!

    1. Congrats on your contest sobriety! They certainly seem like a good idea and a way to get exposure, but more often than not, they’re just a sneaky way of getting free publicity off your hard work. Ridiculous!

  11. Well said! I’m a newbie blogger, but I’ve been a graphic designer for 30 years and have had similar requests. Most times along the line of “will you design something for me and I’ll have five other designers do the same and pay the one I like the best.” Or “I’m just starting my company so can’t afford to pay much for my website, logo or whatever.”
    I do work for legitimate charities I choose to work with, or might help out a friend for free. But in my opinion a destination or brand, or Mom and Pop restaurant, is not a charity, no matter if they are big guys or little guys. They are in business and so are we!

    1. Graphic designers definitely get the “work for free” gripe — I have so many friends in that field who are constantly barraged with requests for free design, as if it’s so easy to just whip up a quality logo. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  12. Yes! I am totally with you!

    I am absolutely fed up with the sheer amount of requests to work for free, from both PR companies and their clients. And I am just as fed up with their attitude when I reply with my (professional with only a hint of sarcasm) cut and paste email demanding payment first, as if they are doing ME the favour by gracing me with the opportunity?!?!?!

    You carry on with your rant! I’m with you!

  13. I fully understand your frustration Angie and I couldn’t agree more with you, it’s embarrassing for these companies to send these emails with ridiculous offers but if they do it’s because sadly there are people ready to work for free.

  14. Thx for this. Couldn’t say it better. My usual canned response:
    “Thanks for reaching out. Of course I’m happy to promote your product. For $. Please get back at me with more details. Unless you thought I work for free. In this case please do not contact me again. Ever.”

    I might eventually add a link to this article from now on. Haha.
    Great stuff! 100% agree.

  15. Oh Angie you’ve nailed it and summed up how any of us with some experience in this online world feel.
    I even state in many places on my site that I don’t provide free links to commercial websites but people just don’t bother reading. They mass e-mail an impersonal request. Then when they say they have no budget for the project I enquire as to why they are doing it for free? Things tend to go quiet after that.

    Your rant is more a statement of how we all feel. If you don’t mind I might save this post and send the link to it as a response for the next set of requests for free access to my rather limited time. This is one instance where I am more than happy to promote someone else’s website for free 🙂

    I totally agree, we all have to be united and make a common message. Time is limited and we are not charities, we have bills to pay.

    As for people seeking a rank enhancing link well forget it. Google is clamping down on that and soon it will be a thing of the past. Time to rethink your strategies folks.

    1. I forgot to add. Often when people offer to promote through their social media channels I then check their social media channels. They have maybe 20 followers compared to some of mine which are in the thousands. Hmm, now let me think if they are offering me something of value…………………

  16. Way to go Angie!

    I totally agree with you on many points and find some mass marketing emails with absolutely ridiculous demands.

    I’ll give you an example. This hotel on a Greek Island wants free exposure or publicity for a few months in exchange for a couple of days at their property? Who would do that for free?

    Ah and those popularity competitions are something else. I get begging messages from the contestants and that is a big no no!

    Your rant is awesome and you are the voice of many people who are probably dealing with the same frustration as you!

    Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  17. Spot on in so many ways! The part I especially liked was that on not accepting a bottle of suntan lotion in return for an article. I am amazed, AMAZED, how many bloggers put the time and energy into promoting the tiniest product just because it is free. Let alone the instant discount the reader places onto the content considering it was provided for free.

    Great article and honest feedback!

  18. If we keep beating the drum, eventually they’ll hear the tune right? Unfortunately this is probably going to keep happening as there are those that do dine on exposure.

  19. It needed to be said, and you’ve said it! Even as a half-assed travel blogger with minimal exposure, I still get the odd “do this for me for free”. A life of travel is great but also hard, particularly when time to pay the bills comes along. I get it that it’s becoming an overcrowded market (when I started, a bit over a year ago, I thought there were 10 travel bloggers or something – silly me, it’s more like 10 million) and folks will do anything just to get a little exposure, but to play into this ruthless game will only ensure nobody gets anything out of it. Exploitation is rampant these days (everywhere, not just in this particular field), and we’ll only be able to control it if we stand firm in our right to get paid for our work. Hmm…. this sort of reads like a Bob Marley song… Anyway, kudos! and good luck.

  20. I feel like you could have gotten this sponsored by an adult beverage provider. 🙂

    ^^^ I wrote that thought after paragraph one, then went back and read the rest. The final bolded sentence’s confirmation of said thought was just icing on my mental cake.

  21. Love this Angie!! You’re so right – working for free just ruins it for other bloggers. As a newish travel blogger (started in January) I’m finding it hard to realise my worth but honestly no one should be working for free. I’ve got thousands of followers across my social media & more influence than I’m willing to admit to myself. Thanks for the reminder.

  22. As a newer blogger trying to create a professional blog, I haven’t had the same issues with bigger companies, but every day or so I get emails about people who want to write “guest posts” that just happen to link back to sites that have nothing to do with my blog! The emails are so horribly generic too. Like really? Have you even looked at my blog?? It’s so spammy and unprofessional. I’ve only had to turn down one that was legitimate- a Chinese language learning company that wanted to write a guest post in exchange for a link. At least they took the time to research my blog and knew I lived in china.

  23. Angie – first ever time on your site and to come across your blogs and you’re a GENIUS. These three points exactly. In fact, I think every time a blogger gets one of those emails to work for free, we should point them to your post directly. Hopefully they’ll get the message. As for plumbers YouTubing videos just to get to plumb your house for free, just hilarious!! Well said Miss and best regards from a fellow travel blogger. Jonny

  24. I can definitely tell you new bloggers have no clue what a site is worth because I’m a new blogger and have no idea what I’m doing.

    I’ve gotten a couple of random e-mail about these types of “projects” but frankly I’m too busy trying to keep putting content up to even bother with these people.

  25. I found you on twitter (guess one of those exposure tweets paid off! Lol) and I soooo agree with everything you said… I do think it is hard for beginning bloggers to not fall into that trap of ‘yay! I got a goodie for free..’ I know i have done it in the beginning. My travelblog is really new and has like 5 readers but I have a popular foodblog in the Netherlands and I sort of feel it might even be worse in the food industry. There is soooo much stuff out there that they ‘give away’ for free. The whole blogging scene here is still in it’s infancy so problems like this only seem to get bigger. I had my inbox full of such ‘offers’ today which is way more than usual… So I fear for the future!

  26. I perfectly understand you, Angie! Carrying out a blog like yours it’s a great responsiblity, and some people get incredibly offended cause you want to get some money from it! I wish they also did some volunteer work at their jobs to see how it is to work for free…

  27. Love, love, love your post! People do not appreciate how much work goes into a well-researched, well-written, well-photographed post! I’ve been to a few “sponsored trips”, and I spent every second with my notebook, asking questions and recording the answers, writing several posts afterwards… Tons of work, if you are a professional (I am, and I know you are, too:)

  28. I sooo needed to read this today Angie! My inbox is full with offers to take a quick survey to see if I qualify to potentially review…. yeah, you know the spin. *wink*

    Amen and Amen again to not working for free!

    Please make a solidarity button or something so all us “with you” bloggers can put it on our sidebar. I know we would all find a place to put it, for free above the fold!

  29. Great post Angie. I’ll be the first to admit that when I started my blog I was very naive as to just how much time it would take out of my weeks if I wanted it to be good. Building a successful blog takes a lot of time and effort for zero compensation and it’s insulting when the value of this input is completely ignored by PR.

  30. Brilliant post! I once got so annoyed by a PR I asked her if she gets paid to do her job. I didn’t get a response but I think she got the message. I only wish people would do as you said and stop working for free and ruining it for the rest of us!

  31. excellent post! thank you so much for the clear hard hitting post!
    i honestly hope it reaches all the right eyes and ears and gets the right minds working and not just tweeting.

  32. This may be a bit of a naive question, but after reading through the comments, I am still not understanding why a free trip to a travel blogger isn’t considered trade or payment. After all, if the content your readers are coming for is about travel, aren’t the destinations and hotels saving you the expense of plane tickets and hotel stays to experience the trip and create that content? I truly don’t mean any disrespect – just genuinely wondering.

    1. Hey Anne-Marie – no disrespect taken! A free trip IS a trade, but trades are not a viable payment. If the blogger is a professional and not a hobbyist, and writing is a career, it’s just not feasible to live on a salary of free trips. I should also point out that when destinations do pay for a blogger’s expenses, they aren’t paying for positive coverage – just the time & the work. Many times there’s much more to the assignment — it’s not just a trip in exchange for a review. It’s video content, photo rights, guest posting, interviews with local media… trips are a much more extensive situation than they once were. Does that clear things up at all?

  33. Well said, Angie! I started writing for magazines 10 years before I started blogging in 2010 and encountered some of the same “for exposure” nonsense. I said to publications making such offers: “Really? There are writers smart enough to write for your magazine who really fall for that?!”

  34. Hey Angie, I love this post! I’m not nearly as influential travel blogger as you, but I get inundated with all sorts of crappy emails asking me to produce free content every day. It seems to me, if these people focused on creating content themselves, instead of spamming everyone, they’d have all the content they’d ever need! Seriously though, who produces something for nothing? Definitely not me – and I hope other travel bloggers don’t either.

    1. I think the tide is changing, but there are still plenty of bloggers out there who don’t realize the tricks companies use to get free publicity. That’s why I wrote this post – to help out those newbies who are finding their way. Thank you so much for reading!

  35. I once got an email asking me to compete with votes for the *opportunity* of getting a *free* item so I could review it and then share with my readers with a *dofollow link* and yes, the company offered to RT the best articles to their (probably fake) 400 followers on Twitter. Yes, 400.

    Delete. Haahaha 🙂

  36. Funny, spot on, and what my sister has been telling me for years. I think I finally get it. Brilliant rant, which has just changed my life, and help me make a quick decision about an upcoming “opportunity.”

  37. Awesome post!
    I’m not a travel blogger per se, but I do get the same emails asking to review this or that product/service/company/restaurant…for exchange of ‘do follow links’ and twitter mentions, and a whole lot of other ridiculous stuff..
    Bloggers really need to stand united and JUST SAY NO 🙂
    So glad you wrote this, going to attach this whenever these types of emails come along..just had one today asking for free advertising lol
    I posted this on my fb and got some interesting replies..I think people in general just don’t think of bloggers as professionals. We are seen as people who just write for the fun of it and to “make people happy”. Seriously!!

  38. This post cracked me up! It really is ridiculous what some companies are trying to offer bloggers for compensation these days. Glad that you are shedding some light on this topic! Thanks for the laugh and the words of wisdom!

  39. Hi Angie, great post. This is a hot issue in the film business, where a lot, and I mean A LOT of people are exploited into working for free, just for a chance of tasting the glamour. As if…. Anyway, what I normally do when asked to work for free (yes it does happen to me too) is to refer to this excellent youtube video http://youtu.be/mj5IV23g-fE

  40. “I need to check with my landlord how many Tweets she will accept for this month’s rent.”
    Possibly the funniest thing I’ve read all week! I’m still too small to be asked for any kind of collaboration, but when the time comes I’ll know what to say 🙂

  41. Angie, I totally understand your post! In any other situation these brands pay photographers and publicists but expect to get the and quality content for free. As I saw con the comment thread, I don’t think it’s fair to coin bloggers as not being legit because they are getting paid. Most professional bloggers have agreements with brands that feedback will be sincere. The worst is getting a cut and paste email from someone who hasn’t even bothered to read about your brand.

  42. Angie: I love this post so very much. It is what I get every day. This past week while juggling a dozen paying commitments and consulting jobs my in box was flooded with these pitches: Hey X is doing Y this weekend. Feel free to tweet and share and post about it. I respond with rates and a polite pitch for partnership. I receive NO BUDGET sorry. But feel free to share anyways. FEEL FREE to pay the mortgage. Feel free to pay the contractors and helpers I employ to make this business run. Feel free to pay my host. NO. So much No. Just stop. Right now.

  43. i have only recently started blogging but have already started getting these types of requests. I have been very politely replying and saying that a) the proposition needs to fit my niche (obvious they haven’t looked at my site in some cases) and b) it needs to be worthwhile. They are getting a service from me and in return I need something to compensate me or to offer a better experience to my readers however few they may be at this stage!! Loved this article!

  44. Awesome post! It’s a topic I have engaged in many a debate about with PR/ Marketing people who think we are a bunch of spoiled, whiny babies. But usually, by the end of the debate, I have them conceding. Thanks for sharing!

  45. Funny post, Laura over at Hollywood Housewife linked to it in her newsletter which is how I found it.

    That tweet example happens to me all the time … like, please tweet/etc. for us and we MIGHT talk about you on our social media channels! (yay?) lol. Great article!

  46. I LOVE this post. I have to be honest, until a few months ago I was one of those bloggers accepting free stuff. Never the potential social shout-outs, that’s just insulting, but a free product here or there for a post. Then I realized I was only driving myself into a deeper hole and screwing other fellow bloggers at the same time. I finally realized what I was doing when a company that definitely has money offered to pay me $10/blog post as a contributor to their website. Ummmm…NO! That gets you maybe two coffees at Starbucks. I realized that if I want to be taken seriously for my work, I need to know what I am worth and stop selling myself short. I hope this post reaches other bloggers who were in the same boat as I was teetering the line of “Should I just say yes or should I hold my ground and ask for compensation” all in the name of creating a positive relationship.

  47. I LOVE THIS. As a “new” blogger who turned her love for writing into a business. I’ve done little things, free product for a blog post, things that were priced out $50 and above. But now that my social media following is bigger and my blog views are higher I always want some kind of moolah (like you say) in exchange for a blog post/social media, etc. I just love this, because no one “gets” unless they’ve done ALL the work, had to pay for hosting, photoshop, lightroom, adobe and all that other stuff bloggers need to do there jobs.

  48. Fantastic article (and blog)! I am a fairly new travel blogger and I got fed up with the amount of e-mails I received from often bigger companies, who CLEARLY have the budget to spend on marketing campaigns, asking me to either include a guest post or write something from scratch w/ of course links to their website or product. One company even said I might have the chance of having my article shared. Might.

    I needed this article. Thanks!

  49. I know this is an old post, but because I’m constantly getting request from LARGE companies with a HUGE budget, for me to post a story, or review a product, or get on a bandwagon with their press release, I have steam coming out of my ears. I knew I wasn’t the only blogger getting these absurd requests, and viola’ here you are.

    I’ve been blogging for close to 10 years and have a huge blog readership and following. I REFUSE to do anybody’s work for free. It’s insanity and twists my knickers in a wad like you wouldn’t believe.


  50. Hi Angie, what a great snap for me.
    Most of the time I do using my expertise to help this non-profit organization of mine. Been there since 2005. And I do love helping them. I consider it as a volunteer work. Not until recently I got shocked when a fellow friend of mine took a payment when he re-do the website that previously under my care, and most of the content is my hardwork collecting data in the previous years. Hate that fellow but mostly hate myself for not bold enough to ask for my portion. Turns out the organization has a budget for it. I did declining to continue the work because I want to focus on my real life work. This is really a hard lessons for me. Thank you for writing this article and encourage me to ask my right next time someone ask me to do job completely free.

  51. You’re hilarious! Plus you’re absolutely right; just because you receive free products doesn’t mean you should write about them (are tweets seriously the new currency?). A lot of bloggers write about EVERYTHING they receive for free which makes it difficult to ask to be paid since competition is offering it for free. Quantity over quality I suppose?

    From time to time, I receive complimentary products and if I truly enjoyed them or they “changed my life”, then yeah I might write about it, but not because they were free – because I truly liked them and recommend them.

  52. Angie–

    You are so RIGHT! To be honest, I have accepted free product in the past when I was just starting but you have seriously made me realize my worth! I am so glad I stumbled upon your post! I actually just got an email from a company that wanted me to buy their product and then advertise it and let me just tel you… It got my blood boiling. I was so mad that someone could seriously think I was going to pretty much pay for their brand exposure. I obviously turned it down and told them that if they would like to use me as advertisement, they would need to pay me or they could send me the product and if I really felt compelled to write about it myself, then I would but not just because they asked. Of course, I am not going to turn down free products but I will turn down free product if they are offering it only if I write about it or make a YouTube video with it in it. After reading your post I know that this is completely wrong and has put me in a new light of knowledge! Thank you so much! I subscribed and cannot wait to read more from you♥

    -Danielle Ruppert { http://danielleruppert.com }

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