How ironic. Last week I wrote a post defending hobby bloggers. This week the subject is “blogger blackmail!”
By now you may have heard about the Twitter thread called #bloggerblackmail. It chronicles, among other things, when food bloggers demand payment in kind for blog posts, including free meals at nice restaurants.
One story that came to a head began when a hobby blogger who writes London restaurant write-ups emailed a bakery and suggested she be “invited to review” their products in exchange for a blog post.
Here’s how things went downhill for the food blogger:
When she got to the bakery, workers offered her tea and a box of eight macarons and marshmallows. The food blogger found this insufficient. Later she wrote on her blog:
“I have a sweet tooth, but I don’t do eight hours of work for an eight piece selection box of macarons and marshmallows. Writing is notoriously badly paid and photography suffers the same, but I value what I produce as worth more than that. On a few occasions, when I already know and like a brand, I’ll write something for very little or nothing at all, but I don’t as standard practice make a habit of spending my free time producing content and marketing a brand for peanuts. Or macarons.
At this point I said, ‘thank you, but how about a few of the larger selection boxes, one each of macarons, marshmallows, and a third of the miscellaneous items you have’. In monetary terms, that came to about £100, which is about what I expect from a ‘come in to review’ blog post. I have a right to value what I produce at a certain level, and will politely negotiate that.”
Things went awry from there. The restaurant offered only “a couple of hot drinks” after she made her demand. Then the blogger posted a quick ‘n nasty review:
“I bought one macaron and one marshmallow, tasted them and also angry-instagrammed a couple of pictures, noting their flaws. That was a silly thing to do, but I saw red. Those pictures have since been deleted.”
Oh, and then the bakery owner wrote a nasty post calling out the blogger by name, which was almost as inappropriate as the blogger’s behavior.
So, let’s review. What did the blogger do wrong?
- She usually gets invited to elaborate meals with drinks in nice restaurants. Approaching a bakery is different, but she thought the same rules applied.
- The bakery didn’t understand that she expected £100 of product (more than $150) in exchange for a blog post.
- The blogger did not make this clear.
- The blogger based the amount on her time writing a post, but did not make that clear either.
- The blogger detailed what went wrong on her blog, which opened her up to social media ridicule.
I’m not identifying the blogger because the issue of blogger blackmail is bigger than just her. It’s about what food bloggers expect in exchange for a blog post. Bloggers can value their time however they like, but others may not agree. Moreover, bloggers can damage their reputations by complaining about “what they are entitled to” online.
How do you feel about this story? If you do sponsored posts, was the blogger was justified in assigning a dollar amount? How is what she does different from a sponsored post? Let’s discuss.
(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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