Before You Ask Bloggers to Write For Free #blogging

A collage of a few of the brands I work with, or provide social media strategy for, as a business at
(Every week my email in box fills up with perplexing public relations pitches and blogger outreach programs. Many of these go unanswered. Then today I also received a telephone call – follow up from a local London company – that asked if I need more information about an email in order to post a tiny discount code for my readers free. I am compelled to share a letter I recently sent to a contact about the business of social media and blogging. Far too many pitches that miss the mark are sent each day to bloggers. Often those businesses ask you to post for free, or to share their ad for free, or to post with the understanding you could win a $100 gift card. Blogging is a business. Social media is a passion and a business for me. Digital media is a beautiful thing done well. I love it and respect it. I also respect my clients and my fellow bloggers. At one level a blog is a space on the Internet, real estate, a digital newspaper, a digital magazine, or a digital journal. I invested 2 years before I made my first $100 at I support and endorse many causes near and dear to me that are related to building families through adoption, IVF, and special needs. I volunteer. I advocate and speak and donate and give back until I collapse into my bed at night worried about the many families I help support. I give, often at the risk of my own health. At I also have an audience that is concentrated and valuable and genuine as well. I respect them. I know many in person and I love many of these same readers. Thrifty mommas tips also offers services. I choose my clients carefully. I refuse the pitches that don’t fit my global vision of healthy families, or special needs, advocacy, or frugal living. My time blogging can sometimes take me away from my family, a school event, my mother, or a group I help advocate for and so my time is incredibly valuable. This is my letter to a longtime contact who repeatedly asked bloggers to opt in to pitch their product for free, with a potential chance that one of the 100 bloggers writing for free might actually win a year long subscription to their product.)
Dear Jamie Smith:

I am very sorry. I can’t take part in any sort of campaign that promises a potential reward or contest as compensation for writing. It is against my blog policy. 

Thriftymommedia is a social media business. I help build buzz and share my audience and on line publishing platform with many brands and companies. I also build strategy for many companies and would never advise this type of campaign.  

When I was a paid journalist working at a well known newspaper in Ontario nobody would ask me to show up to the scene of an event and write an article for publication in a newspaper with the premise that I could possibly interview the mayor next time and, by the way, we will use your article without paying you. I understand this is still a relatively new field but bloggers and social media strategists are valuable. They perform an important service and should be compensated fairly, or provided product for review purposes. It takes an investment in social media strategy to build an on line reputation.

I support my fellow bloggers. I would also like to say that if this were an entirely male field I think there would never be an assumption made that a group of men would provide work for free. 

You folks had a great product. I liked it a lot. I wrote a post for you already once, a genuine review, in turn for a kit that was worth about $40. Bloggers are often paid in the range of $100 -250 per post. It might have been wiser to cast a small net and build genuine buzz on line. 

Many of us are more than happy to consult on strategy for a fee that is negotiated between client and business. It might be worth the investment.

Please consider doing this well. If interested in negotiating a social media strategy, I’d be happy to recommend several names of people who can help structure a blogger outreach program.

Paula Schuck
Owner, Thriftymommedia

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Country Mouse, City Mouse

    Oh Paula!!! You know I love you. We all blog for different reasons, but have one thing in common – no one wants to be used and taken advantage of.

    I admit to being taken advantage of a few too many times, before I knew better. The worst was when I reviewed a hair care item that retailed under $10 and felt the wrath of the company owner who was very upset that my review wasn’t resulting in immediate sales. I’ve come a long way and while it is still a struggle, I do realize my worth now.

  • Bewildered Bug

    Good for you Paula! Bloggers have to stick together because compensation is not a case of being greedy…compensation is a case of being paid for time you spend WORKING…One of my posts very often takes me an hour or more…and are up forever – I’m much cheaper than a newspaper ad and the longevity is amazing…plus I reach a unique market. Blogging is a job like any other and anyone who says otherwise can go take a walk. (see I said that nicely!)

    • Paula Schuck

      Well stated my dear! Absolutely time and work are worth money. I bring results. Most bloggers I know are very professional and yes the longevity beats newspaper too.

  • Jen

    That was an amazing post and letter! Well spoke and to the point! I agree with many of the facts you have stated. I think because a lot of bloggers are stay home moms and dads, it is seen as a hobby rather than a career. I spend hours and hours on posts, product reviews and buzzing about products. I take it seriously and I hope in time PR companies will too!

  • Elisebet F

    Good response. You’ve obviously put thought into it. It’s respectful, clear, and provides a solution. Do you mind if I use it as a reference to draft my own letter? I’ve usually just been deleting emails from companies that want me to work for free, but it would be nice to have a professional response ready.

  • Fab Frugal Mama

    WOW, well-said, Paula! What resonated with me most was this…
    “I would also like to say that if this were an entirely male field I think there would never be an assumption made that a group of men would provide work for free.” AMEN!

  • Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious?

    I think I might have to copy/paste this…personalize it to my liking and save it as a canned response!

    I received a “sample” of popcorn…One flippin bag. Sorry, that’s not work my time. And, how is it worth their time to fedex that to me. Send me several bags. Work with me. Get to know me! Then we’ll have a good working, mutually beneficial relationship!

    • Paula Schuck

      Yes! A relationship between blogger and pr or brand is not a one night stand. I recently got a box of cereal and a suggestion I make a re pie with it and build a post. I can’t possibly do that fir the price of $3.99.

  • Journeys of The Zoo

    I just got suckered by a PR Rep for a big brand. I did what they asked as I felt that I could have clarified better. I like to internalize 🙂 I’ll only make that mistake once.

    I think the adage should be “fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you”. So many of these brands and PR reps KNOW better but they don’t DO better. They just look for the next sucker.

    Won’t be you or I.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
    Finding Humour in Everyday Life

  • QueenB

    here’s a gem i got today:
    If you can share this on your blog, I will send 100+ relevant visitors directly to your post from our social media campaign to thank you. Just email me a link to your blog post and I’ll make sure you get the traffic.
    Thanks so much!

    it was stupid email #3 today.

  • Jinxy and Me

    I love your letter. It is so well written and really spells out the true value of well-done social media. I’m curious – have you received a response from them at all?

  • Heather @ It's A Lovely Life!

    I deal with this daily and I have written many a post about it. My most commonly used reply is “please let me know when you have an advertising budget available to accompany your request”.

    Blogging about a products is valuable advertising or nobody would want to work with Bloggers. It’s time we all realized our value!

    • Paula Schuck

      I know my value and it is not high res images or popcorn. It has increased recently and goes up with my audience so yes I fully agree. I am a business. Don’t fill up my in box with junk. Bloggers do not have time for that.

  • Taylor Gilmore

    Oh my goodness! Awesome response! I usually delete the emails, but I think I’ll politely tell them off from now on. Mind if I borrow a few lines from your letter?

  • Annie Brown

    Oh Paula – thanks so much for writing this blog post and all the support you give to fellow bloggers and special needs parents and children. Lovely lady you are definitely a shining star out there in this world and I am privileged to know you.

  • Paula Schuck

    Annie Brown and Taylor Gilmore: Thanks for the kind comments and amazing support. I am absolutely fine with bloggers sharing this type of response or personalizing it for them. Go right ahead.

  • Stephanie

    I am absolutley thrilled to hear you are helping to educate some of those who are just not getting it. I too receive dozens of e-mails essentially asking me to work for free..or next to free. Some pitches border from the ridiculous to the insulting. Sigh. Hard work will pay off!

  • Tasha

    This honestly doesn’t surprise me, but I still find myself shaking my head. LOL! You handle it with such class and integrity! Good for you Paula!

    I had a similar experience with a contact a few months back. We work hard doing what we do! More companies, big or small need to see this. I’m almost positive they don’t work for free. So why should we! Great post!

  • Cindy Batchelor

    love hearing this! I wondered if I was the only blogger annoyed for asking to do stuff for free? Thank so much for showing us your letter! I’ve wondered how to turn down companies and respectfully let them know they should offer some kind of compensation!

  • Annemarie

    I loved this post. I have an fairly good size Pop Culture blog and I get literally 100’s of e-mails a week and lately everyone wants something for free. When I mention nicely that we do not work for free a good percentage get angry and feel I should be honored for the offer. In future, I will do as you suggest and write a similar letter. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone!