I recently had an experience which as a blogger wasn't great and I wanted to share it with you so that other bloggers can try to avoid the same situation.
I was recently approached by a social media agency and asked if I'd like to try out a product. Now this happens to me all the time, most things I feature on this blog come to me as a press sample and I always feel really lucky. I am selective though and there are many things I turn down as they are unsuitable for my blog, or I don't think I will like them, or for whatever reason. However on this occasion I really liked the sound of the product so I said yes please, I'd love to try this. This is standard stuff, I do this several times a week. Would you like to try our product? Yes Please or No Thanks. Product comes. I use it for a period of time, then I blog about it when I'm ready.
However. After I'd said yes please and provided my address, the following day I received an email from the social media agency saying that it had been posted out to me and they were looking forward to hearing my thoughts. Other bloggers should be nodding along at this point, it's all standard stuff. Only thing is In this email sent confirming the dispatch, was a note giving me an extremely short deadline...at this point, a more experienced and knowledgeable blogger would have said...er no! But I didn't, I replied saying it was very short notice but I'd do my best.
Lesson One: blogging should be on your terms, unless you are being paid.
They agreed it was short notice but hoped I'd be able to mange it anyway. Now see at this point they had me in their claws, because I like to think I'm an honourable blogger, once I've received a product, I feel I have to blog about it... after all, I've been sent something lovely for nothing, that's how I feel. Very rarely I won't blog about something, usually if I am completely indifferent to it, and I just can't think of anything to say, but mostly, if I'm sent a product, I review it. I don't feel happy taking something for nothing, so I view taking the product as a sort of payment. Which in all honesty is fine with your standard blog posts, but when people start giving you instructions then it becomes less about blogging about lovely stuff, and more like unpaid work....
And that's when I was provided with the list of keywords I had to insert into my blog post. My blog post which I was given just a few days notice to write. Despite my backlog of things here to write about. Again, the more experienced and knowledgeable would have said, oh no, you can stuff it. In fact that is exactly what I was advised to do by more experienced blogger friends. But oh no, I had product on its way to me, which meant I personally felt honour bound to write the post.
Lesson Two: blogging should be on your terms, unless you are being paid.
And as it happened, the item turned up one day before the deadline. Hardly enough time to try out and review anything much if you want to maintain integrity. But again, stupidly, I felt honour bound to do as I was asked. What I should have said was, no, there's no way I am doing this, the time scale is too short and I never agreed to use any key words.
But I didn't because I'm clueless about this kind of thing. But perhaps my experiences might help someone else. The problem from my point of view was the agency didn't disclose fully what they expected from me in the first instance. If they had have contacted me saying would you like to review xxx product, and could you include these key words, and also we have a very short deadline, do you think it would be possible? I would have probably declined. But I feel this was sneakily done. I accepted the product, it was dispatched and then the various terms were mentioned. And not in one go either.
So bloggers, don't be a fool like me, if you don't want to do something or if you feel something is unreasonable, say so, don't do it, or ask what is in it for you? As a friend said to me recently on this subject...
"bottom line is that
you don't jump through hoops - they want something from you, not the other way
round. Unless it is a million dollar ***, don't bother."
Stick up for yourself and don't let yourself be taken advantage of and ask when approached by social media agencies in particular, if they have any terms you need to be aware of before accepting the item for review. I did review this product by the way, because I don't think I'll ever shake this thing of feeling I need to blog about something if I've been sent it, but I won't be making this mistake again!
Hope this helps someone!
EDIT: just to add, this is by no means entirely the fault of the agency, certainly I have to learn to be more assertive and confident, it's always been an issue for me sadly!