Are you a blogger or a blagger?

19

We all love free stuff and there are many bloggers out there who write fantastic reviews about the products they receive, but where do you draw the line between blogging and blagging?

Is it ever ok to ask for review items from brands and PRs? Is there an etiquette when asking for products for review? Is it the height of bad manners to ask for things and should you wait to be offered items? These are a few questions that we have seen crop up on several occasions.

Recently, there was a bit of a to-do on twitter when a blogger started tweeting restaurants asking to visit, try the menu and write a review. They used a blanket approach writing pretty much the same tweet over and over again to different restaurants. Many tweeted back to say they would be happy to invite the blogger along to do a review. However, one tweeter called them out on their rather impersonal approach and soon it came to the attention of other food bloggers who waded in with their opinions.

This raises the question of how best to approach brands and PRs in the first place. Is a tweet a good way to get their attention or should you take the time to write a longer email and explain what you are willing to offer in return for trying out their product for free? There are hashtags such as #prrequest and #journorequest in use, which are a useful way to attract attention to your request but perhaps not all bloggers would feel comfortable asking for something so publicly.

There are those who use such hashtags repeatedly asking for items over and over again, trying to gather as many products as possible, whether they are relevant to their blog or not. Do these blaggers give everyone else a bad name? Are PRs and brands going to become less receptive to blogger approaches because of the curse of the blagger?

On the flip side, why should there be any shame in asking for something if it is of interest to you and your readers? PRs are often very receptive to sensible requests and may be grateful to gain some coverage if their product is a good fit with your blog. Whilst PRs do a great job finding relevant bloggers to test products for them, they are often pleased to hear from bloggers they haven’t come across before and who are interested in working with them. If they can’t help you with your request this time, they may find a good fit in a future campaign.

We have asked a lot of questions in this post and would love to hear your opinions on the blogger vs blagger debate, but we shall leave you with one last question – is it actually any of our business how other bloggers conduct their business?

Sally is the publisher of Foodies100, the UK's largest directory of brilliant UK food and drink blogs and bloggers. Every day of the week, we promote the UK's best and most exciting blogs about food and drink.

Discussion19 Comments

  1. I often offer to review local restaurants, especially if they are new. However, I pay for my meals and do it for three main reasons.
    1- I’m a right greedy guts and love to try anywhere new!
    2- I like to share new experiences on my blog, and they are always well received.
    3- I like to promote local businesses. Times are tough and it’s nice to help where I can.

  2. The only time I use Twitter is either I’m working on a seasonal guide, where I can have a wider audience, or I really can’t find the contact for the PR. Then there are the responses directly to their requests.

    I love to try new things, and I don’t think it is wrong to approach companies who you are interested in working with. I know there are PRs who appreciate being contacted, as they are so busy and us contacting them could potentially cut out some of their work. I sometimes offer them help to reach other bloggers as well.

    I know people will say, if you blog for long enough, PRs will come to you. But if you really want to try something or work with your favourite brand, why not try and reach out yourself instead of waiting? There are tons of bloggers out there, and PRs only have that many hours a day to look around the blogsphere. They might never know about you, even though you could be perfect for their client. Unless you have great stats and ranking, you just have to put a bit more effort in getting an opportunity.

  3. I like to think I’m a blogger rather than a blagger. When I started blogger freebies/PR opportunities were rare. Dying that info not say no to the odd free trip to a restaurant or opportunity (if it fits in with my blog), but my blog is more about what we cook rather than what we get for free as that is what my readers are interested in (or so my stats suggest and what readers tell me!). I would never dream about approaching a brand, but that’s just me, I just don’t feel comfortable doing it.

  4. Well, I never thought about it. Maybe I would think about it, if some brand would approach me (which I can’t imagine at the moment). Usually I write about the things I like anyway. So if I visited a restaurant and it was great I may feel free to write a review about that.

  5. Some very interesting points raised. I’m still trying to work out my strategy when it comes to reviews and other PR opportunities. I do get approached by PRs, but rarely for anything that I feel is relevant. I keep thinking I should make contact with companies that are particularly pertinent to my blog, but I also am busy and haven’t managed to find the time to do this yet. I do take reviews very seriously and do feel that if I am accepting a product, the least I can do is write a considered review, but it may not necessarily be a favourable one.

  6. On the other side there are some food blogs out there naming no names which I won’t read any more as they are more about reviews and giveaways than recipes.

    • I agree with you and I have stopped following those to be honest as they don’t draw me in like others do. But these are the blogs that often stay high in the ratings due to the review and the giveaways.

  7. I’ve done one freebie and put it on the review that it was a review night, otherwise everything is paid for out my own little pocket. Nice to get freebies but I wouldn’t be ultra nice just because of it. Im a moan 🙂

  8. I think if it’s a new restaurant opening then why not? Great publicity for them, your blog just needs to be extremely popular, legit, and have a large following in order for it to become useful for the restaurant. I wouldn’t ask yet, my blog is not popular enough, but maybe someday. Also it’s not about freebies, it’s also about affording to with the demand your followers want

  9. Only 4 months into this but here is my twopence worth. I started the blog as a hobby. Not with any great scheme to get stuff for free. However I have had a few approaches and I am just in the process of writing one up. I don’t see the harm in honestly reviewing a product/eatery even if you haven’t paid. However I have made it clear if I have received something for free.

    I guess it’s a horses for courses approach. I cannot imagine that I would approach someone and outright ask for something but if someone were to offer and I thought it relevant then why the devil not?

  10. 🙂 My blog name is This is Life. It’s all about anything I like to blog about. But because I have a big collection of recipes and food I cook/ bake, I am partially a food blogger.

    There are a lot of people out there reading blogs, some find recipes and food interesting, some prefer to read reviews to inspire them what to get or where to eat (I follow several blogs purely because of their travel experience and where to eat, not because of their writing nor personal life), and then there are people who just like to enter giveaways.

    Each blogger have their own reason for choosing which area they want to focus to, and what they prefer to read. And of course, each of us have our preferences what blogs we like to follow, and what we don’t.

    For example, I love blogs that have a generous amount of beautifully photographed pictures. They don’t have to be well written, nor have a lot of words. But they must at least make sense of course. My top 5 favourite food blogs are all like that. Again, personal preferences 🙂

    Back to blogger and blagger subject. Life is tough and economy isn’t entirely fantastic. Blogging is a hobby that requires electricity and time, and time is money. If you think that you would like to fuel your blog a bit with the odd reviews, or if you are a stay at home parent like me and would like to earn a bit of extra, or cut some cost to help your partner a bit with the finances, no one out there have the right to judge you. If you are worried about losing readers, then don’t do too many. As I said, each of us have our own reason for what we want to do with our blog, and each of us have our own priority.

  11. lol. I have been arguing with my family regarding the term ‘freebies’ all the time. It seems free yes, and writing up a review doesn’t seem that hard either. But that’s not really true if you are passionate about doing reviews.

    I write with all my heart and soul, I edit photos, I made sure I tried the products to the full extend, I go through the website and make sure I understand what the product is about, while taking out all the frivolous wordings, and then I put a lot of effort into writing the review while making sure it is honest and unbiased. On top of that, since my English isn’t that great, I made sure I go through the preview twice. Plus the electricity for powering my PC, the amount of time I’m sitting here wearing my computer out, using up batteries for my constantly dying mouse, and the time I’m not spending with my kids, I will never ever call the review samples a freebie.

  12. Interesting debate…. personally I’ve been blogging for just over a year and have had my fair share of approaches from PRs, some relevant to me, and some not relevant which I’ve turned down.

    I’ve also approached brands that I LOVE and asked if there are any new products they’d like me to review. I honestly don’t see an issue with doing this personally – as someone else mentioned, there are literally thousands of food blogs and if they think you’re worth working with, then you’re doing them a favour by bringing your blog to their attention.

    Totally agree though that it needs to be crystal clear to readers what you’ve got free and also that your opinions are your own despite the free stuff, which can be a difficult line to tread. Although working with companies you really like tends to help with that.

  13. I started my blog as a keepsake for when I am gone. But as I do a lot of stuff that is quite niche people when I started asked me to expand on recipes the multitude of allergies I do.
    Within 4 months of starting my blog last year I approached various companies and asked them for various items. Some said yes, some said no, some didn’t reply, but I got some fabulous stuff some of which was top of the range rather than mid price.
    Through those requests I have built up a great rapport with one company who send me out free food of my choice every month and have done for over a year , they were a new company at the time and my random request got to them at a good time for both of us.
    I dont think it harms to ask, to give them links to your blog and a reason for how it will benefit them through your intended use of what you are asking for. I have also always been polite enough to send a thank you back to any company that said no as well.
    Any time I use the product I also go add a link on to the supplying companies FB page ( if they have one) so other people can see different ideas.
    I dont think I am a blagger, I think I am a blogger who uses products and is willing to talk about them. Some of the items I review I have bought myself but feel they are good enough to share my thoughts on.
    I always make it quite clear the item was provided but that any thought and findings are my own

  14. Frankly, I wish most PRs would stop approaching me – I have a 5 year old blog and 90% of the time what they want benefits them but not me. Thank god for those guys who realise that this is a two-way relationship. Want me to talk about your new play or concert series? Offering me a pair of tickets might just entice me to talk about it on the blog – it’s not rocket science…

    I’m in the unenviable position of binning four or five requests a day at this point – not fun!

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