Have you ever thought about the definition of the word FREE?

by | Sep 17, 2012 | Blog, Life | 34 comments

Free: adjective \ˈfrē\ –  given without consideration of  a return or reward.

In the blogging industry, that word, FREE, gets thrown around a lot.


We hear comments like, “You’re so lucky. You get FREE stuff!”

I don’t mind hearing that so much from people who really don’t know better. How would the average Jill or Joe know the amount of time and effort it takes to create a post? How would they know how much time and effort it took to build a voice/brand that the “givers-of-stuff” would WANT to give someone their stuff?

OK, it bothers me a little. I wish folks understood the effort. I worry they think I hang out at home during the day organizing and petting all my cool free stuff. I just sit there. Acquiring free stuff.

And then there are the marketers and brands.

I have been able to work with some outstanding PR firms and brands. It’s an honor to work with businesses that recognize the effort.

But for every 1 of those, there are 15 of the other. Oh the countless pitches that daily fill my inbox… The emails to butter me/us up with promises of FREE stuff… but at a price.

Free + Price = not so much. It got me thinking. And I guess when I think I get a little mathy. Which is odd since math makes me gag…

a story problem for bloggers

Either the word FREE needs to be redefined or… OR maybe FAVOR should replace it.

If you want a favor – just call it what it is.


I learned a lesson many years ago. I was sent $6 in crackers to review… aaaaand about $20 prize (crackers and cheap crap) for my giveaway winner. I spent:

  • time taking pictures
  • time uploading pictures
  • time crafting an interesting, fun post
  • time promoting giveaway
  • time facilitating giveaway
  • time packing shipping prize
  • my own money shipping AND packaging prize

I traded time with my family in trade for FREE crackers. I spent my own money on packing and shipping… for FREE crackers. I used my creative talent and valuable voice… for FREE crackers.

My family received $6 of crackers that were gone in a day. I spent 4-6 hours on that little project (I was a slower writer then)… I made $1-1.25/hour BEFORE taxes. Except it wasn’t money. I had to eat my money in crackers.

Or my kids did.


So, when I am sent an exciting email about someone’s wonderful product and am told a blog post and some promotion will get me FREE stuff… I’m not so much thinking there is so much FREE in that.

If a product is super-cool or fun or something that will truly benefit my family… then perhaps. Or if I am moved or feel my readers would really dig the product or it means a fun giveaway for them… or I am able to do that favor… Sure!

But when I get an email trying to convince me to spend time (I could spend with my family or having coffee with friends or cooking dinner instead of getting take-out) writing about moisturizer or a frozen pizza coupon or an energy drink… so someone else can grow THEIR business… That’s a hard sell.

FREE stuff is not free. We (bloggers) pay with our time. Literal time pounding out a post we feel worthy of our readers…and worthy of our reputation… not to mention the months and years we have spent growing a space that businesses would consider worthy of their product.

I am learning, my filter for making decisions has been my family. Is 4-6 hours of mom’s time worth $6 in crackers? And it’s not all about money – it’s really more a matter of ime. My kids could really care less about crackers. They want my time. And I refuse to trade my time for crackers. My family is worth more, and so am I.

What are your thoughts? Does X + Y = Z?


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