Blogging is a weird job. It's a giant mix of writing, photography, graphic design, marketing, a little tech knowledge, and a whole lot of determination. And what do bloggers get back in return? There are more abstract benefits like having a creative outlet, connecting with other bloggers (and making friends!) and building something you're proud of.
However, for a lot of bloggers, it's a business. That business comes with sources of income. Some are monetary, some are not, but they're all payment for a service rendered. That's why I get a little ticked by this concept of 'free stuff'.
You cannot imagine the amount of times I've heard the sentence 'I want to be a blogger for all the free stuff!!' or had a friend / family member feel inclined to help themselves to something I've been sent by brands.
I'm sure you've seen unboxing hauls where bloggers open up package after package of products they've been sent, but what you don't see is the amount of time and energy it takes to get those 'free' products.
It's a ton of work
For most ( at least GOOD) collaborations, bloggers have to create a pitch to a brand in order to get sent products. That's at least 2 hours of creative energy from the get go without any promise of a return.
If you're lucky and a brand chooses to work with you, then comes coordinating, shooting, writing, editing, (sometimes re-shooting) and creating a post that is both authentic to you, and showcases the brand. (So there's at least 5+ hours right there)
So that means that bloggers put in around 8-12 hours for one collaboration. At New York minimum wage, that should be $100 - $160. We do it instead for eight bottles of shampoo.
It's how we get paid
While I wholeheartedly believe that bloggers deserve to get paid actual money for collaborations, there are a lot of brands that just aren't willing (That's a whole separate issue). So instead, brands usually send a generous amount of product in exchange for review, promotion, etc. It's our strange form of currency.
Being a blogger is expensive
I have definitely spent WAY more money than I've made off this blog. Between web design, hosting, marketing, apps like Tailwind, photographers, props, software, and just my own time and energy being put into it, I'm absolutely running a deficit, but I do it because I love blogging.
Some of the big-name bloggers make easily six-figures off their corner of the internet, but most of us are out here because we love what we do and we just freakin' love lipstick. (or shoes, or bags, or whatever!)
When it comes down to it, bloggers do not get free stuff, we work our butts off for a few boxes of products, and we do it because we love it.