Today I'm going on a temporary aside from my usual posts mostly because I don't want anyone else in the gaming community to fall into the trap of free-loading companies taking advantage of another blogger's hard work.
Recently, I was contacted via email by a representative of Man Crates (link removed as I'd rather not have my blog drive traffic to their site) a company who's products consist of masculine gift baskets, asking me to contribute to their advertising campaign about my "fondest memories about gaming". Prior to them approaching me, I've had no contact with Man Crates, nor have I purchased or been gifted one of their products. The company representative asked if I'd be interested in promoting their products via Empire of Ghosts. Initially, I wasn't really interested and didn't reply to the first email. I'm not against product reviews (I've certainly done plenty) or just basic promotion of a product I like but I've always purchased or been gifted every item I review here. While I'm not against being compensated for promoting products, I've never done it prior to this and, even if I someday do, it will always be an honest review where I fully disclose that I was compensated for reviewing that product.
A few days pass and I get a follow-up email from Man Crates again asking about my interest in their promotion. Okay, I'll bite. "What would you like posted and what form of compensation can I expect?" I figure they'd throw a free crate my way to review or perhaps compensate me monetarily for promoting their product. Not to sound greedy, but if I'm taking some of my limited personal time to promote your product and drive sales for your business, it's just right to compensate people for that. My day job doesn't say to me "come in for X hours a week, arrange our sales floor, assist customers, and drive sales for $0/hr"; they properly compensate me for my hard work and time. Their response?
So, unfortunately there isn't a budget for this project. I'm really sorry about that. We're still recovering from the big holiday season and have Valentine's Day just weeks away, so all our compensation and review crates are already completely tied up in other projects."
That response isn't just shockingly unethical, it's insulting.
Barring volunteerism and charity work, if you don't have a budget allocated to properly compensate people for their work, you don't get the option of requesting those people work for free to make you money. That's unethical. You wouldn't approach your manufacturer and say "make us X amount of Product for free because we don't have a budget for manufacturing". I wouldn't go to the local news and say "review and promote my blog for free.". The insult comes from the rationale that the blogger isn't in need of compensation because Man Crates doesn't view the investment of personal time and energy that blogger is contributing as being worthwhile. It would be one thing had I reached out to them and asked for free review items; it's totally ridiculous for them to reach out to me and expect something for nothing.
Bloggers, your time is worthwhile. Your effort in keeping a blog updated, interesting, and engaging is worthwhile. Unless you are personally invested in promoting a product through your own self interest, you deserve to be adequately compensated for your time and energy.