Seth Godin talks about freebies for bloggers in his book Meatball Sundae. He says that an office chair manufacturer send him an email saying they would like to send him a chair and ask that he review it-and give them a link to their website. He says its a six hundred dollar chair, but that doing a paid review for an office chair would not fit in with his overall business plans. It isn’t scalable and it would just drive his regular readers away. He goes on to say that the people making the chairs should look for blogs that talk about chairs, office furniture and so on.
I think I would have taken the chair-of course, they aren’t offering it to me.
It’s always been the case that Millionaries Eat Free, or sign their name for thier quesadillas, while the rest of us have to pay. Most businesses will do just about anything to get the rich and famous to be seen using their products-while they will do everything they can to make sure the rest of us pay the highest price possible. Giving to a homeless shelter is better than giving to an average person-at least that shows the company has a heart.
So how do bloggers who don’t have any many readers as Seth Godin get free stuff? One way is to ask for it. I have gotten the occasional product in exchange for a review. Sadly no one has ask me to review a First Class Trip to Paris. Yet. Hey, it could happen. But not until I have enough readers, and maybe the right kind of readers, that might actually care what a First Class trip to Paris is like.
At one time I wanted to be a travel writer, with the usual misconception that I would be traveling the world on someone else’s dime and staying at great hotels for free. I pictured myself being Samantha Brown or Rick Steves. One of the first things most books on being a travel writer tells you is to stay away from free trips as they make you look bad and no respectable publication will run a story about a comped trip. Well, bummer dude.
So I think Seth Godin is right about not reviewing the chair-but I do wonder about reviewing other things. I used to love Maximum PC magazine, in which they write reviews of all these way cool, totally bitchen computers every month-then ranked them according to how fast they can do this, that, and the other thing. Computer manufacturers would send them a PC or a laptop to test-it seems that some of them wanted the computers back after testing, but some of them didn’t.
But that’s a real magazine that talks about nothing but PCs-so it is unlikely that I could drop Alienware or Acer a line, for example, and ask for a nice new, free computer to blog with. I’d be happy with one of Maximum PCs old Dream Machines, but then, who wouldn’t? I could start a blog that was all about the best PCs and how they stack up when it comes to blogging. But even then it would need to be a high ranked blog with lots of readers and lots of traffic. And it would help if I were, oh say, an expert on computers. Putting a tagline that says This Blog Powered By _______ only works if enough people are looking at your blog. Maybe there’s some small time outfit selling computer dream machines out there that would be willing to part with one.
So why would a blogger need a super computer anyway? I’m sure I could think of something.