Sunday, 10 November 2013

Grumpy Blogger Rants: The Expectation of Samples

Image lovingly modified from an original from

I've been blogging now for over four years, first at a short-lived blog called Project Beauty before I hooked up with Sarah and established LBR, which I now run on my own.  I'm very, very lucky in that I have good relationships with a number of brands, am regularly invited to events, and regularly receive samples to try out.

I love receiving samples.  I love receiving any form of cosmetics, whether I bought it myself, it's a gift, or it's a sample from a brand I'm interested in.  The day I stop getting a little thrill when I come home to a padded envelope is the day I check in to a padded room  stop blogging stop being interested in beauty products.

And you know what?  I feel like I've earned the right to those samples - I schedule content regularly, I write honestly, I've spent time building up an audience who (hopefully) trust my reviews.  I spend a huge amount of time on this blog - I joke that LBR is my night job, and really, it is - it takes up a day and often multiple evenings of my week, which is a big commitment when you have a 60-hour-a-week dayjob.  I still LOVE it.  LOVE testing cosmetics, photographing cosmetics, writing about cosmetics, even writing poems about cosmetics.

So it sort of gets my goat when I go to events and see bloggers turning their nose up at the apparently-meager contents of their goody bags.  It also gets my goat when I see undisclosed reviews, and read about undisclosed paid content.  And it also gets my goat (I don't literally have a goat, just a figurative one) when I see and hear new bloggers complaining about the lack of samples.  Let's get one thing straight:

Having a blog does not entitle you to samples.

I suspect some bloggers aren't entirely clear on why they get samples.  Bloggers get samples because brands want to raise awareness.  They get samples because brands want to create buzz on a product.  They do not get samples because brands like them, or because other people get samples.  Brands don't have infinite supplies of them.  They are not presents, nor are they a mark of popularity.  They are a marketing tool, no more and no less.

If you would like some samples in the future, and you're a new blogger, build an audience.  Review every beauty product you have lying around at home, or those you can beg from your friends, post lemming lists, take photos of interesting new things you've seen at Boots and post those too.  Post meaningful comments on other people's blogs.  Publish meaningful comments on yours.  Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest to engage with likeminded folk, both blogger and consumer alike.

Having a blog with a legitimate following entitles you to maybe appear interesting to brands if your following matches their demographic.

Don't go begging for samples (particularly by tweeting at brands publicly).  Don't publicly complain about not getting any samples (online or IRL).  Samples are about brands getting exposure to the public, so your public profile matters.  And don't feel hard done by if you have to wait a while to build up PR contacts.  After all, you're not in this for the free stuff, right?

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.


  1. Fantastic post. I missed an event a while back and afterwards heard rumblings of some newer bloggers ask for their goodie bags to be swapped with ones that the press got :/ Things have changed so much over the past year and you've got it 100% right, the expectation is huge in terms of samples and invites. Earlier this year, I saw a couple of bloggers talking about an extremely generous goodie bag they received after an event. We're talking hundreds of euros and when one realised she didn't get a product that the other had, started giving out and was going to email the brand...

    When I started blogging over 3 years ago, I wrote every day for 6 months and loved doing it. I still do and like yourself, consider it my second job! There were hardly any Irish beauty bloggers back then so those of us who started blogging at that time did it for the craic. I never for one second thought I'd be invited to things or get sent products but nowadays it's expected and I see bloggers with a handful of posts under their belts going mad at brands on Twitter because they weren't invited to an event.

    It can be hard work blogging consistently but if you love it, it's so much fun and can be rewarding. Brands and PRs are now more savvy and can see the ones who are in it for the long haul a mile away and also see who's in it for the freebies!

    Anyway, that was an essay of a comment when all I really wanted to say was fantastic post!!

  2. I have blogged for 4 1/2 years and I would be lucky to get samples. I do buy most of my stuff and do have a budget. I find I have to find a different way to write my beauty blog because of this. I don't know if this is good or bad but I guess if I have been doing this for this long, I am not as bad as I thought! LOL


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