Bloggie Wednesdays: Frequently Asked Questions About Products Received For Editorial Consideration (Part 1)

Bloggie Wednesdays: Frequently Asked Questions About Products Received For Editorial Consideration (Part 1)

Happy hump day, fellow beautyholics! Hope you’ve had a good start to the week.

Today I thought I’d do a bit of a Q&A on FAQ about products received for editorial consideration. You’ll notice that when I review products that were sent to me for review, there’s a disclosure at the bottom of the post that the product was sent for editorial consideration. Brands are approaching more and more bloggers these days to spread the word about their product because they realise the amount of influence bloggers have over these brands’ potential customers. Goodness knows how much makeup I’ve purchased that were enabled by other beauty bloggers. :P

As bloggers learn to work with brands, it’s inevitable that there’ll be questions on how to go about doing it. These are some of the questions I’ve received over the years and I thought I’d share my answers with you today. If you’re not a blogger, it might be interesting to see what goes behind the scenes of reviewing that product that we didn’t buy ourselves. Are the reviews still trustworthy? Read on and find out!

By the way, the reason this post comes in 2 parts is because when I finished writing it, it came up to well over 2000 words! That’s a lot of words to digest in just one post so I’ve decided to post the first 5 Q&As today and publish the rest next week. I’d rather not subject you to an essay today. :P

1. Wow! Free products! You lucky thing! I’m a blogger too; how do I get in on that action?

As you can tell, I had to insert a bit of sarcasm in there because goodness knows I’ve heard and read about it enough. I’ve received emails on how to get free stuff and I’ve chatted with brand managers who receive countless of similar emails requesting for freebies just so that they can review them on their blogs. This is what I have to say to them: it doesn’t work that way, people! There’s nothing wrong with writing about what you already have. There are plenty of beauty topics you can write about without needing a brand to send you products. Plus, if you love beauty products so much to start a beauty blog, chances are you probably already have quite a lot in your stash. Why not start with those?

What some bloggers fail to understand is that every item that you received for review comes with a price.

2. So those products are not actually free?

Hahahahah … NO. You know the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch“. Well, I can say the same about products sent and received for review. There’s an obligation attached to every single item you received. Brands and PRs are not charities; they’re not sending products out to you willy-nilly because they think you’re the nicest person they know (you may be!). There are quotas for them to fulfill; according to most brands I’ve worked with, each item sent is logged. There must be a reason for them to send the products out. There’s a reason why some PRs chase you for your reviews. It’s not the best way to do it but they too have a job to do.

As for bloggers, I attended a webinar once on tax deduction for bloggers and the tax accountant mentioned that products that are received for review purposes are considered as non-monetary compensation and could be taxed. I’m still trying to get confirmation about this from a few other accountants so I’ll get back to you when I know more. If you’re running your blog as a business, it might be something you’d want to consider before saying yes to every product attached to a press release.

3. A brand promised to send me a specific product but it never arrived. I don’t want to sound pushy by hassling the PR about it lest he/she thinks I’m in it for the freebies. What do I do?

Send him/her a polite email to follow up. It could be that the product was simply promised but in the end they’ve decided against it. It could also be that the product actually was sent and that it was lost in the mail. Shit happens. If you don’t hear from them, it could mean that they’ve decided not to send it to you and it’s best to just let it go. It’s not personal, it’s business. If they reply with a note of apology that the product may be lost in the mail, etc, then it’s up to them if they would like to resend the product. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with a polite follow-up. If you don’t get the product, it’s not a big deal.

4. A makeup base product (foundation/BB cream) that was sent to me was too dark/light for my skin tone. Do I still review it even though it’s not the right shade? How can I give it an accurate review when I can’t wear it?

There are a couple of ways you can go about it. You can review the texture, finish, longevity, etc by wearing the foundation at home or during the weekend when you’re staying in. Just be sure to make a note that the colour doesn’t suit you but if the foundation turns out to be good, let the review reflect that too. Another way would be to let the PR who sent the product to you know that the product he/she sent to you is too light/dark for your skin tone and if he/she can send the right shade instead. You can offer to send the wrong shade back to them if you want (usually, they’ll just ask you to keep it).

5. I received a parcel with a number of products from one brand to review. Do I have to review all of them?

This is a bit of a toughie. Personally, I’d say no, it’s not necessary to review every single product that was sent to you. For example, if I was sent 4 eyeshadows, 4 lipsticks and 2 mascaras all at once, I might choose the prettiest eyeshadow, lipstick and macara and create a look with them. If I was sent a toner, serum and moisturiser on the same range, I might decide to talk about the serum instead since it’s the most potent product of the three. It’s up to you.

I hope this helps answer some questions you might have about products sent and received for editorial consideration. Stay tuned to the next Bloggie Wednesdays where I share the next 5 frequently asked questions and answers with you. If you have any questions regarding products sent for review, working with brands, etc, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. :)

Bloggie Wednesdays is a series of articles just on blogging. They contain tips, how-tos, discussions about anything and everything you need to know about blogging and how we can be better bloggers. If you have any suggestions, tips and tricks about blogging you would like to share with us, or if you have any questions you would like me to address, please let us know in the comments.

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16 comments… add one

  1. aaj

    Hi Tine…hope you are well….on a not so related issue…just wanted to tell you what an enabler you are…I ‘blame’ you for my purchases of several nars blushes, sunday riley blushes, hourglass moodlight etc….having said that, I am really looking forward to your review of the GA foundation….:P

    1. Tine

      Hahahaha *I bow victoriously* :P

      The GA foundation review will be up in a couple of weeks after some thorough testing!

  2. Allison

    Happy to have you back! Great post, as always. I have been blogging just about a year, and I was one of those new bloggers who was wondering how I could get in on the action. Now, I’ve gotten a few freebies. Fortunately, I had good experience with most of the products. The dicey bit is when it’s not such a good experience. I’m guessing that that will be in the next part of your post next week ;)
    Allison recently posted..My Two Favorite After Shower Spray Oils: Nature Island Botanicals and Agrumi & Cannella Dry OilsMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Allison. You got that right, I’ll be talking about the not-so-good experience next week. ;)

  3. Cynthia

    This is such a good post Tine! I always believe it comes down to the reason one started to blog. Blog of passion or blog because you want to get freebies. :)
    Cynthia recently posted..Rock Pinktober Tag!My Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Cynthia. You need passion to blog because if it’s the latter, once those freebies go away, then what’s the point of blogging anymore? Plus it gives other bloggers a very bad name.

  4. Hilary

    Yeah, but admit it – getting nice boxes/jiffy bags of stuff is always nice :D
    And you know you can always call on your loyal followers for the odd hand (or rather, face) to test on if it all gets too much Tine :P lol

    Good call on the tax issue – never a good idea to get the tax man unhappy, its the one things that brings ‘em down in the end :)
    Hilary recently posted..End of one adventure, beginning of another?My Profile

    1. Tine

      Oh you got me. It IS nice. :P
      I send parcels to one or two loyal followers monthly or bi-monthly (*ahem* not a bribe *ahem*) :P
      The tax thing for bloggers is still a bit unclear, at least, it still is to me. A lot of tax accountants haven’t worked with bloggers before so they too aren’t very sure about certain things.

  5. sesame

    Brands can have items sent logged but it does not mean bloggers are obliged to review. A clear editorial policy becomes important especially when some brands tend to send stuff without asking. They can hope for a review but they cannot demand. Bloggers have the final call.
    sesame recently posted..10 green Christmas gift ideas under $10 from iHerb.comMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Well said, Sesame. A clearly written editorial policy is very important especially when dealing with unsolicited products. I had a poor experience once with a few brands who sent me stuff I never asked for and hounded me for reviews even after clearly stating that reviews are not guaranteed. Then they start to drop “hints” on stories I can do that can feature their products. It’s maddening, I tell ya.

  6. Jennifer

    Lovely post on the reality and back scene of beauty bloggers. Free products and the exclusivity associated to the PR circle certainly generate the feel good effect. But there’s somewhat a string attached to the seemingly free lunch. Free or not, I admire the commitment that you put in on top of the honest reviews. That’s priceless and reason why I keep coming back for more. Thanks Tine. You’ve made my beauty experience more enjoyable and interesting.

    1. Tine

      Thanks so much for your kind words Jennifer. Really means a lot to me that I’ve enhanced your beauty experience. Here’s to more enhancing and err … enabling? :P x

  7. Sunshine

    Tine, bless you for these posts. I started my blog just as a away for me to share my views on certain products. I’m new to blogging and your tips are like a goldmine =)

    I’ve accepted some products to review and luckily I have liked them so my reviews have been positive. I’ve had 5 companies (I won’t name them) approach me to try products or ask to sponsor my posts. After I replied saying that my reviews would include my honest opinion and may include any negatives about the product, the PR rep. never got back to me. I followed up with polite emails and still got no reply. I admit I was pretty cut. I’m in the health industry and I don’t know what the go is on how to respond to PRs or how to approach companies (which is why I don’t email brands etc.)

    Thanks for this post because it put things in perspective for me. I was feeling so cut about being asked to trial products and then have them not reply after I said that I wanted to maintain my blog’s integrity so I won’t sugar coat my reviews.

    Another thing for thought from this post is the tax on products received from blogging. This is definitely new news to me and I should really speak to my accountant about this.

    Thanks again x ♥
    Sunshine recently posted..My new business cards | 1250 Cards for free!!!My Profile

    1. Tine

      It was my pleasure, Sunshine. Unfortunately that happens and the best thing is not to take it personally because to them, it’s business. It’s not your fault and definitely not your problem. If the PR rep is not interested in working with you because you told them that your opinions will be honest, then it’s worth reconsidering working with them. This is also to avoid any future issues that might come up if they’re not happy with your review just because you included negative points.

      To be honest, I’m still torn about the tax thing when it comes to non-monetary compensation. One accountant says one thing, another says another. There’s nothing concrete. Gah!

  8. Joyce (bronzerbunny)

    Great post! So far my experience has been good, and no company seems particularly concerned that it takes me ages sometimes to post about a product. I do try to post about everything if I can and luckily I haven’t hated anything yet. Sometimes the scent doesn’t work for me but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good product haha!
    Joyce (bronzerbunny) recently posted..LA Beauty DiscoveriesMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Joyce! Scent is such a subjective thing to review and you’re right, might be bad for you but good for me! :P

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