On Being Taken Advantage Of

(credits to Rob DenBleyker)

This is a perfect illustration with some recent frustrations I've had (which I blogged about here), regarding companies taking advantage of small business owners and bloggers.
This idea that a company will get you positive "exposure" through their marketing, without any other compensation to you, is bullshit.

A company must advertise itself in order to gain customers, make money, make a profit, and stay functioning as a company.
To do this, it traditionally either:
a) does the marketing grunt work in-house, employing 1+ professionals
b) hires an external marketing firm, contracting 1+ professionals

This creates a job(s), which is good for the local economy, and gives the company valuable insight into their consumers, which will help them develop their brand and sustain themselves more effectively.

When a company instead reaches out to you and asks you to do their marketing for free, they are employing you. 
For no money. 
For no compensating free product. 
For no benefit at all. 
Oh, did they say it would give you great exposure? If they've got great exposure, why are they asking you to be their marketer? If they've got great exposure, why is their budget so low they can't compensate your time, energy, effort, and professionalism in any way? Hrmmm...

In my 9-to-5, I work in marketing for a mid-size retailer. We work with professional "influencers" (bloggers, social media masters, etc.) to increase our audience and create buzz about upcoming product releases. We also work with local businesses for photo shoots on their property. And we also employe local guides to be in our catalogs. 

All of this is fully compensated- with money and/or with free product, in addition to exposure. Because that's how it works in the real world- if you value someone enough to need them, then you value them enough to respect their time and energy.

This help-me-make-money-while-you-get-nothing-in-return shit happens outside of the blogging world, too.

I've applied to several beauty subscription services, hoping to get Printcess out to a wider audience. You would be amazed at HOW FEW pay anything for a full-size product, or a sample. 

They want me to send them over 1,000 units for free. That's $6,000 in potential profits, down the drain. That's also a loss of several hundred bucks in actual product, packaging, and shipping. I'm not breaking even- I'm paying for "honor" of having a dubious number of subscribers see my logo. 

Even if a quarter of their subscribers try my product, and love it, and wear eyeshadow enough to order 3 colors from me that year (my eyeshadows are highly pigmented, they last a long time), that would still be a significant loss of money for me. 

Now, marketing is always a gamble. But that's why, traditionally, a retailer will purchase units at wholesale cost from a maker. 
The maker breaks even (or makes a small profit) for their efforts AND gets more eyes on their product, and hopefully future sales. 
The retailer gets more promotion of their brand, and also makes a profit. Everybody wins!

Are you ready for the list of subscription boxes that pay something for something, rather than bending small business owners over? Here it is:

I applied to SIXTEEN beauty, eco-friendly and indie subscription boxes.

Dottiebox is the only one that offered to pay me for my product.

Bloggers, small business owners, friends: Know your value. Demand it. There are those willing to respect your skills, ability and products. 

Don't let others devalue you.

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