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A Question...

A situation arose recently that I feel conflicted about and so I am turning to you, dear readers, to get your opinion. I am not going to give specifics about the situation but I would love to hear what all of you think. Please feel free to leave comments below or just anonymously log your vote on the right. And if this topic just annoys you in general feel free to ignore it, I promise to resume the regularly scheduled posts of aesthetically pleasing pictures and wedding topics immediately afterwards.

When I started this blog I never knew anyone would read it besides my friends and family. So, admittedly, I am a little naive about some aspects of the blogging world. I get emails almost everyday from vendors telling me about their services in the hopes that I will share them with all of you. I love the idea of helping out a talented person running a small business, so if I like the idea I blog about it. The last part of that sentence being the key - only if I personally like a service or goods do I share it with you. I don't post about things I don't like in a "if you don't have anything nice to say..." type of spirit.

Recently, I was approached by a vendor offering a service. We spoke several times and I truly enjoy her and what she has to offer. A little while later, she proposed that she would offer me her services for free in the hopes that I would blog about the process only if I enjoyed it and felt the need. I didn't and would never promise to review something out right, I would only ever share something that I feel all of you would enjoy hearing about. And I absolutely planned to be up front about the fact that I received the service for free.

Here is where my naivety comes into play...it never crossed my mind that by accepting the service for free my integrity could be called into question. I was thinking along these lines - beauty editors have free products sent to them by the truckload in hopes that they will review the product in their respective magazines. When I read their reviews I don't think they are biased, I think that they only write about the products they personally like and want to share with their readers. But apparently not everyone feels that way.

So - what do you all think? If I were to review a service that I were given for free, would you accept my review as an honest one? Or do you feel that its not possible to give an unbiased review of something you haven't paid for? I would love to hear your thoughts. As I mentioned, you can comment below or just vote in the poll on the right. And now, back to your regularly scheduled light and airy blogging...

19 comments:

Molly said...

I have done multiple product reviews from companies that send me something for free, with the understanding that it will be an honest review.

Some are straight up ok with it, others decide they only want a positive review.

I work in PR so I know that sometimes any press is good press. From reading you these past few months I would trust that your review would be honest and that if you didn't enjoy the product, you would either say so or not review it at all.

Go with your gut, but I think you're doing a great job and have loved all the info you've passed on to your readers so far.

Darci said...

Thanks Molly, that was a really sweet thing to say. It means a lot!

Total Wedding Planning said...

Darci,
I have reviewed products on my blogs before. Mostly books that were sent to me from publishers. I think it is ethically okay and unbiased to review a product that is given to you for free. Most things you would not have found otherwise, and what better why to try something when you don't have to pay for it!
Best of Luck,
Lorrie

Linda said...

I think as long as you disclose that the service was free and are honest with your review, you'll be ok.

aletha @ pearls events said...

As long as you are being honest with your readers, I think it's fine. The beauty products analogy you used was a great comparison.

Chere Amie said...

Would you feel comfortable criticizing the service, or would you only review it if it was a positive experience? I don't think you should hold back, and I agree that as long as you are honest and disclose all information then you should be fine!

For the Love of Jewels.... said...

I agree with the comments above. I worked in PR for 26 years before starting my jewelry business. You are correct that free product is given to the media ALL THE TIME. Typically, reporters do a story if they find the product or service worthy of mention, but they know that they are also free to do a negative story. Blogs are quickly becoming another form of journalism---more informal and opinionated, but a new type of journalism none-the-less. This means that all us bloggers have a responsibility to be honest and accurate, but otherwise free to report on whatever, however we choose.
Go for it!
Sally

Darci said...

Thank you all so much for the feedback! Emily - I think that if the service didn't go well, I probably wouldn't say anything at all. Just because I didn't like it, I wouldn't want to chance harming someone's business. I can see it from both sides, but I would probably just not say anything. Good question!

Tara said...

I think it depends on your approach. Magazines was a great example... and there are others along that same line. This isn't really something new and really doesn't trying the service give you more insight? So while yes, it was free to you in the form of advertising for them- but as you have now used the service you can provide more info to your readers than just 'their site looks good.'

I guess that what I am saying is that as a reader I don't have a problem with it. Ultimately, if you would have used their services anyways and you were honest in your review then I don't see an issue with it.

As a blogger, I don't see an issue with reviewing a book or nail polish that you received... as long as your opinion is still your opinion.

boise.jenny said...

Your readers sign on every day and tell other people about your blog because they trust your opinion. So, I think as long as you are true to that, your integrity is not in question. Especially because you disclose appropriate information. Blog away! We don't want to miss out on something cool just because it was passed on to you for free. You're basically my personal filter, and I appreciate that!

cdm said...

All of the comments left bring up great points... I think your disclosure of the service being free is the important thing. Just another example. I wokr in HIV research- many of our studies (to provide better care for patients) are funded in part by drug companies. These companies want their drugs to work, but they are aware that our results may show that they don't. Par for the course. Feel free to give positive and negatives about this free service... you are being more than up front.

Karen & TJ said...

I'll be completely honest... It's interesting that you just posted this because I recently had a change of heart regarding your blog. I loved reading your blog when you first started. Because you have some black and white going on that I adore and your using the same photographer I felt like you were a "blog buddy" but now it seems like you're posts are only about products. Once all of your posts started being about products I assumed they were e-mailing you and I was a bit turned off. I miss having you as a real person blogger if that makes sense. That said, if you really do use a vendor and like her you should feel free to post about your experience. I know that I have used your posts about a product to help out in a big way for my wedding so I still think they're helfpul. But the fact that many of your posts are turning into product posts is what makes me turned off.

Darci said...

Karen - I appreciate the feedback. I think its important to point out that I have and will never blog about a product simply because someone has emailed me about it. I saw that as helpful - giving suggestions about things that I like and things I use myself in the hopes that it will help other people with their planning. When vendors do email me, in most cases I haven't heard of their product or service. So I only share those that I would use or buy myself. I am sorry that you've had a change of heart about the blog. Honestly, I don't have enough going on with my wedding to write about it daily. I assumed people would rather read my suggestions than nothing at all, but I suppose that's not always the case.

Bree said...

I am always skeptical about other blogers/blogs who seem to have big budgets to "try" things all the time they just happened upon. I wish they would just be honest and say it was a freebie and that they are reviewing it. It just makes me think they are trying to be sneaky and/or receiving a kickback or something.
I think if you are being honest everything should be alright.

gift girl said...

Hey Darci.... If you pay or don't pay is really irrelevant. If you like it- you can blog about it, if you don't you have two choices you can blog about what you didn't like or you can choose not to blog. But never should you feel like you must blog or give praise where none is deserved. You've got a great blog and you are a great wedding expert follow your gut! :)

Linda said...

First, let me say Congrats! on the success of your blog. If it weren't successful, you wouldn't be having this problem.
I read because I can relate to your story, ideas and style. We (the readers) must remember that this is a personal blog for a personal day that you have chosen to share with us.
I noticed one comment mentioned that she was turned off because of the products you have posted. I wonder if she has noticed that most are green, does she not know your wedding palette? :) And the other items you have raffled off to your readers. In my humble opinion, I don't think you would give a biased review.
Having said all of that, I hope the business is Kate Spade and they are giving you the green jacket and purse.

Darci said...

Thank you all so much! I was feeling a little discouraged about all of this and all of you made me feel so much better. Linda - that made me laugh out loud. How I wish it were Kate Spade! Ahhh, that green purse.

Karen & TJ said...

Linda, I do happen to know her color palette includes green.

Darci, I really didn't mean to offend you and I hope I didn't. I'll keep reading your blog all the way up to your wedding, and even after, if you continue. I just like more personal blogs rather than a scandisk giveaway for example (still, I participated). It was just a personal preference statement. I know I like reading comments when I blog, so I thought I'd add my thoughts. Anyway, it's your blog and you should do what makes you happy. If people don't believe your reviews are honest they don't have to use/buy that product. To those who do find the reviews helpful I am sure they are grateful.

Darci said...

Karen, I am absolutely not offended, no need for apologies. I realize you were just stating your opinion and that's exactly what I asked for. Again, I am sorry you've had a change of heart about the blog but you're exactly right that its your personal preference. I wish you luck in all your planning!