Open topic for discussion: Why I don't sell my PR Product Samples

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Has it ever happened to you, when you have truly believed in something and then you turn out to be wrong? Well, something happened to me a while back on the subject of selling blogger product samples, or some people would call ‘freebies’ that these generous brand would send us. Ever since I started receiving products (even back when I was a freelance artist for Lancome back in 2004 and get truck loads of Lancome and other L'Oreal products) I have never sold them ever, or even entertained the notion, but apparently it’s something some people do. Today I wanted to explain why I don’t (and possibly start a discussion with you fellow bloggers out there -or some readers), and believe me when I say that there is no judgement here because we are not all wired the same. I’d like to take the opportunity to express why I personally don’t think it’s a good idea.

Just the other day in an event, a beauty blogger friend of mine were in deep discussion about if selling PR samples were a GO or NO GO. She and I share the same no-go opinion about selling products we have received to blog about. Again, I am not here to judge, that decision lies entirely up to you. After discussing this with my friend, I felt that it's a good topic to open up! So let's, shall we?

Let's discuss more after the jump!

When I started blogging 6 years ago, I never expected that brands would notice my work. I bought products with my own money, using the products on myself and my clients so that I can make a review. When I started attending events as the beauty editor for that's when I started getting PR samples and brands started sending me products.

For my love for makeup and skin care, I used them all alternately, and for products didn't really work out too well on my skin, I would give to my friends and family to try.
I guess the main reason why I don’t believe in selling blogger PR samples is that I think, in the end, it’s damaging to the culture of the blogging industry. I mean, bloggers already have a stigma that we are only after free products or we are "PG when it comes to receiving freebies", I know that sounds a bit dramatic and an exaggeration, but sadly, it's true. Us muggles are naturally inclined to keep doing something that would be beneficial to them – so say if you sell one sample, and you reap the financial ‘reward’ of doing so, it’s probably something you’ll keep on doing. It's like cheating on a math test. LOL
Being a BLOGGER, whether that be in fashion, beauty or whatever, means that at one point or another, you were sent beauty or fashion items to be reviewed and featured on your blog. Gifts or samples of new products a certain brand has can be seen as part of compensation- hmmm... maybe not compensation, but investment would be a better word; instead of compensating you with money, these brands send you the newest face cream, and the more successful your blog is, the more products/samples you will receive on a daily basis.
I admit, after blogging on and off for 6 years, I have become a bit overwhelmed with the amount of products I receive on a daily basis, not to mention those sample products I receive from events -and the need to occasionally “clean closet” is a must to avoid expired wasted products.
When I first started blogging successfully (that moment when you realize brands start to notice you and your blog and have started sending you products) I asked other of my beauty blogger friends what their take is on selling PR samples they received and the answer was always the same: No!
So what you may ask do I do with all those products? Specially during the holidays when brands really send you tons of products. I trade with my other blogger friends or I donate products as prizes when my family plays bingo. Some products I bring with me when I have dinner with my friends and give them away so that they can try them, having said that, selling just seemed unethical to me.

Here are some pointers why I have never considered selling my products:
  • First of all, if your main goal is to blog solely to get free products with the purpose to sell them later on, then better quit while you're ahead. Blog about products because you are genuinely interested and have a passion for that topic. Avoid making compensation as your main goal, otherwise, your blog will go quickly as it came.
  • There is a growing number of blogs out there and it increases more by the minute second! The reason why these blogs become popular and really successful is because they are passionate about blogging and they don't do it to get free stuff (or well maybe they do, but not for the reasons you think). Companies are getting more and more selective on who to send products to. Not every company has the resources to spend on sending samples. When they do send me products, they are making an investment. If I am only after the free product, then these companies might not want to work with me.
  • PR Samples sent to me have a specific purpose. They are meant to be used and reviewed by me on my blog so that others who turn to the world wide web for advice before they purchase can know more about their product and be considered to be purchased. I mean if I were given a night cream, can I really review that product in just a single use? My readers will know if I am being truthful in my review, and these companies rely on me to give a very fair and detailed feature of their product.
  • I understand that you may receive some products that are not suitable for you. I have received a lot of foundations that are not my shade in the past so I trade them with my blogger friends who would want to switch, if I am unsuccessful I would contact the person who sent me the product and ask if I can switch to a shade that is more suitable for my skin so that I can make a proper review/feature of their product. They will appreciate the effort and more likely will want to work with you again, and be more selective when it comes to sending you stuff. Some will even get in touch with you first before they send you another product!
  • I feel that I have been given a sample because a brand feels they can build a great blogging relationship with me. Brands spend a lot of time and money sending me promotional products and they are after my opinion, my approach, and my expertise both as a makeup artist and beauty addict! Being a passionate blogger has made me some sort of an expert by now on beauty (so I would like to believe after working in the beauty industry for 11 years).
  • I don't misuse their trust in me by selling their products as I might never hear from that company again. Remember, repairing a damaged reputation is hard!
  • Readers recognize if I am just selling a product. Posting stock photos of products and just copying and pasting from a press kit is not reviewing a product. So if your reviews contain no information at all about how the product works, then you lose your audience and your sponsors.
  • Imagine if the norm was that each blogger a brand approaches would sell the items they receive. People could end up fighting for the items with the highest value regardless of what their audience wanted to see in their blog or what it would bring to their blog.
  • I treat my sponsors like family. Even if we only get to work once on a project together, I make sure that during that time, we build a good working relationship. It's fun to make new friends right? Besides, how would you feel if your friend made a profit with the gifts you send them?
  • I know my readers spend their hard-earned cash on my recommendations from the reviews I post, and as a consumer myself, I hope that fellow bloggers are doing those reviews in an honest fashion. If you are a blogger and you start raving about a product you love can win big points with a brand, which is really awesome as long as you’re being real – yes, they may send you more samples and want to work with you on more projects, but what isn’t cool is faking these relationships dishonestly for the purpose of making big bucks from selling those obtained samples. 
Although I do understand that we can’t keep all of our product samples, and that there are only so much creams we can use at a time. And God knows how much eyeshadows you have given away before they politely and subtly tell you to stop offloading your samples to them (but seriously, who would turn away to free makeup?). 

But there are so many other things you can do with samples that don’t involve compromising the your friendship and blogging relationship that make up the blogging world. There are plenty of ways to sanitize the make up you’ve swatched, which are barely or hardly used – it’s just about thinking outside the box in terms of who could benefit from them. Maybe you have a friend of a friend who aspires to become a makeup artist? A makeup artist friend who is freelance? Send some lipsticks his or her way and see how they can use them! There are literally endless opportunities to make use of used/swatched samples!

I love trading with my fellow bloggers! But for me, the best way I share my products is having a raffle or a giveaway on my blog! It's the best way to help brands spread the word about their new product and for them to try it out before they buy!

Of course, I’m definitely not expecting everyone to agree with me on this topic, but I wanted open up the topic and honestly hear what your take is. I would really love to hear what you think! Write your opinion below and let's discuss!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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  1. Definitely agree with this! :) I have experienced being sponsored by some brands but I do not sell them. If it didn't work for me, I give it away to my friends or either do a blog giveaway for my readers. I still have lots of stuffs I do not use but I give them as birthday gifts, etc. 💚

  2. I never sell every goods given to me, can't explain it well but I think it's not good when someone give it free for you and then you selling it :/

  3. Selling samples is a conflict of interest as a blogger. Readers subscribe to a blog and take the writer's opinion as an independent take on a product. If the review will be tainted due to the financial benefits received from selling products, the commercial ads should have done that for consumers.

  4. Pls dont sell samples as it is a conflict of interest. Readers subscribe to blog reviews to get an independent take on products. Getting financial benefits out of samples is not aligned to the original intent of blogging. Commercial ads are produced to glorify products, blogs are written to have an honest perspective on a product.

  5. My personal opinion...
    PR samples are sent for a specific purpose, they are meant for reviewed for the blog and bloggers are expected to give their honest opinion. There are some products that might not suitable for everyone, but I agree that we should contact the company first regarding the matter.

    For PR samples sent to me, I'm not comfortable selling it - I prefer selling the items I bought from my own money. I do swapping to some blogger friends just because the product doesn't or didn't work for me. That other bloger migh be helpful in a way to his or her readers to gather another opinion. Having a PR Items Sale on the Blog aiming to help a Charity would also be a great idea I think. Some samples also goes to a giveaways to readers and gifts to friends.

    But my side to this: I do not have the right to judge why some bloggers sell their PR products for they have their own reasons.

    A Beauty Bella

  6. I totally agree! You are right on every point. There's no better people who can open it up but only those who have worked and/or are working with the brands. I felt dismayed when I saw one blogger that I followed did that. Whatever it is, I strongly agree with you.

    Miss Princess Diaries

  7. honestly i really appreciate that you came out with this topic.. real honest.. and i do agree with you ms sabs =) if i would be given samples i wouldnt sell it if it dont matches me i would rather held it to my sibs or to my inlaws for we love skincare and makeups and sharing is fun =)

  8. Sabs my love! I missed seeing you and I missed sharing stories with yoU! I hope to see you on next events.
    With re: to this VERY sensitive topic, well, I agree with you but I also agree with you for the fact that some bloggers do sell for their own reasons! Like I always say, to each their own! As for me, i don't mind buying products that blogger sell and I don't judge them for that (usually those non-makeup related items), BUT, as for me, personally, I am NOT comfortable selling the products sent to me for free, same reason as yours --- I felt there's a friendship between me and the PR or Companies who sent me those products and like you, I'm not going to be "plastic" but I've done product exchange with fellow bloggers (which I really like doing!) I guess it's just a personal thing that I am uncomfortable when it comes to "cash involvement".

    P.S. TOTALLY AGREE on Skincare! You can't use just once or twice then come up with a review! :D


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