Here’s the scenario: someone contacts you about your work. They just adore your (insert craft here) and would love to do a feature on their blog. All they ask is for some “samples” of your items. In return you get a feature and links back to your site. You’re excited, someone has noticed you! It’s a chance for some “free” press which is something we all could use a little more of. But, heed my warning, don’t jump right in and trust someone you do not know.
Science Nameplate | $39 | ShopGibberish
I learned the hard way. I was approached on Etsy (by someone who has since had her profile deleted) with a pretty snazzy proposal and loads of links to websites and past reviews. Her numbers were impressive; over 1000 followers on her blog and hundreds of daily views. She seemed nice enough and very complimentary. Something did strike me as odd in her request and should have been enough of a red flag. But I was excited. Someone liked me.
“So the companies and PR firms I work with send me these products to me at no cost for my features/reviews… Having the products on hand allows me to conduct a full and complete review!”
What followed that was a list of my jewelry she liked; what she wanted me to send. It was a very long list. I was cautious enough to only send a few things. But, as all artists know, giving any amount of your product away can be tough to swallow. I was going on the promise of a beautiful feature, even possibly a video feature on her YouTube channel. I sent about $150 worth of merchandise to a total stranger. Four months later, no feature. No return emails. Nothing.
The lesson I have learned is this: do your homework. If someone approaches you expecting freebies, find out more about them. Ask for numbers to back up their claims of high readership. Talk to other folks they have featured. Make a detailed list of what you send and when. Follow up with them frequently until you see results. Be vigilant in getting what you have been promised. Unfortunately there are loads of people out there perfectly willing to take full advantage of people. Starving artists eager to promote their work can be easy targets I’ve come to find out.
Now, despite everything I’ve said, there are people out there who are truly respectable and honestly want to help. Not everyone is trying to scam you out of free stuff. It’s sad that the few bad apples have to sour the bunch. Cliche but true. The only advice I can give comes from personal experience. Learn, listen, read and share. If you’ve checked and re-checked someone’s story, check again. Ask around. Your work is valuable as is your time. Don’t sell yourself short by giving your work away without being able to reap some sort of reward.