Why I blog & the controversies of blogger disclosure (receiving free stuff)

Travelling Corkscrew Wine Blog Casey Ewers
On one hand I have people wondering why I spend so much time on something (my blog) that I get very little in return from and on the other hand there are people who think I just sit back and get cases of wine sent to me and invites to fancy wine events. Therefore I wanted to write a post on exactly why I blog and my thoughts on receiving free stuff and disclosure. The two go hand in hand, so here is my take on it.

And before you ask, yes this post is me doing a Q&A on myself, and yes it meant I could justify having a glass in each hand! Call it creative thinking..

I began blogging in 2010, when being a blogger was nowhere near as common as it is today. And really to be honest with you, I think it was only my Mum who read my blog for the first 3 years…

So if no one was reading the TC blog, why keep blogging?

I love it! It’s that simple really. I love wine, I love to write and I love the digital world. A lot of people ask me about starting a blog and how to do it, my first response is always.. You HAVE to have PASSION, it needs to be a really strong passion as blogs are more work than you may realise.

So what’s a normal day like for the girl behind the TC blog?

Some people think blogging is all I do. But alas young ones, I actually have a day job. A very cool day job in fact at a lovely online marketing agency here in Perth.

This means 5 days a week, I go to work at 8am and get home at about 6pm. Whether it’s working on the blog or interacting with my absolutely fabulous social media following, it’s safe to say I’m either in front of my computer, iPad or iPhone on my way to and from work on the train, during my lunch break, and then for most of the evening until I go to bed.

Yes I admit, I am addicted to blogging & social media and every now and then I need to be pulled back to the real world. Which is why I love Mr. Spittoon. Every now and then he reminds me that I need to sit back and enjoy, maybe get a little tipsy and well, you know where the story goes from there! It’s finding the perfect balance between the day job, the blog and living life away from a screen.
Travelling Corkscrew Wine Blog desk

You get free stuff all the time for nothing, how cool this that?

I can’t lie, being offered products or being invited to events is fantastic. A bloody awesome perk of all the hard work I put in. I have written over 270 blog posts in my time, on average I spend roughly 2 hours on each post, this doesn’t include the research for the post but only the actual writing of the post and the editing of the content as well as all the images used (I try to only use photos I have taken myself). Therefore 270 posts  x 2 hours per post = 540 hours of my lifetime. And then you have the actual creation of the site (the part that gives me major headaches) and of course the research and social media interactions.

I love every single part of it, even when I was pulling my hair out over moving from wordpress.com to wordpress.org I knew it was going to make my blog awesome. And then… there are the costs, I pay nearly $14 a month just for hosting, then you have domain costs per year and other little bits and pieces. It all adds up.

Therefore when you take all the above into consideration, the odd freebie seems like a nice little reward.

Do you just blog for the freebies?

If you’ve read this far, then you know it’s my passion that drives me. But it’s not just that. It’s spreading the word about fantastic wines, places, experiences and more! Life is short, and you want to get every single drop of goodness out of it, so it’s great to read blogs, chat to friends and find out through various grapevines about cool stuff to drink, eat, see and do. I love reading blogs whether it’s for recipe ideas or for holiday research!

Probably the biggest reward for me is when someone who reads my blog leaves a message on social media or on one of my blog posts about how they tried a wine I wrote about or visited a winery I posted about or tried something new that I had mentioned. I don’t think anyone realises just how cool it is for me to hear that! It makes those 540 hours  and $14 a month totally worth it!

The perfect example off this is when I blogged and chatted on social media about a teeny-weeny cellar door out here in the Swan Valley – Tyler’s Vineyard. Their cellar door is a tin shed, there’s a dog, goose, chickens and triplet teenagers roaming around and it’s quite obvious that their biggest priority isn’t marketing. If you didn’t know they were there, well you would probably drive right past. After I posted about Tyler’s I had a good handful of people tell me that they went to the cellar door and loved it. To me this makes me so happy as a blogger, wine lover and a person. My writing has encouraged community members to try somewhere new and in return it’s helped out a local business. I think this is just totally awesome.

So what’s your take on blogger disclosure?

Since I began to work with brands (free stuff) I learnt very quickly that I needed to somehow tell my readers that I had received something as a gift or free with the intention that I had to blog about the product/event in return for the freebie. I also wanted to be able to let you all know, that because I was given something for free, it doesn’t mean I’m dictated as to what to write, I am always 100% in control of my digital voice. Before working with a brand, I am always very clear that; 1. I will always disclose that it is gifted, sponsored or paid (definitions are below) and 2. That I will always give my honest opinion, no matter what. In the end, my blog is me in the shape of a website. Lying on my blog would be like telling myself that I’m giving up wine for the next 30 days for health benefits, yeah it just ain’t gonna happen!

It’s exciting to be offered items of experiences to feature on Travelling Corkscrew but my first and foremost thought always is whether you guys would love to read about it. If it’s not relevant and you guys aren’t into it, then it’s not worth my time. So to encompass all of the above I created a page here on the blog called Disclosure Policy. This outlines everything a bit more formally and can explain to brands as well as to you guys where I stand on all this stuff. The policy is continually updated the more I research into blogger disclosure.
Travelling Corkscrew Wine Blog inspiration board

How can we easily identify a post which has been gifted/sponsored or paid?

It’s important to me to be as transparent as possible when it comes to disclosing my work with brands. Therefore if I have worked with a brand for a particular post I will disclose at the top of the post before the content about what I have received and have a link to my Disclosure policy. I have also very recently began hashtag disclosures for my social media channels and these also explain the difference between what I agree with brands. Here’s a snapshot:

#sponsored – This will be a post where I have been given a product/invited to an event in exchange for a blog post or mention.
#paid – 
This will be a post/mention that I received a payment for.
#gifted
 – This post/mention will contain something I have been gifted. It may be a product, event invitation or something else that I did not pay for. These items receive no guarantee of coverage. I only share these items if I feel the TC audience would find them interesting.

Conclusion

So that’s me in a blog post. A lot of my time goes into the Travelling Corkscrew and I love every minute of it. At the end of the day, I just want to inspire, educate and connect with fabulous people like YOU!!

If you have any questions or thoughts on what you have read above, please leave a comment below ๐Ÿ™‚

23 thoughts on “Why I blog & the controversies of blogger disclosure (receiving free stuff)

  1. I’m just honest (and maybe a huge fan!). We will most definitely have to catch up, enjoy and discuss more wine in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You’re such a sweetie Haley!! Thank you so much for all your support and it was so great to meet you and see that wine gets you and your hubby just as excited ๐Ÿ™‚ Look forward to catching up for a wine or two again soon!

  3. Fantastic post Casey! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think your blog is fantastic, I don’t know how many times my husband has heard “travelling corkscrew said this/recommended this/tried this”, and it was lovely to finally meet you as well. I love how much of your passion comes through on your blog, and how it is always such an honest point of view, and such a great read!

  4. Thanks for popping over L! And for your lovely words. Being a blogger in Perth is extra special as the blogging community is full of so much support and fun here, we’re so lucky ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  5. Hey Alex, yeah I’m liking using the hashtags however it’s more about the terms. I think it’s important to disclose if someone has particularly requested a mention in exchange for a freebie compared to when I’ve been given something with no promise of anything in return ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thanks for the kind words Jess. I really enjoyed writing this post and sharing a bit of me with you all ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  7. Thanks for taking the time to read the post Reeva and I’m glad I could share some insights into what really goes into a blog. Catch you on twitter ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. You write for very much the same reasons as I do. One of the great things about the digital world is that people from all over the world can share their knowledge, tips and passions with each other. Keep on going!

  9. Your reasons for writing are very similar to mine. One of the great things about this digital age is that like-minded people from all over the world can share knowledge, tips and their passions with each other!

  10. Love it! I have been thinking about starting a blog lately but I dont think I actually have the time to dedicate to it, so seeing your hours broken down makes me realise I do need more time before I can commit to running a blog. Love following you on twitter too ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I love posts like these. It takes the ethereal blogger and portrays them as what they are… a real
    person. Kinda like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs, you see them for how talented they are, purely from sharing something that’s personable. Thanks Casey! X

  12. You know what I love about posts like this…? It takes the writer from just a blogger on a web page somewhere and shows them as a real person. Like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.
    No matter how many followers you have, you’re just like every one of us and I am ALWAYS drawn to a post that someone rights about themselves and makes it personable. Thanks Casey! X

  13. I like the idea of using different,defined hash tags for tweets. I was going to use #freebie but I thought that that actually sounded a tiny bit disrespectful – so I’ve just gone with #hosted but realise now that while that will cover dinners/functions (I’m mainly a food blogger so that’s mostly what things are) it doesn’t work for samples …

  14. What a wonderful, thought provoking read Casey! Having recently just started our own food blog, I often get asked the very same questions – a lot of people ask why I put so much time and effort into STM. Like you said, it’s a passion project and I am (so far) getting so much joy out of experience! Swan Valley is one of my all time favourite places, and it so often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Your blog is so inspirational for those of us who love to support local businesses in the area! ๐Ÿ™‚

    x L

  15. This was such a wonderful, thought provoking read Casey! Having just recently started our food blog, I often get so many of the same questions – a lot of people ask me why I have such an expensive/ time consuming hobby. But you outlined it perfectly! It’s a passion project, one that I am (so far) getting so much joy out of doing. Your blog is so inspirational, just because I absolutely adore Swan Valley and it often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. If I ever need to check out a place new, I’ll always have a look at your blog first! ๐Ÿ™‚

    x L

  16. Thanks for the kind words Marieke!! I really do love what I do, and being able to chat with great people like you about all things wine is just awesome! Thanks for being such a wonderful supporter of the TC ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. What a great read. Anyone that follows you can read and feel your passion for what you do – with a good smattering of humour thrown in. A shining example of a great blogger. And if you get some freebies out of it – well deserved I say. Love your work. And, yes, Tylers is right up there on the list of Swan Valley must dos.

  18. Thanks Star, the blogging world is definitely an interesting one to be a part of! Loving your blog, it’s so inspirational ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  19. Great post Casey! I think a lot of people have the misconception that most bloggers sit around receiving free stuff all the time, living a very cushy lifestyle – people who aren’t familiar with the blogging world often have no idea how much time/energy/money it actually takes to make it all happen. That’s why you often see bloggers who you can tell have zero passion for what they write about drop off.

    You totally deserve the odd freebie every now and then!

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