9.02.2013

Warby Parker Asked Me to Write a Post and This Is It


A few months ago, Warby Parker sent me an email asking if I was interested in writing an article about their company and products. Because I am a curious person (who also needs glesses & loves the hipster-y kind), I said, "sure!" And waited to hear back. A few days later, they sent me an email with five PDF attachments, telling me these PDFs were the information they wanted me to include and to send them the link when I was done. I paused. I paused for like, two weeks, because I was busy and seriously, what the heck. I emailed them back saying I was confused and, were they asking me to write an article on their company without any compensation? Were they offering a discount code, a pair of glasses, a something, anything? 

No response. 

So, Warby Parker asked me to write an article about their company and this is that article. 

This article is about a lot of things, but at the base of this article, I want people, and brands, and PR people, and marketing people, to understand something very simple: bloggers love reviewing stuff because they like it, they like writing about brands that are awesome, and they like being part of a community. But you know what bloggers really freaking hate? Being asked to write a sponsored post without the brand or company actually doing anything sponsor-y. That mean's compensation. 

I know what you're thinking. But Michelle, you write reviews about products for free all the time. Most of the time they are products that you bought. Yes, and I review them because I really like them or really dislike them or something. If a company sends me a product, I will tell the truth about it, even if it is really, really sucky. 

But it kinda grinds my gears to have a company ask me to write an article, and basically a review of their company, without offering me the chance to experience the product. I mean, really? How does that make sense? I thought it was just me; my blog is not that big or popular and whatever, so I thought I was just small potatoes. I recently found on Twitter though that they've done this to a lot of other bloggers. And that's really not cool. 

Bloggers are not free labor. Period. 

I know I didn't start blogging for free stuff and while free stuff is nice, it's not a motivator. I've turned out a lot of free stuff for my blog because I didn't like it or want it. This isn't about free stuff. This is about a company trying to use bloggers in a way that is completely and totally not ok. 

The sad thing is: Warby Parker is a great company. For every part of glasses someone buys, they donate a pair to someone in need. They offer a program where you can select 5 pairs of glasses to be shipped to you, for free, to try on. The really sad part is that I will never be purchasing anything from their company, ever, because it's truly shady to me to try to use blogs for free to spread the news about a charitable cause. Those 5 PDFs? They were jam-packed with statistics and information about their charities, which is actually really cool, except for the part where they don't want to actually pay anyone to write about and spread the news about their cause. It's not even the fact that they didn't want to pay or compensate me; it's the fact that they've done this to more than just a few bloggers. 

I don't want this to come off as "a brand asked me to do something and I didn't get free swag and now I'm cranky," because, frankly, I don't care that I didn't get a free pair of glasses. I have three pairs of glasses; I'm not in the market. The thing I'm cranky about is this: blogging isn't my job, it's a hobby, but I'm a pretty busy lady. I work full-time, I take care of a husband and dog and house, and I'm building another house, and I'm trying to keep everything together while blogging to enjoy myself and if you want me to work for you, I have to have some kind of incentive other than, "Our company does awesome things! Help us spread the word." I don't live, or work, for free. Neither does any brand or blog or business or human being. I know, that sucks, but it's the truth.

Bottom line: if you want a little bit of sweet bloggy action, from any blogger, not just me, you have to offer something. It doesn't have to be huge. But something. As a brand, you should never treat bloggers like they should just want to work for your company for free. Bloggers do not equal free labor; our blogs are not free advertising for you to use; and to act otherwise is bad business, period. 

So this is my post about Warby Parker. I sure hope they like it, because it's what they "bought" with their emails.


6 comments:

  1. I just started blogging and in the works for doing a sponsorship - all very new stuff to me. But all that you've written seems pretty on-par. I'm glad you took the time to write something that wasn't necessarily "happy" but still informative and interesting. Anyways, good read and thanks for sharing!
    xoxo, Lindsey Dish @ thebeltedpear.blogspot.com

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  2. Michelle, thank you so much for writing this! I find it extremely insulting that Warby Parker does this. I was thinking about ordering from them (I have my try on pack right now) but they have lost my business. Not only is it unethical and insulting, but it hurts the blogging business.

    xo Megan, LushtoBlush.com

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  3. Thank-you for writing this!! I was just e-mailed by Warby Parker asking to write a post for them... glad I did my research on that! ;-)

    xoxo Miss ALK
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  4. girl. i'm so glad you wrote this. WP reached out to me this week and i had your post all the way from last year still lingering in my head. pretty much the exact same thing is happening to me right now! i'm going to see if i can't get a pair of sunglasses out of it anyway, but i'm prepared to write a similar post to yours if these emails continue the way they have been. their digital marketing person is TERRIBLE. i don't know who to go to in the company to tell them that, but he should be so fired.

    xo nicole
    writeslikeagirlblog.com

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  5. Hi Michelle - I was just approached by Warby Parker today and couldn't believe that they wanted me to write about and recommend their products -- for free -- that I've never even seen! I immediately had to google to check whether this is how they normally do their marketing, and that's how I came across your page. Thanks for writing this post and pinpointing how unprofessional and unethical their business behaviour is. No due diligence going on in their marketing dept, that's for sure.

    http://tallgirlsfashion.no

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  6. Warby Parker sucks.

    The first pair of glasses I purchased were defective (a lens kept falling out of the frame). So, they replaced them. I accept poor workmanship from a company that offers discount rates.

    However, what I didn't expect is what happened soon after. When I tried to order a pair of prescription sunglasses, a month later, they refused the prescription because (in their opinion) the preescription was too old. When I pointed out that they filled the same prescription a few weeks earlier, they said that was ok, because it was my "first" prescription with them.

    When I offered to take an eye test to show that my eyes hadn't changed, they said that I could only do that if I paid one of their employees to perform a refraction. When I informed them that as a licensed physician in New York State, I could write my own prescriptions, they refused to fill it, saying that they would only accept prescriptions from licensed optometrists or opthamologists. It didn't matter that I explained to them that as a licensed physician in New York State, it was legal for me to write any kind of prescription.

    The company does not have a chief medical officer. When I asked the lay customer service rep, the medical reason for their poilicy, she replied that they did not want my eyes to "deteriorate."

    I humbly suggest that people shop elsewhere for their glasses until this company employs a medical professional who can set medical policies that are consistent with the laws of New York State. Perhaps he could also explain to them that the rules for obtaining a refill prescription should be no different from those for a "first time" prescription. And finally, he could explain to them that eyes are not like automobile tires. The don't "deteriorate."

    A physician, whether an eye specialist or not, should be able to assess whether his own refraction is adequate. All physicians learn how to perform simple vision tests in medical school. We perform them on our patients daily.

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Thank you for reading my blog! :]
xo Michelle

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