Who Wants Freebies?

By Cara Sutra

We all do. Everyone loves freebies, and no matter really want it is, we all want that something for free. Why pay when you can get it for nothing?

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Free items which are also desirable usually take at least time if not money (and obvs time is money) to create. Knowledge, experience and skills go into curating then presenting those covetable items which are seen to add value to people’s lives. I can think of many ways this desire for freebies is apparent in my own life and work, and you can probably guess the first one.

Free sex toys.

A sizeable proportion of my website’s traffic is people simply looking for free sex toys. It seems to have become a ‘thing’ in this industry, with blog posts on past company websites I’ve worked on getting a lot more attention if they’re about how to get free sex toys. There are two main ways people get free sex toys: through winning them in giveaways and being sent them in exchange for a review (the term ‘free’ here meaning that no monies are exchanged; that said, there is work to be done in recompense for being sent the sex toy).

I used to open my sex toy giveaways to all entrants but now I’ve changed the rules slightly because of pure freebie hunters. Due to the sheer amount of people out there who have comping social media – for example, twitter accounts solely used for the purpose of entering competitions and giveaways – I have changed my entry rules so these accounts are disqualified. I’ve done this in the hope that the sex toy being given away in the competition will be won by someone who genuinely wants it. I’d rather it wasn’t won by someone who wants simply anything that’s coming their way for free, whether that’s a Doxy Wand, money off coupons for washing powder or a turkey baster.

It’s a similar case with the Pleasure Panel which I run at the forum here at CaraSutra. This project was started because I get offered a shedload of sex toys by companies who would like them reviewed at my blog. I reached breaking point with demand last year and started the Pleasure Panel as a way to solve the problem – I have a community of lovely reviewers who would like more sex toys to review, a place where those reviews need to be published and companies who would like their sex toy ranges reviewed here. The project has been very successful with well-known sex toy companies such as Simply Pleasure, Bondara, Lovehoney, Sh Store, MEO and Ann Summers getting involved regularly.

The Pleasure Panel has attracted not just the vast majority of genuine people who would like to review sex toys here at CaraSutra (regardless of if they have their own blog or not, and the panel is a great way for non-bloggers to receive sex toys to review) but also freebie hunters. I don’t have a problem with people who come to the Pleasure Panel looking for sex toys to review that they don’t have to pay for, but I do have a problem with people who don’t mind using my time and hard work as well as the companies’ good faith in me and this project to scam me out of products. Yes, I’ve had my share of Pleasure Panel ‘newbies’ who have simply taken the sex toy I’ve sent them and run off with it, never to be heard from again. It’s upsetting, insulting and hurtful.

Now, I make sure that the date of the Pleasure Panel rounds isn’t announced in such a public way for all and sundry to take note of. The round dates are announced in my weekly newsletter, sent on Friday afternoons, so that people need to be regular and conscientious readers of my newsletter in order to find out when the next round is. In addition to this, if people are new to the Pleasure Panel it’s very unlikely that they will be sent a very expensive sex toy. The Pleasure Panel takes a lot of time and money to manage and run, and with these two small changes implemented as well as taking care what I send to whom I hope to minimise the type of freebie hunter who just wants to take advantage.

Something else which annoys me to see, on the same topic of sex toy freebie hunting, is people begging or demanding sex toys from companies. I don’t mean the subtle, “Oh wow that looks amazing! I’ll have to save up for one of those myself”, I mean the unbelievably shameless tweets such as, “hey [sex toy company], send me a free sex toy?”

Now as I’ve mentioned, I don’t mind people who would like a free sex toy in return for a review. But the attitudes across the board can be very different. The spectrum seems to range from those who genuinely love to use sex toys and politely request sex toys from companies – usually in private, via email to the customer services department, along with an explanation of who they are and how/where the product would be reviewed – and people who are grabby, greedy, and want as many ‘free sex toys’ to be sent them as possible so they can brag about their ‘swag’ to others on social media and their blogs. It’s a very distasteful habit, I hate seeing it and I can’t help but think the sex toy companies approached in this way must lose a lot of respect for that type of blogger.

It’s interesting to note that the fact that the Pleasure Panel is free for companies to take part in (aside from the wholesale cost of the products they send as well as postage to me) often makes it a far more attractive marketing proposition than my advertising spaces or copywriting service. Thankfully, enough businesses continue to advertise with me so that the pretty hefty postage costs the Pleasure Panel incurs from my bank account every month is taken care of – but if companies were to opt simply for the Pleasure Panel in future instead of advertising then the whole project would have to stop. Trying to keep that balance is very difficult, and I am very grateful for those companies who still advertise with me, because it means the panel can continue. I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford the £150-£200 a month in postage to reviewers (with packaging and printed materials costs on top) without my advertising monies coming in.

Another way freebies are used in this industry to attract attention, shares and raise excitement is with events. I’m invited to several press events in the adult industry a year and there is usually the lure of a free goody bag if I do attend. It’s a nice gesture and I am sure for those who go to these events the freebies are much appreciated – however it would cost more than the value of the goody bag for me to get to the events and for any necessary accommodation and other expenses.

I’ve used the ‘free goody bag at an event’ trick myself with BlogSpot at the ETO Show, both on its virgin outing in 2015 and again this year, just last month. The prospect of winning the £2k+ sex toys giveaway was also a big attraction for bloggers to attend the event, and BlogSpot, but it’s the goody bags which mainly draw the crowd in. They’re guaranteed freebies for every adult blogger and writer who visits BlogSpot. This is great – everyone loves a freebie, and I’ve offered those goody bags free to qualifying industry writers at the event and they’re stuffed full of lovely bits from businesses. What was very disappointing this year – for the second year in a row – is company representatives walking by the stand either trying to shamelessly swipe a BlogSpot goody bag, or try to talk the stand hosts into ‘letting’ them have one, or making out they’re actually bloggers because they have a blog attached to their e-commerce. No: if you’re a business in this industry then you don’t qualify for a BlogSpot goody bag. This has been made very clear both years and the BlogSpot team have still had to pretty aggressively defend the goody bags and the fact they are only for adult industry bloggers (non-commercial) and writers.

This just highlights a growing (and horrible) attitude of grabbiness and greed to me. An extra blow at ETO BlogSpot 2016 was the fact that 8 or 9 goody bags were stolen in the evening after the first day of the trade show. We’re not sure who the thieves were, yet – but I think the fact they stole these bags which had been put together in good faith by adult businesses, myself, and the team, is absolutely disgusting.

If you truly value something – whether or not it’s offered as ‘free’ – how about thinking what you can give back for whatever service or item it is. Think about how you’re going about getting that freebie. Is it genuinely offered as a free thing or are you trying to pry it out of a company’s hands? The person or company offering the service or product has put hard work, time and skills into their business, so that they’re in a position to have something desirable. Maybe instead of just being out to grab as many freebies as humanly possible think about how you can show your appreciation – even if it takes a little hard work of your own.

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2 Responses to “Who Wants Freebies?”

  1. MinxyMischief

    I totally agree with you Cara.

    Being a part of the Pleasure Panel I see as being a privilege. Yes I might be chosen to review something in exchange for a review but I enjoy the process and I get to review things I might not have gone out and bought. I don’t think of it as just getting a freebie like some people might. Before the rules were changed I did notice some people would just pick the most expensive item first. I like the way it is now. I get to take a couple of hours minimum looking through the items before picking something. My choices are usually based on if something interesting catches my eye and I think it would be fun to test regardless of price. I love my little hobby of sex toy testing and hope it continues. There is so much hard work that goes into the Pleasure Panel from all sides and it’s great to be a part of it!

    I couldn’t get over it when I heard that people were stealing the bloggers goodie bags and that some people had the cheek to try getting one when they weren’t entitled. Just shows the lows people will go to to get some freebies.

    Ooops! This is beginning to turn into a ranty post rather than a comment so will leave it there! X

    Reply
  2. MoonieMac

    Hi Cara
    I don’t think this is just the adult industry it’s rife across all areas especially Retail and Hospitality. People don’t think they should have to work for what they want they should just be given it which explains the theft of your goody bags. My friends and I call it the Big Brother/X Factor Effect you get famous for doing nothing so why should you have to work and pay for things.
    I want to read reviews from people who honestly use the product so I know if it’s worth buying not just someone who wants something, anything free!!
    Keep up the good work
    Xx

    Reply

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