My friend Jo, author of Scandalous Tea, recently wrote about a bloggers worth and it got me thinking about my own thoughts on the subject. The tea industry is in a very interesting place right now. The world is waking up to all of the possibilities that are out there beyond your everyday teabag. Bloggers and the online tea community in general are having more and more influence over the way tea is bought and sold. That being said, there have been discussions in some LinkedIn groups where retailers have expressed frustration and hesitation when it comes to be bloggers.
I believe that the bulk of the problem is this, the internet allows anyone and everyone to call themselves a tea blogger. There are bloggers who passionately pursue our love of the leaf. Even if I never received another sample, my blog and journey with tea would continue on as it always has. However, there are those who start a blog simply because they want free product. They solicit and hound retailers, demanding samples and providing reviews that do not benefit the retailer in any way. I have seen far too many blog posts with a bad review because the tea was prepared incorrectly. Bloggers, please do your research! If you don’t know something, find out before making both yourself and the company who generously provided the sample look bad.
Unscrupulously greedy bloggers give the good ones a bad name and make many retailers avoid us all together. I have never once begged or solicited for samples yet I usually have more samples than I know what to do with. My blog is not the best one out there, not by a long shot, but if you write good content companies will contact you. If bloggers are ever going to gain the respect of the tea industry and its retailers, we need to stop giving them reasons to not trust us.
On the flip side of this, retailers need to recognize that there are good bloggers out there. It’s not that hard to discern the difference. I’ve seen the way that some companies will look at bloggers at events such as World Tea East. They more than likely had a bad experience and have decided that we are not worth their time. Please don’t lump us all together! I’ve heard from enough retailers about how much my reviews have helped them to know that things don’t have to be that way.
Wow, this post turned into a bit more of ramble than I was expecting! I’d love to hear others thoughts on this subject. Whether you are a blogger, retailer or just a lover of tea; let me know what you think.