Sometimes Bloggers Spend Money

I am going to the Olympics. Yes, the ones in London that begin this week.

I bought tickets to two events several months ago with the idea that if I couldn’t go, they’d be easy to unload.  Every now and then I put something related to the tickets out there on social media because I can never keep a thought or emotion to myself, but it wasn’t until last week that the whole thing came together and I shared that my husband and I were headed to London together in two weeks.  For the most part people responded with a typical “Yay!” or “So exciting!’ but I had more than a couple comments made to me that went something like this…

Wow, you get all the cool opportunities!

That’s incredible! You are always so lucky!

You’re like the golden blogger. You get to do the best stuff!

Whatchu talkin’ ’bout?

To be clear, yes, I am very blessed.  I have a loving husband, two healthy and happy children, and family that supports my really fairly ridiculous profession.  My cat is even kind of awesome.

No really, look:

Does your cat stick his tongue out for the camera?

However…HOWEVER…blogging and luck have absolutely nothing to do with my trip to the Olympics.  I purchased tickets because I read carefully about the ticketing process and sat at my computer waiting for the tickets to go on sale, then with hands shaking grabbed two events that were available.  When I got to the payment section of the transaction I did not put in my Klout number nor did I type my Alexa ranking.  I told them my credit card number because they expected me to pay with money.  Oddly, the same thing happened last week when I booked our flights, and when I paid more for the seats that lie flat, I actually paid more.

Here is a secret that most people may not realize: Sometimes bloggers spend money.

I KNOW.  It’s shocking.

I have never uttered the sentence, “Hey, my X just stopped working. Does anyone have a connection with their PR so I can get a new one?”  I don’t contact local travel bureaus to notify them of my arrival when I take family vacations.  I don’t call around to see what other connections I can make (i.e. free stuff I can get) when someone does send me somewhere for work.  While I often tweet pictures of food that I’m eating, it’s because I’m a Twitter addict, not because someone paid for my lunch.  And yes, this means that those trips to Walt Disney World were almost all paid for with my own Disney Rewards Visa (points, baby!) and sometimes even at full price because I make last minute decisions and miss the very deals I tell you to book.

Are there bloggers who do all of the sketchy things I just mentioned above?  Of course there are, and they are embarrassing.  But there are also still plenty of us driving 12 year old hand me down mini-vans and eating store brand bread so that we have enough money saved up to do crazy things like attend the Olympics…without needing luck or a sponsor.  So if you see me tweet or post about the Olympics it is because that is what I do, share my life online, not because some brand sent me across the pond for the trip of a lifetime. And the fact that it was worth writing a post to explain that is a sad commentary on the state of blogging.


Leave a Reply


  • Have an absolute blast at the Olympics!!

  • I love this, Amy! Have a wonderful time at the Olympics and enjoy every penny that you spent on your once-in-a-lifetime trip.

  • I just booked our spring break vacation at a hotel chain that did a whole blogger campaign. Except I did it on points. I have never done any of those things you mentioned either. I pay for everything myself, except when it is given to me like the unjunked candy at your party friday night, and when it is, I always always disclose. (LOVE THAT STUFF BY THE WAY.)

    I love this post.

    • That candy really is the bomb-diggity, isn’t it?

  • You rock Amy! I am pretty sure, though, if you call the Palace (you know the one I am talking about) when you land in London they can loan you a really fancy crown for the events you are attending. Seems like the least you could ask for, honestly. They have plenty to spare, I hear! 😉
    Hope y’all have fun!
    By the way, try to eat at the restaurant Rules. The oldest restaurant in London. Then tweet a picture of it, so I can drool. I recommend the roast beef and yorkshire pudding.
    And just so you know, Rules did not ask me to post this part of the comment, nor will they be overnighting me said meal for recommending their delicious food. 😉

    • Thank you for the suggestion! The last time I was there I had no income so lived on pub food and hunks of cheese with baguettes from the market. I will look this place up today!

  • Make that “often” bloggers spend money. More often than not that “freebie” item or trip costs me. And I have been shying away from reviews because that cost is way too high. It is sad that we have to or need to declare, but it makes me feel better for people not to assume, because they will!

    • Yes, there are no free trips. Period. When I have planned them for brands I have included a stipend to cover costs because childcare, eating out, parking at the airport, and baggage fees all add up and very quickly. And another thing people forget is that when bloggers take vacation – for sponsored trips or not – we lose money simply because of the days off. My boss is awesome, but she doesn’t give me paid vacation days 😉

  • Amy, this was a great post. I hope you enjoy your hard earned trip of a lifetime to the Olympics and yell an extra cheer to the American team for me! I will be anticipating all your tweets and pics so I can live vicariously through you!

    • I’ve got to go get my data plan hooked up so I can do that! Not sure I can go anywhere so amazing without tweeting.

  • Love it! Though, I have been known to contact travel bureaus when I go somewhere…not just because I’m a blogger but also because I’m a travel writer and outlets often don’t pay that well for travel stories these days, so passes or media rates really help me do my job. Otherwise, though…I’d pretty much die before I’d ask for a free anything on Twitter, and I very often (usually!) spend my own money.

    • I would say that being a travel writer gives you a free pass. I’m shocked at how many people with completely unrelated blogs do that sort of thing every time they go somewhere. It is so rare that my family all gets time together that it is important to me for that time to have no strings attached if at all possible.

      • Too true, Amy! I’ve gotten to the point where I will only contact a CVB if I’m traveling on assignment, or WANT to go on a “working vacation” rather than, well, a vacation. I have to admit this is a big reason why I haven’t yet pursued conference sponsorships. I already find conferences too busy, and that’s with nobody expecting anything of me! It’s much nicer to just be able to do your own thing, even if it means you don’t get the “perks” of free stuff/travel.

  • Hee hee. You put a picture of Arnold in your post.

    Have fun at the Olympics!!

  • know what I’m jealous about? That you had the mindset to make that purchase months ago. That makes you lucky.

    See, it’s all your supa-smarts that allow you to take advantage of opportunities you make for yourself. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Be proud of you for doing something you’ve dreamed of and enjoy your time doing what you want to do, how you want to do it.

    (and carry a pic of me in your phone or something so I can say I was really there, too.)


  • I really wish I could like this post a million times. THANK YOU for saying this “out loud” on the internet. So many small bloggers think that bigger bloggers go on trips, or family vacations due to sponsors. I have to admit, I used to be one of them. Then, I met a few big bloggers, like yourself, and realized that most of them are not about that “gimmie” lifestyle. You all work hard, and yes, you pay for your own experiences 90% of the time.

    P.S.- loved the “store-bought bread” phrase. You ARE just like me! lol

    • I think lots of us thought that at one point or another and it is probably because enough bloggers decided that they wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything unless it was free while the rest of us were embarrassed to even accept small gifts. There is something freeing about working hard and then using that hard-earned money to take the trips that my family will really enjoy.

  • Amy, I cannot find enough like buttons for the emotions this post evokes. You operate with total transparency, which is authentic and SO rare! I will be reading and watching your posts with complete envy. Way to go for what you wanted.
    XO –

    • Thank you! I almost didn’t do it and then realized that it ticks two bucket lists item off at once. It would be wrong to NOT go, right?

  • As you and many of the experienced bloggers chiming in on the comments know, nothing is free. A working vacation that includes “freebies” translates into a lot of time taking notes, writing at the computer, organizing and posting photos. If time is money, it’s often easier to pay the money and enjoy a true vacation (and maybe even a short social media break–gasp!).

    That said, as Meagan noted above, a there is nothing wrong with contacting a CVB when traveling as long as the blogger provides something of value in return, like a thoughtful post and social media coverage.

    Have a great time!

  • Oh yes yes yes. This really drives me nuts. While the perks are nice that isn’t why we blog. Sadly that can’t be said for MANY bloggers though.
    I am beyond thrilled for you!! You’re going to have a great time. And good for you for doing a little thing called budgeting. It’s a sad art that is being lost 🙁

    • I remember a months long heated discussion over the purchase of a couch when I was pregnant with Noah that ended with pregnant sick me recovering a sectional from 1983, my dining room turned into a sweatshop filled with dark green pre-washed denim lint from the cutting and sewing. This is my reward 😉

  • And as an extension to this I am sometimes made to feel bad because my husband and I make damn good money doing what we do for a living (we both own our own businesses). Somehow because I can afford to do everything we want without blogging for it I have been told “it’s not fair!” (insert foot stomp here) if I receive any perks via blogging. What?! While I don’t work with companies in the capacity that I will blog for product or a $50 gift card I don’t think that it’s not fair to others if I’m offered these things. I wouldn’t turn down Disney Cruise though. I’m not stupid!! 😉

    • Agreed on all points, Lynette. Sometimes I feel like doing well at work has been handed to me, and then I remember the beginning when I didn’t sleep, staying up all night to teach myself to create graphics and speak code, tweeting instead of setting auto-tweets, working my ass off. Hard work that leads to income creates the best blogging benefit of all – the ability to use that income as I wish for savings, charity, and yes, one trip of a lifetime.

  • I agree, it’s a shame that you even have to explain that you are paying your own way. People should realize that first, if you were being sent by a brand, you would disclose it right up front. And second, not everything we do is sponsored! I hate that I feel the need to include “I bought this” in posts where I mentioned a product I paid for with my own money.

  • Hold on a minute, you got the seats that LIE FLAT? You get all the best opportunities…to lie down while flying. 🙂

    • Amy, there is nothing like flying from Amsterdam to Atlanta while trying to sleep on the tray in front of you to make it suddenly worth the obnoxious amount of money it takes to sleep through a flight. Besides I’m calling it a flight/hotel. It’s a twofer 😉

      • Agreed. Assume you would have spent that night in the presidential suite of some five-star hotel, and you almost make out ahead!

        • Now that you mention it, there are at least two meals served to us as well on the flight. It really is like they’re paying us to go.

  • Can I just say this made me laugh?!!! Because it is so you, Amy! So thanks for being you, for being willing to say the things that you do and for being a GREAT blogger who deserves all the perks that might come your way.
    Love you! 🙂

    • Thank you, Becky 🙂 I love that sometimes the people who read these posts really know me and can picture my evil grin! 🙂

  • Go, Amy!!!

    This has bugged me for a long time. I have almost always had my conference tickets comped, due to me being a speaker or community leader, but that’s payment for services IMO. Not oh, here’s a free ticket cause you’re a blogger! Travel, Lodging, Meals… all on my own dime. And I get the same kind of questions you’re talking about. Durrrrr.

    Now, go get one of your cousins, siblings, or inlaws to go to work for Disney so you can make use of their free-for-family passes! hahaha It would save you a bundle.

    • I’ve considered moving to Florida just to get the Florida resident passes. Kidding. {mostly}

  • Banging my head against a wall that I didn’t have your foresight when those tickets went on sale. I’ll just have to find comfort knowing my solar powered waving Queen Elizabeth will be on my desk whilst your gone. Enjoy my city. How I miss her.

    • *you’re* GAH!

    • Chrysula, there are very few events remaining, but there are tickets! And our British Airways tickets included the two nights we needed in a hotel very near Westminster. Planning on some quick sightseeing on foot around central London between events.

  • Can’t wait to hear the stories! I suspect your trip is going to be full of awesome. The Olympics! How fun!

  • I saw that update and I never once thought you got it through blogging. It would be cool if you did (just sayin’), but yeah, it didn’t even cross my mind. My thoughts were like, “how awesome! I bet she has a blast.”

    Funny related story, after taking the kids to the Brave premier (and some toys I got for her to review), my daughter now thinks I get everything through blogging. We are going to a water park this weekend and she asked if we are getting to go because of a “blog thing.” I quickly told her that no, it was a “momma paid for it” thing.

  • Janet

    How exciting, Amy! Have fun — and I can’t wait to see whatever photos of your trip that you tweet. Go, USA!

  • ellen

    Whoa neat, I didnt know you were going! You didnt say which events, but I hope they were ones you really wanted to see- so fun!!!!

  • You are going to have a BLAST!!!

    PS: I spend money, too! 😉

  • I had the same EXACT thing happen to me when I was tweeting and FB’ing about our Disney cruise. I even had bloggers say things like ‘wow how did you get the Disney cruise, they never give me one when I ask’. I never even tried to get a discount from Disney. The Olympics will be fun.

    • “…they never give me one when I ask…” That blows my mind! Can you even imagine asking?

      • NO. I cannot imagine asking. In fact, the very idea makes me cringe. We ALSO, went on a Disney Cruise about two months ago and I was asked repeatedly if we were sent. We weren’t. We paid. Just like everyone else. We were happy to pay. It was an extraordinary experience.

        Like you, Amy, I don’t notify PR when I’m traveling and I do tweet, FB and instagram constantly, just because I enjoy it – it IS what I do.

        But I don’t ask.

        Have a spectacular time in London. It WILL be the trip of a lifetime.

  • So well said. I get this all of the time and I don’t go most places as a blogger. I go as a consumer just like everyone else.

    • Oops. And I forgot to say have a wonderful time.

      When the Olympics were here in Atlanta in 1996, we were fortunate enough to purchase tickets to several events. They were some of the most exciting events I have ever attended!!!

  • Great post Amy! I get this all the time when I feature products I love. Can’t a girl just like certain things? And I do know all about store brand everything to save a penny or two:)

    Hugs and Mocha,

  • Yes. This. You said it all.

    Also? It is my dream to go to the Olympics – especially to attend the opening ceremonies one day – and I have to say that I am so jealous of your trip! Have a great time – and definitely keep sharing it with us… if nothing else I want to vicariously live through you during your stay in London.

  • I hope you have a wonderful time with your family and SHAME on the people who harassed you and this experience.

  • Sadly, all too many people only view their blog as a way to get free stuff. They measure how “successful” of a blogger they are by how many free items arrive at their doorstop from companies. (“Hey, I got two packages today! I hit the big time!!!”)

    In my mind, my blog is a place for me to vent, talk about what interests me, and post photos I’ve taken. Reviewing products is nice, but it doesn’t really matter in the long run. In fact, I’ve found it tiring those few times when I had multiple reviews at the same time. Too much focus on “stuff” and not enough on what I was interested in.

    If you measure the success of your blog by the metric of “writing about what I love”, then your blog will always be a success!

  • Oh, and have fun at the Olympics. Take lots of photos. And, yes, blog about it, but only because you (hopefully) had a great time and wanted to share some photos/stories.

  • Enjoy every minute and I expect many photos. Love this post!

  • Coolness! Going to the Olympics is on my bucket list! Have fun and take lots of photos! Thanks! 🙂

    Don’t waste your neurons over those kind of people. I sometimes wanna upload photos of my receipts and credit card statements but it’s pointless. People will always talk so I just let them. 🙂

  • I’m still hung up on lay-down seats. Most excellent. It is a sad state of affairs when we feel we must explain ourselves, but I appreciate this post and I hope many bloggers and brands read it. I’m pumped for the games to begin. Can’t wait to hear about them from your perspective. Cheerio!

  • Wow! Have an amazing time!

    Sometimes I lie and say something was free, when I actually paid for it, only so my husband gets off my back. He seriously thinks I’m a Shoe Dazzle brand ambassador. Nope. I’m not. I’m just too lazy to go in and tell them I don’t want any shoes this month. So I get a new pair. But the Shoe Dazzle thing began two years ago when I was given a free pair because of my blog, so I consider this a half-lie.

    I’m basically the opposite of you.

    Clearly, you’re the better person.

  • Amy, as someone who will always be grateful to you for your efforts in blogging, I say HAVE A GREAT TIME! You’ve earned it, you deserve it.

  • Also, someone mentioned even with sponsored trips, you still end up spending your own money, and that is so true!

    Have a wonderful time on your trip!

  • I can not believe you are attending the Olympics. I don’t think I could ever brave those crowds of millions of people. Hope you are having a fantastic time.

  • […] Good for her.” But I guess some people thought a lot of other things that prompted her to write a post on how she was actually spending her own money to go to the Olympics. Well, if that isn’t full disclosure, I don’t know what […]

  • I’m paying my own way to the Dem convention. It ain’t cheap, but I can’t tell you the liberation I feel about bring able to do & write about the things I want to while I’m there, rather than fulfilling someone else’s agenda 🙂

  • I thank that is awesome, so many people always think we get everything for free

  • I do contact travel bureaus, but it’s not for free stuff; I found that they’re usually more friendly and let us know of activities and other opportunities that they might not tell everyone (maybe, I guess I don’t know) but we pay for most of our experiences. Our recent trip to Ireland was ALL paid for, it was our honeymoon, and I still got the “lucky” comments.

  • One of the best thing about following bloggers is living vicariously through their travel posts – sponsored or not. I hope you have a fabulous time at the Olympics!