Recently, the amazing Liz (a member of our Habibi family) started sending emails to various YouTube Vloggers to see if they wanted to try some of our products and maybe talk about them. She got a healthy number of responses and reported that she was building a list of folks to ship things to. She also got back a number of responses that read a little something like:
“Thank you for your interest in XX. For any review we charge a (sometimes flat) fee to share that product with our viewers…”
Sometimes those emails included the ‘fee’ (anywhere from $100 to $2,500), and sometimes it left the option open to negotiate. Since Lizzie makes no decision about such things without me, she just sent it to me with a WTF attached to it and decided to dust off her involvement in it.
I don’t blame her.
First, I want to say this a generational thing…? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I’m not a millennial, so the idea of internet stardom and importance is still a bit foreign to me. I tend to see it the way I see the stock market: easily inflated and fantastic on paper but in reality rather precarious in its day to day nature. I respect internet fame, and I respect the hustle (to a degree), but I’m going to have to hit pause on this one.
I do not dispute the amount of influence some YouTubers have over their subscribers and third-degree interested parties. Some of them have parlayed that fame into lucrative partnerships, businesses, and real life engagements that have positioned them to do great things with their futures. Kudos! Seriously. If I doubted it, I would have never given Lizzie the green light to start sending those emails. So I absolutely get it.
Here’s my departure: I cannot in good conscience PAY YOU to say that you like my product. I can’t. I honestly don’t care if you like it or not, because the truth is that everything isn’t for everyone. I’ve been sent free stuff from companies, and if I don’t like it, I don’t talk about it. I would expect that same courtesy from anyone who received Habibi products free of charge. It’s fine if you don’t like a thing or if you CHOOSE to keep that thing to yourself (I have real life customers who refuse to share their Habibi products with anyone they know because they say they don’t want anyone else smelling like them).
But pay you to say nice things?
It just reeks of dishonesty and it has such an awful ripple effect for all of the people who trust (first and foremost), listen to, and subscribe to you. I get that people have to eat, but I’m not down with this particular hustle. Certainly not hundreds of dollars worth… like, for real? I’m sorry, no. I realize this is part of a wider issue, like paying for tweets and what not by uber famous people. But guess what? They can’t have my money either. Not for that. Not for that.
This was on my heart you guys. Honestly it caught me by surprise. I want people who use Habibi products to actually enjoy using them because they are GOOD. Not because some internet-famous person said so, and certainly not because said person was PAID to say so. If you love your products, great! If you don’t, let me know and I’ll work with you to find a solution. But know that no matter what, no one will ever be paid to tell you that the products are good. I use them, and know they are. And if you choose to use them, you’ll know they are too.