Passion, Social Media and the Freelancer

Hiking Kananaskis with a couple of mountain hounds! (Photo credit: B Kopp)

Hiking Kananaskis with a couple of mountain hounds! (Photo credit: B Kopp)

I love the outdoors; always have. It doesn’t matter if I’m strolling a frozen riverbank spotting early spring migrants or hiking a desert canyon – I’m into being outside. I also love the information and technology that either allows me to get outside with greater ease or provides insight into the world outdoors. Sharing this passion through social media is an easy conversation. Columbia Sportswear took notice and asked if I’d like some of their gear. I said no.

Just joking! I came home yesterday after a weekend away to find a package on the front porch. Inside it was a Columbia Trail Drier Windbreaker and a note that, among other things, said: “We dig your posts about the outdoors and wanted to help you get outside and enjoy them more.”

Okay, maybe it is blatant flattery and they are just hoping that I’ll tweet or blog about the product as a gear tester. Good (even bad) reviews help spread the product name. It’s free – and personalized – marketing for them. Participation in this is, of course, voluntary and without compensation other than the gear, but – and here’s the catch – I like their gear. It’s stuff I would and do buy on my own.

Will I spread the word through social media about this product? I already am – in case you haven’t noticed! And I will continue to do so – in my own way and on my own schedule – because it suits me. Would I do this for every company? No.

I received an email last week asking if I’d like to write a travel-related post for a different company’s blog. I asked if it was a paying proposition. They said no, but would I be interested in goods or services in kind. I looked at their products and said thanks, but no thanks. It’s not that their product is bad – in fact, just the opposite – but it isn’t something that I would be spending money on. Their product is not my passion.

Writing for free is a hot topic these days. Dissenters will say that I should hold out to be paid for writing anything – even for a product that I personally like. I say that most times they are right…

… but usually not when it comes to outdoor gear!

What’s your passion/writing niche?