Dear bloggers, I get it. And I know. I know you’re sick of it. The marketers and brand representatives who don’t get it. You are not a journalist, you’re a business owner. You’re an entrepreneur. A business owner. You don’t make a full-time salary and you certainly don’t get health benefits. Your website draws a crowd so if you’re going to put up information about a product and encourage people to spend money on it, it’s likely a lot of people will listen to you and that product is going to profit. So why shouldn’t you? I get it.
Now pardon me for a second whilst I talk to the other side….
Dear marketers, I get it. And I know. I used to be you. I was so “you” that if you had told me then that I’d be the “me” I am now, I would have muttered some profanity in your direction and held a dismissive hand up to your face. But I get it now and I want you to join me in the light. Yes, bloggers and influencers are looking for content, but bloggers and influencers are not journalists. They own a piece of the internet that influences their readers to do things; if you want some real estate on their turf, it’ll cost you. And gone are the days where you can “pay” them with things that are not money. Exceptions exist, but my goodness, a lot of y’all need to wake up and get with the program. And I am not addressing the publicist who’s just doing what their boss is making them do. (That’s another letter for another time and lord knows I feel you.) I’m talking to the people who control the decisions, the budgets and the strategy.
Still think what you have to offer is “just as good as money?” It’s not, I promise. If you don’t want to do your own job for free, please assume a blogger doesn’t either. And they do consider “this” their job. Do TV networks give away advertising for free? Of course not. And one might argue nowadays, advertising on a blog that draws a huge amount of unique monthly visitors is even more valuable than TV advertising because a call to action (CTA) is much more executable in the space. So let’s work this out.
The rest of this post is for both of you.
If you want to “guest post” for my blog….
See also: “Are you open to contributors?” Sigh.
Your pitch starts off something like: “Dear _________, I was wondering if you would like to feature a post that I would be happy write for you about a subject matter I know your readers would really enjoy.”
Marketers, in doing this you may be unaware of how many insults it includes. For starters, by not offering a financial incentive, you’re implying that the blogger’s time is not valuable. You’re also indicating you’re lack of familiarity with best practices in the space. And you’re insinuating that the blogger could not write a post about your product on his/her own (for which, again, they should be paid).
Bloggers, please realize as marketers we often find ourselves in positions subject to a supervisor or client’s wishes. That our expertise doesn’t matter and our knowledge of best practices isn’t heard. We have to be able to demonstrate we did everything they wanted us to and/or provide a list of outlets we reached out to. So have a heart. No need to be snarky and risk your own reputation. Consider that in any reply you may flail back.
Note: Some pitches are so bad. SO. BAD. And even, oftentimes, insulting. All bets are pretty much off in those instances. Even I’ve been known to reply and “school” some tacky folks.
If you say anything about links….
Agencies that troll the web for free linking opportunities give me all the creeps.
The FTC mandates that should I include a link to any third-party site at the behest of someone else and if that someone else, or I am to earn profit from said links, I need to disclose as much in my post somewhere. You know what that means? It means it’s a “sponsored post” or, basically, an advertisement. A spokesperson needs to disclose a business relationship. Business. So no, I will not just post a few links for you. Nor will I go back to a post from five years ago where I happened to mention your product and add a link in — you should just be thankful I mentioned it.
Marketers, you gotta get smarter about this. You can start by learning the difference between DoFollow and a NoFollow links because bloggers will use those terms with you. And then go get schooled on the FTC guidelines. But if you’re working in a sweatshop where they just have you trolling for links and offering a few paltry bucks here and there to bloggers to post them, your solution is really to find a better job.
If you’re offering an asset that my readers “will enjoy”….
I do just fine crafting content that my readers will enjoy on my own. If you think they’re going to enjoy your faux contributed content, infographic, photo or short video hocking the latest yoga pants/statistics about flu season/breast pump/etc., I promise they won’t.
Also, do not offer a blogger:
- A 5% off code “exclusively” for their readers.
- A discounted meal/admission/purchase.
- Photos from an event they were not even invited to.
- Pictures of a celebrity wearing your product. Unless it’s a blog solely about that celebrity, maybe.
- An invitation to stand outside an event and take pictures of people going into it.
If you’re incentivizing me with a giveaway….
“Write about my product and be entered for a chance to win $500!” Oof. I know we can’t always afford to pay every individual blogger who crafts content for us and this may seem like a really cool opportunity. And I know bloggers, this is often a fun, enticing draw. But it’s really just an easy out “payment.” It affords the opportunity to only, really pay ONE person. It is, in my opinion, a con. (And no, I’m not gonna lie, that doesn’t mean I haven’t done it. Someday I’ll regret having this blog and laying all my cards on the table….)
If you’re offering me exposure in exchange for my hard work….
Exposure is not money. Exposure does not guarantee conversion. Exposure is subjective. Please offer more than exposure. No worthwhile influencer is going to spend their valuable time on you in return for a “spotlight” on your website. They’ve just give you real estate on their turf — real estate that could convert to sales for you. What does real estate on your site do for them?
It is not an even trade.
That said, bloggers, if you are building up your brand and trying to establish a portfolio, in the early stages of your career, you may actually find it valuable to enter a few of these deals so that later, you can tell potential partners that your past clients have included Mercedes, Kraft and Living Spaces. (I just arbitrarily picked those brands from advertisements in my Facebook feed.)
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MARKETERS! What are your challenges in trying to work with influencers? How is your brand moving forward with influencer marketing?
INFLUENCERS! In what (annoying) ways are you still being approached to work for free?