It's only by saying "no" you can concentrate on the things that are really important - Steve Jobs.
Having my blog for a little more than two years now, I have learned a very much needed skill of saying "no" to bad offers, still in a polite way, which is something I wanted to share with you - my fellow bloggers - in this article. So hopefully by the end of this post you will be a "no" ninja!
These are not the most offensive e-mails, but they are still kind of sloppy. You can easily identify an entry level B.S. e-mail, because it normally starts with: "hey there!"; "dear blogger/editor..." or my favourite "hey thepartyparrotblog!".
When you receive an e-mail, which doesn't include your actual name, consider it a red flag. You are not as special to them, as they try to picture it in their proposal. Chances are - they sent an exact same draft to an infinite amount of bloggers. You just happen to be one of the undisclosed recipients. Same goes for "press releases" of various sorts. Funny thing, if you reply, you will quickly realize that these people never really planned to send you a PR sample (even if you are interested in the product and actually want to review/feature it). They sent you a link to Dropbox, so why are you so ungrateful, fellow-blogger?
I wonder if Leo Pharma know just how unprofessionally they are being represented? Click, move to Trash.
What should you do?
When I just started, I would reply to such e-mails, thinking "well, I am small at the moment, it is ok for them not to know my name". Truth is, it is not alright even if your blog is one day old. Unless you have not mentioned your real name, beware that you have received a spammy e-mail. These days, I don't even reply. Same goes for press releases; although I read them, I no longer re-post them. You have a blog, not a free ad magazine. When PR want you to have an actual product, they will ask for your address. Anything else? Click, delete!
These are a bit ambiguous, since your name is mentioned after all and they have read your blog and loved it, but! Don't be so easily flattered, my friend, because it might be just another odd proposal. You are most likely to receive such e-mails from small- or medium-sized companies; they have nailed their production and distribution - all they need is free press. And who is happy to write a 1000-word article, with high-quality images and also promote it to thousands of people absolutely gratis? Bloggers of course!
Although there are a lot of wonderful affiliate programs, there are also a lot of frauds. They might even be "enormously" generous by offering a special coupon code for your followers; tell you that you will get money from every sale or maybe even give you a discount. Why not? You are a customer too. Companies who view bloggers as wallets make me gag; although they don't mind paying thousands of dollars for small print ads, when it comes to you (blogger) they suddenly"can't afford" to offer you even a microscopic fraction of that price.
What should you do?
Having worked in advertising before, I can assure you - even a square (Instagram-sized) ad image will cost good money. Writers too are paid per word, so if we take Carrie Bradshaw's imaginary Vogue salary for example - it was 4 dollars per word. Of course when you are a blogger-in-progress, you won't be paid this much. Unless these questionable companies are ready to sign an actual contract with you, don't sweat it. If you want to promote them after all, send a friendly e-mail asking about a contract. Otherwise"thank you, but no" should work too.
We are entering the danger zone, you guys. These kids are not playing.
#1 They want you to publish their articles.
You might know about "guest writers"; I mean, I have written multiple times for my friends' blogs, as well as magazines (that have blogs), only when they have asked me of course. But when someone you don't know, sends you something like this, you are clearly dealing with some serious B.S.:
So, this person says that she read my Foreo Espada article and even loved it (that's nice). But then somehow asks me to publish her article on my personal blog, so that I promote certain skincare treatment/products this writer in question might (or might not) have been paid to talk about. Twisted or what? Also, if someone wants you to copy and paste a press release, think twice before doing it. Your readers seek genuine content and they want your opinion.
#2 They describe what you will do for them even before you agreed to do anything.
Not long ago I have received an e-mail from company X selling artificial flowers (it's a beauty blog, hello!) telling me I will have to write a positive 800-words article, promote them on my Instagram and as a "thank you" they will give me some plastic flowers, but only one bouquet (don't be greedy my fellow-blogger, one bouquet only). Then I have received another e-mail from company Y, saying they wanted me to promote their dry cleaning service. My reward would be a coupon. Or here is another example - when they send you stuff (without any warning) and only then tell you that you HAVE to yada, yada, yada. One time I was almost bullied into promoting a bigger "influencer", who clearly had enough followers to compete with Kim K W. She also had a lot of this kind of comments on her page:
I believe smart people call them bot comments. So why would a big agency ask a smaller blogger (like me) help promote someone with almost a million subscribers? Guess I will never know.
What should you do?
Don't even bother replying. If they have sent you something, but you don't feel like doing what they ask you to do, kindly send it back. When they ask you to promote someone else (like in my emoji case), say no thanks. Click, mark as spam, delete.
The king and poop de la poop of all offers. Please welcome, Sir B.S. Senior.
There is nothing wrong in making a bit of money off your blog. When you reach that level, where it becomes your part- or maybe even full-time job - you have the right to ask for a small payment. Believe me, I know a lot of bloggers and even the best of us are too shy to ask, because it is somewhat a sensitive topic. Think about it: you are a writer + photographer + editor + marketer. You spend money on a good camera (+lens), high-speed internet, electricity, domain name and time keeping your audience engaged. You are your own brand and to sustain it - you need to get income (sooner or later). Most companies are happy to pay you for your hard work (e.g. sponsor a post). Other times, when you feel like it, you should ask them yourself.
This is what I did when company Z approached me. They wanted an article, social media promotion etc. and were inclining that I would be blown away by their superb skincare products. Since I would spend at least a month trying their line, I told them about my very reasonable flat rate. I was upfront about it, so that they could decide whether they wanted to spare this small (less than my-yearly-domain-name-fee small) amount of money. Their friendly tone has suddenly changed. Here is what they wrote:
So, I should feel bad about asking a few dollars from a "family start-up". FYI I never ask anything from real start-ups, because I love supporting new, amazing and CSR-friendly brands. This company, however, inclines that bloggers, who take money for their work - will not produce a genuine or professional content (or at least their alleged audience won't perceive it that way). To make something clear, I did my research and quickly found out that their skincare is sold for many years at Harrods.com. Not too shabby, eh? We are also talking about La Prairie, La Mer, Sisley kind of price tags. Nothing humble or "family" oriented about it in the slightest. It also means that they don't seek long-term, trusted relationships. They don't care whether you will be able to pay for your rent this month or not. They just want quick and easy access to your readers. So, here is what I wrote back:
What should you do?
Thankfully, 99% of the PR companies and brands I work with today (for free or not) are absolutely amazing, supportive and understanding. Even if I don't like some of their products and as a result share not the most glowing review, they still thank me for being honest and continue working with me. By saying "no" to companies with B.S. attitude you save a lot of time and energy for content, which interests you and your audience. You are happy, your readers are happy - it is a win-win! Don't waste yourself on questionable brands with even more questionable morals. And most importantly never forget that your blog is your brand and you should be proud of it.