How Companies Are Taking Advantage of Bloggers

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I’m going to send you an email.

In that email, I’m going to give you a theme. It could be about anything – a time or a place, an event, lifestyle choice, food or a holiday that is approaching. I’m then going to ‘invite’ you to write a blog post about that theme, and ask you to return my email if you’re interested in doing so.

When you reply, I will ask you to include a link to my blog in your post. I’m going to give you absolutely nothing in return, but I may offer you a vague indication that your blog post will possibly be featured on my social media pages. However, I won’t commit to anything – my focus is that your blog post includes information about me.

Would you do it?

To be fair, some of my readers probably would – I’ve known them for a number of years and value their friendship very much. I love promoting other bloggers, and I do so on a regular basis both on the blog and my social media. I don’t expect anything in return when I do this – I love the community and if I can help another blogger I will.

But if you didn’t know me or anything about my blog, I can pretty much guarantee that you’d ignore my email or tell me to get lost.

About eighteen months after I had started blogging, I received an email from a razor company in America. I was very excited about this – I was looking into doing product reviews and was delighted that a company appeared to want to work with me. All I had to do was write a post about different ways to save time or money and include a link to their website, and they sent me a link to a post from another blogger who had done exactly the same thing. With that, the company would then potentially share my link on their Facebook page.

In my naivety, I did just that – I spent hours crafting a post that I was proud of, posted it and then sent it to them.

What followed was a series of emails from the company with further requests – could I change the code on the image, could I add this link in, change this, change that.

And guess what happened? Nothing. The company received seventy-three clicks from my blog, I got views and comments from my usual readers (which I’m always grateful for) but that was it. No promotion from them, aside from the odd view from random blogs (they had clearly been using my post to email to other bloggers). Of course, seventy-three clicks is minimal in the online world, but imagine if another hundred bloggers had done exactly the same thing? Or two hundred? Or a thousand? The company has potentially been advertised to thousands of people without spending a single penny.

Many companies are beginning to realise how useful bloggers are when it comes to advertising. Indeed, the manager at a company I work with told me how much local newspapers will charge for just a small advert, explaining that she can reach a similar sized audience and spend just a tenth of that in products that she gives to bloggers to review.

And some companies are taking advantage of this.

Over the years, I’ve lost count of the amount of similar requests I’ve received. Indeed, I received one yesterday, and when I responded with the advertising spaces I offer, they were very quick to turn me down. The requests vary in theme, and some simply ask me to promote an infographic, but all of them have exactly the same underlying intention: they want to use my blog as free promotion for their company or cause and they aren’t prepared to offer anything in return. A blog that I’ve put nearly three years of my life into – I’ve worked incredibly hard and I’ve never been as proud of anything as I am about this little space of the Internet.

I love working with companies and in the last year I’ve monetised my blog and done a number of reviews and attended different events – beauty products, restaurant launch nights, a wireless device, a Bluetooth keyboard and I’ve even organised a few events of my own. The companies I work with are very clear about what the product or event is and the fact that they would like me to do a post, but at no point am I obliged to give a positive review. And after the post goes live, the companies will promote it, never once asking for changes to be made. Some have even invited me to further events.

So, if you are interested in getting product and company reviews, you need to be careful the next time you receive an email ‘inviting’ you to write a post for someone. Get clear and specific information about what you are going to get in return before you agree to anything. And if the response is all one-sided, you need to give a polite ‘thanks, but no thanks.’

What about you guys? Have you received similar emails? Have you been taken advantage of by a company?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to like check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

151 thoughts on “How Companies Are Taking Advantage of Bloggers

  1. I recently received an email from a company asking me to put together pinterest images they might be able to use on their pages. No product in exchange. Nothing but my time. Initially I responded, but then I realized they wanted me to do all their advertising with nothing in return. I just stopped responding to them.

  2. This is called affinity marketing and on the surface it seems like a fair exchange. If handled, the way you do, it can be beneficial to individual bloggers. Novices might get overwhelmed with requests and in turn overwhelm their readers when everything becomes a sale. This has also decreased the income of professional writers who once got paid to write web content. Thus I have mixed feelings. But it’s always evolving and all writers are trying to get value from their words. If someone pays you and it fits your goals and target readership, then go for it.

  3. I did one of these very soon after I started my blog. I was very excited about the possible “exposure” but the post was never used for anything but my readers to look at. First and last time I did anything just for “exposure”

  4. I think the thing I hate the most is bloggers being put in the position that they think they must do things for free or more opportunities won’t arise. Then they start doing it and get stuck doing everything for free and don’t know how to break out.

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