Dear Fellow Blogger,
Please do not work for free. Pretty please with sugar on top, don’t do it! You deserve so much more for your hard work than to be exploited by a PR that wants to use you and the position you so tiresomely worked to get yourself in. When will they understand that we actually work our little arses off to produce good quality content for our blog, and that we aren’t all just sat around waiting for a freebie to be thrown at us like a dog waiting for crumbs to drop??
Before I begin my rant however, I must point out that this post is of course not aimed at all PR’s or saying that all PR’s are rubbish. Not at all. I used to work in PR, I have friends who work in PR and I have been contacted by, met, worked with, and continue to work with some truly fantastic and talented PR’s.
No, this post is to warn you of the PR’s who don’t do their research, who try to pull the wool over your eyes, try to exploit you and who think that they can gain thousands of pounds worth of coverage by fobbing of 50 bloggers with a £20 voucher and the other 200 bloggers they contacted with a ‘sorry better luck next time’.
What am I talking about? Let me explain…
About six weeks ago I received an email from a PR that infuriated me. It not only infuriated me as a blogger, but just as like, y’know, a human being! Worried that I was over reacting, I took to Twitter to share the email with my fellow bloggers and see what they thought of the matter.
They were appalled too!
So fed up of these kind of emails landing in my inbox. Read my blog/portfolio before pitching, please! https://t.co/1aaBlhJDx4
— Katie MacLeod (@KatieMacL) May 19, 2016
As a blogger *and* a PR this flippin’ horrifies me. https://t.co/E2K5kdsaLh
— Beverley (@PckYourPassport) May 19, 2016
Blatant poor link building approach 😱 cheeky. https://t.co/8Q2fVFIVoW
— Wherever I May Roam (@HannahFButcher) May 19, 2016
So what was in said email? Why don’t I let you read it for yourself…
The email then went on to explain how it must be a minimum of 500 words, with all the details, all the links and what kind of images you need, blah, blah, blah.
Now, if you are a reading that email and are wondering what the problem is, then I insist you continue reading this post, this post is for you, because my dear Blogger you need to understand your worth!
First of all, I’d never worked with this PR before. There was no introduction and I only found out who the actual client was when I scrolled to the very end of the email. Secondly, the fact that this PR wrote in the above email “we have carefully selected 250 sites we think would love this promotion” is just stupidity at its best, because that clearly wasn’t the case. You thought I would love this promotion? What exactly was it about my blog and my previous 500+ carefully written and thought-out blog posts that I poured my heart and soul into, that made you think I would love this promotion? This PR in particular clearly hasn’t read my blog. But of course they probably didn’t have time to read it, not when they were too busy ‘carefully selecting’ the other 249 blogs to contact about this ‘collaboration’.
And as for “we know how annoying it is when companies try to get you to do stuff for free…” Do you? I don’t think you do, because with a 1 in 5 chance of winning a voucher, you absolutely knew you would have the majority of us working for free, you’ve practically said it yourself in the email; just 1 in 5 will win themselves a voucher. Sooooooo what about the other 200 bloggers? They just worked their arse off on a blog post for nada and you reap the rewards?
We get emails like this all the time, annoying emails with the subject lines like ‘let’s work together’ or ‘let’s collaborate’ and of course I open each one with excitement and anticipation because I’m always looking to work with brands and what blogger would turn down the opportunity to make an income through their site? But that doesn’t mean I will post any old crap. Yet 9 emails out of 10 usually go something along the lines of:
We love your site [blog link oh-so-obviously inserted here] and would love to do a guest post on your blog. Our fantastic team of professional writers have already written a blog post that we think your readers will absolutely love, and we will of course pay you for your troubles. We give $15 to every blog that hosts our content.
Why not let our team of professional writers create a blog post that is tailored specifically to your site? We’ll even pay you $15 for it!
These kind of emails are not only annoying but kind of insulting too. I’m a blogger because I want to blog, I want to write, I want to get my opinion and my thoughts out into the world. So why would I want someone else to write my content for me and then accept $15 for it? (That’s £11.40 by the way). Oh, it’s tailored specifically to my site? But surely if I want it truly tailored to my site I should write the piece myself, no?
What PR’s are looking to do in these cases, is get you to post a piece of content they have written that is full to the brim with keywords and links, and then pay you for it to dress it up as a sponsored post. It’s ludicrous.
But I digress! The poorly paid hosting posts, erm I mean “Sponsored posts”, are one thing, but this voucher email was one of those emails that just really got under my skin! It was a particularly infuriating email because not only did the PR expect more than 80% of the bloggers they contacted to work for free, but they planned to pawn off the 50 quickest bloggers with a £20 Amazon voucher for their hard work.
To any PR’s reading this, do you even know what goes into creating a blog post? Even if you have provided the competition details or the basic copy, a decent blog post still needs to be produced and it’s not a quick process. Some of us actually take pride in our work – interesting words needs to be written, personality needs to shine through. It needs to be drafted, proof read, and personally I am a very fussy blogger, reading and re-reading my post over and over until I think it’s perfect. And what about images? They need to be sourced and edited. And what about the time it takes to share and promote the post across all our social media platforms? Tweets need to be written, scheduled, as well as Facebook posts. All this for a £20 voucher, really?
Oh no, wait, only the first 50 receive the voucher. So the PR just expects 250 bloggers to stop what they are doing and go whip up this blog post as quickly as they can?
Sometimes I think PR’s just assume that when we open an email and see that a prize or a freebie is available to us, that we can just quickly copy and paste the details into a blank WordPress post, click publish and voila, job done. This is not the case and any PR’s who think this shouldn’t be a PR in the first place. They need to stop treating bloggers as free publicity. Would they have sent the above email to a freelance writer or a journalist? I highly doubt it.
There is of course nothing wrong with Bloggers receiving products, freebies and being paid for work, of course not, but don’t allow PR’s to use and abuse you and your influential blogger status. You need to know your worth blogger, and you are worth a lot! I may not be Zoella or theLondoner, but I know I am a good blogger, with the stats to back it up, and so I have created a set of rates which I feel are suitable to charge, and I always discuss these with a PR. Of course they are negotiable, but “a 1 in 5 chance of winning a £20 Amazon voucher” in exchange for a dedicated blog post about a competition that I have no interest in, well, that is just exploitation.
Always remember why you started your blog – was it to make money? Because if so, then sod it, take all the sponsored posts and free Amazon vouchers you can get, why not?!
But maybe you started it to have your own creative outlet? To write? To inspire others? To create a lasting business? To produce interesting, creative and beautiful content? That is why I began my blog, so selling my time and my blog space for something I have very little interest in, in exchange for something of the value of £20, would be wrong on so many levels, and PR’s need to realise this! They should probably check out shouldiworkforfree.com
Okay, rant over.
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