I like blogging and I take it seriously, probably far more seriously than I should. It’s fun, I meet lots of new people, and I am not going to lie it’s nice to receive a ‘freebie’ every once in a while, and if a blogger denies that getting an item sent isn’t nice then they are telling porkies. I also say freebie knowing full well the time and effort that goes into blogging about the item generally outweighs the price. It seems the thirst for ‘blogger freebies’ is leading some networks to think they can make demands on bloggers about how they blog about any gifted items, thinking they will just be happy to be getting a freebie. The thing with gifted items is you are not under any obligation to review them and you can review/feature them how you please. Should a brand want a favourable feature, or certain links, or perhaps for you to do something different to how you usually would you are, should you so wish, able to charge for this. Blogger brand relationships should be mutually beneficial, the brand/PR or you shouldn’t have to tick a sheet of 34 requirements. I don’t charge for reviews/features because the brands I work with are ones I love and they rarely, if ever, make ‘demands’ of me, if anything they are lovely, understanding and I would count a few of them as friends. Blogging is a hobby and not a job for me, I have a 40 hour a week full-time job that pays me, unless a blogger network is suddenly going to start paying my mortgage I refuse to be dictated to over a necklace or lipstick.
This week I received the most ridiculous email and set of demands from a blogger network; in return for a gifted item they set out some criteria and rules regarding the review/feature of the item, an item with an RRP of around £20:
NETWORK BANNER AD TO BE PLACED ON BLOG. This is a form of advertisement, something I don’t really do on my blog, if it’s a brand I LOVE I will do it and I often do it for free, but that is up to me and for brands I have an ongoing blog relationship with. Ad space is chargeable on my blog at £15 per month for companies, I don’t advertise this fact as personally at the moment I don’t want my blog covered in ads, but that’s just me. I am sure if I emailed this network and demanded they place my ad in their sidebar I would be laughed at, so why should they be able to demand this just because they are connecting me with a brand? It’s basically charging me a fee of my ad rate each month to be a part of their network, and this is especially the case for bloggers who do offer ads, as they are losing the revenue that ad space could make. Plus I hope if you do decide to place their ad on your blog that when people click it it’s a ‘no-follow’ link.
MINIMUM OF 300 WORDS. Not really a problem here for me as I generally waffle on to 500 words on average anyway, but this is not school and this is not an essay. If the item was a skirt, how much can you actually say about it before you are just repeating yourself?
MINIMUM OF 3 IMAGES. OK, so there are only so many angles you can photograph a single item from without your readers wanting to strangle you with your camera strap. The item in question was not exactly the most aesthetically intricate item either, so 3 images would have been overkill.
MINIMUM OF 3 BRAND LINKS & 1 NETWORK LINK. Ohhhhh, so you want Google to think I am spammy by including 3 links to a brand homepage? As someone mentioned on Twitter, one link is more than enough for SEO purposes. Ohhhh and you yet again want me to promote your blogger network too by placing a link to there, OK, whilst I am at it would you like a dedicated post each week and my first born child? I have been blogging 2 years now and have worked with many brands, never once have I been told to link so much, even dodgy sponsored posts only want one or two links as they know it’s deemed as spammy.
BRAND SPECIFIC TAILORED CONTENT. In other words a dedicated and dictated post, so no popping it into a favourites post or empties or whatever.
MODERATED COMMENTS. Yes, you read that right. They require you turn moderation/approval on for your blog comments ‘to stop spam’… Which is rich considering the number of spammy links they demand. I have never had comment approval on and I don’t ever want to turn it on. I appreciate the fact my readers take the time to comment, and you are a responsible bunch so I trust that I don’t need to check everything you write, because you know you’re not 6 and I am not your teacher.
Not only did they make all these demands but they also sent me a link to a ‘handy post’ on how to write blog posts and have the perfect blog. BITCH PLEASE my blog is perfect, wanna know why? Because it’s mine and it’s everything I want it to be and I do not let people dictate how I run it, what I should do with it and when I should do it. They also required bloggers with over 10,000 followers on ONE platform for most campaigns, now 10,000 is a lot; I have been blogging since May 2013 and I am only just nearing 10k on Twitter. So chances are that that blogger already has a fair few opportunities to work with brands and networks, therefore moving heaven and earth for a £20 item is not going to be top of their list; I know it isn’t top of mine, especially considering the ‘do as I say attitude’. In case you are curious, I told them I wasn’t turning my blog over to them to run and abide by their terms, and to remove me from their network, I then received a reply saying their specification are not for everyone, and they understand I am not willing to adhere to them, also that they would pass on my concerns to the brands who make the requirements – I somehow can’t imagine a brand demanding the blogger networks link is plastered all over.
I get that the network may be under pressure from brands to make certain demands, but surely there should be an aspect of managing client expectations in order to have the best bloggers on board posting engaging and natural content that they feel inspired to do, not wasting time checking a list of ‘requirements’ which ends up with a post that seems un-natural, forced and half assed. If I was a brand I know which I would prefer; engaging content by a blogger that has minimal restrictions put on their creativity.
As blogging becomes much more of a commercial beast there are going to be far more networks/brands out there willing and able to take advantage of bloggers. This all boils down to many people wanting the amazing opportunities they see others get and I understand that, I still get envious of others amazing opportunities and wished it could have been me doing that. But there are limits as to what I will and can do in return for something; I work 40 hours a week, I spend my Saturday morning taking blog pics and then another 2 hours editing during the week, I then spend about 5 hours planning, organising and writing a week – I don’t not have time to change the way I blog for someone/something, and I am sure there are others out there with even less time than me to faff about bowing to down to others.
What do you think about the requirements/terms? Have you ever bowed to them and would you do it again?