Ranty Friday — Approaches

 

I am going to try and keep Ranty Friday quite “measured” this week.     I don’t want it to come across as a full blown rant but it is something I feel I need to talk about this week as it has really made me quite, well sad and grumpy in equal measure.

The first rule of blog club is that you don’t talk about blog club on your blog.  Well I don’t do rules so I AM going to talk about something blog related.   Namely approaches from third parties that want to have their service / product / client / event mentioned on this blog.

Yes, it may surprise you but I get regular approaches from outside agencies asking for just that.   Many I accept.  Many, increasingly I turn down.   Why?   Well….. that is the subject of today’s mini grumble.

You dear reader are always foremost in my mind when I write a blog post.  Why am I writing a post?  Is it to inform you?  Educate you?  Entertain you?  Cheer you up?  There has to be some purpose to it.    What you will get from it is what drives me to blog in the first place.   To feel you have got something, anything in fact from spending two minutes of your precious time reading my blog post.   There are THOUSANDS, millions in fact, of others out there that you could have stopped on, and the fact you stopped on mine means the world to me and I like to reward that.

Running alongside that though is a very fine balancing act of a full time job, teens, a house, a dog, a poorly granny I keep an eye on, and just the general demands of family life.  My time to blog is precious too.   And I can only do seven posts a week.   Three of which are regular posts:  Ranty Friday / The Gallery / Silent Sunday.

This leaves four other “slots for posts”.

Sorry I am rambling a bit but I am trying to make my point and not just appear as some screaming banshee.

So in those four posts a week I like to mix it up a bit.  And try to get a balance of me, thoughts from my head etc, after all that is why I started blogging.   As well as reviews or other things I think you might be interested in.     And I do try and keep the blog varied and interesting and not turn it into something dull, samey, boring.   Or sales pitchy.

Which is where the problem starts.

Every day I get emails from outside agencies asking me to tell my readers about something.    It might be a product and could the product be sent to me for us to review?  If I feel that product is something we could use and review properly then I say yes.   There is no point however me reviewing things that this family wouldn’t normally buy.   I just don’t see the point of jumping at every offer for the sake of it.

Equally events that we get invited to that are just not something we would normally attend and therefore us reviewing it would seem a bit strange that we are at the event.   The Baby Show for instance.    Fabulous event, but not something I would get anything of with teenagers and there plenty of fabulous bloggers who would.   So I leave it to them.

The problem is then though that those products or event reviews could then end up taking up every one of those four spare slots every week.  Every single week.

Which is why I came up with the idea of Mummy Barrow Loves.  One post, once a month of things I have been sent (though I do include other things if we have bought them and I love them) that I think you will like too.   All reviewed and included on one post.   So there are still three left for that week that are not necessarily sales pitches for a product.

We get something out of it, ie the lovely product, and you get something out of it.   Its a formula I like and one that I think works.

What has happened recently though is something that is starting to tip that balance.   Agencies suggesting I run a giveaway for instance, for a product of relatively low financial value.    Hmmmm.   So my readers “might” get something out of it, if they win.  But I spend time writing the post (allocating one of those four slots for that week) to it and I get nothing for it.   My family gets nothing for it.   And one reader will get something out of it if they win.

To my mind that is not fair.

Similarly the blog post I am asked to write where I could win something by entering a company’s competition to win their prize “just by telling my readers about our amazing thing”.   Hmmmm again.   I “might” win something.   But what do you get out of that?  An odd looking post about something possibly not in keeping with this blog that probably isn’t very interesting for you to read.   And what have I actually got out of it?  “A chance to win” but it has taken time to do and the company has got a free advert to all my readers but that is it.    And at the end of the day, that is really all they wanted anyway.

Dont get me wrong, I did one recently to win a family holiday.  It was a prize worth thousands and I could talk about something that fitted my blog and still sounded like me.   It wasnt just an advert.    That is the exception.   Despite not winning,  you the readers still got something out of it as I talked about my fear and skiing and when I was little.

Now I am not saying this kind of idea is totally wrong.   It isn’t.   There are many that do it and there are some fabulous prizes to be won this way.   £250 of shopping vouchers in exchange for telling readers about your first memory.   As a blog post that is a great to read.  Readers get something out of it.   But when asked to do it for a prize worth a fiver, who is really getting anything of that other than the advertiser?

More and more I am getting sad and grumpy that agencies think they can approach bloggers and get an advert for their client on “successful blogs” (their words, not mine) basically for free.

Press releases sent with “could you publish this”.    Well why?

Or, and here’s the killer.   “We will write unique content for you and are happy to pay you $20 to host it”.

These really do make me rage.  Proper full on rage.   The content has a link to another third party wedged into a post that is not in keeping with my blog, and I get about £8 for it?  I am sorry but I am not doing it.   £8 is an insult.     And in my opinion, those sorts of posts on this blog would be akin to graffiti.   If I accepted them that is all my blog would become.   A brick wall on the internet covered in graffiti

Is that what you want to read?   No.

And it is not what I started blogging for either.    I doubt any of us did.

Dont get me wrong, of course I do posts that I have been paid for.   The majority though are written by me, that I am asked to do by an agency and that I can make my own.   In the hope you will still get something out of them and not view them as being done “just for the money”.

It staggers me that agencies approach bloggers and in the opening paragraph talk about “successful blog” and “wanting to work with you”.   In the second paragraph mention what they want and make no offer in return.   When I have gone back to them and said, politely “um what is in it for me?”  I am told “oh we have no budget for that”.

Huge multi national companies, household names who have no budget.   Bless.

Really?  I don’t see them working for free.

And really don’t think bloggers should be asked to either.

(oh and why the cat pic?  Well because there are not enough photos of cats on the internet and this is our own #FatCat saying “STOP IF THAT EMAIL CONTAINS THE WORDS “NO BUDGET” OR “UNIQUE CONTENT” DO NOT PRESS SEND”)

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  • Oh my! I hardly ever blog these days and I wasn’t my blog to be my diary rather than a sales pitch. Having said that, some projects are genuinely interesting and I like doing them. What gets me though is the “share this infographic or post as your readers will love it” and of course for free. And not from people who know me and whom I work / have worked with.

    I regret the 5 seconds of my life that it takes to delete those emails. 5 seconds that I will never get back!

  • Couldn’t agree more. Like you, the one which really bugs me is the offer of ‘free content’ – why the hell should I give my precious blog space a way to free adverts? Absolute liberties.

  • Good for you, no doubt theres a huge advertising budget for these items, but some bright spark has decided to put someone on work experience to trawl blogs to get free coverage too…. there should be more kittens on the internet

  • Very well said. What I find particularly grating is when the ‘amazing content” that they want to send me for free or for a very small amount to ‘cover my time’ will ‘Improve my blog’ or be ‘mutually beneficial’.

  • I have missed Ranty Friday two weeks in a row due to family stuff then taking time off, but last week you ranted about what I wanted to rant about, and this week too. Have you been reading my mind? (Poor you, send the therapy or wine bill my way, my mind is a very scary place!) I am not as prominent a blogger as you are, but I still do feel that my little spot of blogland which I put my heart and my own personality into, and people seem to want to read, is worth more than a poxy few quid to promote someone else’s writing, on a topic that doesn’t fit with what my blog is about and I do wonder sometimes if these PR places pick on newer blogs who they think will be so keen to get publicity, that they will put anything on their blog? Does that sound awful? It makes me feel better to know it’s not just me that has felt this way.
    Have a lovely Easter weeekend! 🙂

  • I think about this a lot. I am in a constant struggle with the balance of content on my blog – I am determined not to allow it to just become a vehicle for brands to advertise. I love working with some brands, but I’ve started turning down a lot – partly because I don’t have time to do them all, but also because like you, I only want to do brand-led posts that my readers will get something out of.

  • Argh! I’ve been getting those emails more and more now and I can tell they haven’t even read my blog because if they had, then they would know they wouldn’t want to work with me. I’ve only done a couple of sponsored posts, one for a “reputable” company who promised payment I had to chase up, and they never did. Might have to go back and reword that post better….

  • T just wanted to follow up and say thanks from an inexperienced blogger. No one (in their right mind) is ever likely to ask me to review anything but reading the thought and planning you put into your blog has really helped me focus and think about what I want to do, and what direction I want my blog to go in. So thanks again.