Why Mom Bloggers Shouldn’t Work for Tweets and Links


If you’ve been following this blog you know I have embarked upon a project wherein I started a new, anonymous blog and I am using what I know to grow it. That said, I am learning quite a lot walking in the shoes of a new blogger.

One thing I am learning quite quickly is PR firms treat bloggers differently. If you are a new blogger, there seems to be an assumption by PR firms that we will do anything for traffic or to work with the brand they represent. Anything! In the PR firms’ defense, this is probably their experience with many novice bloggers.

So, I want to say this as clearly as I can: Even though you may be a new blogger, that does not mean you have to work for free just to work with brands.

Remember this basic rule: If a brand or PR firm thinks you’re good enough to work with from penning posts for their site, writing sponsored posts, or working as a spokesblogger, then you are good enough to be paid for your work. Do not work for link backs from microsites, brand sites or blogs, Facebook pages, or tweets from brand Twitter accounts. I don’t care if you started blogging yesterday and I don’t care if you think the traffic will put your blog in front of more people. Why set that precedent for yourself; that you’re simply not worth paying.

So, here’s what you need to do: You build up a great blog by nurturing it and making it a must-read by your peers and visitors who happen to stop by. You don’t need to be Houdini to do it, but you do need to have mad scientist skills. That is, you need to always be in the proverbial laboratory, thinking up creative ways to share and write content for your readers.

Then, once you have built a community around you and your blog is full of stellar posts, then you can work with brands and expect to be paid for your work where it is a win-win for everyone, not just a win for the brand and no-win for you!

It really is that simple!

91 thoughts on “Why Mom Bloggers Shouldn’t Work for Tweets and Links

  1. Thanks for the encouraging post! Curious to know, do you consider getting and keeping a product to try out as being paid or are you talking being paid actual money on top of products?

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    • Hi Tamara,

      I don’t consider products I review a part of payment and I never get paid for product reviews. I work with PR firms and brands on my new blog and on TheMomSalon.com to craft stories/posts of the products I review, but no money changes. Now, if I work on a large and extended campaign on behalf of a brand that goes beyond the basic product review, then I do charge for services like that.

      Like

  2. This is important information. I have recently been approached by a few brands, asking me to write posts either for free, or in exchange for small items (like a box of cereal). But my blog is worth more than that.

    Like

  3. Again, GREAT advice. At first I wanted so badly to be “in.” Earlier in my career I did a lot of free writing, and building my portfolo. Outside of blogging, I have two degrees, I AM a writer, and I’ve paid my dues. Although the PR companies, don’t know it, I do. And I decided to govern myself accordingly.

    Thanks for confirmation, yet again. You continue to rock!

    Like

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Why Mom Bloggers Shouldn’t Work for Tweets and Links « Jennifer James Online -- Topsy.com

  5. My site launched in March of this yr, if I had a $1 for every outrageously insulting offer I’ve received since that time, I could take my family on a nice vacation. What’s helped me massively is to redefine my site’s goals. I’m not a product review site, it’s a personal blog that does occasional reviews featuring brands that I love. Having made that change has allowed me to focus more in developing the site & strangely enough increased the respectful offers that I receive:)

    Like

  6. Perfectly put, as always. I had two conversations this week with brands/PR/Businesses this week about this same thing. Linking to me in lieu of payment is just not acceptable. Well done – and so encouraging to the newest bloggers joining the interwebz :)

    Like

    • Danielle, what’s even sadder is stories I’m hearing about brands getting novices to do reviews for free by promising them links .. and then the links go up and they’re “no follow”. Not for anything but if a big company will treat a beginning blogger so badly, one has to wonder how they’d treat their customers.

      Like

  7. Great post! I haven’t been contacted by any pr firms. Maybe I’m not cool enough, but I’ve been doing exactly what you suggested and it’s made my blogging experience very enjoyable. As you said, I’m focusing on posting quality content and also acclimating myself to the blogging world. Thanks for letting me know I’m on the right track!

    Like

  8. Great post I found it very helpful. I still get a lot of free posting, free giveaway offers but I have
    been turning many of them down lately. It’s just too time consuming to do them all for free.
    I’m always looking for a new company or pr team to work with my blog in a fair way. I also like
    the sponsored posts you mentioned I think that is a great idea.

    Like

  9. And then there’s people like me who just simply blog for the heck of it. Do want readership, but not in it for the money. Just a creative (and I use that term loosely) outlet for me. But for those wanting to make a few bucks I do agree with your post.

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  10. Great post! This is very inspiring to me as a emerging blogger, and helps me to remember my worth. It’s definitely tempting sometimes when I see other bloggers working with these great brands and I want t feel sure that I am doing enough to grow, but I keep working on my blog, writing great content and building relationships with amazing bloggers!

    Like

  11. So what’s your advice for a moderate sized blog that wants to be noticed by the larger companies but doesn’t want to sit with nothing to review until that happens? My blog isn’t tiny any longer. I just recently reached 1200 followers but my goal is to be much larger. I admit to blogging for just about anything when I was still small just in hopes of getting a foot in the door with a company that would lead to a larger opportunity.

    One of the ways a blog increases in size is through the giveaways it offers. I often review items I don’t necessarily want just because they offer a giveaway which will grow my readership to the point where I do get noticed more. Do you recommend we turn down opportunities? How do we grow our readership then and get to the point where we are paid or receiving the larger items we really want?

    Like

    • The way to grow your readership is to be smart about the content you deliver to your readers. Make sure that your editorial tone is consistent. Don’t just blog about products for the sake of blogging about products. Be deliberate in your approach and make sure you write the best posts you can.

      Like

  12. I have never had companies ask me to write for them simply in exchange for a linkback. I have gotten products to review, and products to giveaway in return for writing, which is all fully disclosed. But… I’m wondering what your thoughts are on companies who say they will have me review their product but then send a LAUNDRY list of “expectations” for the review/giveaway – like how I am supposed to ask readers to enter the giveaway, etc.??? What do you think about that? And how do you nicely say, “I’m sorry but that’s not how I run my giveaways.”? I USED to do the long list of “entry tasks” but now I am steering more towards fewer entries and I think I’m going to go all the way to simply “leave a topic related comment” – b/c really, don’t companies want readers to actually HAVE A CONVERSATION about their products, not simply “follow on twitter, follow on FB” etc??
    I am having a hard time explaining this to companies. :) Any advice would be appreciated!

    Like

    • While I agree that topic related entry comments are great, the fabulous thing about utilizing facebook and twitter is that it helps to promote the giveaway and brings more awareness to the brand and helps the brand out longer term. If I start following a company on twitter or facebook to enter a contest, I probably will continue to follow them after the contest. So now they’ve gained my attention well beyond the single giveaway post and that is why that is so valuable to sponsors. I personally would never eliminate that as a entry for my contests just for those reasons. On the other hand, I think offering 5 or 10 entries for doing a single thing is a huge turnoff.

      Like

      • you make a very good point… I sometimes feel bad b/c I don’t want the entry process to turn readers off, but now I see how it could be a good thing to have a few extras like that. And I also agree – the 5, 10, 15 entries per task is a huge turnoff to me as well… I have 1 entry per task, and right now I keep it to 3-5 different tasks. :) Thanks for replying and giving me that insight! ;0)

        Like

      • Julie, I think that as long as you keep the extra entries reasonable and only offering a few with just an extra entry for each (perhaps more if someone will blog about it) it won’t turn readers off. But I agree that keeping the main entry question more like a conversation creates great dialogue and feedback for the sponsor. (Not to mention more fun to read!) It also is more likely to get entries because it is simple. I’ve found that the easiest form of marketing for the giveaway is allowing the entrants to help promote it, assuming you are trying to gain outside readers/traffic. I know some bloggers enjoy just having giveaways for their current readers.

        And I completely agree with you. I do find it frustrating when sponsors try to dictate too much how exactly the giveaway should run and with how many entries should be received for various tasks. Starts to get annoying and time consuming. I communicate how I like to run my giveaways with the sponsor and they typically don’t have a problem.

        Like

  13. I am so glad to see someone calling it like it is. I started my blog for fun, but along the way started to get interested in working with other brands. However, my love for writing will not allow me to compromise my integrity. I would much rather not get paid a cent than to get thrown a few bones here and there from a brand who does not appreciate me or my work.
    It is very difficult sometimes when you are just beginning to blog and have such a strong desire to grow your blog and increase your amount of readers. Although I’ve been blogging for about a year, I am still pretty much a baby in terms of increasing my exposure. But what I have learned so far is that there are tons of ways that I DON’T want to run my blog. If that means slow growth, then so be it! Unfortunately many of us do not always get good advice in the beginning, and we end up having to learn the hard way.
    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Like

  14. It’s really hard to resist the temptation to work with brands/products for ‘nothing’ when you feel like you’re such a small fish that ‘nothing’ is probably what you deserve. Mom/Women bloggers are a HUGE driving force in marketing right now, and this message needs to get out to every one of us so that we can all stop selling ourselves short. If none of us is willing to work for free, PR firms will get the point real fast! :)

    Great post! Thanks for the affirmation that we’re worth getting paid for our work!

    Like

  15. Well said! I’ve several blogs (Welcome to the Motherhood, Fashion Fling, The Beauty Counter, etc) and I have been blogging since 2004. It peeves me off to end when people expect me to advertise them for free. I mean, come on, do they work for free? =)

    Like

  16. Thank you for this affirmation. I was recently approached with my very first offer from a company. It was a giveaway, but nothing was every mentioned about any kind of payment or anything. I had never heard of the company or the new product. After my reply, I never heard back from them. At first I was thinking maybe I should have accepted happily just to get a giveaway on my blog and maybe more readership, but thank you so much for reminding me that, that is not what I am worth. I am worth more and so is my time and the time of my readers.

    Like

  17. Another great post, Jennifer. I’m very impressed with your anonymous blog project. Fascinating!

    I’m starting to get a bunch of requests to review something for a fee — if I were paid, I would feel obligated to write a positive review — or to buy a link.

    I’m glad you hear you don’t think it’s a good idea, since that was my gut feeling.

    Take care,
    Amy

    Like

    • Yes, definitely go with your gut. I work hand-in-hand with many PR firms and they help me craft stories for my blog. But when projects go beyond the basic product review or story, that is when I need to be compensated.

      Like

  18. Thanks Jennifer. I’m continuously frustrated with the PR firms that are reaching out to me thinking I’ll write about them for free. As my following has grown, it is getting more and more common and is increasingly insulting. Today I actually got an e-mail from a Microsoft PR firm inviting me to a store opening because they were sure my writers would love to hear about it. The general public is invited. Nothing special for me or anyone else invited. Seriously? You’re Microsoft. You want me to talk about your big grand opening, pay for it baby. Argggg. Thanks for the great advice. It is really nice to hear you say the things I feel. I look up to you and it means a lot to hear you share this.

    Like

    • I definitely hear you on that. On the other hand, I understand where PR comes in in this case because they are looking for earned editorial placements. I attend many events for free because when chosen carefully they can enhance my blog. Now, let’s say the PR firms wanted you to come and then ((required)) you to write posts, post on Facebook, and also post on Twitter, then, yes, they would need to pay you for those services.

      Like

  19. I am learning that as I am getting a ton of PR companies asking me to post information. Its time consuming and taking away from my post so I am actually in the process of changing my advertising section about payment for post.

    Like

  20. Thank you for this post! I have had one company contact me and through emails I worked out a deal where I would participate in their recipe contest and they would provide me with a product to give away as a prize on my blog. I have been blogging for a year and that is the only one so far. I do appreciate the encouragement you offer us bloggers when you say we are worth it!
    Thanks!

    Like

  21. Thank you for your opinion, but I do now and always will, blog for free if I believe it brings value to my readers or myself. I didn’t start blogging to make money, I did it for something to keep me occupied when my kids grew up and moved out. Maybe I see life differently because I’m where I am, but I only take the assignments/offers I”m interested in and skip the rest.

    When I see bloggers complaining about the quality of a blogger’s outreach party or event or quality of a giveaway, I’m left with a sick feeling. There are people all over the world living in squallid conditions, and we’re complaining that a VIP event wasn’t VIP enough? What is enough? Only an individual can determine that and I won’t mock those who complain if you don’t mock me for doing it for free.

    It reminds me of something Chris Brogan said at the one blogging even I attended. Before you put your hand out, establish a relationship. Figure out how you can benefit the company and then sell them. It doesn’t have to be about money or clicks. It can be about your satisfaction.

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m not telling anyone to do it my way, but I’d love it if those of us who choose to blog for free wouldn’t have to feel bad for doing so. Perhaps that wasn’t your intention, but it;s the “Shouldn’t Work” part that got me. How about “Might Consider Not Working For Free and Here’s Why”. Should not implies only you know the answer.

    Just a thought and a look from the other side.

    Like

    • Oh, and I was a review blogger starting in 2002 at Epinons.com, so the review format is my choice. I don’t blog about my life because frankly it’s boring. And no one wants parenting advice from a mom of my age. Trust me. Even though I raised happy, healthy and well adjusted kids. Go figure. :(

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      • I don’t know if you’ve clearly understood what I’m blogging about today. I am simply saying that if approached by a brand or PR firm for a partnership of some kind, then bloggers need to be compensated for the work they do. Virtual payments such as links and tweets are not good enough.

        This post is clearly intended for those who want to earn a living from their blog. It’s not intended for those who have no interest in mixing their blog with brand partnerships at all.

        Like

      • Jennifer,

        I understand completely. I DO post brand requests for free and will continue to do so. I’ve never been offered virtual payments or tweets, but if I was, I’d decide on whether or not to accept it on the value to me or my readers. I partner with brands on my blog frequently and will continue to do so for free. I’m not a new blogger and I’m not unaware of my value. There’s no right way to do it in my opinion. This works for me. It just sucks being told that I’m doing something wrong. Until there’s a law that says bloggers must be paid it’s all just opinions in my opinion.

        Connie

        Like

      • That is where you and I have two fundamentally different theories about partnering with brands. Like I said before, if you want to work with brands for free, that is fine; that is your choice. This is my blog and these are my opinions.

        Like

  22. Very useful post. And I do agree with you – it is not worth posting only to get links. But could you, please, explain more about how to “work with brands” – I know that if you are good enough they will contact you, but I am sure that you also mean input of self initiative?

    Like

  23. hi, I am launching a site in March with many facets, more a resource than a blog although I would like to include guest bloggers at times. Would you be able to share any info about what you think is an appropriate range of pay for linking back a blog as a column on a regular basis, for a freelance article, etc?

    Like

  24. This is great. I actually started a blog and havent advertised it much to those i know. i decided to try and get this thing to grow organically and have found a slow but steady increase in my twitter followers, which, is how i advertise. i had my first guest blogger yesterday and i feel like i can do this organically and on my own even if it is a slow and steady course.

    Like

  25. I agree with this. I have been blogging since 2006, but only these past 3 months have I ventured into actually making money from it. I like doing reviews and giveaways, but I also love good reads and I want my blog to be a good read, not just a review and giveaway blog.

    Like

  26. Okay, I’m back with another question, LOL. I’ve honestly never been in this position and just this morning I get an email offering a review and giveaway. However, the review is for an e-product that they are already offering for free to new members. So essentially I’m getting and reviewing something that I could already get for free anyway. Or they would pay me through affiliate links. I really don’t think I’m interested, especially after seeing the product.

    So, how do you politely decline?

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  27. I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot lately and I’m actually at the point where I’m not going to be doing any more reviews or giveaways, unless it’s for a product I already know and love. I think of it as blogging virtuously as in the past I’ve gotten into (blog) bed with a lot of strangers just for a few bucks or a so-so product.

    Like

  28. I’ve found a better way to increase traffic to your blog is to participate in weekly link-ups with similar themed blogs. I don’t mean “follow parties” where you link up and follow each others’ blogs, regardless of content (although that’s great for increasing # of followers to impress prospective sponsors.) I do a blog about learning to cook and make food for my toddler, and there is a lunch-of-the-week linkup at one site, and a similar one, but served in muffin tins instead of on plates at another. I get a lot of followers from people checking me out, and I get to find other people doing similar things on their blogs to inspire me too! I’m slowly getting true followers, and not just “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” and increasing traffic for my site for free, without having to whore myself out as some corporate shill. I can still rave about products that I like (or complain about those I don’t,) but I do it for myself, or to give insight to my readers, and not for the manufacturer, even though it’s still free advertising for them. As a bonus, I’ve even had one manufacturer happen to read my post about her lunch box and give me a coupon code for 20% off! Not real money, but they never asked for me to review their product, so I don’t feel devalued or insulted by the coupon code :)

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  29. Jennifer,

    Excellent post once again, which I immediately RTed.

    I can definitely vouch for the difference in the way I was treated by PR firms and corp social media strategists less than two years ago when I started mommy blogging on MommyBlogExpert as compared to today. I’m probably receiving 15-20+ new pitches a day for my blog from PR people asking me to post about them, now. When someone asks me to write about a product or service for FREE that is a good match for the kind of content I write, I always send them back a personalized email explaining that I don’t work without a fair exchange and I suggest ways how we can work together. At the very minimum that usually means companies provide the item for me to test prior to review. I also like to give them some alternative ideas of how they get their client visibility on my blog if I’m not interested in the particular product they’re pitching but there is something else they are marketing that I would like to consider for a blogpost.

    We should have some kind of union for professional mom bloggers don’t you think? I wonder if there are any laws at the state or federal level that are in the works that are aimed at protecting us? It’s unfortunate, but I think newbie mom bloggers are the most susceptible to be taking advantage of by brands, primarily due to ignorance as to what they have the right to expect from the companies that approach them. I think by providing education to the wanna be mom bloggers, as you have through Mom Bloggers Club and your own blog, is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Keep up the good work Jen!

    Like

  30. Thanks so much for this post!

    This week I received an email from a brand that wanted me to write a blog post for their microblog.
    My blog receives about 7, 900 unique visitors and more than 28,000 pageviews a month! Why would I write a blog post for them for free when I could just post that original content on my own blog?

    But I was still considering it…

    After leaving this comment, I’m emailing that brand back telling them that I’ve thought about it but unless they are willing to pay me, the answer is…. NO!

    Like

  31. Very sound advice indeed. I’m only blogging a couple of years and have been approached a good few times to write reviews etc. I’ve turned all but one down….. The one that allowed me to stay true to me, my blog and my followers. And it paid relatively well too.

    X Jazzy

    Like

  32. So are you saying I should be charging to post about companies upcoming events, contests and other information? Would anyone really pay me for one post? Can’t imagine it would be that much. I blog for my readers and if I think the information is helpful to my bloggers, then I post about it. If I had decided to post about it myself without getting info on it from a company or PR person, I wouldn’t charge anyone, I’d just post about it.

    I can see not posting for a link or tweet unless it’s something you really wanted to post about anyway.

    Like

  33. “Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” ~ Mark Twain

    I have blogs about my life, product reviews and book reviews. I wrote in them until I got paid. That doesn’t mean I wrote for others free. I wrote for myself until I decided to join places that offer products or money for a review.

    My book review blog is not even a week old, and I will not write a review of a book unless I get to keep the (paperback) copy. I have applied to 4 book review programs run by publishers and have been accepted into all 4. I assume the PR/publishing people can see my blog is new, and it will grow.

    I think, I haven’t been contacted to do free work, because I clearly state on all of my blogs what my conditions are. PR firms know what they can expect from me and what I want, so they don’t waste my or their time. It also helps me to keep a standard for myself.

    Like

    • Here’s how I approach my blog. I don’t charge for product reviews because I don’t want anyone to think/assume my reviews are skewed. I only charge for projects that go beyond the basic product review. For example, if a brand wants me to write for them, I charge for that. If a brand wants to advertise on my blog or post giveaways (it depends, though on the scope of the giveaway) I also charge for that. And if I work on projects as a brand ambassador, then I am paid for that as well.

      Hope that helps. Thanks so much for your question and for stopping by.

      Like

      • By Brand Ambassador you mean going above and beyond the regular review? If a company flies you to an event & pays for lodging/food do you expect to also be compensated? Or is that and the swag compensation for you? Beside writing quality posts and joining various moms groups, do you have any advice for being noticed by the bigger players?

        Like

      • Hi Ellen,

        font color=”#8b284c”>No, if a company flies me to an event, it fits in the same category of a product review. Their hope is that I share their event on my blog and potentially blog about it. It’s the brand’s way of getting their product in front of bloggers and journalists. Now, let’s say that brand flew me out and “required” me to cover the event, speak at the event, consult on the event..anything along those lines, then that’s all paid work.

        Like

  34. Such an important point. Working for peanuts (or peanut shells, as in the case of the nofollow links!) doesn’t just damage you, it damages the industry as a whole. Reminds me of when I was cutting my teeth in the freelance writing world (way before blogs!) and there were so many writers who would write for free… it made it difficult for ANYONE to find paying gigs!

    I see the same thing happening with bloggers… newbie bloggers so anxious to make a name for themselves they’ll represent a company for free, or take any offer that comes their way. This really upsets me… and the same goes for “contests” where you blog about something, hawking the company’s wares and promoting their products, and then you have a “chance” to win one of ten $20 giftcards.

    Imagine if we went to our phone or gas company and told them, “Hey, give me service for the month, and I’ll enter you in a drawing. Maybe you’ll be one of my three lucky bills that gets paid this month!”
    They’d laugh you right off the phone.

    If you want to be a professional blogger, please act like a professional.

    Okay, my rant is done!

    Like

  35. Pingback: Debate: Should PR types exchange money for content? « PR Passion-ista

  36. I can’t thank you enough for this post because it reassured me that it’s ok to say no. I was recently approached by a company that wanted me to do a toy review for them. I agreed to do the review then the rep comes back and wants me to review their website before they would send me the product to review. I turned it down because I didn’t feel like the product was worth my time to do two reviews. I put forth a great deal of time and effort into my reviews and I expect to be compensated accordingly.

    Bridget V.
    Guide to Smart Shopping

    Like

  37. Pingback: Google reader shares from social web for November 22, 2010 | Wayne Sutton - location-based services, gadgets, marketing, social media, iPhone & iPad

  38. If more bloggers would realize their worth and write for their own content and not for FREE or possible opp to win a gift card more company’s would consider paying moms for the work they do. After all you wouldn’t go to work for 5 days a week 8 hours a day on the chance on friday that you may win your pay check would you?

    Like

  39. Hi Jennifer!

    I am glad I found your site. You write very good content and without doubt people have appreciated your work and follow you. Well done!

    I have been blogging for over a year, on and off. But I have decided to now pursue it vigorously and branded myself as The Working Mom Blogger.

    I am impressed at the many incredible and professional mom bloggers here! I hope to also learn from all of you here here.

    All the best!

    Ros

    Like

  40. Hi Jennifer! Thanks again for sharing your great insight! So why do PR firms say they “want to pay us” for our great work. Was just a great conference where a world reknown firm said how they “want” to pay all the good blogging, they just can’t because they are “literally” rubbing pennies together….

    Thank you!

    Like

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