If you’re a newbie blogger (or even not-so-newbie) deciding which paid blogging opportunities to accept can be a bit of a minefield. I received a pitch on my this blog that I thought would make an excellent example. (I actually received this so long ago I no longer have a clue who sent it to me. I think I meant to publish this in 2016 some time.)
Bad Paid Blogging Pitches
Firstly, read the pitch I received. I’ll break it down afterwards to show you why this is the sort of pitch that is probably best to ignore. Please note that I have removed details that may identify the person, company and/or product(s) involved – because this is not about the specific company but it is about a common type of email that you will need to be able to make decisions on as a blogger.
We are reaching out to you to invite you to participate in our paid sponsored post program. While conducting research we identified your blog as an excellent fit to help us create awareness of our brand and product. Currently we have 10 paid opportunities for bloggers which we are releasing on a first come, first serve basis. The theme is <deleted because of product information>
As a sponsored host, you will receive a payment of <deleted, small amount> upon publication of an article provided by us that discusses ways to <deleted because of product information>.
Because we want our messaging to be aligned to your readership we encourage you to include your own editorial comments at the bottom of the post. If you prefer to write the post yourself, we will provide you with several links and keywords that must be included in order to qualify.
If you decide to participate we do need the post to be published no later <date removed> and the giveaway winner selected no later than <date removed>. If we find that you are an influencer, we will add you to our list of preferred bloggers and invite you to participate in additional sponsored blogging activities.
The small print:
- Links to our website must be do-follow, you may indicate this is a sponsored post.
- You are welcome to substitute any Amazon link for your own affiliate link.
- We are happy to help you by engaging in conversation with your readers and addressing concerns regarding <removed due to product information>
If you agree to participate, we will provide you with a post specifically crafted for your blog, along with our guidelines for posting. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!
<Name & company website removed>
Phew. Where do I start?!
The Problems With This Type Of Email
“We conducted research.”
Well, to begin with, no they didn’t. Granted, they got my name correct, which is a step many pitches don’t. Be prepared to be addressed as “Dear Blogger” or something very generic. You’ll see further down exactly why they didn’t actually do any research on me.
“First come, first served”
Contrary to what my husband sometime says, I’m not at my computer 24/7. Bloggers have bigger obligations than to their inbox. I’m not interested in first in, best dressed. I’m interested in a good fit for my readers, the brand, and my blog.
“You will receive payment of …”
Haha. No. While a ballpark figure is always really handy to have when considering a sponsored post, an email telling me that I will get paid a small, two-figure sum for a post is a problem. Mostly in that I don’t work for that amount of money. It’s not worth my time or energy.
Tip: if no money is mentioned in the pitch email, you can reply and ask what their budget is to get a sense of the pay available for the post.
“Links must be do-follow”
Remember above when I said they didn’t actually do any research? Well, this is how I know they didn’t. In the main navigation of my personal blog, I used to have a link that says “PR”. It’s there to save me and others time. It lists the things I will and won’t write about, as well as my conditions for accepting a sponsored post. Key among them is that all posts will have no follow links.
“we will provide you with a post”
Again, just no. My blog means that I write on my blog. It is not an outlet for PR statements and press releases.
“our guidelines for posting”
This could mean anything. But given the general tone of this email, context places it to be a bit more dictatorial than collaborative. Of course judgement should be held until you see what the guidelines are, but it is a red flag to me.
Tip: when working with a brand you may have “guidelines” for posting. This doesn’t mean relinquishing editorial control, it usually means something small like making sure names fit in with the brand’s style guides. Basically, things a reader won’t consciously notice that don’t impact on your relationship with your readers.
How Do You Decide What To Do?
Well, like I say in this post, a big challenge for new bloggers is realising that there really aren’t any rules. Sometimes you may want to take a post for free or little money to build a portfolio. That is up to you. My only advice is to know when you will ask for money/more money so as to not trap yourself in the unpaid/low paid hole forever.
You could ask for more information. As you can see, I had a lot of questions from this email. If I had been interested in the opportunity, I could have replied asking many of the questions. Would they have answered? Well, given that it was first in, best dressed, my guess would be no!
There is a tendency for bloggers (myself 100% included in this) to get a bit cranky when we keep getting lousy pitches. But remember, building up an idea of what you won’t accept means that you are learning what you will accept.
What have you learned from bad pitches you’ve received as a blogger?