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They say it better than I do

They say it better than I do

July 31, 2007

When I was at the conference I was walking by all the sponsor tables, “shopping” for gifts to take home to my children. My children have never had so much with pedometers. Or me either… go run around the house ten times and then come back in and I will tell you how many steps you ran. It is a win win situation for all of us.

I stopped at one table and they had a pile of t-shirts. I asked if I could have one.

“Are you going to write a positive blog post about our product and tell people how much you really like it?”

“Uh, no I am not.”

“Then you can’t have a t-shirt.” he answered.

“I no longer want one.” I replied.

Well alrighty then. I don’t want one. Nor do I have any interest at all in your product.

My 6 and 8 yr olds are wearing their find.com tshirts right now. They gave me three of them. Not only will I be more likely to use their website, but what about all the people who see the shirt when my children are running around the world like wild heathens. Hmmm, probably good that I left out the wild heathen part.

But I am willing to bet that there were people who took the t-shirts and will blog about this company positively. My kingdom for a $5 t-shirt.

Liz brilliantly talks about PR people and how clueless they can be in dealing with bloggers.

And guess what? I got an email from Pay Per Post this morning telling me how to monetize, or is that monotonize, my blog. I am not sure if it makes it better or worse that they got my name right. I guess they didn’t get the memo that I spoke about them during my panel.

And Mir takes it a step further and holds nothing back. And she is right when she says if no one worked for these slave wages they would have to up their pay scale.

The point in all of this? Value yourself. Value your work. Demand to be paid a reasonable wage. You are worth it.

Posted by Chris @ 10:31 am  

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Comments

  1. sarcastic journalist says:

    AMEN! I constantly hear this about writing in general; being willing to work for free (or little) isn’t going to help in the long run. Value yourself, people.

    While talking to the BH ads gals, I made loud Pay Per Post comment on how I didn’t get it blah blah blah blah blah.

    And then, I think it might have been one of the Jennys, was all “Uh, that’s their table two down. Might want to be a bit more quiet.”

  2. Mom101 says:

    Whoo Chris!

    I am shocked that the tee-shirt purveyors would be so short-sighted as to think that without some sort of quid pro quo, my shirt for your blog deal, that there is no value at blogHer for them. It boggles the mind.

  3. Katie says:

    This is a tricky mine field as I find myself slightly on the other side with wanting to advertise my business on blogs. Sure I’ve gotten some free exposure from satisfied customers but I find myself at a loss on how to properly approach bloggers (knitting ones, you mommy bloggers can all breathe a sigh of relief, hehe). I definitely do not want to be one of those spammy people sending out form letters to every email address I can find. But I do think blogs can be a great way to advertise if done well. Obviously other companies think so to or we wouldn’t be having this huge debate.

    I like the analogy of a personal blog being like a living room. It keeps the comments polite but we’ll have lots of fun, etc. Now would any of us really invite a strange Joe Smoe with his latest plastic do-dad to sit in our living room just for $5 or a free plastic do-dad? I don’t think so. That is why I’ve resisted any PPP or “review our movie and get it free!” type crap so far.

    However if anyone wants me to review a laptop, I can be bought…

  4. Meagan says:

    I wasn’t in the panel where PPP was being discussed, and I admit I’m pretty ignorant about how it works. Basically, you get paid to shill somebody’s product…is that correct? So in order to collect your $5, you have to place their product in a post on your blog?

    As somebody who writes for a living, I do draw a distinction between receiving product to review and getting money for writing that review. If a PR person sends me something, which they sometimes do without asking or even letting me know first, I am under no obligation to write about it (unless I’ve AGREED to post something about it in return, which I would never do) But if they’re paying me to write a “review”? Sounds like double-dipping to me. But I think the problem is that a lot of bloggers might not know they aren’t under any obligation, and the PR people seem pretty clueless themselves.

    I also saw in somebody’s conference notes that Associated Content was mentioned as a good way to make money off your blog. Was this really said, and by a panelist? I think Associated Content is another big steaming pile of poo for writers.

  5. sarcastic journalist says:

    Associated content: Where bad grammar can pretend it is journalism.

  6. Tim Leverett says:

    I am a small business owner (small as-in just myself) and I also struggle with how to approach bloggers. I fully understand the debate and feeling “icky” for play-for-review write ups. But as a blogger, wouldn’t you also willingly write about and mention something that you really like and thought was great?

    So we would just like a simple way to show you what we have and then let you make the decision whether you like it or not, and want to mention it or not. You can’t possibly locate everything that is out in the world and for us really small guys, getting people of influence to at least take a look at our products is huge for us.

    I spend a lot of time promoting my product line by myself. I’ve gotten great PR and news-related attention for it, and amazing customer testimonials. But admittedly I have yet to push the product on a blogger or blogging community because I understand how that could become annoying for them and that it probably won’t do me any good.

    But how, then, can I get the attention of the baby blogging community without being a PR pimp for my product? Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated.

  7. Tim Leverett says:

    oops, second sentence there should be “pay-for-review”.

  8. becky says:

    yes, meagan, it was said. i was live-blogging that panel and i so wanted to say something about all the bad things i’ve heard about associated content. but i just wrote it down instead, for the blogher world to see. sad.

  9. Jurgen Nation says:

    AMEN!!! Your writing is who you are. To sell it for $5 is like being a crackwhore prostitute. (Can I say that here?) Is money - 5 measly dollars - REALLY that important? Not to me. Amen, chica.

  10. Wendy says:

    My big question is can you be demanding if you are just starting out and maybe not as good as the other blogs?

    I have this mentally that everyone has to start somewhere, but I understand where everyone is coming from on this issue. I agree, just wondering where the not so popular blogs stand.

  11. Mir says:

    Re: Wendy: Can you command absolute top dollar as a lesser-known writer? No. Can you command a living wage? Yes, you can. My first writing jobs were taken when I was a not-so-popular blog. I turned down jobs that I felt didn’t pay fairly.

    Can you command a living wage from people who’ve paid you poorly and you’ve kept going back for more and talking about how grateful you are to them? Doubtful.

    See yourself as a professional. Conduct yourself as a professional. Charge accordingly. That’s not being demanding, that’s being professional.

  12. Amanda Regan says:

    I tend to pass through the ppp posts, I cannot believe a review or post written on a subject the writer is being paid to blog about. How can the post or review be accurate or truthfull when the blogger is being paid to be positive about it.

  13. Suzy in DC says:

    Maybe this is a dumb question but are bloggers that are paid based on how many hits you get on your site per day where the ad is located? Or how many hits the advertiser’s site gets based on their ad showing up on your page, or none of the above? Just curious!

  14. Eve says:

    I like this discussion and I really wished that other person on the panel had let you talk more! I came to see Chris! Anyway, I fully appreciated your comment about Payperpost and I can’t believe they still came after you. Kathryn had a conversation with them at the conference, they asked her why everyone was avoiding their table, she said. “Because no one likes you. You only pay $5 per post.” The sleezy guy at the table said “well sometimes if you get a lot of traffic you can make up to $14.”
    Enough said…BOYCOTT PAY PER POST!

  15. Chris says:

    Suzy,

    Blogher Ads pays based on the number of page views a site has per day. No clicking through required.

  16. Shannon @ Rocks in my Dryer says:

    Great links–thanks for sharing them. I’m so glad you spoke up on this during your panel.

  17. Suzy in DC says:

    Thanks for explaining! I don’t have a blog myself but have often wondered how that works on several blogs that I read.

    I have never commented on your site before, but I read your blog often, and it is always a fun read, so thanks! :)

  18. Susan Getgood says:

    PayPerPost suffers from two problems. First, as you have all discussed so eloquently, it devalues the work. Freelance rates are much higher, especially when you write for a company versus a magazine. When I was on the corporate side I paid a lot more to writers for white papers and other projects.

    Second, from the client perspective, it is nowhere near targeted enough. Nor can you be sure that you are getting good credible writers. You might, you might not. But at that rate, there is no way you are getting the time and consideration your products deserve. And could get if you were willing to put the time in to find out who might really be interested in them organically or just did some good targeted advertising.

    I have seen some people do a decent job of integrating it into their blogs without it seeming forced and stupid. But I suspect that these are the exceptions not the rule, so as a consultant, I do not recommend it to my clients.

    But, I don’t think it is going away, so the next step is to continue positioning it as the lesser alternative, so companies don’t compare it to the better alternatives that exist. Something I’ll be writing about on my marketing blog soon.

  19. Chris says:

    You go girl! Another great post.

  20. Nicole says:

    I cannot believe they asked you that. Maybe they didn’t ask me as I’m not a famous blogger, but it may be that I opted for only the kids shirts. From any sort of conference perspective, these are giveaways, which means you give them away and hope that the person will have nice thoughts about you, remember you, or by process of exposure get a little advertising. I know companies often reserve their expensive giveaways for existing big customers, but asking for good press in exchange for a shirt is a way to guarentee bad or no press.

  21. Tim Leverett says:

    Alright, I gotta pop back in here and clarify something: since making my initial post above here, I have received a few emails from bloggers (who obviously read this blog) offering to post a review of my product line on their blogs for money. While I do appreciate the offers, they have missed my point entirely.

    My point is that blogs are supposed to be more akin to journalism. Thus, comments made by bloggers on a specific product and/or reviews should be done from a journalistic perspective. It’s the same as having a newspaper or magazine review a product. So for me the concept of pay-per-review is ridiculous. A paid review carries no credibility at all - that is why you can’t (or aren’t supposed to be able to) pay a newspaper reporter to write about your product. You approach the reporter from a PR perspective and hope they’ll like it, review it, and review it favorably. The chance you take is that they don’t like it and they trash it.

    So my question was how do you approach a blogger as you would a newspaper reporter. A reporter I would contact, see if there is initial interest and then send the product for review. But I’ve heard bloggers complain abougt being approached by companies and product creators in this way.

    Naturally, a very small company like mine is goign to search out the best and most cost effective means of publicity/PR and blogs offer a great outlet. And if the product is truly something that people could use and or would like, what’s wrong with that? it does provide more content for you to write about and it also gets you free stuff! :-)

  22. Meagan Francis says:

    Tim, I’m a blogger who’s also a journalist, and you’ve asked a good question here. It’s one I’ve asked myself.

    The thing is, in the magazine world there is the equivalent of pay-per-post, right? It’s advertorial, where the writer is getting paid to write something that places the product in a positive light. But the line gets blurred in the blog world because there isn’t always the same level of disclosure. Right now there seems to be no across-the-board standard of ethics for bloggers–a blog is a medium that people use in many different ways.

    The problem I think is in assuming that others will share your opinion that blogs are supposed to be journalism. Or that many bloggers will even be familiar with the ins and outs of journalism ethics. If a PR person approaches me about a product–even if they heap me with free stuff–I understand fully that I’m under no obligation to write anything, much less something positive, about their product or service. But it doesn’t sound like bloggers are getting the same message from PR folk. Maybe the problem is that they just don’t know that they aren’t obligated to write a glowing puff piece, or maybe the problem is that PR people are taking a more heavy-handed and pushy approach with bloggers (as evidenced by Chris’s experience with the t-shirt idiot). I think it’s a blend of both. And the answer won’t be easy because there are still such wildly diverging opinions about what’s ethical and what’s not.

  23. Esme says:

    I’m a new blogger but a long-time journalist (nearly 20 years), and I have to say that I think Meagan makes a great point when she says that it’s a problem to assume that bloggers are supposed to be journalists who know when they’ve crossed an ethical line. And Tim makes a great point when he says that a paid review has no credibility, and that PR people should understand they’re taking a chance that their product will get trashed no matter who they approach to write about it.

    I blog about my personal life, so unless I love something that I use all the time you won’t catch me writing about it on my blog. But in terms of my professional life… I receive all kinds of stuff for review all the time, with the understanding that little, if any of it, will see print and even less of it is mine to keep (we have to return schwag if it has a value of more than $10 or so). I’m steaming over what the T-shirt guy asked you, Chris — what an idiot! — but I’m cheering for the way you stand your ground about PPR and how you passed over his T-shirts.

  24. Suebob says:

    UNION!

  25. Mom101 says:

    I heart Suebob and Mir.

    Suzy in DC - some ads are flat rates, like the ones through blogads. Ad networks like BlogHer pay per page view (not visitor). Google Adsense pays per click. Amazon pays by SALE! That’s a toughie.

    Tim - check out itsnotalecture.blogspot.com where David makes some excellent points about how pitching to bloggers is not the same as pitching to journalists. A blogger is not just a writer, she’s the publisher, and her audience are her friends and community; so there are different considerations.

    Also - I have your product and think it’s cool. email me - we’ll tawk. No money will change hands, promise.

  26. Danielle says:

    Jeez - all the flack us poor PR people get! I actually just put a supersize post-it note over my desk that says “Clients want to pay me what I’m worth.” As women, I think we’re all in this together - we’ve all gotta value ourselves and the work we do. Sometimes those form letters you get from PR people are obnoxious, but maybe once in awhile its not a form letter, its just a PR person tryin’ the best they can to make it.

  27. Christina says:

    Wow, those must be some top notch t-shirts, eh? No one denied me a t-shirt, thank goodness, or I would have had the same response, only I probably would have also posted who it was to shame them.

    PayPerPost is something I will never do. I love doing product reviews, but PPP feels so unethical to me. At least for a product review I receive the product to try out and give my honest opinion on. Correct me if I’m wrong, but PPP has bloggers post on products they’ve never actually had the chance to try on their own. (Or maybe I’m wrong, and if so, I should sign up to start trying out all those Vegas hotels and Florida timeshares!).

    If you’re plugging a product you’ve never actually tried, you’re being dishonest with your readers by recommending it. And $5 is an awfully low amount to sell your credibility for.

  28. petite mommy says:

    Like I said on mom101, I don’t feel devalued when other bloggers write for PPP or AC or whatever it is that helps them make money. We all have different reasons for doing what we do and we are not all at the same level. Some bloggers blog in hopes to get a book deal or a high paid writing gig. Then there are the other bloggers-the non writers or the newbies! Some of them need a way to justify their time or maybe they are a SAHM and need extra money so they take these opportunities whether it be for PPP or for a free product or whatever is out there for them. What about those moms?

    Furthermore, I don’t think we should be paid for product reviews. At first I thought maybe I should be getting paid and then I quickly thought how that would change my writing and my voice towards a product. Will I be unnaturally positive on ALL my reviews in fear that if I say something negative that I wont get another gig? Would it change your voice? Sure,it would. Alot of PPP opps require you either be positive or neutral. I know because I signed up with them in the beginning and took one opp on a lesser known site of mine.

    Basically what these people(the companies advertising on PPP and other sites like PPP) are getting(in addition to positive things about their site or product) are permanent SEO friendly inbound links to their sites for a very low cost. These SEO friendly links mean a lot in search engines and that is what bothers me.

    However, even if PPP doesn’t end up being right for me I still feel like I cannot say it is not good for another person simply because I am not living their life and only they know what they need and what is right for them. I wish there were better monetizing opportunities out there for moms and women in general. For me that has been amazon, adsense, affiliatefuel, kontera, and selling ad space personally.

  29. angeleyes Blue says:

    I believe that sometimes people can’t see the forest through the trees. That one little mistake. That one little comment has reached HOW MANY BLOGGERS?! How much did that cost that individual and his company? oops! No I am wrong it is a big OOPS! Sometimes you need to look for the Good and Praise it even if you have to MAKE IT UP!

  30. elasticwaistbandlady says:

    Pedo means ‘to fart’ in Spanish. I always tease the kids that we should strap on some PEDOmeters just to gauge how much we really do cut the cheese.

  31. A Gracious Home » No, this is not a sponsored post: Thoughts on women blogging and making money while blogging says:

    [...] disdain was expressed for the system that is PayPerPost” and she gives a link to someone else who wrote about PPP. I read the other post as well as all the comments and I wanted to make a few [...]

  32. kelli in the mirror says:

    I had no idea that PPP had controversy surrounding it, but then I’m not a blog with a large following. Since I make zero dollars from my blog right now, sometimes getting $5 for it sounds like an improvement. I wouldn’t write about something that I didn’t like, but if I do sincerely like a product and somebody wants to pay me for saying so, I’m okay with that.

    I also didn’t know any of the PR stuff that’s been discussed. Every once in awhile now I’m starting to get things sent to me to review, and I felt obligated to review them, because gosh, they sent me this free thing and I should say something nice about it. It’s good to know that there’s no obligation to review something favorably just because you get it in the mail.

  33. Revka says:

    I have signed up for PPP but have never actually written anything for them. I have, however, written posts for blogsvertise.com and payu2blog.com. Each company has different requirements, and some are easier to work with than others.

    I love working with payu2blog.com precisely because they don’t require any kind of review of the product. All they require is that you use a specific keyword(s) as a link to a target URL in a post that is a minimum of 60 words. I’ve written poems, talked about everyday life, posted memes, and written fictional short stories - and received payment for it. $5 is not much, but it does add up and does help increase our limited income. (Yes, I am a SAHM.) I tag each sponsored post “paid blogging” so that my readers know I have received payment for that post.

    So, while I understand that this is a controversial topic, I must say that there are bloggers who do benefit from this business while yet remaining true to themselves and to their readers.

  34. Ruth Dynamite says:

    I’m with Suebob.