Why I stopped pitching bloggers

When I made the switch from TV to PR, I learned a lot about the blogging world. One thing: Some bloggers don’t like to be called bloggers. They prefer “businesswomen.” (Yes, I insulted a blogger by calling her a blogger once.) I also learned money could be made in this field. A lot of money. (It’s also why I stepped up my blogging game.) Every time I would send something out for a client, the response would be, “Yes, I can post this, but it’ll cost you $200,” or, “My media kit is attached,” or, “Do you work for free, because I don’t.” That was when I realized if I wanted my client to make it on a blog, I had to pay for it. Well, this is not public relations. This is advertising. Public relations is earned media, like me getting a client on the Today Show or Rachael Ray Show for free. Advertising is paid media. It’s obvious in a magazine or in a commercial, but in a blog it’s a sponsored post where the blogger basically pretends to love your product, business, or brand because you are paying her to. This = gray area for both publicists and bloggers.

PR-working-with-bloggers

With that said, I think there are many bloggers who have tons of influence who should be paid. Is a blog that gets 7,000 UVM with a mediocre social media following worth paying $200 for a post? Probably not, but it depends on who the blogs audience is and what audience the client wants. While some blogs are worthy of payment, most are not. I think this is also where a lot of bad bloggers are making good bloggers look bad. Some charge just to charge because they want to make money. Or their following is fake and paid for. Well, you have to give me a reason to pay you. If 100 bloggers are asking to be paid, why should we pay YOU? Today, everyone has a blog and most would not offer any ROI by paying for a post.

brand-exposure

Every blogger is different. Some are journalists. Some are brand ambassadors. Some do it for fun. So I shouldn’t title this “Why I stopped pitching bloggers” because some would be perfect pitches, but in my experience, most want to get paid and most clients don’t set aside an extra budget for advertising. THAT IS WHY I STOPPED PITCHING BLOGGERS. WITHOUT A BUDGET, I CAN’T PAY THEM! Fellow bloggers, would you rather me pitch you, then tell you I don’t have a budget to pay you? Probably not.

I did have a budget for bloggers once. One client wanted to be in the “mommy blogs.” Well, I pitched them and got HUNDREDS of media kits. This one charges this much, or you can be in this baby guide for this much, this includes this many social media shares, and on and on. After sorting through them all and then handing the findings over to the client, they picked ONE. Obviously, you can’t pay everyone who asks. They picked who they thought would give them their best ROI. All the other bloggers weren’t too happy with me, but what can a girl do?!

PR-paying-for-blog-posts

So bloggers, if you are going to be on a database like Cision or Meltwater, do not get upset when a publicists pitches you. While some may have a separate budget for advertising, after paying a monthly PR retainer of thousands, most do not. If you don’t like it, you should probably get off a database used by publicists. Keep in mind, if a publicists sends you something you like or in your niche, it could not only serve you as an idea for your next blog, but if you decide to use that pitch, not only is the PR company sharing that post, but so is the client which = more views for you. (And let’s be honest, your entire blog should not be one big advertisement either.)

Publicists, if a clients goal is to make it on blogs, explain to them eight times out of 10, it is not earned. It is paid. Some do it for free. (I have. If it’s for a good cause or fits my niche, why not?!) When I do pitch bloggers, which isn’t often (hence what is written above), I make it very clear I am pitching for editorial purposes only and do not have a budget for advertising or sponsored posts (unless I do.)

Finally, I’m ending with what a fellow PR professional posted in a PR group I’m in… which basically sums up this entire post: “Please don’t be offended and confuse PR for marketing. PR professionals get paid to garner editoral (not advertorial) placements. Blogging is an amazing way to build a business and I totally respect that some bloggers are trying to make a living, but those should be talking to marketing/ad sales if they want to be paid. If I don’t have to pay a Today show producer to consider covering something why would I pay a blogger? That being said, if the client gives me a budget to do marketing/paid sponsored posts, etc, you can bet I’m happy to pay for influential placement.”

About Christina

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I'm a blogger, media specialist, and most importantly... mother of two! I operate my own business, Media Maven, specializing in media relations, video production, writing, blogging, and event & on-air hosting.

26 Comments

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  1. That’s so weird “insulted a blogger by calling her a blogger” – I have realized that to some people you can never say anything right. They’re going to hear everything wrong. That’s just how they roll. You certainly have a real straightforward way of shooting things. Good for you! — Reposting from FB. Its a lazy Sunday and my brain’s fried from css coding my website. Anyhow, just want to make sure to make as many check marks I can. Eager to read your next post.

    Vi Dotter / Reply
  2. I love this post because I agree with it. Truly is a gray area. I don’t get paid for posts, but I respect that many bloggers do it for $$. There’s nothing wrong with monetizing… although it’s obvious to me when a post is just written for $$ and not true passion or interest. But hey, that blogger is taking that check to the bank while I’m sitting there reading the content, LOL!

    Angela Cruz Ledford / Reply
  3. This is a really interesting look at this topic from the “other side”. Very informative. Thank you!

    Melanie / Reply
  4. For most bloggers, their only income in sponsored posts. And although I don’t agree that every post should be paid, there are bloggers who ONLY agree to post if they are being paid.

    When I worked for a B2B digital publishing company, we received so many pitches in one day. Of course, we didn’t get paid to post the information we received (unless it was part of a client’s package).

  5. Definitivamente Grey. BB does many a sponsored post, and yes I like to think my blog is worth it, but then again there are many topics that are dear to me and that makes THEM worth it, so no monies are involved. What I CAN guarantee you is that anything written on my blog is from the heart and hopefully can help,enlighten and/or entertain the reader. Go ahead people, send things to Babushka; the worse that’ll happen is a silent delete. BB2U

    Bohemian Babushka / Reply
    • Haha – a silent delete. We’ve all been there and done that 😉

    • Christina, bravo. I’m going to add you on Facebook. If I saw a friend attempt to buy a hamburger for $300, I’d yell “Stop! Are you out of your ever loving mind? No burger is worth that. Media buyers need to know markets.” … Babushka, bravo to you too. what you said should reflect the heart of every influencer. It boils down to integrity. There are bloggers who are so black and white and transactional that I’ll go as far to say many simply don’t belong on the internet because they’re providing little to no value. I want to see brands and agencies (especially the latter) avoid “mercenary” bloggers who view everything very transactionally, meaning these types of bloggers are very literal with quid pro quo. These types of bloggers expand the meaning of quid pro quo to mean “preordained wink wink ‘opinion’ as long as the item is free”. (And that is a dirty and cringe-worthy dance. It tarnishes one of the current definitions of “influencer”, at least in the way we toss around that word nowadays.) Quid pro quo with legit influencers isn’t rigid. With mercenaries, yes, expect rigidity, because they corrupt the concept of influencer marketing — they see things in black and white and they don’t have the heart of Babushka. But they should. That heart, is the heart of a legit influencer. Here’s a not so great example, but it comes to mind: I have a relationship with Lenovo. I’ve gotten some stuff for free –but not every item. And I’m FINE with that. Really, I am. …A mercenary would regard me as nuts and would spank me if they could for 1. not getting every Lenovo item for free and 2. for not getting paid for every time I say I like Lenovo products. These types of rigid mercenary bloggers are NOT living in the real world. Period.

  6. because my blog is so new I was wondering about this. Great hearing your perspective.

    Live from the playroom / Reply
  7. Interesting topic…I think as with any profession, you have to earn it. I can’t even name the amount of gigs I have done for free through the years to help build my brand and solidify my professional resume. I think this applies to bloggers as well. If you have a proven track record in what you do, then you should be compensated accordingly. I don’t know what the litmus test for determining a “proven track record” in the world of blogging, but I would somehow gauge that based on interactions, followers, etc.

    Lisa Lee Arneaud / Reply
  8. Great post… 100% accurate and confirms a lot about how I should personally approach bloggers.

    SHAWNTYRELL / Reply
  9. I can’t stand reading blogs that have been bought because i can TELL and it bugs me… i do it simply because i like writing and i put my heart into all my topics. however, my husband the businessman, thinks i’m crazy and should spend my time actually making money – rather than writing for FREE all the time!

    nicole / Reply
  10. Great post! The “businesswoman” thing is funny because if you have a blog and write on it you ARE in fact a blogger! Anyhoo..totally gray area because obviously more popular blogs or more influential folks do have a better reach which increases the chance for ROI. I blog because I want to share…I wouldn’t rule out being “paid,” but I don’t demand it..and I’m probably not at the point where that’s appropriate either!

    LOVE THIS, can I quote you!?!? >> “And let’s be honest, your entire blog should not be one big advertisement either.”

    Aubrey @ 53 Weeks / Reply
  11. I’m in the same boat as you being a PR professional and blogger. I completely agree about earned and paid media. I don’t understand bloggers who only blog to get paid… and bloggers who only started blogging to make money. Sure there is money to be made but I – and most journalists I know – decided to blog for our passion to tell stories and share with others.

    Aileen @NewsyParents / Reply
  12. I don’t know, I get where you are coming from with this post but I’m just tired of this debate. To me it’s like asking if you should pay your mechanic or if you should pay for your meal at a restaurant. Whether the car is fixed properly or if the food is good, you still pay for it. Why? Because it’s a business and if you utilized their product or service, then you must pay for that product or service.

    Blogging is hard work and it’s the same amount of work no matter how many hits your blog gets or how many social media followers you have. And I for one, am really tired of brand reps and publicists, making excuses on why they can’t pay bloggers. If the blogger is good enough for you to send them a press release, then they’re good enough for you to pay for them to write about/feature you. If you want someone to do work for you, then you have to pay for that. There are no freebies in this world we live in.

    As far as the difference between earned & paid media, that makes sense but publicists have to understand earned media is just that…earned. Meaning it’s going to take more than sending a pitch or press release to earn press hits. You have to be worth talking about. Also, in the case of bloggers, when a blogger truly wants to write about a company, product, or service, they will do so. Bloggers don’t need to be pitched like major media outlets because most blogs are so small and only have one person doing all the writing, marketing, etc. Therefore, sending them a press release is just going to prompt them to ask for sponsorship. Bloggers view that as an opportunity to make money because in their mind if the brand can pay for PR, they can pay for sponsored posts. Unlike major media outlets, bloggers don’t have an entire team pitching them to advertisers so whenever any opportunity comes along to make money, most will jump at the chance. Remember it is money that keeps a blog going not content.

    So many PRs think that sending a press release or free sample is enough to entice a blogger without taking into account the financial commitment that a blogger has to make to even keep their site running. Between hosting, domain name, events, camera, laptop, internet, etc. a blogger can spend a few thousand a year just maintaining their site & creating content. So I’m sorry but bloggers should be paid if being pitched by a brand. It’s so sad to me because this is the only industry that requires work, knowledge, and startup capital and yet I come across posts like this where folks debate if bloggers should even receive compensation. #cray

    LoudPen / Reply
    • And that’s exactly why I stopped pitching bloggers. For most clients, paying for something extra after earned media isn’t in their budget, so I spend time focusing on other media, not advertising. Note: This is not a diss to bloggers who get paid. I am one.

      • Blogging is a business. Plain and simple. If you want a service provided, then pay for it.

        I don’t understand wanting to receive the benefit of their exposure and expecting that it should be free? Does your utility company accept exposure as payment? Or how about the gas station? I didn’t think so.

        Perhaps the real issue is PR doing the work that an advertising agency does. Posts like this are often from PR folks who lack the ability to build strong relationships with bloggers that would EARN them exposure. There are PR folks that I would do things for free but they respect my work enough never to ask. Why? I’m running a business not a hobby. And if you approach me then understand you’re seeking a service from me, not the other way around.

    • I’m not trying to debate whether or not bloggers should get paid. I think many of them should get paid. I am one that gets paid. I’m saying when someone pays me to get them earned media and does not have a separate budget for advertising, I do not pitch bloggers. I don’t have the budget for it. Many are advertisers and not journalists who work on the side of earned media, so I focus my pitching elsewhere.

  13. I just want to say that as a blogger, I have a pretty open mind about accepting sponsored projects. My favorite sponsored blog was one I wrote which gave me a free subscription to a music service that helps my son focus on his homework. I wrote how he and I honestly felt about their service and they liked it. I realize that not every company has money to throw at bloggers, but if they’re willing to send me something really super cool or do something really nice, I might go for it.

    Tara Glenn / Reply

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