Pitching bloggers: There are no shortcuts. (And psst…bloggers? No shortcuts for us either.)

no shortcutsAs I said in my keynote at Type A Parent last year, if you’re going to succeed as a busy, multitasking, parent-slash-blogger, you need to focus your energies. We simply cannot do it all.

I outlined 10 key points to keep us focused, and one of my favorites:

Be annoyed less.

It takes time and energy to be furious at every “Dear Mommyblogger” salutation. At every “Dear Gloria” salutation. (Huh?) At “Please fill out this 16 page form so we can determine whether you’re qualified to receive a free $.99 cent app download for beta testing.” I’ve learned to use the delete button liberally, or when needed, filter all emails from that domain directly into trash. (Thank you Gmail!)

That spam button also comes in pretty handy.

After all, time spent being annoyed is time that could be better spent creating, connecting, supporting…you know. Blogging.

(Blogging? Remember blogging? That thing a lot of us did before Twitter came along?)

Even so, I’m going to break my rule and get annoyed here for a moment. (What? I’m human!) 

It still takes time to hit that delete button–sometimes 100, 150, 200 times a day. And it shows no sign of letting up. In fact, I think it’s increasingly exacerbated by all these inaccurate lists floating around, that conflate all moms who blog into one big happy lump of bloggers.

And sure, we may all like each other, but we don’t blog about the same things. As I’ve said for years, mom bloggers are the only kind of bloggers who are defined by who we are, not by the topics we cover. But for some reason, lots of people still don’t understand that.

So I can see why, when I speak on panels about blogger-marketing relationships, the number one question I get from PR people is “is there a list of the right people to reach out to?”

Well, yes and no.

As in, yes there are lists.

And no, so far, they are not right.

Which explains why recently, I have gotten pitches at Mom101 about new hip hop video releases, Walmart discount codes, and an offer to be among the first to join a Christian social networking site.

“Well, the first Atheist Jew to join,” I joked back. She had a good sense of humor about it.

Where’s it all coming from?

The lists. The no-good, horrible, very bad lists.

Recently, I got wind of a blogger list for sale, featuring “the most comprehensive, accurate list of mommy bloggers!” with “100% verified and accurate listings!” for the low low price of $199.

I wrote back to them about it, but did not get a response. So I figure that it’s fair to share with you some of that 100% verified and accurate information included:

*Girls Gone Child is a shopping blog

*Mighty Girl is a mommy blog

*Postpartum Progress and The Pioneer Woman are equally about “family matters”

*Cool Mom Picks is a “lifestyle mommyblog” similar to Dooce and Amalah.

*Blogher is a “major media mommyblog” however Babycenter is not–that’s a “parenting mommy blog,” unlike Dooce and Amalah which are…wait. I’m confused.

The best part of that press release?

It promises that “no other is more complete, accurate, and effective

Oh wait, there’s one more best part: It also predicted  it will be a PR company’s “most profitable media relations investment of the year.”

Now profitability forecasts are definitely not my forte, and I have no MBA, but what is the return on a 200 buck investment that leads your people on a wild goose chase pitching cleaning product reviews to Dooce, and trips to the paper towel factory to Postpartum Progress and Parent Hacks?

There are simply no shortcuts, PR.

Hire a great PR agency that understands the space. Work with discriminating networks like FM and Glam and Blogher and Clever Girls whose jobs are to know the blogs they represent. Hire an individual blogger yourself who can “verify” your list in about 4.6 seconds and tell you uh excuse me, but with all due respect,  you have the wrong people here and will end up pissing them off.

If you don’t have a list or a consultant or a good PR firm to help, there is a simple three-step process to knowing who you’re pitching:

1) Read the blogs.

2) Read the blogs.

3) Read the blogs.

Now here’s an interesting perspective: Maybe this whole issue is not just about annoying bloggers.

Maybe it’s about hurting the community.

Stephanie Schwab, one of my favorites of the very smart PR pros who understand the parenting space, wrote an excellent article called the Decline of Blogs and how PR can help avoid it. She wrote:

Every time I go to a blogger conference I meet new bloggers, and of course I always ask them what they blog about. Every time, at least a handful of newish bloggers say, “oh, you know, I write about products and do giveaways and stuff.” And I cringe.

Her argument (as I read it) is that for every spray-and-pray approach, marketers are actually creating more directionless bloggers–those who will just write about anything topic for any compensation, and fail to have a “very clear point-of-view and target audience.” The implicit concern beyond that, is that the more the outreach to bloggers who don’t actually help marketers reach any goals, the sooner marketers are going to cut and run from the blog space as a whole.

We need to inspire bloggers to create more amazing content–not more lame pay-for-play reviews.

Just me? (And Stephanie?)

Now of course I believe that any blogger is entitled to blog about any product for any reason. But still, I have expressed this same concern about marketers myself.

If we ask to develop marketer relationships, we’d sure as hell better be able to tell them what they’ll get in exchange for their investment. (And trust me,  the right answer is not “free advertising” or “a link.”) What’s that line about once burnt…?

Not surprisingly, Stephanie’s post was met with various degrees of fury and outrage by a few commenters, who I think may have missed her key point: Not that review blogs are bad, but that the successful ones have focus.

And blogs with focus will continue to raise us all up.

I would add to that–any good blog, whether about tech, literature, or politics, or homeschooling, has focus. It’s why any one of Rebecca Woolf’s readers could tell you in a nanosecond that it’s not a shopping blog. Or that Parenthacks should probably not be getting the same pitches as Scary Mommy.

So maybe some of this is our fault–if we don’t know what we stand for, how can PR?

But in the meanwhile, maybe PR people should stop professing to know, if they don’t.


85 thoughts on “Pitching bloggers: There are no shortcuts. (And psst…bloggers? No shortcuts for us either.)”

  1. This is great advice! Thank you! I just started blogging three months ago and although I eventually would like to make some dough, I keep telling myself to just focus on keep thinking about why I started this in the first place! You have to have a passion for what you create…

  2. I am amazed at some of the crap PR pitches I get. I also find it humorous when the PR folks get offended when I respond to said pitch about how it’s clear they don’t read my blog.

    I have been blogging for 6 years now and I don’t do it for $$ or PR. I do it to chronicle my life and thoughts. I’m not sure where that fits. But I know where I fit isn’t in one box.

  3. Since you mentioned a lot of different blogs on this post, it got me thinking, I haven’t run across an awesome “only child” blog. Can you recommend one? All the blogs about fighting siblings make me think I’ve got it made but I am sane enough to know that I’ll just have a whole ‘nother bag of issues to deal with. Keep up the good work on this blog and Cool Mom Pics – just got the MUNY airplane shirt and MUNY’s adorable perfect sized owl on skateboard quilt – thanks for the focused and useful product recommendations (:

      1. thanks – congrats on the convertible – your little redhead is precious

  4. Thank you. I’ve been a loyal reader to 2 blogs, which happen to be my friends and just recently started blogging, and tweeting. I have noticed so much PR, and reviews. I would link to a blog thinking I would learn something, and its basically just a commercial listing for different products. Little disappointed, not feeling like I have a place. Thank you for reminding me to stay focused on what I like, and the rest will weed itself out.

  5. I completely agree. I haven’t been blogging long, but I have seen new bloggers begin with a purpose, only to get lost amongst the giveaways and reviews in order to gain a larger audience. But the question that I would like to pose is that if their audience is there as a result of the giveaways and reviews and not for their content, then what is the purpose of attracting these readers? I can understand wanting more of an audience, any blogger can, but don’t we want an audience that is compatible with what our blog is all about and who enjoys our content instead of an audience associated with just numbers to make our profile look better?

    1. Here’s an interesting story:

      Before there were review blogs, Cool Mom Picks used to do a giveaway almost daily. At our expense. Just for fun, as a way to give away the product samples and make our readers happy.

      As the giveaway blog started to crop up, we did them less and less. You know what? Our traffic never went down. It went up.

      1. I think that may be because Cool Mom Picks has a more authentic voice. When I read it, I think that the products you feature are things that you really, really think are groovy. Many of the giveaway blogs are pretty transparently just throwing up anything that a company sent them. And that doesn’t make for very interesting reading or a point of view that I trust.

        1. Thanks Jadzia. I think authentic voice comes from having a clear point of view. Our point of view is “here’s what we think is cool,” especially around small and independent brands, and we are more committed to curation than to “review.” A lot of the thing we write about are things we just stumbled on or bought ourselves. And really, there’s never been something I wrote about that I wasn’t honestly excited to share. It’s the only way to keep going after 6 years!

          I hope the review blogs can find their perspectives too. It will really help them in the long run. “Here’s what I got for free this week” doesn’t make for a good read, you’re right.

  6. well done as usual.

    it’s funny – the more we do this the more I think the best possible “list” for brand outreach has one person on it. Just one perfect fit, you know? I realize it doesn’t actually work that way, but still…

    the eruptions of lists upsets me on another level, and I think it’s related to what you’re talking about. All these lists suggest the mom-o-sphere itself has become commoditized along with the work we do. One blog is as good as the next, so the only real difference is cost so we do it quicker and cheaper.

    it’s ironic how during our pitches and strategy sessions we always talk about how we want the customer to have this emotional and powerful experience with a brand, but these lists strip all of the humanity out of our approach.

    and it doesn’t have to be this way. Museums have curators. we talk about “curation” all the time in social media too. we can truly build value in the lists we develop. I just put a “list” of a different kind together on Pinterest on female role models. We can try to elevate the mom-o-sphere and celebrate its leaders. We can try to give brands an opportunity to know people and understand what they do in the proper context. “Lists” can be one way to do this.

  7. It is really annoying. Really, really annoying. The press releases, product review/giveaway requests (I don’t do them), guest post requests, and so on are clogging my inbox so badly that I’m sure I miss real e-mails.

    This morning someone on twitter asked “Did you get my e-mail?”. I had to reply with, “I’m not sure. What was it about?” because it could be one of 50 e-mails I hit “spam” on or it could be a good e-mail I just didn’t have time to give my attention to because I was too busy hitting “spam” on the others.

    1. I can understand that PR folks don’t have the time to read blogs. There are a lot of them.

      A lot.

      I think it depends on what they’re looking for. A mass email using a bad list is not going to create a strong relationship with a blogger.

      The issue is that a lot of the companies don’t care — they get a list, they essentially spam it, and then a bunch of bloggers write back asking for the free nosehair trimmers, they write about it and get some SEO/Google Juice, give a few away and YAY! THE LIST WORKED!

      Bloggers get excited for free nosehair trimmers, PR people get excited for Google juice and page views and whatever they *think* they’re getting from that fishing expedition and the crap continues.

      So it’s two fold:

      1. Bloggers need to stop accepting crap. Stop shilling. Stop. JUST STOP.
      2. PR folks need to realize the value to quality over quantity. And that quality can produce quantity.

      Do I think either of those things will happen anytime soon? Nope. Nada.

      But here’s hoping. I have my fingers crossed. Or rather, hovering over the delete button.

      1. I wonder if the nosehair trimmer PR people realize that per Google best practices, you’re supposed to add “no follow” attributes to the sponsor’s name in sponsored posts…or the blog can be downgraded in page rank.

        But hey, a nosehair trimmer really is a good incentive. Some of us have seriously nose hair issues, ya know!

  8. PR Friendly blogs are KILLING the industry.

    What used to be a medium for stories and support is now all about chasing the next endorsement.


    As soon as I see “PR Friendly” on a blog, I’m gone. If you need to disclose what you’re doing, you’re probably doing it wrong. Decades ago payola killed the music industry, how long until it’s revealed that the blogosphere runs on it too?


  9. Perfect timing. Thanks for this. Lately I’ve been getting a few PR pitches sent my way. This is new to me. A few have been a perfect fit and I’ve responded, expressing an interest. What I don’t get (PR newbie alert) is when a company pitches ME and I respond, “Yes! I’d like to know more about that and/or write about/review your product” and said company never replies. What the hell is that?

  10. Here’s what I know: this is a conundrum that’ll never be solved. You know why, if I may be dystopian for a moment? This symbiotic blog/PR/marketing ecosystem of ours is never static — I picture it sometimes like a factory, with an infinite supply of newly minted bloggers rolling off the assembly line into the ravenous marketplace where an equal number of newly-minted (or perhaps just untrained) PR people await them with spammy mailing lists and irrelevant pitches. This is why those of us who’ve been around a long time must stay patient, on both sides of the PR/blogger fence: it’s up to us to preach the gospel of good brand-blogger relations (with people like Liz and Stephanie Schwab at the pulpit) — over and over and over and over again. This is why I say “yes” pretty much every time I’m asked to sit on a panel regarding said topic at a blogging conference, doesn’t matter that I’ve done it umpteen times before. The conversation deserves to be had, by those who know what they’re talking about.

    1. Amen Stephanie. As do I.

      But sometimes this crap comes from people who have also been around a long time, and should know better. It’s frustrating.

      1. Love it.
        Also Liz, I haven’t seen this come up in the comments I’ve read so far, but your bit about PR folks getting burned by bloggers who promise the moon and never even post? That is a conversation our community needs to be having.

  11. I’ll admit, when I was at home with the kids full time (I went back to full time work outside of the house a year and a half ago) I was tempted by the whole giveaway and/or review blog notion. I wanted so desperately to find an income source that would allow me to continue to stay at home with the kids. And some bloggers make it look like easy money. Only I found the more of those kind of blogs that I read, the more irritated I got. I wanted real content, not just day after day of sales pitch. I did a few reviews in return for merchandise and then hated myself for doing it. It didn’t feel like the real me. I felt like a sellout and it was a bummer to know the only reason anyone was even dropping by my blog was because there was something in it for them. And it rarely resulted in people coming back to read when I posted actual content.

    As someone who wants to be a “real writer”, I want readers…people who want to engage with me and vice versa. OK, sure, if my blogging somehow translated into a great book deal or sweet marketing partnership I could legitimately buy into that wouldn’t make me feel like a used care salesman, I’d be thrilled. But I’m spending my energy on my content and making connections with people who I think will be long term readers rather than the other “stuff”. Hopefully that comes along organically.

    1. Thanks Alyssa. I think there’s nothing wrong with coupon and review blogs by the way. They serve a purpose for a certain audience, and probably a certain marketer. But again…there are no shortcuts. And I think most of those bloggers, unfortunately, kill their longterm chances for success. The blogs that say no more than they say yes are the ones that come ahead.

      It sounds like you’re doing what’s right for you now. Isn’t that the best feeling in the world?

  12. Previously working at an ageny, I used to get asked to create lists or to hand over lists for various companies and products. Instead, I asked what the company/product/pitch was and made a recommendation from there because the same list doesn’t work in every situation.

  13. I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation, but this year is really, really bad with blanket, irrelevant pitches.

    I saw the list you’re referring to and it’s horrible! If they are going to sell a mom blog list they should at least be accurate. Do a little digging. Read the blogs!

    I think we should all bang the drum about bloggers, especially new bloggers, having a theme and sticking to it. It will make things a lot easier – perhaps!

    1. I’ve always said, if you love cereal, you go and make the best damn cereal blog ever. Do all cereal reviews, giveaways, analysis…post to your favorite cereal cameos in Seinfeld episodes…

      In advertising there’s a saying: “Positioning is the art of sacrifice.”

  14. Hi Liz – Thanks (again) for another post for me to share with my colleagues – even though I think I work with some of the more professional, more aware folks, there are always the newbies as well as the teams trying to accommodate the occasionally clueless client request. Even though I think I’ve effectively banned “Brand Ambassadors” from my own accounts, I still struggle with the compensation issue (convincing clients/teams when it should be a factor) Success comes when you can match passion to passion. That’s my mantra and I’m sticking to it.

  15. I may be the only person in the world who doesn’t care how many review/giveaway blogs there are out there because it makes the insightful ones seem so much more valuable. Sort of like finding Dexter smashed amidst a reality television line-up.

    1. Great point Rita! But I think if the review/giveaway bloggers focused more and thought through their strategy, maybe they could stand out and become more valuable. PR folks need those kinds of blogs. I think they’re just having trouble–as Stephanie’s post pointed out–tracking down the right ones.

  16. This post just cleared up why I’ve been suddenly getting an onslaught of humor pitches. I must be on a humor blogger list somewhere.

    I responded to one of them like this, “I’m not that funny but if you know anyone I’m looking for a rich a husband. Hopefully one with a humor blog.”

    I’ll see myself out.

  17. There is much to love about what you say here, but I especially appreciate that you pointed out the double-sided nature of the relationship. Yes, there are too many blogs for any PR pro to read every day. And, there are too many pitches for any blogger to read every day. But everyone on both sides CAN embrace civility, tolerance, professionalism, and a willingness to listen and learn.

    If you’re in the business of blogging, your passion and purpose are the most precious sources of energy you’ve got. You can either renew them, or you can use them all up.

  18. I’m not new to blogging, but I am new to the possibility of it being a business. I appreciate the insight/opinion of this post. Confession: I learned more reading this than I did at Dad 2.0 (and THAT was an eye-opening introduction to this world).

    My favorite part of your post: “We need to inspire bloggers to create more amazing content–not more lame pay-for-play reviews.”

    1. Thanks Drew. How nice (and welcome!).

      Weren’t there panels at Dad 2.0 though on creating great content? I think I missed one because it was during Kristen’s kids + tech panel. There are some fine, fine dad bloggers out there!

  19. Yes, there are lists, and they are terrible (I know; I’m on many of them myself. Nothing like being pitched a deer-repellant for review when you live in NYC. And don’t do reviews). Every time we create a program for our clients, the outreach is customized. Yet, it’s impossible for every PR person at every company to read every blog, try as (the good ones) might; the fact is that sometimes the wrong pitch may go to the wrong blogger. PR people and the brands they rep are not always perfect. That said, neither are bloggers. Both these facts are old news, except to the newbies on both sides. Let’s keep educating the new folks (hey, Liz, let’s do more panels together!) and as for the more experienced folks — let’s all move on.
    Here’s what’s happening now: Both brands and the more experienced bloggers are getting smarter. Brands are less interested in visibility alone, and more interested in how your blog is going to drive results, whether that means sales or another specific objective. Bloggers, meanwhile, are more interested now in how they can profit from a relationship with a brand. It continues to be a learning process on both sides, although at a different level than in the past.

    1. Great points Stephanie! And yes, another panel–any time. I kind of liked our 3-Stephanie panel last year!

  20. a few weeks ago I got an email from someone basically telling me to write a review and endorsement for her…I could not help but to investigate a bit with her and we went back and forth for a while as to where she got the understanding that she basically could just message a blogger and say – ‘write about me.’
    apparently, another blogger told her to do that?!?!

    we really need a blogger code of conduct?

    lately, I am on hiatus from reviews – I just feel like my lack of sincerity shines through and I hate that. I am trying to refocus on who, what, where and what I will review…this post confirms my choice to do that.

    and so I keep hitting delete —

    1. If you feel insincere when you write something, imagine how it feels to your readers. Good move, Rachel.

      1. I would add one little thing – in addition to establishing what type of blog one writes, it is also impt to establish the style in which you review or endorse a product….

        for ex: for me, since I write for moms in the entrepreneurial world – I find that it is much more sincere to interview a successful mom-preneur about their product or business rather than a straight review. my typical readers always have so many questions, so the interview answers many of those PLUS allows for a mention of a fab mom-inspired product.

  21. Fantastic post for pr and bloggers alike.

    Content is king (er..queen if you’re a Mom blogger). And take the time to create a mission statement about what your blog is about. It helps you stay on topic and helps pr companies pitch.

    It also helps to give yourself persmission to delete those off-mark pitches – no missed opportunities just missed pitches.

    1. Great point! I always tell people, take a Post-It note and write down in one sentence “I blog because…” then stick it to your laptop. It helps a lot.

  22. >>1) Read the blogs. 2) Read the blogs. 3) Read the blogs.<<< Pretty much about 85 percent of the work could be done just by those words of wisdom.

  23. Fascinating read. I am PR by day, and a “mommy blogger” by night and I have to side with the bloggers on this one. I have seen way too many PR pitches, lists, and emails that are simply shameful to the profession and they need to be called out for it. There ARE PR pros who are smart, do their research and (gasp!) do not simply blast out pitches to pre-purchased lists of 100s of contacts. I know, because I am one of them. And have been lucky enough to make a great career out of it for 10 years…and still find time to mommy and blog 😉

    1. There are TONS of great PR people who get it. I’ve linked to them in posts before but I won’t do it again because they’ll start to think I’m ass-kissing. Heh. But they know who they are.

  24. well said!

    it sucks when you ARE a PR person who researches and finds a blogger who is a perfect fit, but your highly-tailored email gets lost under all those stupid spammy emails in their inbox. not only are these idiots not going to get a response, they’re making it harder for the rest of us.

    then again, once in a while i do have to send out a zillion copy-&-paste emails just to appease a client and i cringe before i even send it. i wish gmail had a way to notify the recipient that your email is a spray-and-pray — or that it’s an actual, intelligent note from a real human.

    1. I think it actually has that as a labs feature…it can detect if it’s personal or not and mark it with a > or a >>. But it wasn’t working that well so I eliminated it.

      I think here’s where relationships come in. If I see an email from a PR person who’s generally got good, appropriate stories for me, I will always click it. If the subject line is personal I will click it. But you’re right–sometimes I just go down clicking and deleting and probably something good gets lost in the fray. It’s the risk I take for trying to get my time back.

  25. I keep thinking that if I were the client how annoyed I would be that the very people I hired were “spraying and praying” (Susan Getgood taught me that term, so I like to drop it casually now.)

    I’d want some research, some analysis. I’d want the goodness of fit. Don’t client deserve that?

    (and I loved this post, Liz. One of the things that I noticed about your posts is that I’ll read it, then think about it throughout the day and then comment. I love that you are one of the people who make blogging a thinking sport for me.)

    1. I take that as a huge compliment Marinka, because I feel that way right back.

      And as a marketer, hell yes! If I spent the time to develop an awesome campaign, then found out our PR partners weren’t putting the same attention and care into their earned media approaches…I would not be happy.

  26. Well said! I’m still fairly new to the mom blogging world but I’ve noticed as my blog as evolved that the more focused I was, the better I wrote and the more people visited.

    I think the biggest lesson I learned was to define what your blog is for. If your blog is to journal your kid’s progress, then write in a diary or journal style. It might be different if it were a more informative blog meant to reach the public. But having hat definition has definitely helped me tailor my site and give me a clearer path to follow.

  27. Thanks, Liz.

    I feel like a dinosaur because I blog rather than tweet. Though I’m trying to get my tweet on, too…but I’m followed by all sorts of porn folks and humor folks and other fake folks that I find terribly annoying. Trying to find the “real” people there has been a challenge.

    And as someone who writes a blog that’s linked to a business, I do write reviews of our products because…well, I want you to buy them! Please! It’s taken a while to establish an authentic voice, but that’s what i’m working towards, always, whether I’m writing about monogrammed baby blankets or about whether or not my youngest will ever sleep through the night.

    So far I’m not on any lists that I know of, but I do know how to use my handy delete button on the iphone(is it hyperbolic to say that changed my life? That little swipe with the red “Archive” or “Delete”?), so I’m ready for whenever that happens, for whatever lists may come.

    And one more thing-I like how Marinka refers to blogging-and yours in particular-as a thinking sport. That’s perfect. And true with all the great ones. So thanks.

  28. My blog has a pretty small audience, relatively speaking. I think beginning bloggers tend to get swept up in numbers. How many people are following my blog? How many page views? Who can I get to follow me and tweet back to me? I see a lot of blogs out there that do giveaways every single day, with thousands of followers. To me, if I had a huge audience who I knew was only reading my blog to get free stuff, that would feel completely unrewarding.

    Would it be awesome to get paid to write? Hell yes! But there’s a difference between being paid to write, and being paid to advertise. I want to get paid to write, but until then, I’m just going to write because I like it, and there’s a couple of people hanging around the Internet that seem to like it too.

    1. “There’s a difference between being paid to write, and being paid to advertise.” So smart.

      For some reason I think there are a lot of people right now who feel like they are entitled to make money by blogging. No writer in any form ever has ever proceeded that way. It’s generally come from hard work, trial and error, and many months or years of not making money at all.

  29. These blogs that are marketing for just plain marketing sake are boring, boring, boring. I also worry that those writing reviews for instant compensation might not be honest in their reviews.


  30. Some days my carpel tunnel kicks in just hitting the delete button! ;P I cannot believe how many messages I get just asking me to “feature this story”. REALLY?!? My blogging time/space is precious, seriously.

    I don’t do a ton of giveaways or reviews on my blog but I will do them if I feel that they are a REALLY good fit for me or my family. But that’s not WHY I blog so…

    1. Do you have a very clear “here’s my focus” section on your blog? I think that helps a lot. Also it gives you a link you can just send people to, so they understand what would be a better fit in the future. like “I’m interested in travel, attachment parenting, organic foods, and Gregorian chants.”

      Just a thought.

  31. I have recently crossed some sort of threshold that has brought some pitches to me- I don’t know if it is number of followers, page rank, inclusion on some random list… Regardless, now I’m finally seeing the pitches you guys have been talking about.

    And yeah, most of them are not a fit for me at all. I used to try to reply “no, thanks” to all of them, but as you say, my time is precious, and if they didn’t even spend the time to read my profile, then I guess I don’t need to feel bad about just deleting their email.

    The funniest pitch I got was someone offering me $15 to write a sponsored post, who referenced a post I wrote about work-life balance when you have a reasonably “big” career, in which I said that if I went out on my own as a consultant, the going rate for my time would be between $150 and $200/hour. If they’d thought for a minute about that post, they could probably have done that math and figured out that I was unlikely to spend an hour of my time writing a post about a topic completely unrelated to my usual topics for $15. They would have needed to put a zero or two after that 5 to get my attention. Which is not to look down on someone who would think that $15 to write a post is a good deal- I actually have no idea what the going rate is. Nor do I necessarily think that a post on my blog would be worth that much money. But it was such a clueless thing: “Hey! You just wrote a post that said your hourly rate would be 10x what I’m going to offer you. And the topic I want you to write on doesn’t fit your blog at all! But do you want to do this anyway?”

    1. That’s awesome Cloud!

      Regarding the “no thanks” issue–I remember years ago having a twitter…uh, discussion…with a woman who said it was rude not to reply to EVERY EMAIL YOU GET. I’m like are you kidding? Do you write back to every solicitation you get in the mail and say “no thank you?”

      In some ways I wish I could. But it’s simply not possible.

    1. But the sad thing is, then the bloggers they really want to engage with will mark those PR firms’ emails as spam or start to blacklist them. So it actually hurts them in terms of relationships, even if they get a few short-term bites. Everyone loses.

  32. I loved your stance. I started blogging last summer to start a new hobby in writing about my experiences as a Mom. I went through the phase of trying to get more readership, just to up my stats or for more chance at people clicking on ads to make a few extra cents here and there. Then, I realized the reason I started blogging was to be able to share my experiences with other Moms who might relate or find solace in reading about my experiences, and that was reassuring enough to keep writing. I know nothing about PR. I only post when something really speaks to me, which is sometimes once a month. And pretty much only my Facebook friends read what I write. But it’s fun and there’s no pressure 🙂
    As for a blog lover, I definitely have lost interest in the blogs who don’t share a lot of substance. I need something to relate to for it to be worth my time 🙂 Thanks for the article.

  33. As a review blogger I too appreciate this post. I actually started blogging because I wanted to do reviews and host giveaways. Now that I’ve been doing it for the past 3+ years, the niche has become boring and over-saturated. It seems like every other new blogger starts with the intention of reviewing products and hosting giveaways. I get it, everyone likes free stuff, myself included. However, if we write for everyone who sends a blanket email our way, we are selling ourselves short and doing other bloggers a disservice.

    My personal issue is that I’d like to start writing more for me but I’m not sure how to go about it. I don’t necessarily want to start over but my blog is known as a consumer blog. This space sure is difficult to navigate at times. I’m just going to continue doing my best while promoting the bloggers that I relate to and love.

    1. I think you just–perhaps unintentionally–highlighted Stephanie’s point about review blogs. “I get it, everyone likes free stuff.”

      If your goal in blogging is to get free stuff, why would a reader read it? Why would they trust your reviews? (and I don’t mean your reviews, of course.) I know there are always these disclaimers that the words and opinions are that of the writer…but aren’t they the opinions of a writer who wanted free stuff? That changes everything.

      In any case, I think you’re in a great position Andrea! You’ll be surprised the degree to which your readers will care about you, your life, your voice. It’s harder for a personal blogger to start doing giveaways and remain authentic. But for you to tap into your authentic self? Bravo! Go for it!

  34. Spot on. I feel like we’ve been beating this drum for years.

    Like you said, liberal use of “delete” is key but it is the sheer volume does me in. It is exhausting and leaves little time for more meaningful activities with brands.

    I keep coming back to the way we’re letting companies define the terms and create a top-down structure and play king-makers.

    There is nothing wrong with recommending products, comparing products, highlighting products, etc. It has unfortunately just become a link-generating machine for companies who think they are buying search engine dominance with a hundred free shampoo samples.

    This is a lot of why I’m focusing on my education site…I was blogging products to offer comparisons of good value products–items that offer style and bang for your buck. But the whole thing has become so flooded with spray and pray and copy and paste that it just lost a lot of the fun and the value.

    1. I think what you’re doing is amazing–you’re blogging your passion, finding an audience who cares about your opinions and expertise, and if you support a product it’s because it makes sense for your readers. Perfect.

      Don’t let it take away the fun.

  35. Your site should be required reading for bloggers and PR alike!

    It’s interesting that we met at an event for mom bloggers hosted by a
    travel brand, seeing as my site is only about travel. Although there are many ways other brands can fit into the travel sphere, I’m a little tired of the pitches that really try to twist and turn their product/service/widget into something relating to travel. Frozen orange juice from concentrate has nothing to do with travel, and I’d feel silly trying to make it so – even for coupons to give away to my readers!

    Sometimes I appreciate the more creative and possibly lucrative efforts, but I can’t help but think that time would be better spent developing a relationship with a blogger whose site would actually suit the pitch.

    1. Interesting points Corinne! I agree that marketers are trying to sort by demographic alone and not always thinking about content matches. So they say, “you reach moms, we want to reach moms…let’s work together!” They don’t even see the “travel” in your title… just “baby.”

      I can’t tell you the number of pitches I get that start with “your audience is perfect for this giveaway” and I say but uh…I don’t do giveaways on Mom101. It’s a personal blog. And then their heads explode.

      But we have responsibility in this too. That’s why I said that as much as the marketers need to develop those relationships and find the right publishers, I think that we as publishers should really focus our energies on the things that suit our audiences. And of course that doesn’t mean that only travel bloggers write about travel, or that only food bloggers write about food. I still love Beth Blecherman’s post last year on Cool Mom Tech about the tech innovations on the Disney Dream. It’s the very thing that made me want to go on a cruise for the first time in my life! And hey–I finally did. And met you. So yay!

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