Fatherhood²: Sponsorship, Links, Reviews – Where Should Bloggers Draw the Line?

January 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in the fun situation of having the two things I write most about (parenting and online marketing), converging. Over on the Tamar blog, I wrote a post about how great the BBC were when dealing with the negative feedback they received on their social media profiles (“BBC / Cbeebies in social customer services WIN“) – and now I’m turning the table the other way, as I want to cover some of things we bloggers get asked to do by marketers (like me).

If you’ve ever blogged yourself (so to speak), or even if you’re just a regular reader, you’ll know that there are a number of ways that the corporate world like to get involved with bloggers. Naturally, as a blogger (particularly the popular ones), marketers know that you have a ready-made audience that they’d love to tap in to. So sooner or later, you’re going to be approached by either a savvy PR person, a social media marketer or possibly even a brand themselves, asking you to do something in partnership with them.

I’ve written previously about a scheme I’m a big fan of, the “Blog Pitching Symbol” – a badge which tells potential partners (or unwanted approachers) whether you do or don’t like to be contacted about things like this. But once you have decided to make your blog “open to offers”, where do you draw the line?

I’m very keen to hear from other bloggers where they draw the line – though I can obviously tell you where my own personal line sits:

  • Reviews – I’m more than happy to review products that are appropriate to my blog and audience, though I never guarantee that the review will be positive. Here’s a tip for the marketers on the topic of reviews: If you send me something, I’d really like to keep it. Let’s face it, you can afford it – and getting a free item is the least you expect when you take time to review a product (at least in my opinion!)
  • Sponsored posts – I recently got asked to write my first sponsored post, and after much consideration I accepted. The people who asked me were very transparent about the process, insisted I mark it very clearly as being sponsored, and I felt that the topic was relevant both to me and my friends – so I went ahead. But I certainly wouldn’t ever take a sponsorship offer that asked me to keep the sponsorship a secret.
  • Advertising – I suspect this is probably the biggest no-brainer for most bloggers, as there are very few websites out there these days which DON’T have ads on – so why should you be missing out? I’ve never been asked to advertise on my blog so far, but I’d definitely consider it…
  • Links – As somebody with a wealth of experience in the complexities of SEO, I’m very aware of the value to be had for brands from link-building on relevant site. I’ve not sold any links to date (and doubt I would), though I’m always happy to add links to relevant sites when writing posts – indeed, I encourage my guest posters to include a link to their own sites in their bio. It’s the least I could do, in my opinion!
  • Guest posting – As regular readers will know, I’m very keen on accepting guest posts from other parents or bloggers, and have had some great submissions in the past year, for which I’m very grateful. But lately I’ve noticed a trend of marketers contacting me to offer up guest posts, presumably for the SEO benefit. I’m actually not averse to this, PROVIDING the content is unique, relevant and written especially for my blog. I’ve had a couple of people lately offering me “free” content on completely irrelevant subjects – and worse still, acting like they’re doing me a favour. No thank you, crappy marketer – move along.

So those are my current opinions, and I consider them reasonably fair – but in talking to friends and readers about the things I HAVE accepted to date, I’m well aware that different people have their moral compass set at different angles – so I’m very keen to hear what other bloggers think… Let me know in the comments, or tweet me!