This post is by Ashe Mischief
When you begin to monetize your blog, you need brass balls. Cajones, testicles, whatever you want to call them– as a predominantly female community, we genetically don't have them. Why do we need them? As bloggers, we're a minority, and a minority where the rules and guidelines have yet to be defined. This means that marketing and advertising companies see us as uneducated, uninformed, and–sadly– willing to do anything for a buck or a product.
In a tough economy, you want to stay afloat and look lucrative to advertisers– it's harder and harder to attract them right now, so saying “no” when they come around feels like a silly thing to do.
One of the first things I did this year was put together my media kit. In it, I established rates for various forms of advertising I accepted on my blog, including sponsored posts, text ads, and banner ads. This helps because when a potential sponsor contacts me, I have a handy PDF that explains what I offer, what the rates are, and what discounts I have as well.
In the past two weeks, I've been approached by advertisers who have frankly tried to low-ball…. here's how, and here's the unabashed facts about my site & them.
They contact me about getting a link on my site. Very simple email that doesn't address me by name or mention my site. I write back,
“Rates for links are $20 per month, and appear under the “Friends Of” sidebar. There is a discounted rate for links purchased in 6 & 12 month increments. If you're interested, please let me know.”
They respond within the hour, with the reply:
“Can you do a hundred dollar gift certificate for the year to SITE for a sidebar link? We just want a text ad, not a banner ad.”
The problems with this:
- The advertiser clearly didn't research my site at all
- The advertiser was expecting a $140 discount for advertisements on my site, when we didn't have any relationship together at all.
- They assumed I would want store credit to their site.
Contacted me with the following email:
Good day! We came across your site today while searching for quality sites to help us gain additional exposure in the fashion community. Our SITE has been helping students pursue fashion design & merchandising education since 2005!
With that being said, we would like to be considered for a link under your favorite reads section: http://www.mischiefmydear.com/dramatispersonae/ Here are the details of our site to add. To match the other useful links you could say.
We could offer you a one-time donation of $250 to help with this via paypal.
Please let me know either way to confirm or deny this request.
I responded to them with:
Thanks for getting in touch with me about a text link ad. Currently, I do not sell Text Link Ads under the “Favorite Reads” section of my sidebar, as those are for blogs I regularly read. I believe that selling links there compromises my reader's trust in trying to find other blogs who I read.
However, I do sell links on the other side. Right now I work primarily through Text-Link-Ads.com (which reads “Advertisers” and will be ending soon), but do also sell them individually. For individual links, I place them under the “Friends of ” banner in the second column.
Rates are currently $25 per month for a text link, but I could do a reduced 1 year rate for $250. Then at March 1 next year, we could discuss whether or not you'd like to continue to purchase link space on the site.
If this sounds good to you, please let me know and we can make arrangements to get your link up and for payment.
I received 1 more follow up reply from them that said:
Hi, thanks for getting back to us. Unfortunately that option won't work for us. If you're interested we could provide a guest post on fashion design education, that is our other option.
I politely told them no thank you.
The problems with this:
- They clearly had no respect for the fact that I was unwilling to compromise my reader's trust in where I placed my advertisements. So much so that they were willing to do a guest post for me!
- They had no respect for the work I put in to my blog or the fact that I have rates.
- I knew if I had accepted their offer of a guest post, they would have snuck text links in there.
- Why wasn't I interested in a guest post? Here's why:
- My Alexa ranking is: 270,295 with 207 incoming links.
- Their Alexa ranking is: 1,762,390 with 28 incoming links. (With Alexa, it's important to know that the lower the score, the “better” you're doing.)
- Their guest post would have increased their incoming links and overall score, and what would I have gotten out of it? I wouldn't have gotten a mention on their blog, as they have none. I wouldn't have been financially compensated. They would have been using and abusing my audience and the 2.5 years of hard work I've put in to building my blog for their own gain.
While these both happened to be instances were a company was wanting to increase their SEO profile, it can happen anywhere– it can happen with indie designers who want a super discounted rate or coverage because they're “independent,” or a big company trying to bully you in to accepting lower terms and rates for banner ads, because you should be grateful that they approached you.
Every time I accept an offer from an advertiser.
How to prevent this from happening to you:
- Know Your Stats: Check up regularly on your rankings on sites like Google Page Rank and Alexa. It's great to be able to type in the website that's approaching you, to see if how close (or far off) they are from your own scores. If your own site is more lucrative then theirs, then you're the only one with anything to lose by accepting their offers.
- Set Up Guidelines & Rates: By setting up your own guidelines for advertising and your rates, you have no reason to feel guilty when you say “No,” or counter their offer. You have set these up with consideration to how much work goes in to your blog, how many hours you spend writing each post, marketing yourself, and frankly, you deserve what you ask for!
Why You Should Care:
- You work hard on your blog, whether it's full time & professional or hobby. You deserve to be treated with respect and compensated in a fair way.
- You're part of a community at large, and when you devalue your own work, you're also devaluing the work of your favorite bloggers.
- Nobody likes to be taken advantage of– and that's what these companies are doing. They're taking advantage of you.
- We all like money– but would you take up a boss on a sketchy side business proposal that broke company policy or the law? Is the money worth compromising your own views, your reader's trust in you, your blog authority, your own page rankings and scores?
While I've said “No” to both advertisers and won't be doing business with them, they'll just move on to another blogger. That blogger could be you– and they may not offer you the same rates they offered me. They may not even offer you compensation at all. And you have to ask yourself– is it worth it?