It’s happening more and more, and I’m writing this to not only reveal the trend, but to also go on record to say, “Not on my watch, please.”
Here’s the pitch:
“Hope you’re keeping well. I’m just getting in touch to ask if you’re open to accepting content from freelance writers; if so, I’d love to put together a high-quality article written specifically for the site.
“If you’re up for receiving some fresh content, I’d be more than happy to come up with something unique or I’m entirely open to topic suggestions to work with. I’ve been working as a professional writer and researcher for five years now, and in that time there isn’t a lot I haven’t already covered (I’ve attached a few samples below for you to check out). [Code for – I don’t have a specialty.. Like wine…]
“As long as you’re happy with the resulting material, you’d be welcome to publish it as you see fit and the content will be owned by you entirely (in that I won’t send it to anyone else, either before or after publication). The only thing I would ask in return is that I’m able to include a link to a site of my choosing within the article – nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance for.”
Ah… I’ve underlined the underlying motive for you to see where it would be going…
I know nothing is for free, and I do have to hand it to this person for being forthright in that regard; however, there’s no clue what one of those professional companies would be… and that’s called an ADVERTISEMENT, maybe for something I don’t even believe in.
The more tricky of this sort of Email is that they give you the text, and hidden within the document you find a word, like “nutrition” that’s a hot link. You think to yourself, “Okay, she’s included a link to the definition of ‘nutrition.'” Later – because you were too busy to get to the bottom of it (or, if you don’t work with html at all), you really get duped. It turns out to be an advertiser, thrown onto your site, without even being asked.
There are now so many deceptive tricks that I’m done jumping through hoops trying to stay ahead of this new trend. Don’t ask… just don’t ask. This is my wine journal, and that’s that.
Here’s the crux
Marketing companies are now paying people to write stories on websites that will allow them to, by disguising the writers as someone just looking to contribute a “free” story, get their name/products inserted into that story.
Why not just ask the blogger to put a link into a story? That’s at least up front and working from a different ethos.
Or maybe, just maybe, as to “sponsor” a site and pay the author a stipend, with an image that links back to your site and it become win-win for all… This is called the beginning of monetizing blogs, and I’m all for that. Do you realize how great it would be to just “retire” to my blog? What a concept that is.
Some have figured out sponsors, and they’re the reputable firms. If you see one on a blog, and you like doing business with honestly great people, gravitate in that direction. They’ve already proven themselves in the every changing, fast paced, social media world.
This new deceptive trend is abhorrent, and following the belief that everything on the internet is free and for the grabbing.
I’ve engaged a couple such queries. The stories were so elemental, and I kept going with the blog posts, because I made a commitment to the other in an email exchange process, and I still hadn’t quite figured it all out.
Take note, slime ball advertisers…
- This is my journal, and your products haven’t impacted my life, so they don’t fit.
- Know your audience…
But, you know what? It isn’t about them studying where the story is going to go. They’re out fishing, and I’m not eating any more bait.
Just yesterday, after I had already written this one…
Dear Joe, [Thanks for the “e” – like, “Know your audience.”]
My name’s Anthony, and I’m a food and wine enthusiast and writer for the site…. [Deliberately leaving it out, to not give anyone any advertising.] I came across your blog yesterday and found your site really fun- I’m not a wine expert either, even though I drink it all the time, so I appreciate the theme.
I have been wondering if you accept any guest posts. If you do, I was thinking about writing a piece for your site about a few tips for choosing wine as an amateur for the holidays, something that I know a lot of people seem to struggle with, or another idea that your readers would like to see more. I am definitely willing to work with your feedback, and am open to any suggestions you might have. Please let me know what you think.
I politely said TBNT (Thanks, but no thanks).
What I should have said, and maybe will one of these times is,
“Why don’t you write a story about how disreputable marketing companies have hired young writers to offer bloggers a ‘free’ story; and then, they imbed code with some advertisement for a client that’s hired them to get more Web exposure, rather than just paying for sponsoring a blog post and giving the blogger a stipend… But more importantly, some respect?”
Yeah… I think I just found myself a stock answer…
UPDATE THIS MORNING: Another company that is at least upfront:
Hello, My name is BLANK from a blog service company. We have clients who are interested in sponsoring recent posts on psiloveyou.org. This helps them with brand awareness and is a great opportunity for you to make some money from your blog.
Check out our blog service website for more information and testimonials. Please feel free to contact me directly if you are interested in a partnership or have any questions.
If you are interested, contact me at this email address to begin the process.
Advertising is on the move, and what’s totally fascinating is that I don’t need a sales department to go after accounts, they’re coming to publishers. What a topsy turvy world we live in.