I get asked frequently what my typical work day looks like. Honestly, it consists of a lot of conference calls and responding to copious emails. It's real work. In spite of some misconceptions about bloggers attending glamorous events and eating bon bons all day, a HUGE part of my life entails dealing with emails from blogger PR firms. I get hundreds a day. They usually go something like this:
Blogger PR firm: Dear Mommy Blogger, I love your site. Check out my client's product. It would be great if you'd write about it!
My response: Sweet! How much are you paying me? Oh, nothing? Yeah, I don't work for free. K thanks bye.
I make it very clear in my blogger media kit that company features on Someday I'll Learn are advertisements, for which I charge a fee. This site is first and foremost a family blog. People come to read updates about the family and to hear about Nate and I's little domestic mishaps and lessons learned. Everything outside of that is sponsored placement that takes time out of our day. It is work, for which we deserve to be paid. End of story. Almost every professional blogger I know feels exactly the same way (some do choose to accept products like a gift card or household item in lieu of payment. That is a personal choice and each blogger determines what their own time is worth).
So where are all these blogger PR people getting the idea that bloggers are lining up to write about their stuff for free??
I actually do have a real answer to that question. It's not rhetorical.
Here's my take on it as someone who moved from the magazine industry to the blogging world: a lot of these blogger PR pitches go out to magazines and newspapers as well as bloggers. Magazines and newspapers DO publish for free/without receiving compensation or even a physical product to review, largely because they are news outlets providing general information to the public as opposed to a personal viewpoint. This is how the blogger PR clash came about in the first place. Many PR reps are used to working with traditional media, and they're not sure what to do with us bloggers who insist on trying out products first-hand and being paid for our efforts. Newspapers have pages they NEED to fill, whereas bloggers have endless ideas to write about and not enough time to do it. We are NOT looking for suggestions on things to share with our readers.
I wish that more PR people would recognize the difference between traditional media and blogging, because it's a whole different ballgame. Newspapers and magazines earned money from ads and subscriptions. Yes, I'm using earned in the PAST tense because traditional media is dying. The internet came along and changed everything. Bloggers can't very well go charging a subscription fee (who would pay for content online?) and we don't make a ton of money from sidebar ads unless we're freaking HUGE (which is difficult because the internet is so dang competitive).
Many of us professional bloggers came up with alternative ways of making money since traditional advertising doesn't translate well online…hence the advent of blogging advertorials (paid editorial discussions about a company) and sponsored reviews (which to me isn't really different than being a paid celebrity spokesperson). Yes, it presents something of a credibility dilemma, but ethical bloggers will choose not to work with companies that aren't a fit for their readership.
It would be wonderful (for us AND for those blogger PR people) if bloggers had the luxury of jumping all over every interesting product pitch. If I had minions to delegate these things out to, that'd be great. But we are very busy family people and we are particular with where we focus our time: when it comes to our blogs, company relationships and reader engagement are key. We want more than filler content to put onto our virtual pages. Sharing every neat new toy we hear about doesn't pay our bills and it often doesn't fit with the personal perspective that our readers have come to expect.
Interested in blogger PR? Read a few more ways to work with bloggers here.