Bloggers Beware: Shady Sponsored Content + “Free Content” Offer Inquiries

Last Modified: February 24, 2016 at 10:52 am by Tianna | Leave a comment

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Hi All ♥

So this post is a bit of an impromptu one, but I wanted to post on it because I truly believe in being 100% honest with readers (and bloggers) about things I experience and hopefully help you all, if you’re blogging, to avoid what I call “marketing traps” for bloggers.

You see, while not all marketing and media people think we bloggers are stupid, a lot of them seem to. Don’t get me wrong because I have worked with tons of fantastic, honest, and helpful marketing and PR reps who are not like this. I don’t want you guys to think that they all are because that’s definitely not true, but I do want to mention this as a bit of a cautionary tale because you will encounter this without fail and I want you to be ready when it happens.

Firstly, you will get inquiries where random unknown persons say they’re “freelance bloggers” who want to offer you “free” content. They’ll write the post and you can publish it on your blog for them and all they ask is that you give them a link back to their site. I’m pretty wary of this as I’ve been ultra-spammed by these offers of so-called freelancers. Personally, I think it’s a shady way for companies to get free links on your site for free.

Secondly, you will eventually get sponsored post offers, but many of the companies want you to post their content (or your content with their links) in a shady way for money. My first offer ever was for $25 and it was for a site I hadn’t heard of (up until that point), but which sold some all natural health and beauty items which were at least relevant to my blog. The only problem? They wanted me to say that the post wasn’t sponsored. Second offer came not that long ago and they offered a bit more money, but again, wanted me not to state that the post was sponsored even though, at this point, I’m obligated to do so and prefer to do so to follow FTC disclosure guidelines. They also wanted me to post some likely fabricated bio for their writer which sounded really phony, but I digress.

The point of all of this?

Don’t sell out your readers for a quick buck! It can feel really tempting to just take the money and do it, but at what cost? I want to do sponsored content and I’d love to, but not at the cost of my reputation, my blogger credibility, or your guys’ trust. It just isn’t worth it to me. I am now affiliated with various companies via Pepperjam, Linkshare and CJ, but I get to choose who I affiliate with and I would never choose companies I don’t already know and love. I just find it really shady and, frankly, very insulting that marketing companies have no qualms about asking bloggers to participate in these kinds of practices. While I do make a percentage of sales when you guys click on any of my affiliate banners or links and purchase something through the link, I would never lie to you guys about it or do so in a dishonest or unethical manner. No amount of money is worth losing this sanctuary I call a blog because that’s the whole reason I created Storybook Apothecary – to have a place where I could go and share my thoughts, my favorites, my honest opinions, and meet some like-minded people along the way. And that’s something money will never be able to buy.

What Do You Guys Think About Sponsored Content?

Do You Think It Should Be Properly Labeled As Such or Does It Not Matter To You?

If you blog, Have You Experienced Any of This?

♥ Tianna

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4 thoughts on “Bloggers Beware: Shady Sponsored Content + “Free Content” Offer Inquiries

  1. July 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    I don’t blog for money yet, I hope to eventually monetize my blog but right now I am not a part of affiliate programs nor have sponsors. that said, I have accepted some offers from companies for items and such, but of course they were companies that I liked even before they offered and that I felt were relevant to me (since i run a personal/lifestyle blog). I love this: “Don’t sell out your readers for a quick buck! It can feel really tempting to just take the money and do it, but at what cost?”…A week ago I got an “offer” from a company to do a “guest blogpost” at no cost because it would “increase my traffic and help my blog”…they pretty-much wanted to put THEIR content on MY blog and acted like it would be a favor to me. I politely declined. I agree with you that some companies underestimate the brains of bloggers, the nerve of them.
    Haley recently posted…Sketchbook Diaries #2 : The SoundtrackMy Profile

    1. July 24, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Monetization can be nice, but it’s not the end-all-be-all IMO. For me, affiliates have been a nice buffer to help pay for my hosting fees and things, but I’m not yet making millions. Soon! 😉 I totally agree with you. I think that reviewing products that people send over and promoting brands you already love is a great thing. I’m just not a fan of faking it for money. totally know what you mean about people acting like they’re doing you a favor. That just makes it all the more irritating to me LOL. Thanks for visiting my blog! ♥

  2. July 25, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    GREAT post! I’ve had similar experiences and I’m thrilled that there are still some of us who are operating with integrity!
    Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie recently posted…Beauty Company Summer Soiree & Raffle WinnersMy Profile

  3. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide to Blogging | Storybook Apothecary

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