What NOT to do when Working with Bloggers

She's a bloggin' cowgirl.

Even in the Wild Wild West that is the Social Media Landscape, there are some rules.  And I have no problem sharing a few of them.  Some are pretty clear:  don’t plagiarize.  SelfishMom, Beccarama and I (Coast to Coast Mom couldn’t make it!) talked about the big plagiarism scandal that was all over the mom-blogosphere last week on our Blogging Angels Podcast. For once, we all agreed: don’t steal someone else’s words.  It is wrong.  That’s not really a tough one.

There are other Blogger rules of conduct to follow:  don’t beg for votes, follows, or retweets, don’t take it personally if you are not invited to some event or another.  Do write about, or furiously Tweet about events you do attend.  Don’t work for free – but do define payment in whatever way works best for you. (Product, experience, exposure.. beccarama has a great post about it) Do offer link love. Don’t relentlessly promote your own posts on Twitter to the exclusion of all else.  Do re-tweet, and tweet out other people’s posts you enjoy.

Basically, it’s all Golden Rule stuff:  Do unto others. Simple.

For brands and marketing companies, not always so simple, as some of my recent experiences have proven.  So here’s a short list of do’s and don’t for brands when working with bloggers.

1. If you insist of paying through PayPal, then you must pay the fee.  If the blogger chooses the convenience, you may (stingily) make the blogger pay the fee. If you require payment via PayPal for your convenience, then you pay for it, not the blogger.

2. Do not try to make us work for free and call it something else.  Recently, I was offered “The opportunity to meet with (company) executives, to help brainstorm messaging and share (my) insights.”  That’s not an opportunity, that’s called consulting. People get paid for that.  And not in gift cards that basically force me to give my money back to you.

3. Don’t “offer me the opportunity” to post on your corporate blog, or better yet, to post about you on my own blog,  for the great honor of being linked back to. First of all, see number 2, above.  Second of all,  do you think I don’t know you’re just asking me to use my influence to help?  Guess what, I know. I can see the alexa and Google ranking of your site, and they aren’t as good as mine.  I think we both know who will benefit from the linking.

4. Don’t tell me I’ve been nominated for some Best Bloggers of the Whatever list, and all I have to do is beg all of my friends to vote for me on your site.  In other words, all I have to do is drive a ton of  traffic to you. Seriously? (this is Beccarama’s pet peeve)

5. Do respect that whether I run my blog as a business, or as a fun hobby on the side, I deserve no less respect and consideration than any other piece of your marketing puzzle.  Let’s face it, if you have millions of dollars to spend on TV ads, and marketing campaigns for your product, you have $50 to pay a blogger for our time and effort.  And if you don’t think it’s worth it, then why are you asking all of us to write/tweet/run contests in the first place?

Any do’s and don’t of your own to add?  Come on, add one.  Just writing mine down made me feel better.


  1. says

    Such a great post. Amazingly I’ve never run across the PayPal one, and now I use FreshBooks to invoice, which gives me the option of a flat $0.50 fee no matter how much I’m getting paid. Without that the fees can be quite a chunk.

  2. says

    High resolution images are not payment.

    If I say no, don’t email me back and tell me other bloggers are doing it for free.

    Don’t tell me I charge you too much. I know you are quoting me the rate of somebody who really needed the money at the time. (And in this specific circumstance that is the only reason she did it at the rate she did).

    Learn my name. Addressing an email to “hey blogger” not all that appropriate. 🙂

    • says

      The Dear Blogger thing is a killer. A longtime pet peeve of the Bloggig Angels.
      And when someone tells me that other people are doing it for free, I always want to say “How’s that working out for you?”
      As for High Res images…that one kills me. Though in fairness, I think a lot of the PR people are used to working with print magazines, and those always need content = including photos so they don’t have to send a photographer. But still. Really?

  3. says

    Such a great post. All publicists should read this and make it their Bible.

    I would add: And please check out my blog and make sure what you pitch is relevant to what I write about. I write about culture, not hygiene, not pets, not toxins.

    Don’t call me “blogger” or worse “mommy blogger” and don’t tell me how much I need a break because I’m chasing kids all day.

    And like Rebecca said, please don’t invite me to an event after I’ve said “no”. It drives me nuts!

  4. says

    Thank you for this post! Seriously – if it looks like a consulting project – then it is a consulting project and the blogger should be paid!! Geez – sometimes I feel like saying “are you paid to be contacting me?”.. But there are lots of companies that get it right and are paying bloggers. Big pat on the back to them!!!

    • says

      True about how some are getting it right. Melissa and Doug make a big shift this year. After snubbing bloggers at Toy Fair last year they welcomed us with special tours and even a lunch. Blue Bunny, I’ve heard, does a great job. And Mama Drama, because it’s run by two bloggers, pays with fabulous tickets to quality shows. Intel, Microsoft, Sony. There are plenty doing a good job. So it’s getting better.
      Just not last week for me!

  5. Amy says

    I’m with everyone above – dont email me “dear blogger” or “hi mommy blogger” because I just immediately hit the delete button 99% of the time. My name is on my blog, so if you can’t be bothered to spend thirty seconds looking for it, I don’t want to work with you. Second, if you ask me to review your product and I do but think its so bad that I tell you that (nicely) instead of posting a terrible review, please do not tell me that I’m the only one that didn’t like it out of 90 mommy bloggers who received your product to review. And please don’t ask me to have someone else on my staff review it. And last, the geographical area that I cover is in the name of my blog. Please don’t invite me to post about the opening of you chiropractic office in Ohio.
    Okay, that’s enough for now. Great post 🙂

  6. says

    I don’t typically give advice for free (with chaos comes opportunity!) but I will add (1) Blogger or Brand, pls don’t Tweet AT people that don’t follow you with links and requests (2) If you’re going to address an email with, “Dear Blogger, Journalist” or “Hey” perhaps you should rethink contacting them (3) Look at the blogger’s content and bio BEFORE you ask something of them to see if it makes sense (4) Do not email around photos and news about celebrities’ kids. Not only is that a sad existence and likely damaging to your self esteem and my intelligence but most of us write PERSONAL lifestyle blogs and don’t give a rat’s ass what Mason Kardashian is wearing.

  7. says

    Aaaaand, I just checked my email and was reminded of one more (5) It is obnoxious and unnecessary to send requests/proposals from more than one person at the same PR firm. If you share an account with colleagues at your agency, it’s worth checking in with them and coming up with a plan as to who is going to contact who so that 3 people from the same org are not contacting the same blogger with the same requests, especially when they’ve already politely declined the offer.

    • says

      As far as the advice for free thing goes – I think this is perfect opportunity for free advice – because it will stop people from bugging the crap out of us, and open the door to better end results for brands and bloggers. Win win.

  8. says

    Love this post! I love the “form emails” where my name is in a different font face. Like I won’t notice it and think “you’ve already sent this to 100 other people”? I’m so glad that bloggers are standing up for their rights and asking to be paid to work! Although, the unfortunate part is that the PR companies can still go hit up the newbies that will do it for free. Thanks for writing this!! Sharing!

  9. says

    I’d love if the publicist who contacts me offering a sample for review tells me in their pitch if it will need the sample to be returned.

    Nothing like packing up a toy after one of the kidlets has started playing with it.

  10. says

    I always have an opinion and I just wrote a really long one…this is something I’m passionate about. But Wp.com did not like the email address I input and returned a page with an error message telling me to go back and re-enter…and my thoughtful (yes it was!) comment was gone. AARGH!!

    Bottom line. PR firms will take advantage and we have to say NO. I learned the hard way but it took one time and now I’m on a mission to share with others. Doing something for free does not get you respected or give you better opportunities. It simply says you will work for free. Period. 🙂

    • says

      Sorry about the WP thing..but glad you tried again.
      I agree with you – but I would point out that when bloggers are starting out, they really might benefit from the product, or the traffic post, and so for them, those things may be enough to constitute “payment.” Everyone has to start somewhere. But once your numbers move up, once you can show some reach, the PR people know it, too. Then it’s time to charge. Like a summer internship. Eventually, you get a paying gig, or you move on.

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