I see it all the time: a business owner gets an e-mail from some mommy blogger who asks if they want to pay money to be featured on their blog, give them free product to try so they can write about it, or donate a prize for a giveaway.
And so many mom-related businesses fall for it.
That is, until they forward me the e-mail and ask me what I think.
Now, I’m NOT dissing the mom and parenting blogs out there that are actually legit (you know who you are and won’t take offense to what I’m about to say, in fact you’ll probably support it).
What I am about to dis are the so-called blog sites trying to get rich quick or otherwise get free stuff out of people just because they happen to have set up a blog all by themselves (bravo). And while we’re at it, just because they’re a mom doesn’t mean they’re an expert on parenting, even if they are an expert on asking people for free stuff.
I’m picking on mommy blogs in particular because they are the ones I see do this all the time. But these principals are the same in all industries.
In short, (to all you businesses who get conned into this frequently), there is no value in a blog that cannot tell you about the value they are going to give you. Make sense? Why would I pay you so you can show my product to no one?
The Internet is not like advertising in print. I know, it’s a new concept for many to absorb. The difference is that everything can be tracked on the Internet, so there is little guesswork in knowing how well a certain form of advertising is going to work for you online.
It’s time to start asking these vital questions, before paying to be featured on a blog
Learn how to analyze a mommy blog for what it’s worth, so you can make appropriate advertising decisions for your company. Let’s hope that, when they approach you with an offer, they at least explain the following:
1) How many UNIQUE visitors do they get to site daily, weekly, monthly, on weekends, on weekdays, and for what topics? Make sure they give you all the stats.
2) Where are visitors coming from? This will matter if your own target market is local. And yes, they have this information (or should, it’s free). Get the numbers on geo traffic.
3) Do they have a newsletter? Will your business’s article feature or advertisement go out to this list? How big is this list? What is the average open and click rate? Don’t take an excuse for not having this information; any legitimate e-newsletter service will give it to them free.
4) Do they use social media to promote their blog, and specifically the product review you will be paying for? If so, how many followers do they have and how are they engaging users?
5) What other advertising does their blog or company participate in?
6) Now on to the SEO benefits. Is this going to be a no-follow or a follow link they will be giving your business? (And they better say you’re getting a link with this feature!)
7) On average, what kind of click-through traffic have their advertisers normally seen when being featured on their blog?
8) What keywords are they ranking on the first page of Google for?
If any blogzine is serious about their site, they will treat it like a business. If it is a business, they should be giving you this information when asking for advertising money.
If it looks sketchy, it probably is
Believe it or not, some so-called mommy bloggers don’t even try hard to hide the fact that they just want free stuff and want to give away free stuff. They write about everything and anything, and their whole site is a barnyard of junk (i.e. ads EVERYWHERE). Why would you want to be associated with that? Pick a blogzine with an actual niche topic, and actual target market.
If the site has any concept of design to it, they are probably credible
Honestly, if a mommy blog (which is really an online magazine) looks like someone made it all by them selves with a free WordPress theme and their computer’s magic drawing program, they probably are still in startup phase. In that case, they better have the traffic to justify why you should pay to be featured on a not-so-hot looking site. And yes, traffic can make up for bad design (sometimes, and I say SOMETIMES! It depends on the other Internet marketing techniques at play).
A good blog (especially a good mommy blog) will know marketing, and will know that design matters, because after all, this should be a business.
Check the URL!
You may not know this, but a lot of bloggers use free accounts on sites like Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, Tumblr or otherwise. If the site’s blog URL has the name of the free blogging service in it, the blog owner has not yet made the jump (or the common-sense business decision) to use their own domain name, which says A LOT about their technical ability to be able to market their company – let alone YOUR company – on the Internet.
“But wait! They offered me a FREE opportunity to guest blog for them on a monthly basis!”
It still could be a scam for your time.
Sometimes guest blogging is a GREAT, super wonderful way to get traffic to your site. But you will still want to consider the above factors when deciding which site to guest blog for.
Truth be told, almost any online magazine or blog will be willing to have a guest blogger. Having someone submit free articles benefits the blog site in two main ways:
1) It updates their site, which is helpful for Google ranking.
2) It gives them unique content (a hard thing to produce when time and money is scarce) which is also good for Google.
Don’t get me wrong – I run a semi-volunteer blog at beaureview.net and the writers who participate know up front that they are contributing for the love of the topic, and for the love of writing. I tell people how much traffic I get, and which articles bring in the most visitors. Then they can decide if they want to spend the time to do it. Other times another form of compensation is worked out. The point is, I’m not scamming people for their time by making vain promises about the exposure the articles will get.
In other words, before agreeing to guest blog on someone’s site, make sure it will be a win-win situation for BOTH parties. How much exposure will your company get? That depends on how many visitors the blog is already attracting.
It is not your job to promote. The blog owner, who we said previously should be treating their blog like a business, is responsible for getting the traffic. If they don’t have the traffic, you owe them nothing, not even the time it takes to write back and ask for the details on the product review or giveaway.