A few weeks ago I received an email from the San Antonio Tourism board to help promote a contest they were running. They only thing they were offering was all the incredible traffic I’d be getting from them
Needless to say, I declined.
I’ve seen this song and dance before and I knew exactly what was going to happen. In a few weeks a bunch of travel blogs were going to start promoting this contest. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. I’ve seen this happen with consumer electronic companies, hotels and other tourism boards. They have a list of travel blogs and work their way down the list until they find enough people who are willing to do whatever they want for free.
If you are running promotions for companies with nothing more than a vague promise of “traffic” or “exposure” then quite simply you don’t deserve to make money from your blog.
Think about the following:
- If they had the amount of traffic they are promising, they wouldn’t need you. Think about it.
- If a dozen other blogs are taking part in the same program, then whatever benefits they can bring to the table will be diluted by a factor of 12.
- By doing promotions for free, you are setting your market rate. That rate is zero. You are worth zero.
Here are a few rules to consider when working with companies who want something from you:
- Don’t be afraid to say no. You aren’t losing out on anything if you don’t do something for free. If anything, by holding out you are increasing your long term value and not wasting your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Don’t believe promises of traffic. Unless it is a media company you are talking to, they almost certainly can’t deliver you traffic.
- Demand exclusivity. Why would you want to do something that a dozen other bloggers are doing? I always ask to see who else they are talking to. Ideally I want to be the only one they work with, or if not, it should be a very small number. If they are contacting everyone, there is no point in participating. You don’t get ahead by being part of the pack.
- ALWAY get something in return. Even if it isn’t money, get a trip or something. Do NOTHING without some sort compensation.
- Don’t fear your pricing. Everyone is worried about pricing themselves too high and not getting anything. Stop worrying about it. There are a ton of companies in the world and there will be another. It is better to have a company pass on you because you are too expensive than to undersell yourself.
- Don’t apologize. It isn’t greedy to ask for something in exchange for what you are bringing to the table. It IS greed to ask people to do something for free. If they say they have no budget, just tell them how sorry you are that they got stuck on a doomed account.
No matter how big your blog or what size your audience, there is no reason to ever provide promotion to a company or organization for free.