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Are You Putting Cash in the Trash?

Today Fred Black tells a story of approaching bloggers to review a product and suggests how they could make more money with a little effort.

Hi, my name is Fred and I’m a ….I’m a… Blo… ahem… I’m a blogger.

At times, I interact with other bloggers and, for whatever reason, don’t reveal my “blogger” side. Occasionally this interaction brings to light something they do that they shouldn’t, or something they don’t do that they should, or something that they could do better. Often times, fixing this oversight could help them maximize potential profits. What follows is such an observation.

I recently helped my wife create and produce a children’s creative movement DVD called “Pretend with Miss Kim” that we released in October 2007. One of the methods we’ve used to promote this DVD is to spend time emailing “mommy” blogs about it. We’ve gotten a few bloggers to mention the DVD and review it. I thought it was time to do another round of emailing bloggers to try and get a few more reviews; this is when I noticed a peculiar behavior.

Most of these “mommy” and “parent” type blogs sell ads to generate revenue. Most seem to use 3rd party services to manage and sell the ads. No, that’s not unusual part, I’ll bet a good portion of the bloggers reading this post sell ads on their blogs, and use 3rd party services to mange the ads. The strange part is that almost all the blogs with advertising on their site missed a great chance to convert me to a paying advertiser.

I spent a couple of hours finding and emailing a nice introductory email to around 20 or so blogs. This took a few hours because I took the time to read a few posts on each blog to ensure sure it was a good fit. Needless to say, I’ve not had any response from the majority of the blogs. A few bloggers wrote me back and said that they would be interested in reviewing the product. Great! I’ll get them a copy in the mail! One wrote me back and said that she didn’t do product reviews any longer, but that she’d trade me a few copies in exchange for running an ad on her blog for a week or so… great idea – I’ll talk her up on that! But, only one blogger, just one, took the opportunity to respond and say that they were buried in this type of request and were not taking anymore reviews at this time, however, he felt that I would get good results placing an ad on their site. He was also smart enough to include his current daily visitor numbers, and to point out that his readers are the exact people I’m looking for! I’ll probably place an ad on his blog! Had he not responded I probably would have never even considered placing an ad on his blog!

I guess all the other bloggers, who didn’t respond, just don’t need anymore money! Maybe they think that just because I saw that they have advertising on their site I’ll click their link to place an ad. No probably not, I was asking for a free mention, a review. However, I want results; I want exposure for my product. It’s good news to me that a blog is so busy and popular they don’t have time to review all the products that they get requests to review. So write back and tell me so. Invite me to advertise on your blog. This little prompt, or push if you will, may well convert my request for a free review into a paying advertiser.

I assume from the few responses I received back, that most of the blogs I emailed get a lot of requests for product reviews, site reviews, links to other sites, etc. How long does it take to create a standard response, like the lone response I received, simply thanking a person for their interest, giving a few stats, and giving directions for placing an ad on the site? It’s certainly worth the few minutes of time it takes to copy and paste because it will most likely result in more advertising revenue. Is that not what most of use want from our blogs? And that is the peculiar part: as a person with a product needing exposure, I took the time to seek out and find blogs that matched my product perfectly, and contact them… yet the majority failed to respond. Plain and simple: missed opportunities for advertising revenue.

If you have a blog that features advertising, don’t pass up these missed opportunities. If you do, you’re just throwing money away that could have been in your pocket! As in the photo of the birds, only one blogger was facing a different direction, the right direction!

About the Author

Fred Black is an experienced programmer, web site developer, online business operator, father, husband, musician, and songwriter. Visit his Blog at: www.pqInternet.com , Visit his wife’s children’s DVD site at: www.MissKimDance.com.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. That’s a great point. This actually pertains to an upcoming situation with me.

    There’s a really interesting book coming out involving the sports team I cover for my blog, and I’ve arranged a non-paid review and interview with the author. I’m excited about this because I hope it will help increase interest in the blog, as well as earn respect from my readers as an authority of my niche.

    Contacting his publisher about advertising the book on my site could be a great opportunity to increase revenue, too.

  2. The strategy behind a successful blog! Our business blog has been out for a while, but we’ve hesitated selling advertising space. Perhaps linking to other sites and reviewing products similar to ours will increase traffic. Thanks for the advice!

  3. Shanel Yang says:

    Huh! This is such a good tip, it makes you stop to think why didn’t I think of that? Thanks, Fred!

  4. Lee J says:

    I have a suggestion for those bloggers: Place a special email address on the blog for potential advertisers or people looking for a review. Then set up an auto response thanking them for their time, letting them know if might be a bit and by the way — here are the details if they do want to advertise.

    This could even been done with the main contact email. I simple auto response – “Hey if you’re looking for me to do a product review, I’m really backed up and cant’ get to it right now”

  5. Jerry says:

    I’m new to blogging, so this is an important post for me. It’s a reminder that there’s a lot more to this business than just slapping some Adsense links on your blog and hoping for traffic… I need to keep in mind that opportunities are out there, that other people find you for a reason, and that there are mutual benefits to be had in simply paying attention to what other people want.

    Thanks for this. Much to think about here.

  6. B says:

    I have never thought of this. There are so many avenues to explore in the blogosphere and this is a great help. I’m pretty new to blogging and I find this site extremely useful. Thank you.

  7. Robin Capper says:

    While I get your point I think it may have more to do with your motivation for blogging. Maybe those other bloggers are doing it to share info, the ad’s they have serving only to cover overheads, rather than generate an income stream.

  8. Marelisa says:

    Maybe they see blogging as a hobby, while the one who invited you to adverstise clearly sees it as a business. I think that even if your blog is a hobby you could be on the look-out for new revenue making opportunities. Is there anything better than making money from a hobby?

  9. *sigh*

    If I could only send that pitch to all of the gazillions of people that request reviews. 80-90% of them completely miss the mark when it comes to thinking our readers would be interested in their products.

    Kudos to you for at least targeting your PR efforts! Wish more people would do the same!

  10. This is a good idea. I guess you proved again in real life that taking the path less travelled may not necessarily lead you to nowhere! This one person that responded positively to you may have even done it inadvertently; but then that’s the way most inventions happen! It worked out for both parties in the long run.

  11. Michael says:

    I guess there aren’t very many bloggers that are smart enough to make money doing it. Whenever I get emails from people asking me to review their product I always point them to my advertise page and tell them that I may do a review of their product but in the mean time they can place an ad on my site (I usually get asked to review websites and applications).

  12. Ryan McLean says:

    Wow, great idea about turning people into paying advertisers. I will think about doing this on my blog

  13. I guess all the other bloggers, who didn’t respond, just don’t need anymore money!

    Or we get 20 requests like this per week and find that 90% of them are not a good fit for our audience, and 90% of them offer us an insultingly low fee for ads. Half of them want “inconspicuous text links,” which we don’t sell.

    I’d love to take advantage of every sincere, appropriate offer like yours, but sometimes finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack.

  14. As a user of third-party ad services, I do not benefit much from making the proposal you describe. It’s my partner’s job to locate advertisers; that’s what I pay them for.

    Small and mid-size blogs would actually be “putting cash in the trash” by negotiating this way, as the time spent would not justify the money earned.

    I think your point is valid, but it just doesn’t apply to many of us.

  15. Jess says:

    I am in a situation that is somewhat opposite to what you mentioned in your post. I am looking for people to review. I asked a jewellery maker (they are very well known) if I could use one of her images for a review in my blog. The review is very positive (it focuses on artists who are incredibly talented at beadwork) and she wrote back asking if I could use an image on her book cover (which to me just ruins the whole idea of the post as you can barely see her work beneath the book title and writing). I told her I would prefer to use the unadulturated image, however, I would mention her book (telling people they could learn how to make similiar beaded items from her book) and add a link to her site. She has not yet replied. I am still waiting to put up the post…but I think because my blog is so new that perhaps this artist is too famous for the likes of little me….Oh well..Fortunately, one gallery agreed for me to use their images so I guess miss famous can just miss out ….!

    jess

    By the way…if I ever get famous (chances of that happening are highly unlikely considering I am completely talentless –except I can do a pretty good kookaburra impersonation)…I will never ever forget the little people……ever ; )

    By the way…if miss famous is reading this (chances of that are highly unlikely cause she’s probably too busy being famous) you have 24 hours till I put my post up….max.

  16. ListenToLeon says:

    I can’t believe I never thought of doing this! I get PR firls sending me stuff on a regular basis, and I usually just review the things that I am interested in getting for free, or the ones that I can easily write something funny about. I need to take advantage of future opportunities for revenue that present themselves. Thanks for writing such a great entry!

    Leon

  17. broalex says:

    Most bloggers , I am not saying the ones you have contacted , but most 90% of them , don`t take blogging seriously. They run more than two blog and just not have time to respond to e-mails. Some written reviews on http://www.hubpages.com , http://www.squidoo.com and http://www.ezinearticles.com can do great for your DVD , they will for sure generate some good sales on the long run.

    Good Luck

  18. broalex says:

    Most bloggers , I am not saying the ones you have contacted , but most 90% of them , don`t take blogging seriously. They run more than two blogs and just not have time to respond to e-mails. Some written reviews on http://www.hubpages.com , http://www.squidoo.com and http://www.ezinearticles.com can do great for your DVD , they will for sure generate some good sales on the long run.

    Good Luck

  19. les says:

    Your point is well made – however 99% of bloggers are – no offense – amateurs, not marketers. They also tend to undervalue their sites.

    Having said that, I think the writer needs a little lesson in marketing – why only target ‘mommy’ blogs – there are a lot of ‘daddy’ blogs like mine out there – we are just as proud of our children and a review from some of these sites may have been interesting.

    We no longer live by the old stereotypes – dads are now stay at home parents whilst mom goes out to work.

  20. Andrea says:

    This is a very good point, but as a mommy blogger who *does* show ads, I think I have some insight as to a big reason why a lot of respondents didn’t convert.

    The majority of mom blogs I’ve seen are using an ad-management tool, often run by someone else. so they don;t deal with advertisers directly, and in a lot of cases are really unsure as to how they would go about it, what they would charge, etc…

    But you still have excellent points, I think they’re right on.

  21. Tanya, NJ says:

    What struck me most about your piece, was that you seemed surprised that all of the blogs you contacted weren’t stampeding toward you and your product. Its a basic rule for networking that you don’t try to sell someone your product or service five minutes after you meet. I am curious to know how you would respond if you were the one being approached to sell products for a stranger.

  22. Health Blog says:

    thats is a good advice, maybe in the future I can have a great blog

  23. jennydecki says:

    I have a mommyblog. I review products. I have “canned” emails that I send out for products that don’t fit our readers *at all* – an outline to respond to someone that might or might not fit for more information – and I’ll do one from scratch for a product we’re interested in.

    Maybe it’s because I have a coblogger that it’s not as big a deal for me. Maybe being a newer mommyblogger I’m just excited that people care what I think…but really, it’s not in my nature to be jaded (mostly) so I don’t think I’ll be changing my approach anytime soon.

    At some point, we plan on putting a Featured Product of the Month on the blog and letting that be the only paid advertisement, but really, we’re having so much fun with mommyblog reviews that I cannot imagine just ignoring a request.

    There are people behind those emails, and like Gary V. said when he was asked how he deals with all the noise, “There is no noise.” I refuse to believe that just because someone is from a PR firm it somehow makes them less human. We all want to be treated decently! No one wants to be noise that gets filtered or deleted without a second thought.

    Unless you’re giving me a hundred million dollars from a lottery I never entered. Then I won’t respond :-)

    Fred – thanks for the upsell suggestion. While we thought of putting up ad space, it was still such a new idea I never thought of upselling the people I was already talking to.

  24. Just a couple of weeks ago, I got a similar request for a link on my blog, and have just realized that instead of giving it away for free, I could have used a similar response mentioned in the post.

    I’ll be sure to remember this post next time something like that happens, thanks.

  25. Really, its a nice idea. So it will help for each bloggers need to aware of this issue.

  26. Erika Jurney says:

    I get between 10-20 pitches like yours per weekday, and I respond to them all the time. Here’s the problem with your advice.

    90% of the people who contact me assume that I’ll just be wetting my pants at the thought of getting something like a free DVD and of course it won’t be a problem for me to watch it, love it, and write a long post extolling its virtues.

    When I instead propose that they purchase an ad they either never respond or say that they have no budget for it. And I know that they don’t really want an ad because ads are more expensive and much less effective than a blog post.

    I think your vision of herds of people out there waiting to throw money at mommy bloggers is cute but nowhere close to reality.

    On the other hand, if I’m wrong about that, please feel free to throw money at me and my mommy blog. I’d be happy to sell you ad space.

  27. Fred Black says:

    Thanks everyone for all the comments! This is a follow-up to address a few questions and opinions that came up in some of the comments.

    First off, Darren, thank you for publishing my post!

    We do approach more than just “mommy blogs”… I just used that term in a generic sense to cover blogs and web sites that would be a good fit. Some were definitely “daddy blogs”, which, being a daddy, I particular like to see those!

    Using a third-party service to manage your advertising does not, and should not, stop you from suggesting to someone, who has contacted you directly, that they should advertise: give them the info that they need to place an ad. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter if you handle your own advertising, use a service, or a mix of the two. It’s true that most people you contact won’t advertise. It’s just like getting people to sign up to your email list, most won’t, but some will. You never know until you try. One thing is certain: if you do nothing, they will most likely do the same!

    For those bloggers who are successful enough to get an overwhelming amount of review requests, some automation may help. Setup a “review” email address; on your contact page have that address listed separately. Have an automatic reply message sent back to the sender stating that you get an overwhelming amount of review requests and that you will read their email, however it may take some time. Suggest that they consider placing an ad on your site and give them the information they need to do so. This frees you up to respond to the requests you would like to respond to, and at the same time, may result in additional ad revenue. I know what some of you are saying, and you are correct, most won’t advertise, but some may, and you’ve done nothing but setup an auto-responder… that works 24/7… even when you’re sleeping! You can do the same thing with a separate address for advertising as well (if you don’t sell “inconspicuous text links” put that information in the auto-responder email along with the types of ads you do sell, and how to advertise).

    Don’t rely on a third-party ad service to the exclusion of not replying to people. If you have people contacting you directly, respond. Even if you’re small you can setup an auto-responder, like I just described, to funnel those contacts to your service. Once it’s setup, it takes none of your time.

    Remember, copy is important. When you create your “canned” reply template, or, when you setup your auto-responder email, take the time to make it a good sales tool, after all, that’s what it is. Don’t just fire an email back saying you’re too busy, but here’s the link to advertise. Thank them for contacting you, explain a little about you and your blog, give some information on the types of traffic you get, etc. Just as if you were writing an ad yourself, you’re trying to increase the conversion ratio of tire-kickers and freebie seekers into ad buyers.

    Sincerely,
    Fred Black

    P.S. In the original article, I mention a photo… I guess that didn’t make it to Darren. It was a photo of a group of birds sitting on a power line: all the birds were facing the same way, except for one!