Here’s a Q&A with a newish member in my community, TheJackB. And, dang if I could find Jack’s last name to properly introduce his content below. I looked high and low on his blog and elsewhere on his pages; to no avail. So, you can call him The Jack (because apparently there was another Jack B, and this Jack B wanted to be THE, as in HRH Jack B. Uh-huh, you get my drift.
This piece below from THE Jack B stemmed from his comment on my post this week about Mommy Bloggers versus Mompreneurs. Jack wrote about his work as a Daddy Blogger and the work he’s gotten from some major brands. So, I spouted off a few questions, and here’s what Jack has to say. Neat experience; impressive. Thanks for playing, Jack!
Soulati: How did you get involved in parent blogging?
I would almost call it serendipity. I began my blogging career in 2004 on a whim. In the midst of my foray into posts that were generally foolish and insignificant my father had a major heart attack and ended up on life support.
It was a very scary time for me. I had a young son and a pregnant wife and was suddenly responsible for taking care of three grandparents. I felt like I had to be strong for everyone so the blog became my confidant. It was where I let my guard down and shared my fear.
In the midst of this I thought that it might be interesting to chronicle some of the things that my son did and the discussions we had. I don’t think that I began to call myself a dad blogger until several years later. I was just a blogger who wrote his kids and parenting.
The ads on blogs have been around for as long as I can remember but the reviews/giveaways probably didn’t start until around 2006. Or at least that is about the time that I first remember hearing/seeing them.
Soulati: How’s the barrier to entry for dads?
There is a very low barrier to entry for bloggers in general. All you need is a computer and an internet connection and you can start blogging. It is part of the reason why the blogosphere is saturated with blogs, most of which die within 90 days.
Soulati: Do you have someone represent you to find opportunities?
No. I don’t have anyone whose job it is to do so. All of the work that I have done is either through referrals or because the brand/agency contacted me. For a long time I intentionally avoided getting involved in all of this.
Eventually I decided that since I love to write it might be worth trying to figure out how to monetize my blog so I opened myself up to the possibilities.
Soulati: Tell me about your experiences with PR people working on blogger outreach.
It is mixed. I have received a lot of pitches addressed to Dear Webmaster or Dear Mommy Blogger that I sort of roll my eyes at as it usually indicates that I got copied on a mass email.
I don’t automatically discard those emails the way that some bloggers do because if you don’t read the pitch you don’t know what sort of opportunity is being pitched. What bothers me is when I receive something that isn’t appropriate for my readers and doesn’t offer appropriate compensation for the work they are asking me to do.
Overall I would say that my experience is positive. Most people are pleasant to deal with and responsive to my questions. It is like anything else, sometimes you run into jerks.
Soulati: You’ve mentioned you’ve seen some pretty negative situations. What is the solution, Jack? What must happen for a cohesive working relationship from PR to blogger? From corporate marketing to blogger? From blogger to corporate marketing?
I suspect that many of the negative situations stem from misunderstandings between the two sides. Let’s start with the bloggers.
Many bloggers have unrealistic view of what their blog is worth and consequently are irritated when they aren’t offered appropriate compensation.
They would be well served to learn more about PR and advertising. If they had a better understanding about what the agency/brands are trying to accomplish it would help them. It is not hard to create a basic media kit, an ‘about me’ page, disclosure policy etc.
Another issue that has been created is the saturation of the blogosphere and the number of bloggers who negotiate and I use that term loosely ‘bad deals.’ Why would you work for 15 hours for the chance to give away a $10 gift card to company XYZ.
I suppose that you argue that the agency isn’t culpable and bears no responsibility for this happening but I think that is short sighted. Even though it is an inexpensive way to try and promote your client you are not building a good relationship with the blogger. It is just cheap labor that you are going to burn out.
Savvier blogger and agency reps will work together to build programs that add value for both parties. If you create more of a partnership between the two sides I think you will see better results.
Maybe I am the oddball here, I don’t know. But I spent a lot of years selling space, most of it for online publications so I always want to know details about the campaigns. I want to know if they are building awareness or engaging in lead generation.
That experience also taught me how much money the brands have to spend on their marketing/PR efforts. But even if it hadn’t all you have to do is look around and see what the brands are doing and it is hard not to want to try and grab a bigger piece of that.
I am not the only blogger who is cognizant of this which is why so many are pushing for compensation in dollars instead of just products/services.
On the brand/agency side they need to understand that it is not an unreasonable request. There are times when it is makes sense to pay bloggers in the aforementioned goods and services but it shouldn’t be the only way.
One of my pet peeves is being told that they’ll also provide a link back to my blog. Let me qualify that, if that link has real value and I believe that it will provide good exposure than there is merit in using it.
But if I ask you for demographics about the link I think that I am entitled to them. It really boils down to treating establishing a professional relationship between the two parties.