Most bloggers who are blogging in their particular niche for any amount of time, eventually begin to attempt to make money blogging with sponsored and/or syndicated posts, affiliate links, brand ambassadorships, reviews, giveaways and more. There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with that either!
Unfortunately, for every reputable person and company out there willing to work with you, there are three more waiting in the wings to take advantage of you. If you don’t have all of the information that you need before you begin an assignment or a partnership with them – you could find yourself standing there with the proverbial empty bag and nothing more than countless hours of your life lost that you cannot get back to show for your work.
The one most important piece of information that I can offer to any other blogger is this – know who you are dealing with.
I’ve had it happen to me. One more than one occasion, and this last instance on Monday was the last straw. So I am taking the lesson learned from my own experience and sharing what I’ve had rubbed in my face with all of you – so that you do not find yourself in the same predicament.
1. Deal with companies that you see others dealing with. The best way to determine whether a company or individual is on the “up and up” is to CHECK THEM OUT. If you are contacted by an individual or company you have never heard of – Google them! Google the company that they claim to work for! DO YOUR RESEARCH. Red flags should pop up if you type in XYZ Corporation and all you find are complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau from disgruntled customers, and not one single blogger you know, or blog that you read, has any reviews or advertisements from the XYZ Corporation on their blog.
2. Talk to other bloggers. I know that sometimes we bloggers can be “hush hush” about how we got to offer a particular review/giveaway, or who we had to bribe to get to work with the Fortune 500 company. However, if you have done your research and you cannot find a single blog that has a blog post, or an affiliate link, or a review/giveaway post on your company – ASK AROUND. Take it to Facebook, to one of your blogging groups, ask them if any of them have ever done business with the XYZ Corporation. While we may not always want to share those “choice” business dealings with each other, we are more than happy to help you steer clear of the shady ones!
3. Get contact information. I don’t care if the XYZ Corporation is offering you $175 to prepare a post about their company’s offices in sunny Florida with a simple phrase and a link – something that sounds like a piece of cake to whip up. While that monetary figure might blind you at first – more often than not it is a ploy to “dazzle” you (we think you’re blog is so awesome we are going to pay you all this money just to type up a simple 300 word post) and entice you into saying yes and doing the work without thinking things through.
- Have a Thorough Contact Form. If you do not have a contact form on your blog for readers, advertisers, companies, etc. to contact you through – GET ONE NOW. You can create a thorough contact form in minutes that will include everything that you need to know.
- Name – First and Last. Do you know how frustrated you will be IF you manage to find the corporate number for the XYZ Corporation only to learn that they have 38 individuals named “Andrew” working for them and that they are all in various other satellite offices?
- Title. You need to know with whom you are dealing. Are you dealing with the Director of Sales and Marketing or Joe Schmoe in the back office? You need to know!
- Telephone. You need to have an alternate way to contact the individual you will be doing business with. If their email does not include their title, company name, and/or a contact number – RED FLAG! Anyone can claim that they never received your email or worse yet, just ignore you and delete it without even reading it! If you get the “email brick wall” then you need to have an alternate means to contact the individual you are working with!
- Website/Blog URL. If they are a reputable company, then they have a website or an online presence of some sort – Facebook, Twitter, etc. Get it.
- Email Address. You will probably already have this but just in case you don’t – get it.
- Reason for Contact. You want to know exactly what they want with you, what they expect you to do, or if they are just inquiring as to your policies. Each blog (and blogger) will need to customize these to what they wish to know, but you can take a look at mine here to give you an idea of what you should ask.
- Message. Provide an area for them to tell you why they are contacting you.
4. Get the info you need – regardless. If the individual or company contacted you via email and did not use your contact form – and did not provide the information in the email – ask them to please complete it so that you have an accurate and consistent accounting of all of your business dealings for the year when it comes time to file your tax information.
Programs such as 123ContactForm and EmailMeForm give you the option to embed the form on a page on your blog, as well as having a stand-alone page that you can direct individuals and companies to for completion.
5. Know where they are. In this day and age of technology, companies and individuals can be located anywhere in the world. Make sure you get the address of the company where your individual is located or, at the very least, the location of the home office. You never know when you are going to have to track down a company associate who did not follow through on their end of the agreement.
6. Your blog is your business. Would you just go and hand someone $175 off the street just because you thought they were awesome? I highly doubt it. While you may work from the comfort of your home on your blog – your blog IS your business when you begin to monetize it – and you should conduct all business regarding your blog as though you were located in the office building down the street with a brick and mortar office.
7. If you get shafted. It is bound to happen to all of us at one time or another. You do the work, you submit the post, everything is perfect, and then all of a sudden – they can’t pay you for the work that you did for whatever reason. In a “normal” work environment you could rant and rave, go over your manager’s head to his superior and up the chain of command until you either received payment for the work that you did or you quit. On the Internet – if you do not have the information stated above – YOU’RE JUST STUCK. Yes, you can get mad, you can rant and rave, you may even want to go and blast the individual and/or company on every social media site and blogging forum you belong to just to “get even.”
Not only will it get you nowhere at all, if other brands and individuals see that you are quick to lash out and blast a company or one of their representatives all over the world wide web – they will blacklist you and your blog from ever working with them, their affiliates and subsidiaries. Take a deep breath, realize where you made your mistakes, learn from them, and don’t make the same mistakes twice.
I hope that you have found these tips informative and that they will help to keep you from falling into the same traps (yes, plural!) that I have. Just because you might be on the up-and-up and an honest individual, does not mean that the person you are dealing with on the other side of that computer monitor is as well.