How to avoid being taken for a mug as a blogger

It’s been a while since I published a post offering advice for newer bloggers, so it’s high time for another! As a full-time blogger, I get a lot of emails. Most of them are from nice, professional people. What they say in their messages is what they mean.

I love working with brands and PRs and the opportunities I receive are increasingly more creative and fun to work on.

Sadly, however, I get a fair few emails from those who, for want of a better phrase, think I can be taken for a mug. I hate that they’re trying to take advantage of me and giving honest PR folk a bad name in the process.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a marked increase in such approaches recently, so I thought I would flag up some things to be wary of.

And, yes, I learned the hard way with some of the following during my early days.

Contact details

There are certain things I always look out for in the format of emails. The domain that they come from is always the first. If it has been sent from a free provider such as Gmail or Outlook, I’m always a little more cautious as it affords them a fair amount of anonymity. The lack of an email signature with contact details is often a concern too.

Why? Because, if there are no other ways of contacting them, there’s no other way of chasing payment if it’s late. Checking their website will usually confirm whether they’re legit or not. Of course, some brands and self-employed PRs still use free email addresses and I happily work with them if I can find additional contact details.

Sneaky SEOs

These people really get my goat! Their emails go something to the effect of: “I’m an aspiring writer and I want to write a guest post for your blog.” They’ll even point out that they’re happy to do so free of charge. Most of the time, though, they’re not who they claim to be.

They’re actually trying to con you into publishing links to their clients’ sites. It’s something that some disreputable SEO sorts have been doing for years. To be honest, I’m surprised that this approach still exists, but people must be falling for it if they’re persisting in using it. Steer clear.

Know your own worth

This one might be contentious as different amounts of money mean different things to different people. But I think it’s so important to remember that transactional relationships between brands/PRs and bloggers should be mutually beneficial.

It’s not fair to put in loads of work and receive an amount that doesn’t remotely reflect that. Decide on a price range that you’re prepared to work for and stick to it. Be willing to negotiate, by all means, but not to your own detriment.

Disclose

If you accept payment for a blog post, you have to disclose it. This is a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority. How you do so is open to interpretation as the ASA isn’t prescriptive, but you have to one way or another. For the record, I label all my sponsored posts as “collaborative” and have a disclosure statement which spells out what this means.

Now and then, you may receive approaches that ask you not to label paid posts as sponsored. Indeed, I was offered one only this week. I politely declined, of course, and pointed out that non-disclosure is effectively illegal. Don’t accept these terms and, if they won’t agree to disclosure, it’s not worth working with them.

So there you go, my tips for how to avoid being taken for a mug. I’ll be back with another post for newer bloggers soon.

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