Years ago, me and my friend established a little business. We weren’t planning something grand. In a way, we were just testing the waters of doing business on top of our day job. Along the way I have to admit, we have secret hopes and ambitions. At the end of the day, we wanted something that can complement our employment earnings.
I was aware that we will not survive by simply relying to referrals or contacts from relatives. We needed a concrete promotional machinery for our business. Biased as I maybe, I suggested that we try to promote our business through bloggers. I prepared proposal letters to a number of selected bloggers. I was excited and optimistic. I have been reading these bloggers for quite some time. I was inspired, impressed and moved by their friendly attitude and regular emphasis of their willingness to support start up and promising businesses.
Sadly, the response rate of my proposal letter was not good. I was optimistic because the bloggers I have approached gave me an image that they are a community of friends, partners and fairy godmothers, who have a heart for starting businesses. I approached them because I have read in one of their posts that they are open for partnerships and collaborations, especially for businesses that complemented their personality and interests. I had high hopes about this promotional effort. Sadly, I can only count the bloggers who took time to respond.
I was thankful to the few bloggers who responded. Unfortunately, that little glimmer of hope for collaboration, sponsorships leading to promotion faded away. I was blown away by probably, the unwritten practice or culture of blog sponsorships and collaborations.
One blogger agreed to accept our services for the birthday of a family member. Problem is, everything went as a short notice. I even got sick along the way. I offered to send product samples in exchange for an article. I retreated my effort because apart from the product samples, I have to pay some money for the article. Nevertheless, I appreciate this blogger’s response.
Another blogger offered us a different partnership. She wanted a commissioned work . We were constrained with time again. I offered to sponsor materials for her own project. I even volunteered to personally deliver the items for her own convenience. There were minor problems along the way, which I will no longer mention. But how this blogger treated me was something not worth mentioning anymore. As much as we value our own time, I believe we need to foster the same level of respect to other’s people time …. more so, efforts.
My worst experience was from this food blogger who promised to do two things. An ad space and an article in exchange for the product samples we sent. We had a little misunderstanding along the way. I humbly apologised though. I accepted our fault. As much as I want to give the benefit of the doubt, this blogger did not conform with our agreement. She never blogged about the product sample. Although the side bar ad was existent for a while. I tried to email her several times. I never received any response so I took it as a sign that she has no intentions to publish or even mention us in one of her articles.
The only blogger who was able to show us a high level of professionalism was S. Our business proposal came before I personally met and become friends with S. I sent an email to S. S willingly accommodated our proposal. S was more than willing to accept our product samples. S even agreed to place a sidebar ad for free. I was surprised. While it would cost me thousand of pesos to place a side bar to other bloggers, here is S who was willing to adopt our little and struggling business. Although my fault because I never got to send her the jpg file and the html codes. At that time, I was beginning to drift away from using bloggers as partners for promotions.
I’m aware of the fact that I cannot force other people to like our product and accommodate our proposal. I may appear bitter but I keep wondering, how some bloggers would often emphasise their inclination to support small and starting businesses. Some would even claim that it would be a humbling opportunity for their blogs to pave the way for promising business. I was easily convinced by these words. Only to later discover the amount of money and products I needed to shell out to gain a space for promotions or even just a mention in one of their articles. I will not however discount the fact that these bloggers have likewise exerted efforts and expenses to reach their current state, popularity and influence. They know their worth and I respect that. However, part of me always feels confused whenever I would hear / read them saying that they love to help entrepreneurs and start up businesses.
There are are bloggers claiming to fulfill their passion to share, become a good influence and spread some positivity in the blogosphere. But at the end of the day and all the experiences I had, everything translated as to how much resources I can venture on them.
I’d like to think that the bloggers I approached are treating blogging as a profession. Hence, everything requires a professional fee. Maybe I can equate it in my position as a part time freelancer. I don’t feel good when a client tends to haggle with my professional fee. Bloggers are professionals as well. Hence, the professional fees I have to incur. However, I believe that my position as a freelancer is incomparable because in the first place, I never projected a welcoming aura of deceit. I’m always clear to my clients that I implement professional fee rates for the kind of work I can offer. I don’t present an artificial image of myself in order to win clients.
It seems to me now that I have to calibrate my expectations. While it is always inspiring to hear encouraging and welcoming words from some bloggers, part of me should bear in mind that at the end of the day…. there’s no free lunch and somewhere along the way, there’s always that layer of sugar coat I have to learn to discretely and skillfully scrape off.