Many moons back, I used to write a gardening and horticulture blog over at LiveJournal. I had a lot of reasons for shutting it down, and one of the particulars involved advertising. Spam comments were relatively easy to fend off, although you had some really clueless types who’d actually write to me to complain about how I’d removed their advertising and then blocked their accounts or IP addresses. No, I got tired of people trying to use me as a forum for selling their own stuff, whether or not I actually approved of it. I don’t have any problems with passing on word about venues and events that deserve wider recognition, nor with reviewing items I’ve purchased because I think readers might have an interest. I just refuse to do so without admitting the source, buying the product in question, and letting everyone know what’s up and why. Thanks to the dubious influence of one Dallas writer notorious for throwing tantrums about getting review copies and other swag, and then throwing larger tantrums in print because he didn’t receive enough swag, I generally decline review copies in general. If I’m writing a negative review, it’s because my own money was involved.
This is why I had quite a bit of fun receiving this letter two weeks ago:
I am inquiring about contributing a guest post on
http://texastriffidranch.com/. The website looks very clean and
well structured, I have specifically chosen you to reach out to as I am
looking to submit a high quality, professionally written guest post article
to place on your site based around living in Texas.
In addition to providing free, high quality content to your site, we also
perform a social boost through providing Facebook likes, Re-tweets, Diggs
and more to the post URL. We provide each one of our guest posts a minimum
of 50 social votes (a $100 value) which will help bring more visitors to
your site via these social channels, as well as provide social signals to
the search engines. These votes not only give your website more visitors,
but more authority and ability to rank as well.
That being said, I am looking to contribute content at no cost to either of
us as the value-add here is pushing out intriguing and fresh content for
your website audience, search engine visibility and social reach as well.
In return for supplying the 100% unique content, images and the social
boost; all I would like in return is up to 2 links within the author bio of
I look forward to your response,
Confidentiality Statement –
By engaging in conversation through e-mail with representatives from
GuestBloggingNetwork.com, you agree not to disclose any confidential
information in connection to all negotiations and/or discussions with
GuestBloggingNetwork.com, or its subsidiaries and partners, to any third
party without the prior written consent of GuestBloggingNetwork.com.
Confidential information includes but is not limited to client identity,
marketing plans, forecasts, marketing strategy, financial information,
trade secrets, marketing materials, or any other information exchanged in
all present or future dealings with GuestBloggingNetwork.com.
I didn’t respond for a bit. I wanted to see if this was a blanketbomb solicitation, or if someone was planning to follow up to see if I was going to bite. I wasn’t disappointed:
A few days ago I reached out and sent you an e-mail about possibly
submitting a guest post for placement on your website. I wanted to send a
follow up e-mail because I had not heard back from you after I originally
reached out about the guest posting opportunity.
Please respond as soon as possible and I can either send over a guest post
article for review or we can brainstorm some quality topic ideas you would
be willing to host on your site.
Thanks again for your time,
Well, you can imagine my surprise when I learned about Hamilton Nolan’s solicitation over at Gawker.com to post links to advertisers. You mean 43a pays bloggers for advertising link placement, and GuestBloggingNetwork only offers 50 social votes (whatever those are)? What a cheapskate! Who the hell do these guys think they’re running: a science fiction media site?
Very seriously, I know perfectly well that many bloggers, either inadvertently or wilfully ignorant of conflict-of-interest issues, take regular payments. I also know far too many “reviewers” who are so thrilled to get any attention at all that they’ll give ecstatic reviews to anything that comes to them. (During a short stint as an editor, a good friend pointed out that one of my book reviewers was plagiarizing reviews from other writers and printing them as hers. Apparently, that was the only way she could keep up with the number of books she was receiving for review, and it was all so she’d keep getting more. She was fired on the spot.) It’s just that I know that my good word is the only thing I have here, so the general policy will be to as up-front as possible. If I plug an event or activity by friends, that’s because they’re friends, not someone offering money or “access”. And blatant, shameless pay-for-play is best reserved for SMU football.