Last month, blogger and YouTuber Elle Darby opened an important conversation, when she attempted to pitch herself to a hotel based in Ireland, to which the business then “outed” her for writing a pitch to them on social media, instead of privately responding with a rejection. So, it’s had me thinking: Is pitching even that bad?
For those of you who are full time bloggers, those who use their blog as their main source of income, and those of you who are simply using your blog as a side thing, know all to well how difficult it can be to get work in this industry. Sitting around waiting for collaborations to happen just doesn’t work, and every now and then you do have to put yourself out there instead of relying on ad revenue. It’s a gamble, always, writing a pitch and putting yourself out there, and nine times out of ten you do get rejected. Every now and then though, you get a response with a company who wants to work with you, can see how working with you benefits both them and you, and are willing to let you work on your idea.
However: Scrolling through the comments on the Facebook post which was used to out Elle, I could see how much people who don’t blog and have never even attempted to do so, resent bloggers. Many people were throwing the “Bloggers just want everything for free,” phrase out there, one we hear all too well. Now, there are people who start blogging for the freebies, and they’re usually the ones who give up after a month because they realised how much hard work goes into blogging. You’re your own photographer most of the time, you’re writing your content by yourself, coming up with ideas, pitching to brands, running your social media accounts and being your own PR, among many other things that we do when it comes to networking and the fine things that we don’t generally chat about. I found myself growing more and more angry reading through the comments, these people have never even attempted to run a blog, so who are they to judge?
Bloggers aren’t the only ones pitching to brands, it’s a very common thing to do when you’re working in an industry which relies upon audience interaction and frankly, influencing. Turning yourself into a brand is probably one of the trickiest things to do as well, you need a niche and you need to relate to your audience, like the things that they like as well as being on the same wavelength and level as them. It’s not the worlds hardest job, I can think of many things that are probably a lot more difficult than this, but that doesn’t take away the hard work from bloggers such as Elle and myself who put a lot of thought and effort into what we write.
So, pitching. Have I done it before? I’m going to admit, yes, and I’ve only ever had a handful or less responses with acceptances to my pitches. This is obviously because my numbers are fairly low and since I rarely pitch, I don’t think that mine are particularly good, because it’s something you can only get better at once you’ve done it a bunch of times. Even though I rarely pitch, I still don’t see what is wrong with it. I have brands reach out to me expecting me to write for free and think of the “exposure” all of the time, I don’t write a nasty Facebook post blasting them for it. It doesn’t hurt to write a polite response back explaining why you don’t want to work with said brand or person, without being rude or just frankly trying to offend them.
I’ve chosen not to say the name of this Irish hotel just because even though they’re heavily in the wrong, I also don’t want to give them any more exposure. They don’t deserve it. The brand looks to me like it’s trying and failing to be the next Dickies, and I’ll never stay there so it’s not worth outing a brand I had no interest in to begin with.
Honestly, if you’re going to write a pitch, do your research about the brand, see what their reputation is like and the behaviour of management and employees. Getting “outed” is never okay, but it can be avoided.
Even though I’m for pitching, it’s got to be within reason
Just as you’re hoping to gain from the business you’re pitching to, they need to gain from you. If you get turned down or don’t receive a response, that’s not because your content is crap or anything, but because of your numbers. If you’re promoting a product or a service from a brand, you need to be aware that they only accepted your offer on the grounds that they believe you’re going to be an asset to them. Your numbers are the asset. If you have 10k+ followers, this isn’t really enough. Your follower engagement is what they look at, how many people are liking your posts? How many people are reading your posts and what is your DA score?
Much like how bloggers will complain about being offered work for no payment other than exposure, businesses are within their right to turn you down if your exposure simply isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to be featured on their Instagram and you’re guaranteed new followers and readers, that’s excellent and I’d say go for it to be honest, but if you’re writing an article about a brand and they’re going to gain zero new customers from you, well, you’re not really giving them anything back for their goods. Your article and how many sales you drive, is your payment.
I do think the man who runs the hotel, and wrote the Facebook post was dead in the wrong though. He was within his rights to turn her down, he was within his rights to express his annoyance over it, but to write a Facebook post on his public business profile, not make the effort to actually cover her name and details (you can clearly see through the transparent black highlighter effect), is just out of order and completely unprofessional. I have no doubt he’s gained customers over this, people hate bloggers and people hate that bloggers are given things in exchange for articles, videos and new customers, but she has also gained followers and new readers and viewers, so in a roundabout way they did both benefit from this and gain the exposure that they were both seeking. I do feel sorry for her, it’s dreadful what happened to her, and I hope that other bloggers do not feel put off from pitching, because it’s such a large part of this industry and it always has been.