How I Will and Will Not Participate in the Business of Blogging

04/20/2011 By Shawn Burns

I just updated my “Make Me an Offer” page. I had to. I’ve found that in replying to pitches I’ve developed a pretty consistent set of beliefs, but they weren’t reflected on the old page, and this was leading to some frustrating interactions. I had to make some things clear.

Briefly, my policies are as follows:

1. Reviews are reviews. Send me a product, I’ll review it. No charge. It might take a while.

2. Giveaways and Promotions are services. I will charge for doing these. I will not attach them to reviews anymore. Mixing the two worlds was giving me headaches.

3. Ads….I haven’t made up my mind about ads yet.

I was offered the opportunity to do a giveaway on my blog today, for a not insignificant cash-value product. But in the initial pitch it seemed like the idea was just “Here! Give this away!”

Why? Why would I? Because giveaways are just what we do? Because I’m a nice guy? Because you asked me to? Because my readers would really benefit from it/love it and then I’d be known as the cool guy who gives things away and then I can get more traffic and charge more for the ads I don’t have?

So, I e-mailed back:

Thank you for your interest in promoting your product on Backpacking Dad.

I am happy to run a giveaway for you in a one-post format, providing my own written content in addition to the provided terms, and using your visual media and linking to your client’s services. I will do a 3-day promotion, beginning on a Wednesday, 12:01 am PDT and ending on a Friday, 11:59 pm PDT, with regular reminders through social media avenues like Twitter and Facebook, as well as footer reminders in any new blog posts submitted to the website during the period of the giveaway, which will reach feed subscribers as well as site visitors.

My fee for doing a giveaway of this nature is $200.

If these terms are agreeable, then we may begin by setting a start date for the giveaway. If they are not, I am open to your thoughts. In any case, I look forward to working with you some time in the future.


Shawn Burns, Backpacking Dad

I wasn’t really expecting the person to say yes to this. It’s not an unreasonable offer for my time and effort, especially since there had been nothing in the pitch about my own compensation (not even an offer of a product for me), so I was feeling a little cheeky and decided to more than double the cash-value of the product for my fee. But it’s an unreasonable industry standard, at the moment, when people are doing this stuff for nothing. I fully expected them to decline. Which they did.

Hi Shawn,

Unfortunately we can’t compensate bloggers for running this giveaway.
Thank you anyway!



But…then why would a blogger do it? I don’t really need hundreds of dollars to run a giveaway for a brand, but they don’t get to decide what my time and effort is worth, and they certainly don’t get to assume that it’s worth nothing at all.
But it struck me during the exchange that if I had just been more upfront about this, maybe I would endure fewer frustrating interactions. So from now on I’m going to set expectations, instead of letting someone else wander in with their own. This might mean I never, ever do another product review (except the backlog) or giveaway or promotion, because I’m making clear that my opinions are free but my time costs money, and they have to decide which one they want. I’m okay with that.
Do you have clear policies about product reviews/giveaways/ads/promotions? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants when interacting with companies?