Blogger Town Hall Meeting – TypeACon 2012

Our panel for the Blogger Town Hall Meeting at the 2012 Type-A Parent Conference features Kelby Carr, Caitlin Madden, Nancy Dussault Smith, and Sarah Pinnix.

We have both brands and bloggers represented on the panel leading the town hall meeting. The panelists will begin talking about some of the hot topics in the industry right now, but anyone is allowed to raise their hand and contribute.

Blogger Town Hall Meeting

Why social network do you think is most effective? Any that are not?

“Twitter has become a link farm,” Sarah says. A lot of people are using it as such, forcing people to make lists of users to follow. How do you get on those lists? Twitter works really well for urgent situations, breaking news, conferences….we need to capitalize on live events and not just push out links all day. Facebook has the #1 ROI, in her opinion.

Nancy says Twitter has a big flash, but then it fizzles. For iRobot, though, they’re seeing more effectiveness from Pinterest. Some people are making beautiful art with colored lights and time-lapsed photography on the Roomba. They’re big on YouTube with cats, too. (Shoutouts for deviantART as a source of Roomba art links.) iRobot also uses Pinterest for hiring. Facebook is the fastest, quickest way to get a response fom iRobot.

Caitlin says that they use Pinterest a lot at Mabel’s Labels, too. They use Twitter for media outreach. She suggests making both local media and national media lists. Facebook drives a lot of sales, though.

Spin Picks finds that marketing on Pinterest is seamless and does not feel like marketing. You can show the lifestyle around a brand.

Kelby says we’ve come a long way since the first Type-A when the issue was, “Can we ever get paid for anything?” But there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding what constitutes paid media versus earned media. What should be paid? What shouldn’t be paid? And how should bloggers know the difference?

Nancy: We don’t ever pay for reviews to keep reviews unbiased. If it’s paid, it becomes a sponsored post, an ad. A review is for your readers, and paying you to write a review may bias. They pay people for engagement with people whose audience matches theirs. She mentions Mommy Niri, who is an engineer-turned-blogger whose kids love science, and she lives near the iRobot offices. They partner with her. “If I fly you to our offices, I’m going to pay you. I’m going to pay for your flight and your hotel. No one should have to pay for that on their dime. But if I’m going to have you write about it, I’m going to pay you.” Don’t undervalue your work. It is exhausting to get someone in accounts payable for her big company, though, she’s not going to put herself through that for $50 or $100. If she’s going to pay you, it’s going to be substantial, so it’s gotta be a significant relationship.

Cecily mentions that most of the stuff bloggers are being asked to review doesn’t have as much value as a Roomba. A lot of bloggers have been “yelled at” for writing something negative in a review, and even more of us raised our hands saying we have be asked not to post a review that was negative.

Caitlin says there’s a difference between a negative review and valuable critical feedback. If you can give a brand recommendations for improvements, that’s better.

Pick who you want to work with and who you don’t. If a brand doesn’t get it, you’re not going to be able to change their philosophy, so don’t waste your time.

A lot of people who don’t get it blanket send these emails, and they get responses from people who don’t know better or just are willing to give it away for free. Kelby says we’re all busy, but she thinks it’s our responsibility to respond to bad pitches and let these brands know what they’re doing wrong. Text links can get you “kicked out” of Google. Brands and PR need to be respectfully educated. (Does my “You Pitched Me” page count?)

Sometimes you get contacted by a PR intern that just doesn’t know, and sometimes the person you’re in contact with is not the one in charge. Ask who the gatekeeper is and get the information for the person high enough on the food chain to change something. One person in a company does not make social media (hopefully) –  a team makes social media.

Product is not payment. If a brand tries to tell you what you can and cannot put in a review because they paid you by providing you the product, product is not payment. A review is earned media, which means you aren’t getting paid, so they cannot make you change things or take it down unless they want to actually pay you and call it a sponsored post or advertorial.

We keep saying certain words – paid media, earned media, reviews, payments – it’s both brands and bloggers that are confused over the use of these terms. We need to have a unification in the definition of the words. (Thanks, Robyn.)

Go to the PRSA website to see what the PR world uses as their guidelines and definitions. Here’s a link to their ethics page.

Businesses look at the ROI between earned media and paid media. Earned media is measured by exposure, eyeballs. Paid media is measured by sales.

They don’t teach blogger outreach in college for PR professionals. Help educate them so the industry can move forward. (Amy chimes in and says that this is consulting for her. That knowledge is her skill set. Hand-holding PR professionals isn’t friendship for her, it’s how she pays her mortgage.)

If Caitlin is hiring you with paid media, it is because she wants to pay you for your unique skills. Your talent in writing, your photographer, etc. (Or, like Amy, perhaps your knowledge of working with bloggers in social media is your skill.)

“Thank you for reaching out to me, but this campaign is not going to work out for you. I could tell you why and outline ways to make the campaign better. If you would like to talk more, this is my consulting rate.” (Sarah)

But you can’t charge for consulting if you don’t have a presence and influence to back it up. Know what your value is.

You don’t have to work with brands to make money. You can write books. You can do freelance writing. You can charge more money to write on someone else’s blog than one your own blog. You can teach classes. You can do the consulting.

Nancy hires freelance writers for between $50-$80 an hour. (Hey Nancy, that’s close to my range. Let’s talk.)


Support other bloggers by buying their books. Support people off the page. Buying books will help more bloggers get books.

Writing is an art. People buy art for the sake of art. It can be valuable for being beautiful. Don’t lose your passion, and don’t lose yourself.

We love what we do. It takes a lot of time, though. We’re trying to find a path to justify the time and the money we invest in what we do. Even coming to this conference costs money. We’re here because we want to make money to make our blogging sustainable.

Charlie invites us to come and read and get into the community of dad bloggers. Hear, hear!

We are changing journalism. Own your writing. Don’t be ashamed to tell people about it in real life.

If these liveblogging posts are helpful to you, please consider liking WELL, in THIS House on Facebook.

Christina Gleason (924 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead. I have started writing no fewer than five novels, and I hope to finish one of them...eventually.


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