Why I won't contribute to a publication for you
I'm not interested in writing for a publication on your behalf.
No idea what I'm referring to?
Here's an email that I get a lot from companies goes something like this:
My name is Jane Doe and I work for Company X that has specialties X and Y.
We're releasing this really great new product, and we'd like you to review it.
This is what it does, and because you wrote about something similar we'd love it if you could review it on website.com.
Editors have the authority to say "no" to an idea even if I've worked with them before
And who can blame them really? It's literally their job to ensure that only the best possible content for their publication gets read by others.
No matter how many times I've worked with an editor before, they can say this whenever they want:
Thanks but no thanks. Send me a different idea....
Not even kidding! This is the case for all writers, of all specialties.
It doesn't matter what kind of writing you do.
If your work is being published anywhere, it will go through a similar process, unless it's self or vanity publishing.
Freelancing is a relationships-based game
But what do relationships have to do with freelancing? A lot actually.
I'm referring to relationships from:
- An old-school, Mad Men like perspective, where professional relationships are fostered in person
- A social media age perspective, where it's about transforming readers and social media followers into prospects.
Just like any other kind of relationship, trust is a key element of the back and forth interaction between client and freelancer.
If I carry out the task at hand, and then add in a subtle endorsement of another company, I'm not exactly helping build trust.
It doesn't matter if the quality of the content is great and I did a great job at meeting deadlines in a timely fashion.
If I sneak in an endorsement of another company trust will be broken instantly, and I don't want that to happen... ever!
I need that sense of trust to do everything from getting referrals to transforming one-off projects into a long-term opportunity.
It's a dated principle
Why do people try to get bloggers to endorse their products? Because they want to boost their SEO rankings.
Sure, SEO is important, but thanks to things like social media and E-commerce there are better ways to bring your company's SEO rankings up a couple of notches.
Blogging is great. Authentic video content is great. There are lots of creative ways to get the word out there about your work.
Pick a tactic that's relevant to the tools that you have at your disposal, or work with an independent contractor.
Why is it a dated principle though?
Because getting leads isn't about getting better search engine optimization rankings than your competitors. It's about a lot more than that.61 % of internet users research products online.
When people do their online research on your company, they want to feel like they can learn more about you and the industry that you work for, before they spend time and money on your product.
It's against the guidelines of a lot of the websites I write for
I remember the first time I took a workshop on SEO. One of the most refreshing things I heard all evening, was the fact that link building schemes can ruin your relationship with Google.
Because this is the case, a lot of the websites that I write for frown upon the idea of articles that incorporate promotional backlinks.
A lot of the work that I do is web content copywriting-based.
But what does that mean? On Freelancer FAQs, Deevra Norling's article on copywriting described the type of copywriting I do perfectly:
Content writing involves interesting and informative articles, blog posts, how-to guides, and even white papers that will be published on the web and possibly also included in e-newsletters.
Copywriting has a marketing emphasis, so endorsing your product on a company website is a huge "no-no."
Authenticity is a really huge part of the work that I do
If you visit my website, you'll notice that "authenticity" is the most commonly used word, and I have a very valid reason for that.
Not only is it a personal belief but people love it. My clients love it. The people that read my content love it because it doesn't come across as "too salesy."
It's also a principle that gets me more work and gets people's attention. If I suddenly turn around and say "I endorse company X, here's a link," I'm not exactly practicing what I preach.
I'm not the first blogger to write about this topic, which is alarming.
If the idea that getting a quick link is "better/easier" than blogging wasn't so common then this wouldn't be such a frequently discussed part of my niche.
It says in big, bolded letters, in multiple sections of my website that I don't accept these types of requests, however, I just keep getting further requests from PR and marketing professionals.
By writing this post, I hope to decrease the number of backlink requests and explain why these aren't the types of emails that I'm willing to answer.
Over to you- what's your take on including promotional backlinks in your articles? Do you think that it's a system that works?