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Cake and tea

Sometimes (occasionally) cake and tea isn’t enough

Sorry Mum, it’s a post about blogging. It does happen on rare occasion, and this is one of those times.

Now Mum’s gone, I’d like to talk about bloggers and brands. Specifically, whether the relationship between bloggers and brands has changed after a certain major brand was wiped off the face of Google recently.

Before I begin, let me assure you I am no SEO guru. I know the difference between a follow and a no-follow post. I am au fait with the Google rules regarding paid for links. I’m aware that a PR isn’t the same as an SEO bod. These are all things that are clear to me and don’t need explaining.

What I’m also clear about, though, is the value I place on my time. And this is where this post is coming from.

Last week I was emailed by an SEO agency asking if I’d like to place a competition on my blog. I explained that I don’t do competitions at the moment, as I simply don’t have the time to run the admin side of things. The SEO rep replied, assuring me there would be no work involved, they just wanted me to write about the competition that would be hosted on their client’s site. So, that would be an advert then, yes?

When I got back in touch with my rates, the SEO went off to check the figures. It was all standard practice and the emails were very pleasant. Recently, I heard back from the agency. They were sorry but they were pulling their budget for the project, due to recent changes to Google algorithms and that infamous situation with a certain brand losing their place on the search engine. Fine, all to be expected really. SEO agencies are jumpy after Google cracked down on a company flouting the rules. I get that.

What I don’t get, though, is what was suggested next. “If you could just write the post anyway, with a link to the site where the competition is being held, that would be great.” To make it clear, the SEO agency wasn’t pushy. They recognised that they weren’t able to compensate me for my time or for a post on my site, but they wondered if I could do them a favour anyway. In return, they could offer me – wait for it – tweets. That’s it. They could offer some RT’s to their own client’s (unpaid) advert, from their own client’s Twitter account.

Now, call me picky, but my time is worth more than a few tweets. I write this blog because I love it. It gave me a place to be me again after I became a mum and it provided a platform to write from and launch a new direction in my career. I consider it part of my work, as I earn the odd bit of cash from it but – more importantly – it leads to new commissions for writing that I’m paid for. However, everything I choose to write on here is from my own head.

Also – unsurprisingly for a blogger – I’m active on my own Twitter account, as well as Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and various blog networks.

I don’t need “free content”. I have plenty of my own, swimming around in my brain. I don’t need tweets promoting a commercial post from a company that has no interest in engaging with me. I work 60 odd hours a week and spend my afternoons negotiating potty training and toddler tantrums. Time is something I don’t have an abundance of.

Spare moments are rare and, on the evenings when I find half an hour to write a blog post, I don’t choose for that post to be about a competition on another company’s site that I have no interest in. Not unless I’m getting paid, or being offered an experience that makes it all worth it. Otherwise it’s not worth it. Not to me anyway.

I replied to the SEO person explaining that I wouldn’t be able to help them. They totally understood and accepted that they’d have to find new ways to work with bloggers, to entice them to write about their clients. So that’s what I’m asking here. As a blogger, what is it that makes you want to write about a company and give them a precious slice of both your time and your blog space? While lots of bloggers are refusing to do follow links, does this mean the end of SEO / blogger relations?

This is one introverted blogging debate I’m genuinely interested in. Hit me with your opinions – I’m listening.