Getting paid for a blog post may seem like a pretty good deal if you are a new blogger. Receiving free products in lieu of payment has its upsides, too. There are many ways to go about this, but one of the popular methods, although controversial, is to join an influencer network.
An influencer network is a new way of saying that you are a hired gun. You are a blogger or vlogger who agrees to publish reviews for money or free product and to disclose it within FTC guidelines. Many times, you’ll do this work because a public relations or social media agency hires you on behalf of its client – thus, you are in their network.
Let me restate that this can be a controversial way to build up your blogging business. Google recently gutted other companies like this because it considers these blog networks to be “content farms” designed to enhance a company’s PageRank through “spammy” (read: paid for) links. I link to a story on this topic at the end as well as several other SEO-posts that can help the small business owner sort it all out.
I don’t believe that these programs are wrong or bad. I think they provide an opportunity for savvy and honest business people to monetize a blog. You have to exercise good judgment when deciding if a network fits with your overall plans and if you want to accept payment (cash or product) for a “sponsored post” versus regular online advertisements or Google’s AdSense ads on your website.
Here are four to take a look at:
BlogFrog is one of the industry leaders in the influencer marketing space. They help advertisers (brands) identify and recruit topic-based social media influencers. Their platform includes a searchable database of more than 100,000 social media influencers, a knowledgeable community for quickly building successful campaigns, and tools to monitor and measure the effectiveness of social influencer programs. You have to apply to join the network and they base their decision on your topic and your web traffic.
Clever Girls Collective is run by, well, four clever girls in the San Francisco area and you have to give them credit for a high energy, savvy, and somewhat cheeky approach to influencer marketing. I hope they create a Clever Guys one soon. You apply to join the network and while topic and traffic are important; they appear to look carefully at how you will fit in with their major brand partners (an all-star list found on the case studies page).
SocialSpark is pretty organized. You sign up, then they provide you with offers or leads from advertisers. They call these “opportunities” which outline the advertiser details. You can then accept the terms or negotiate. You write your post and it is submitted to the advertiser for approval. Once published, you earn points, which can be redeemed for cash via PayPal. Simple application form.
Klout is another form of network where you can earn rewards based on your influencer scores. It is called Klout Perks. Klout is pretty well known for their Klout score and many bloggers are addicted to seeing it go up or upset when it goes down. Their entire algorithm is controversial and causes a fairly regular stir in the blogosphere when mentioned. You don’t really apply — just by signing in via Twitter or Facebook you become eligible for “perks” based on your Klout score.
To make this a practical post, I asked a friend and professional blogger, Jenny On The Spot, Jenny Ingram to share a few insights with our readers. Jenny is part of BlogFrog, BlogHer, and other well-known networks and has given me advice before on building a blogging-based business. She does product reviews occasionally for which she is paid in cash and/or product.
Jenny explained that each review, each brand’s request, is something she considers carefully and on a case-by-case basis to make sure there is a match for her readership, her audience. The reader has to come first. She stated that product reviews, even ones that send you “free” product to review, “come with a real cost – your time and effort. As a blogger, you have to decide if this path really works for you and if you’re running a hobby blog or a business.”
Adding revenue streams to your blog can be a good idea for some small businesses. Just be sure that you understand the FTC guidelines as well as the impact on your site via Google.
More Resources for SEO and Linkbuilding
Miranda Miller has an excellent post at Search Engine Watch that explains a fair amount about building links and sites that have been “de-indexed.” The one site that is most often cited is BuildMyRank.com, which has reportedly been issuing refunds to subscribers after Google de-indexed them.
You can also go through the Google Webmaster YouTube channel that shares lots of good ideas for optimizing your website through officially acceptable means.
Three of my favorite SEO link building posts from Small Business Trends contributors:
1. Why SMBs Shouldn’t Fear Link Building by Lisa Barone.
2. How to Choose the Right SEO Tactics for Your Small Business by Tom Demers.
3. 5 Tips For Being Naturally Good At SEO by Lisa Barone.
What do you think? Are influencer networks a good way to build income and a reputation for your blog?