Stat Counter

Friday, 17 January 2014

Bloggers Unite – Reviews and Plugs

For no good reason at all, I will illustrate today’s talk with pictures from today’s walk up Teesdale wot me and the Dawg did for the bagging of a “Four” known as Millstone Grits in which I broke the bagging duck of 2014 (although its not a proper tick, really…)
Since about Christmas, you may have noticed that I’ve adopted a new policy with regards the gentle but constant stream of emails I get from SEO’s and marketing companies and, occasionally, shops or manufacturers, to plug their bit of kit or their on-line shop or whatever. Most of these have nothing at all to do with hillwalking or the consumption of delicious pork-based products encased in fine pastry (often served with peas and gravy) (you catch my drift) (there it is with the brackets again) But some do….
This new strategy was intended to raise money for charity and basically it is this: Simply, I ask for a fee – usually fifty quid. If they plead poverty of budget and it’s a review, I ask for as much stuff as I can cheekily get away with and then sell the surplus – I’ve used which has an auction facility to effect some of this.
People who pay a fee, pay it direct into Mind (by ringing them up) or by using my page on the virgin giving site. This, I hope, will avoid any issues with income tax. People who buy stuff also pay direct into the virgin giving site, the advantages of which are that virgin moneygiving send me an email whenever anybody pays in, they add it up for me, payers can increase their donation by clicking the gift aid box  and payers can’t get their money back once they’ve paid. And once they have paid, I send the stuff. My contribution is the postage, of course (too complicated to work a way around this…)
Sooo, my plea to Outdoor bloggers who also get gear for review or get asked to plug stuff is – ask for more. These peeps are getting us on the cheap. Don’t be satisfied with just the baselayer top – ask for the long-johns as well, in fact, ask for two full sets. Or ask for a fee. I mean what’s fifty quid to yer average gear manufacturer.
What you do with the money is between yourself and your conscience.
And if you think whatever it is you’re reviewing is rubbish, then say so.
I meanter say, are we doing outdoor blogging to get free kit? I don’t think so. (I’m not sure exactly why I do it, but whatever it is, its not for the kit) (I probably just like to show off and see how many page views I can get) (specially if I get more than Mr Sloman) (which doesn’t happen very often) (they should take brackets off these keyboards)
It does need outdoor bloggers to form some kind of critical mass on this approach, though – otherwise, cheapskate SEO’s will soon get the drift and go off to find bloggers who will roll over for a pair of thermal undies.
Just to remind folks, though, that you don’t have to give me a pair of socks in order to qualify for the honour of donating on my virgin money giving page . Oh no… you can sooth your conscience for eating all that hidden chocolate supply, unreasonably insulting the postman, frightening a lollipop lady or whatever it is by clicking here and then clicking “donate now”  Insulting remarks, banter, personal messages or  excuses etc can all be left in a comments box as well, so even an insult might be worth a couple of quid.  And don’t forget gift aid!
Bloggers Unite! Ask for more and raise cash for your favourite charity. Don’t just do it for nowt! And lets raise the price of a gear review and do something useful with the proceeds. Even if you don;t really want to review the workpants or the fabby new hikers knife from New England – ask for the money. If you don’t want to do it, ask for a lot of money (I asked for £250 one and they quickly went away)  They’ll soon get the message that this advertising/marketing stream is no longer free.
Since November, I’ve raised just over £200 for Mind using this approach. OK, it might not be a stunning sum, but its money they wouldn’t otherwise have had. And I feel just a little bit smug about it anyway (it doesn’t take much…)



Louise said...

Brilliant idea, I'm in! Although, you may have noticed, I don't really get offered a lot of gear. However, whatever I have, or get for it, is yours. Or rather, theirs.
If you see what I mean...

Philip Werner said...

I ask for $250. So far that has scared all of them off. Not one has accepted. Mind you, this is what mommy bloggers get on a regular basis.

The rest of the reviews I do...I ask the manufacturers for things I specifically want to review. Inbound requests are almost always shite.

John J said...

Mind is an excellent charity - WELL worth supporting.

I'm afraid the number of offers I've had to test / review gear can be counted on the fingers of, er, no hands. One day, maybe.

Your idea is a splendid one, if I am approached to test gear I'll do my goodest to extract the maximum amount of lolly - probably for MIND.

Nice pics of the walk by the way.


Reifyn said...

I'm glad you're raising funds, I think it's grand. Keep it up. (And have you considered other types of brackets, like [] or {} (I call those ones 'seagull brackets', because they resemble little birds in flight.)(Oh, there's these too, if they are brackets <>.)

Dawn said...

Sounds good Mike, cracking idea.

Tony Bennett said...

I get so little traffic to my blog (51 hits on the damart review, so far) that I rather think the SEO marketeers may be disappointed - but I'm not going to tell them. Oh wait, I think I just have. And of course there is nothing in the contract which says you can't take the post down after a few days! I'm just hanging in there for an invitation to review some cool mountain bike kit. In fact a replacement bike for the one that got nicked would be good (hint!)

Oh and Reifyn, <> are known as angle brackets or Bra and Ket in Dirac notation. That physics degree wasn't a complete waste of time.

Sorry Mike - didn't mean to take over your blog :)

Oldmortality said...

Not sure if I qualify as an outdoor blogger - I type my posts in the living room - (note alternative to brackets. oh shit), but I used to get asked to review stuff.My response was always "Have you actually read my blog ?" which usually killed it stone dead.One guy, however, persisted and I wrote what I thought was avery fair and reasonable review of a wee Berghaus rucksack. Since then - zilch. Can't understand it, really.

Alan Sloman said...

Cracking idea, Gromit!

Mind you, it has to be said, you should be getting zillions more readers than me at the moment as I've done so little in the last eight months... but that is about to change!

En Garde!

I got into a lot of trouble, apparently, writing about something being a "pile of ordure" (I had thought it was a rather witty description at the time...) There were threats. Yes, really!

Just sayin'.

Great idea - I've just been approached by an SEO chap, so I shall have a go for you and ask him to donate to your cause.

hillplodder said...

Excellent idea. I now tend to only do these if they're offering or can be persuaded to part with something I need or want. That usually scares them off. Hadn't considered linking up with the charitable donation thing, but think I'll do that.

Northern mum down South said...

I am very new to this bloggin' lark and have only done 4 posts (3 proper ones if you don't count my first one which was just me randomly pressing buttons)(loving the brackets thing . . .). I wasn't sure why I was starting up a blog but having just read your post I think its a fab idea and if I ever get to the dizzy heights of being offered money or free stuff to review, I will follow suit.

Martin Rye said...

I say no to most offers. I get a lot and if I pull my finger out and blog I am baffled at the offers that come in.

This is a nice idea Mike. One to encourage as well as a discloser to state its test kit etc. I am sick of bloggers who take and cant admit its test kit and blagged for etc.

One of the worst I have seen is claiming to have used a sleeping bag when all their trip reports showed different kit had been used. Dishonest blogs make this idea a hard challenge as they are in it for themselves, but its one worth agreeing to and supporting.

I will support your charity at some point this year, and well done for the effort on raising money for them.

Quinn said...

If anyone ever offers me any sort of free merchandise I will probably fall off my blogging chair in shock! But I think your idea of using the offers as a way to generate charitable donations is excellent. I hope it brings in loads of cash for your chosen organization.
And, if you ever tire of brackets (or parentheses like the ones fore and aft here), you might try the old space-dash-space. I find it adds a certain - oh, I don't know - rhythm, perhaps? - to one's writing! ;)

Howellsey said...

Never been offered anything sadly...but the concept is sound...

Mike Knipe said...

Thanks everybody - hopefully, if anybody does get an offer, they'll manage it wisely!!
Philip - I asked for £250 once and they went very quiet. I'm not a gear reviewing blog, though, so I'm not going to chase any kit (Probably... anyway...!) In fact, I'm unclear as to why I'm blogging at all - I suspect I just like writing daft stuff - outdoor types often take themselves far too seriously....

As for brackets etc - I must use a wider variety .. and some hyphens or dashes -