As a single parent, earning money to cover our ever-increasing expenses is rarely far from my mind. My oldest is driving now (insurance? a car?), my boy is not far behind, and of course they all want smartphones, at least as good as what dear old Dad has. Now I’ve long since mastered “no” but it’s a fact that the cost of keeping a child increases as they get older. Clothes, entertainment, even food goes up, not to mention a mortgage, insurance, health insurance, and funds for having fun. Nothing radical there.
It should be no surprise that I use this blog as a small revenue stream as best I can eke out. It’s not much, maybe $500/mo total from various campaigns and sponsored posts, etc, and I – of course! – always disclose so you, dear reader, are never being shilled or scammed. Not really my style and I know that situation reversed I’d be pretty grumbly if you approached me with a marvelous opportunity or splendid product without bothering to actually mention that it’s your brother’s company or you were being paid $$ to promote it.
Turns out that there’s a thriving marketplace for companies seeking to tap into the influence of mom bloggers and, to a lesser extent (mostly due to their myopia) dad bloggers, so companies come along and offer neat stuff and cash in return for us parent bloggers helping spread the word. Heck, I have the entire first season of the Angry Birds cartoon show heading to my home because they want me to sponsor a giveaway, while another company is sending a couple of Big Nate books for my kids because they know that a) we like them and b) I’ll share that with you.
That’s a quid pro quo, as they call it in the industry, a Latin phrase that essentially translates into “you do for me, I’ll do for you”. In game theory, which I studied back in college, it’s “tit-for-tat”. Whatever you call it, the idea’s quite reasonable: If I’m going to do something beneficial to a commercial enterprise, there should be something in it for me, whether it’s a free meal, a new book or a check. But apparently I might be in the minority with this and I find it puzzling how many parent bloggers (okay, how many “mommy bloggers”) are fine being the shills for a company simply because the company asked them nicely.
I’m basing this both on my experiences over the last few years and something happening right now on Facebook, where I accepted an invitation to join a group sponsored by a large restaurant chain, a group that now has about 150 members, of which I am the only Dad. Yup, 149 Moms and me. Yikes.
Here’s what’s weird: as of yet the company hasn’t offered us any promotions, free t-shirts, opportunities, special deals or even coupons as a thank you for us being willing to participate. Yet most of the members show up and post notes about how they’re “excited to be part of the group”. What I don’t get is why? There’s no quid pro quo other than the invitation itself, but that and one thin dime won’t buy me a cup of coffee, so what’s the big deal?
If you work with sponsors or agencies, do you accept deals that are skewed in favor of the merchant, vendor or corporation, or do you seek some sort of parity, a quid pro quo? Remember, most of the time the corporation is paying the agency to find and work with parent bloggers, a budget that likely includes a line item for paying influencers in cash, products or services. I think it’s eminently reasonable to expect some of that trickle down to the people in the field who are doing the actual marketing (us bloggers).
Otherwise, I just don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me? Otherwise, I have to wonder, are there that many suckers?