Are you looking for products to review on your blog? When deciding which offers to take and which to decline, here are some red flags you need to look for:
Review Bloggers: Look Out for These Red Flags!
Being asked to pay out of pocket for a review. It is standard practice that a review blogger should not have to come up with any money to conduct a sponsored product review. Sponsors should be willing to send you the item free and cover the shipping. Another option might be a gift card to their store which will more than cover the review item and postage. If a sponsor is requiring that you come up with money in any way to post sponsored content for them, don’t fall for it.
Being asked for “do follow” links. If someone is sponsoring or paying for content on your blog, then any time you link to their site it should be designated as a “no follow” link. This type of link does not count in the sponsor’s favor in Google search results or boost their page rank. Because it does not foster authentic search results, link-building to artificially boost a page is strongly discouraged and can cause your site to be penalized. Any sponsor who asks you for “do follow” links is asking you to do something unethical and potentially damaging.
Having no say in the giveaway terms. It’s very popular to host blog sweepstakes. But keep in mind that if it’s being hosted on your site, you’ll want to have some oversight. When your sponsor sets up the giveaway form and determines all the entries, how can you be sure they will respect the privacy of your readers and not keep email addresses after the promotion is over? How do you know they will follow FTC guidelines and sweepstakes laws in determining the types of entries? It’s better to keep those things within your control, because what’s on your blog affects you, and readers will come to you for redress if there’s a problem. An exception to this would be posting a giveaway for a brand you know and trust, who will be upfront about the entries and options before it goes live.
Being asked to publish low quality or cookie cutter content. Bloggers are often approached about posting content on their sites. Before you say yes, be sure that it’s a good fit for you audience. Ask if you can edit it to make it more authentic and less like cookie-cutter text. Poor quality content makes your blog look bad and may hurt your Google ranking if it’s being duplicated on many other sites.
Being asked to ship a prize to the winner. If you are asked to mail the prize, that’s going to cost you money unless the sponsor provides a way for you to print the postage at their expense. As pointed out above, you shouldn’t be asked to pay out of pocket for anything. Additionally, there’s no way for a sponsor to make contact with the winner or track shipment if they leave prize fulfillment up to you. There are exceptions, but generally it’s not a good idea to have prizes sent to you and then be expected to forward them on.
Being asked to leave out disclosures. Sponsored content (blog posts, giveaways, paid Tweets, etc.) is required by law to include certain disclosures. If you have a client who asks you to leave out such disclosures or asks you to remove them, run away. You will be the one left holding the bag for violating regulations! And why would you want to work with a sponsor who is trying to hide their working relationship with you?
What things do you watch out for when reviewing products or sponsoring giveaways? Have you ever been burned?