My learning experience
I recently had a learning experience as a blogger. A member of the social media team for a company (that I’d never heard of) contacted me with an opportunity to contribute to their website by creating a healthy recipe. They wanted me to post my healthy recipe, mention their website and a link to their recipes page, and in return they would “share some of their favorite dishes on social media channels”.
It sounded great. I perused their website and noticed that they had some plant-based recipes and some conventional recipes. What a great way to put another plant-based recipe out there! I had to do it.
I worked on a recipe that would be healthy, delicious, omnivore friendly, and easy to bring somewhere. Then I posted a recipe with their company name in the title, photos, and links to their website and recipes page. I also included a few sentences about how great I thought it was that they were reaching out to bloggers and asking us to submit recipes for this healthy pot-luck compilation project.
But when I heard back, my contact at the company said this: “I know this seems super picky but I was wondering if you take out the parts where you say that [company name], me specifically, reached out to you? Could you possibly just say that you saw some healthy things happening over at [company name] and you wanted to join the conversation! Again, I am so sorry how crazy this may seem – but let me know if you could do that.”
I e-mailed them back and said I thought it was great the company was encouraging bloggers to submit recipes, and that I wasn’t willing to say that I “saw healthy things happening and wanted to join the conversation” because it wasn’t true. I hadn’t been to their website at all until I agreed to help them by creating a recipe for this project. We ended the conversation with me removing all mention of the company from my blog post, and their website deciding not to share my recipe. (All because I wouldn’t lie and say I’d solicited them, rather than vice versa.)
I was disappointed. I’d put in the work to develop a recipe specifically for them, linked to their site twice, mentioned their company name, basically done work and publicity for them for free. In exchange, I hoped for them to share my recipe on social media channels so more people would be inspired to, well, eat kale. I don’t make any money from my blog, so my incentive wasn’t to get people clicking on ads on my website (because there aren’t any) it was to give more people a healthy recipe to try.
I’m glad I developed the recipe, because it’s healthy, delicious, and you get to see it! But I’ll be more careful about interacting with companies in the future.
It’s not all doom and gloom, some companies are great to work with!
I received some free Energy Bits in exchange for a review, and the community manager even offered to provide free samples for any of my readers who were interested. Energy Bits tweeted my review to all their followers, even though it contained some criticism amidst the praise. I had multiple exchanges with Mizuno after they offered me a free pair of running shoes, trying to determine whether their running shoes were vegan. They took the time to research and resolve the question for me (they ARE vegan) and sent me free shoes with no strings attached. (Ok there were shoe strings, but you know what I mean.)
My exchanges with other companies have been overwhelmingly positive. If I’m willing to write good content and share a link to their website, I usually receive reciprocation. That means more of my thoughts about running, staying positive, and eating healthy are getting out into the world. And that’s what I’m really after.