Almost a year ago, I explored the notion of bartering in small business for StartUpNation. Today, as I prepare to leave for the Mom 2.0 Summit, I am certainly thinking about the relationships between brands and bloggers. Although Mom 2.0 is in Miami at the ultra-fabulous and upscale Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, I am most excited by the overall mission to create open dialogue between marketers and bloggers. I am certain the information and speakers will not disappoint and prove to be at the forefront of these relations.
Being a relatively new blogger (18 months) on the scene of mom bloggers, does not exclude me from the crappy email lists of marketers looking for bloggers to ‘partner’ or exchange work for page views and/or recognition in return for promoting their so-called brand. I have come to see the ‘partnership’ as very one-sided, and in order to maintain the integrity of blogging, I believe that we should not submit. We must hold out for a deal or compensation that is both worthy and indicative of the time and effort that we put into our writing.
There is certainly a place for bartering in small business, however it gets sticky at some point. As bloggers if we go down the route of ‘trading’ for page views and/or recognition, when will we be able to switch to compensation? Is it possible? Do my same questions for bartering in small business apply to blogging? No one is going to doubt the influence of bloggers, but the question remains in the best way to work with bloggers.
Take a look at what I wrote:
I have been pondering a particular question….Is bartering among small business good or bad or maybe a bit of both?… A few months ago, I commented on a great post on bartering that I was a big fan of the arrangement. After all, what better way for up and coming small businesses to help one another out when cash is sparse. Of course, terms have to be arranged and the barter arrangement has to be mutually beneficial.
I have a few barter arrangements set up with other small business ventures, and they seem to be doing pretty well. BUT, what happens when the relationship outgrows the barter? Often there comes a time when the needs of one of the parties involved are larger than the barter, and the relationship has to move towards a fee for service model. Does the former barter relationship affect the new relationship positively or negatively?
It is one thing to work out an amazing barter business deal where I give you something that you need and you give me something in return, but at some point, one person usually needs more. When that point happens, if you are on good terms with the person you have bartered with, you would want to continue to do business with them. After all, presumably they were involved in your business since the early stages and already know vital information. This relieves you of an orientation period with a new vendor.
Although something strikes me at this juncture. This is where the barter could come back to get you. What if subconsciously the person inflates their estimate or price to overcompensate for the time that they bartered with you. On the flip side, maybe you think the estimate is too high because you are not the fee for service end of the deal? Does resentment build from bartering? What can keep a barter relationship on the straight and narrow? Can a business relationship that began through bartering move on to a fee for services rendered relationship?
Although structuring a ‘partnership’ in the beginning may seem advantageous, is it really? At what point will you be able to switch to a fee based system? Is the standard already set with a brand that working for pageviews is enough?
I propose that bartering in small business is a very different animal that engagement between a brand a blogger. When 2 small businesses strike a deal or arrangement, it is recognizing that each side has a skill/service/product that the other needs. A (hopefully) fair trade is established. However, when a blogger puts their mouth where their mind is for a brand, they are putting their reputation on the line. There is endorsement, promotion, influence, and a lot of hard work on part of the blogger for a growing brand – new or seasoned.
The exchange has to be beneficial to both sides, and I guess that it is our discretion to decide what is best. I know how I feel.