That said, I do know there are a ton of bloggers who do it as a business thing, and again, go them.
Enter the world of brand/blogger relationships. Blogger CC Chapman proposes (no pun intended) that the current climate of blogger/brand "one night stands" (one-off blogger campaigns) is not optimal and thinks that brands might be better off forging long-term relationships with bloggers instead.
Here are just a few reasons why I personally don't think the long-term brand/blogger relationship is a great idea:
- Brands don't seem that sophisticated when it comes to the blogger relations. In a perfect world it would be nice if brands were able to think strategically and beyond a campaign, but it would also be nice if a lot of things about business were different than they are...and the reality is often that they're just not. Who is doing blogger outreach for brands? Is it a strategic, C-level thing or something relegated to an intern or lower-level staff person? And if it's the latter--which I sense it often is--then I'd say either getting them to think beyond that or getting them to sell something beyond that to the higher-ups is probably currently not feasible in most companies, where quantifying the value of blogger outreach probably still has a long way to go.
- Would bloggers be willing and financially able to be monogamous? To me, "long-term relationship" implies exclusivity. After all, if a brand is willing to make a substantial investment in a blogger over a period of time, isn't it only fair that that blogger not be playing the field the whole time, engaging in relationships or one-night stands with other brands? Would bloggers be willing to put all their eggs in one basket and tie themselves to just one brand? And would it be financially prudent for a blogger to do that at this point in the game where a lot of brands still consider a giveaway, a free product or a gift card to be adequate and appropriate compensation? Let me emphasize that I am no expert on this at all, but I know enough bloggers and people who do blogger outreach on behalf of brands to be able to say that, in many/most cases, if there is any compensation involved in a blogger campaign, it is nominal at best. Absolutely, there are exceptions, but look at Technorati's State of the Blogosphere report for 2011: "of the bloggers who earn a salary for blogging, the average annual amount is $24, 086" (I assume these are corporate bloggers?). The report goes on to say that of those who are paid per post, half of those earn less than $25 per post, and about half of all bloggers who are paid by the post earn less than $1,000 per year from per-post fees. Doesn't sound like "relationship" level pay, if you ask me.
- Bloggers' focus and popularity are not static. A blogger who is super popular and influential in subject X today may not always be that popular and influential. Interests change. Life changes. Parent bloggers are, by nature, busy juggling parenting and working. A parent blogger with a toddler is into toddler stuff...until a year or two goes by and then their kid is a kindergartner, a middle-schooler, etc. Would it do anybody--blogger, brand, reader--any good for a blogger to be wedded to a product or service that no longer served the interests of that blogger or their readers? Of course there are tons of brands that represent more than one product or such a narrow focus, but still, the question remains: how do you define "long-term" in a blogger/brand relationship and would any extended interval be too long? Is it a year? Three years? Five years? What if during any one of those time periods a once-popular blogger's readership tanked? If I were a brand thinking about a long-term relationship with a blogger, these are the kinds of questions I'd ask.
- Nobody likes a Shmoopie. I know you know what a Shmoopie is...if not, watch this. For the two people in a relationship, calling each other Shmoopie is adorable. So, too, are brands and bloggers announcing a partnership. The brand is ELATED to be associated with various weblebrities and bloggers are SO EXCITED to announce that they're being bankrolled by Brand X. Who wouldn't be excited? Well, over time, probably readers. Think of that friend with a new love in his or her life--how interesting is it to hear about how great things are, over and over and over again? About all the fun stuff they're doing together, the romantic trips, the all-night conversations, the flowers and gifts? Sure--you're happy for your friend--but do you want to hear about it on a consistent basis over a year or more? Blog readers' patience is not infinite--if a blogger were to devote much or even some coverage to one brand on a regular, sustained basis? I personally would find it annoying and probably stop reading--and I suspect a lot of other readers would feel the same way because nobody likes a Shmoopie.
I get that it would be great for a blogger to have financial security and commitment from a brand, and I get that there could be benefits for brands. But I also get that brands have people with whom they are in long-term relationships with: employees. Maybe agencies. Extending that model to bloggers? I'm not holding my breath on that one.