Are Freelance Industry Bloggers Stupid? Upwork Seems to Think So

3 Ways to Piss off Bloggers and Torpedo Your Blogger Outreach Campaign

It's days like these I wish I hadn't retired Naked PR. If you don't already know, I used to own a small PR firm, where I was an early specialist in online public relations and social media consulting (before everyone under the sun started thinking they were qualified to call themselves that).

Naked PR was my blog where I had a tendency to say things others in the spin-centric, ass-kissing industry wouldn't say (though many would happily agree once someone else said it first).

When companies engaged in things like BS blogger relations tactics, I called them out for it. These days? Not so much. That's because I retired Naked PR when I moved away from consulting to pursue a full-time writing career.

Today is an exception.

I imagine most freelance writers here have already heard about Upwork -- oDesk's new brand (associated with Elance).

Here's an email I received from one of their representatives today, name removed in the hope that this was a result of limited ignorance and they learn from it without having to be shamed publicly:

I'm [name], from the marketing team here at Upwork. We're an online workplace that connects businesses with the world's top freelance talent faster than ever before. I came across your '4 Tips for Dealing With Client Call Anxiety as a Freelancer' post, and was impressed by your freelancing savvy. You have some interesting thoughts that I think would be great to share with freelancers who use our website.

I'm reaching out to a handful of bloggers like you to see if you would write a post on your blog with your tips for becoming a successful freelancer. Once these are up, we'll be selecting some of the best tips to showcase on our site--we'd love to feature your insights!

Let me know if you're interested in sharing your advice, and I'd be happy to send over the rest of the details. I look forward to talking soon.

Uh oh.

What's the Problem?

There are so many things wrong with this email that I hardly know where to start. But I'm going to try.

1. Lazy Marketing - Form Emails

Blogger Outreach Mistake 1 - Generic Form Letter Pitches

Because I worked heavily in the area of blogger relations, and am a professional blogger myself, I have absolutely no tolerance for lazy marketing to bloggers. This email is a prime example.


You may have heard me refer to my "go-to gals" here on the blog or on the podcast. They're the three writers I'm closest to and share just about anything work-related with. And, last week, not one but two of them mentioned receiving this same carbon copy email. So out of four of us, at least three of us have now received it.

How much was customized to each blogger? At most, that would include our names and a blog post title ripped from our sites to make it sound like the Upwork folks have actually spent time getting to know bloggers before pitching them.

A generic form letter pitch is the number one sin when it comes to blogger outreach.

2. More Lazy Marketing - Not Knowing Who They're Pitching

Blogger outreach mistake 2 - Poorly-targeted campaigns

If there's another major no-no in blogger relations, it's sending pitches to bloggers you clearly know nothing about. (That's how posts like this one come about.)

Had anyone on the Upwork team actually bothered to do their job, they would know that All Freelance Writing is a terrible place to pitch anything associated with Elance, oDesk, and whatever the hell they're choosing to call themselves these days.

I've written about the company here before in a less-than-flattering light (as has as least one guest contributor who shared her horror story of working through Elance). In addition to speaking out against race-to-the-bottom freelance bidding sites in general for years, here are a couple of key posts a simple Google search would have turned up:

oDesk also made it onto my list of the worst three places to find freelance writing jobs, from way back in 2008 (and they'd still be there if I wrote that post today -- well, as Upwork of course).

Does it sound like I would be a prime candidate for their promotion? Only if you're blind or illiterate.

It wasn't just me though. They pitched a colleague with the same form letter for a blog that has nothing to do with freelancing. She writes largely about business communication for business owners. So there, they didn't even have to bother searching the site to see if she was a critic or evangelist for their brands.

All they had to do was visit the site and open their friggin' eyes and see that her site isn't relevant to what they're pitching. The fact that she works as a freelancer doesn't mean her site targets them.

Here's the thing. I chatted with ProBlogger's Darren Rowse about brands targeting bloggers for blogger outreach, way back in 2008. And if this email wasn't so pathetically sad, it would almost be hilarious for the fact that they're making all of these terribly old mistakes that we talked about seven years ago.

There's no excuse for it anymore. Read that post if you want tips from both of us on more responsible (and more effective) targeting and pitching practices when trying to connect with bloggers.

3. Spouting Utter BS and Insulting Targeted Bloggers

Blogger outreach mistake 3 - insulting bloggers

As bad as it is to send poorly-targeted, form letter email pitches, there's something even more insulting here. Elance / Upwork must think bloggers in the freelance world are idiots. At least that's how they come across with the nonsense in this email. Let's look at the problems here.

"We're an online workplace that connects businesses with the world's top freelance talent faster than ever before."

1. First, they assume long-time bloggers in the freelance space would have no idea who they are or what they do.

That alone is slightly insulting, though certainly forgivable after a rebranding. Mentioning that rebranding would have been much smarter, rather than acting like something completely new.

2. The worst part of this is they're dead wrong about connecting businesses "with the world's top freelance talent faster than ever before."

Um, no.

No "top freelancer" is available to drop everything and work on your project immediately. They're usually booked weeks to months in advance. So it's totally dishonest to business owners who might use the service to find freelancers.

They might find newer freelancers available to start immediately (and sometimes very good newer freelancers at that). But that's a far cry from the company's claim.

3. That really is what we're talking about here -- being able to immediately chat with potential clients and start working for them right away.

That's where Upwork seems to feel emphasis should be placed based on all of the marketing material I've been exposed to thus far -- instant gratification over pretty much everything else.

If you pay attention to all of their marketing since the rebranding, you'll see that it focuses heavily on their new real-time chat tool (because, you know, there weren't any real-time chat tools before; and it couldn't possibly be that professional freelancers were smart enough to control their own communication policies and schedules and rule those out as options for good reasons).

This, like Work View, has the potential to hurt freelancers by allowing clients to weed out anyone who won't immediately squeeze them in, and equating "faster" with being the best. Is fast better to some clients? Sure. But Upwork's actively marketing this as being a great thing for freelancers. It's not.

"I came across your 'INSERT RECENT BLOG POST TITLE HERE' post, and was impressed by your freelancing savvy. You have some interesting thoughts that I think would be great to share with freelancers who use our website."

That's funny. There must be a crap-ton of "freelancing savvy" going around given that they say the same thing to each blogger they contact. This is nothing more than a lame attempt at ego-baiting.

I have no doubt this is going to work on some freelancers -- especially newer bloggers who don't realize this is just a generic form email. That's what companies like this count on. You're supposed to be so flattered that a recognizable company thinks you have "interesting thoughts" that you'll fall all over yourself to thank them and, ideally, promote them.

Will it work for them? Probably on some level. And that's what's terrifying and sad for those of us who actually read freelance blogs. It really can be that easy to manipulate some of the bloggers we love. So far I haven't seen any bloggers I follow fall for it. Knock on wood.

"I'm reaching out to a handful of bloggers like you to see if you would write a post on your blog with your tips for becoming a successful freelancer. Once these are up, we'll be selecting some of the best tips to showcase on our site--we'd love to feature your insights!"

So, let me get this straight. Upwork wants bloggers to do the work of writing posts and offering advice for the benefit of their visitors, and they expect those bloggers to do the work for free (not that paying for exposure is any better)?  Give me a few minutes to stop laughing.

Now let me be clear. There's nothing wrong with asking bloggers to share their thoughts about something specific if you're creating some kind of round-up post. But that's not what this is here. They're asking you to write a full post, on your own blog, presumably because they'll get some kind of exposure from it.

Thanks and all, but most bloggers don't need Upwork or any other company suggesting blog topics to them. I gave FreshBooks crap for this on Twitter not long ago when they took a similar misguided approach to blogger outreach. Brands need to stop inserting themselves into the content plans of bloggers.

The bigger issue here is that this request reeks of "do this for us and we'll give you exposure." You know -- the same crap ignorant and no-budget clients like to spew when trying to convince freelance professionals to work for free. And this is coming from a company that claims to be good for freelancers.

So basically, you write a post about the topic they want you to cover, and they might choose to feature your tips on their site. Seriously. You're expected to write on-spec for potential exposure now too. How is this not funny? I mean, really folks. How was this email conceived, and then approved by someone, without being laughed out of the room?

"Let me know if you're interested in sharing your advice, and I'd be happy to send over the rest of the details."

Of course I'm interested in sharing my advice (as are most people they seem to be contacting). That's why we have blogs in this niche. Again, this was a forgivable line. But what the heck are the "rest of the details?"

There's more? How are there even any more "details" to discuss? You're asking people to cover a specific topic on their blog. Easy peasy. Any further influence over that content would be incredibly inappropriate unless they choose to accept sponsored content (which this doesn't sound like, unless they did an even lousier job by not making their true intentions clear).

This whole thing reminds me of 2007 when the concept of blogger relations was fairly new and company marketing and PR reps were completely clueless. It's 2015 folks. Let's get with the times already.

When pitching bloggers, what you're pushing better have real value to their readers. Don't ask them to benefit your visitors or customers in some way. And in pitching me and the couple of other colleagues who I know received the same email, that's fundamentally where Upwork failed.

My hope is that, rather than jumping into the comments here in true Elance fashion (trying to clarify things that were never misunderstood or trying to sugarcoat things to protect their image), the Upwork folks will simply learn from their blogger relations mistakes. Remember, many of us in the freelance space have been around far longer than your company. And while you don't always see it publicly, we talk.

This isn't just for the Elance-Upwork folks, but for any company thinking about running a blogger outreach campaign:

When you do something stupid or insulting to bloggers in your industry word gets around. Attempted ego-baiting with a form email is just one sloppy example. So the next time you feel like reaching out to bloggers, please do your homework. Spare us the frustration, and spare yourselves the potential embarrassment.

On a more positive note, I want to point out that not all companies do such a piss-poor job of pitching bloggers. You might remember a recent review here of AutoCrit. Those folks went about pitching in the right way. After that review went live, I was contacted by someone with Grammarly, and you'll find a review here of their service soon.

Both of those companies did a good job with their outreach. Their pitches were well-targeted. There was no pressure or ego-baiting involved. They understood the value had to be there for my readers and not just for them. And they even came into it understanding that a review didn't mean a guarantee of positive coverage here. So kudos to both of them on their marketing efforts and setting a good example.

Here's the full infographic. Feel free to share this, especially if you're a blogger who's sick of being targeted by companies who don't know the first thing about your blog or your readers. You can use the embed code below (or download the image and upload it to your site as long as you refer your visitors back to the original post for context).

Blogger Outreach Infographic from All Freelance Writing

Embed / Share This:

[codesnippet pb_margin_bottom="yes" width="1/1" el_position="first last"]<a href=""><img itemprop="image" src="" alt="3 Ways to Piss off Bloggers and Torpedo Your Blogger Outreach Campaign" /></a><p>Credit: <a rel="nofollow" href="">All Freelance Writing - Helping Serious Freelance Writers, Indie Authors, and Bloggers Go Pro</a></p>



As mentioned in the comments here, I carried this topic over to the All Freelance Writing Podcast. In addition to a little more ranting about Upwork's bullshit, I offer a few tips on dealing with these kinds of pitch emails if you get them as a blogger.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

41 thoughts on “Are Freelance Industry Bloggers Stupid? Upwork Seems to Think So”

  1. This reminds me of my early days of blogging when I felt totally embarrassed when I fell for some spammer’s ego-bating (as you so aptly call it, Jenn). I was mortified when I actually responded to them in my Pollyanna fashion, only to discover what spamming was all about.

    Thanks for sparing other Pollyannas who receive this same email praising one of their blog posts.

    • That’s one of the saddest things here. They didn’t even have the basic common sense to show they’d read any content on the blogs. They plugged in a post title.

      If you’re a business owner and you want to take advantage of a blogger’s influence or audience, respect them enough to get to know who you’re pitching. A few comments on a post you’ve actually read — one RELEVANT to what you’re pitching — goes a long way.

  2. I got the same note, and I was ticked off. The ego-baiting, as you so aptly call it, was transparent. So was the “Gee, write something on your blog and we’ll take credit for it!”

    What pissed me off though was that the post they were asking for? Done a million times on my blog. Clearly, they didn’t do their homework. Why would I blog for them? For free? There’s something about the whole note that felt like a link-bait scam.

    Another thing — why would they feel the need to instruct us to do what we’ve already been doing? I felt a good bit of control coming in “the rest of the details.” I suspect there would have been directives on what content to provide. Doubt they’d bother to edit, but there was always that possibility, too.

    And the “You do this for us and we’ll do this for you!” is just a new twist on the “free exposure” bullshit we’ve heard time and again.

    • That’s a good point Lori. They didn’t even put much thought into the topic they were asking us to write about.

      It’s freelancing 101, and something many of us have already done to death. If they wanted to compile a collection of tips, they could have done the work to find tips already on our blogs and ask permission to use them in a round-up. But no. They wanted custom content. And if it’s already been done on our blogs, it wouldn’t add much value to our own readers. Then again, our readers seem like an afterthought here anyway (if that).

  3. Our readers weren’t given any thought, I suspect.

    You know, didn’t I, didn’t you, didn’t a lot of freelancers compile this same kind of list content by actually visiting blogs, loving something, and sharing it with our readers? And that’s where Upwork has failed in a big way — instead of building relationships with the freelance community, they’re looking for easy, free content without offering any benefit to us and our readers.

  4. What’s even worse, Jenn, is that other companies are taking this same approach. I’ve had two pitches that are almost identical from companies wanting to attract freelancers to their services. One was an invoicing company and the other an accounting company. It’s always raised my hackles. Thanks for bringing the reasons why out into the open.

    • Was the invoicing company FreshBooks by any chance? They hit me in a blogger outreach campaign a little while back that was almost as poorly-thought-out at this one. I gave them a bit of crap on Twitter for insulting bloggers by telling us what we should be writing about for our audiences, but all in all, I let them off way too easy.

  5. LOL – I just got the same email, and as soon as I saw it, I guessed that you’d receive the same email & blog about it here 😀

    I really don’t understand the mindset that goes into this kind of outreach campaign.

    Looking forward to the launch of the Bad Marketing Blog!!

    • I’m sorry to hear you got caught up in this campaign too KeriLynn. Seriously. Do these marketers think the people they’re reaching out to don’t talk to each other? Why would they ever assume they’d get away with this without people knowing they’re full of shit when they offer their cookie-cutter praise? You would have to assume the people you’re reaching out to are complete idiots. Thankfully for the rest of us, most freelance writers blogging about this topic are not. I hope other freelance groups shoot them down equally hard. But either way, Upwork needs some serious training or a new marketing team.

      I haven’t recorded this week’s podcast yet (going up either tomorrow or Friday). I think I’m going to have to rearrange my plans a bit and let this topic spill over there. I think a great topic would be a spin on this, looking at how bloggers can handle these kinds of requests (and minimize them).

  6. I had a similar experience this week, with someone who has been pitching me for a website that has been closed down for several months. I ignored email #1. I ignored email #2. By email #3, he was getting snippy with me. So I just emailed back that he should consider actually looking at the website he was pitching for so he wouldn’t look so incompetent.

    • LOL That’s the rough gist of what I said in my private response to the marketing rep from Upwork. But 3 emails? That’s ridiculous. If someone doesn’t respond to you after the second, take a friggin’ hint.

      I have a strict policy about not responding to people who ignore the basic rules on my contact page. For example, I flat out say not to email me just to ask me to link to your website. But I get them all the time. Occasionally they’re persistent. One recent PITA has been trying to get me to link to some round-up post series they promote. They definitely haven’t taken the hint. So I just blocked them in my email filters. Most seem to stop after the second though.

  7. BRAVO! Applause, applause, applause!!

    Exemplary read, Jenn. Thanks a heap for laying it on the line. Happily, I’m receiving far less insulting/spammy/stinky pitches from nincompoops these days. A few years back, my inbox was littered with them.

    I want you to know it was Sharon Hurley Hall who nudged me in the direction of your post. She’s a dear friend, Word Carnivals blogging buddy, and a super FINE freelance writer.

    Know what I adore and admire the most about you, Jenn? You’re not afraid to call a spade, a spade! (Yes, I rhymed that on purpose. Me and poetry are old chums.) 😉

    • LOL “nincompoops” is such a nicer thing to call them than what I’ve been lately. 😉

      I think we all love Sharon around here. 🙂

      And thank you Melanie. I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about things like this far longer than I’m comfortable with. I keep saying I want to bring the old edge back to this site, and I suppose I just needed the right catalyst.

  8. Princess, that’s hysterical! I bet he stopped after he realized he was looking idiotic.

    I remember a “writers association” (I use the term loosely) who took to harassing me by phone. I’d answered their first email offering membership. I wanted to know more. They called. I declined them when I heard the ridiculous price.

    They kept calling. Seven calls a day. Cell phone and home phone. Never left but one message, but it was clear who it was. The last one was priceless — they pretended to be a pissed-off client. Said they were trying to reach me to give me work, but since I never answer my phone, they were giving up.

    The best part? The “client” never left a message or a phone number. Had I had a caller ID number instead of the “unavailable” tag, I’d have sued their asses for harassment.

    • LOL Yikes Lori. I’m glad they finally stopped. When will companies realize hounding people is not a good way to endear yourself to customers / members? It reminds me of another freelancer group a colleague talked about recently. They tried to leave, and they were bombarded with guilt-tripping questions to try to make them change their mind. A form letter if someone unsubscribes or something? OK, that can be understandable, especially if you’re offering them a special discount or something to reconsider. But personally confronting them is little more than an intimidation tactic. Pathetic.

  9. I had someone ask me privately if I’d emailed the Upwork marketing rep directly. I did. For anyone else who might be curious, this is what I sent them before writing this post:

    “Hi [guilty party],

    Had you actually done your job and reviewed the sites you’re spamming with this generic form letter pitch, you would know that All Indie Writers has repeatedly taken a hard stance against Elance, and you would know that there is no way I would ever promote any project associated with your company.

    But instead, you’re choosing to engage in poorly thought out blogger relations and lazy marketing. I’ve already heard privately from two other colleagues who received this same email from you.

    So do you know what? Sure, I’ll write something on my blog related to Upwork. But you probably aren’t going to like it.

    Remove me from your marketing list and don’t bother approaching me again.

    Jenn Mattern”

  10. Sadly this looks like just about every PR pitch I get lately. I get put on lists constantly and not once have I ever found someone (unless I personally know them) to get the pitching right. I wish they’d just be honest “We really have nothing to give you in return except maybe a product you can buy yourself or service you won’t use and you don’t really need the exposure but we do! Help us for nothing! Please?!”

    • I agree Nichole. There are a lot of lousy PR (and marketing) efforts going around these days. And that’s coming from a former PR pro! One of the issues I’ve seen is that blogger relations and certain social media tasks get thrown down to interns and newbies, so there’s no proper training or oversight. It’s sad. I don’t get that impression with this case. This campaign just seemed lazy.

  11. I feel like you missed #4. They never offered any compensation. “Sharing your post” could be a crappy tweet if they even bother to do it (oh but could you link back to us please?). Pfft …

    You need one more well designed box on your infographic. 🙂

    • This was closer to (bad) PR outreach than a sponsored post offer, so compensation wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be offered. Once payment changes hands, it’s no longer PR; it’s a form of advertising which opens a whole different can of worms. It also wouldn’t have helped this situation given that I don’t accept any form of paid placement here, which they’d know if they’d simply read my contact page. And we know how responsible they were about evaluating bloggers before pitching as it was. 😉

  12. I’ll read the rest of the comments in a minute, but first I wanted to reply. Good for you on writing this post. Because it’s not just bloggers they’re targeting like this, it’s WordPress people too. Like calling those of us who have worked in this space for 5+ years, (10 in my case( “WordPress experts” just to stroke our egos, while having no idea what WordPress expert actually entails, just to get us to spread the word about how great they are on our company blogs, or how we found excellent clients through their service, is laughable. Because, no, I can’t start on your Facebook wanabe multisite that you’ve budgeted $250 for, right now, (or ever), and no, I’m not interested in taking your certification tests just so I can prove that I actually have the expertise so you’ll rate me higher. God the whole thing is such a mess. So once again, good for you on writing this post. Will be tweeting it out now.


    • And good for you Amanda for standing up to that kind of nonsense! Writers get a lot of the same crap, especially in those race-to-the-bottom bidding marketplaces. Every time I see another writer or blogger promoting Elance and similar sites, my respect for them drops dramatically. I saw it just this week, where one was promoting a fringe case (which left out some pretty important information about working conditions) as if it’s something other freelancers should strive for on Elance. Um, no. That company’s history with freelancers is unforgivable, and no branding change is going to solve their problems.

  13. This is hilarious (literally) and hilarious (figuratively). I have not received these solicitations from Odesk/Upworks/whatever but I have recently received a spate of similar ones from the allegedly “reputable” companies.

    When you mentioned Freshbooks I kind of spit out my water. I got the exact same one but because it’s Freshbooks I thought oh, legitimate/reputable company… they want me to do what now? I actually had a lengthy email exchange with them as I tried to figure out what they were pitching, which ended up being “talk about my product on your blog – for free.” And as per usual, they didn’t bother to notice that’s NOT what I talk about.

    I received a similar one from Canva about a week ago, which I ignored because I’ve been around the block enough times with this stuff to recognize repetition, and they actually emailed me a week later to tell me they hadn’t heard from me. At which point I was kind of blunt and said – I don’t talk about tools and even if I did I don’t like yours. I bet they weren’t so interested in my honest opinion then.

    Is someone out there promoting this tactic that we don’t know about? Suddenly it seems to be everywhere. Clearly someone has sold the “how to reach out to influences, revised edition” webinar and now we will all get bombarded with this stuff.

    I hate that they sucker anyone. We need to share this far and wide and wise people up before they get taken in.

    • I was a little surprised by Freshbooks sinking that low, which is why I said something to them about it. They clearly didn’t get it. They did remove me from their list, which is nice. But the problem wasn’t the list; it was their behavior.

      I’m really sorry to hear Canva’s doing this too. I love them. But that kind of pitch strategy is inexcusable these days.

      That’s why I said this makes me a little sad that I’m not as active in the PR space anymore. I have no doubt there are some PR and marketing people out there who think they’re brilliant for coming up with this crap. At least a few years back I’d be there to kick ’em back to reality a little bit. The whole “influencer marketing” thing always pissed me off as a PR pro, and sadly it’s growing.

      It’s like saying “Hey, I’m totally worthless without riding on people’s coattails. If I kiss enough ass, maybe people will notice me by association!” The problem is that so many people love having their asses kissed that they fall for it. It’s turned some bloggers incredibly lazy — having most of their content in the form of free guest posts from people who want to ride on that supposed “influence.” (Even major publications are jumping on that trend.) And it’s turned marketing and PR people into pathetic little twits who spend far too much time trying to capitalize on others’ relationships rather than building their own.

    • Well, an “oops” on Canva’s part. They just sent me their own BS form letter pitch. And I gave the head of their communications team crap about via email and Twitter. Lucky for them I didn’t receive that before Upwork’s email. The fact that I love Canva makes their lazy marketing not only more disappointing, but a sort of betrayal of the positive feelings I already had towards the company.

      I doubt I’ll stop using it or stop recommending it completely any time soon. At least not if they clean up their act. But we’ll see. It’s easier to stay lazy than learn how to do your job responsibly. Worst case, I have no problem going back to Photoshop if they pitch me again like this or try to offer any kind of ill-conceived justification for their behavior.

      The funny thing… they were SO lazy about it that their form email had three different font styles. Yeah. After copy / pasting, they couldn’t even be bothered to make it LOOK like they’d written a unique email. Sad day. 🙁

    • Well, this is disappointing.

      It’s bad enough that Canva is taking part in this nonsense. But their response was almost as bad as their initial email “outreach” campaign.

      I got exactly what I expected.

      1. The head of comm. responded on Twitter in the typical enthusiastic way that helps companies try to save face publicly. It was the “I’ll be in touch privately so we can chat and improve,” sort of thing.

      I let them know I don’t have the time or inclination for any such thing. They’ve already wasted my time by targeting me with this BS. And I’ve already let them know what they did wrong (and even copied him on the infographic in this post which points out the very mistakes they made).

      For a PR guy, I was pretty disappointed in him. The only correct response in a PR sense is to say “Yes, we made a mistake. We apologize. And we promise it won’t happen again.” Then make it a reality and stop training lazy staff to waste others’ time just because you don’t want to invest your own into doing something right.

      2. The rep who initially emailed me responded to my email reply. Again, typical BS that comes out of bad PR “pros.” It was exactly what I would have expected, from the rather patronizing feel of it to the claim that they’ve sent the same thing to a lot of other bloggers, mentioning only that they’ve received positive feedback. And of course the email closed with the typical promise that they’d take the feedback into consideration to “improve our processes.” No. You either stop what you’re doing, or you’re nothing short of spammers. Maybe a better reaction on my part would have been to report their spam to every email blacklist I could find.

      The only surprise? They actually admitted they sent the same form letter to “thousands” of other bloggers. LOL That, folks, is precisely the problem. How clueless do they have to be to not understand customer service 101 — if one person complains, you can bet your ass countless others are thinking the same thing. Most people just don’t bother to speak up. Funny thing is you did speak up about iy. But here, rather than to them directly. It just goes to show. Just because users aren’t bitching to you directly, it doesn’t mean they aren’t complaining to others, and in a more public way.

      I’m done wasting my time over it. But this one really stings. It’s bad enough that I’m probably going to look into other options this week rather than relying on Canva. Love the tool. But I generally don’t associate with companies that engage in sleazy marketing. Trying to justify it simply makes it worse.

  14. Jennifer this article really hit home. I was so pissed when I looked at the email from Kabbage closer. Here was the text, “Hi Randy,

    My name is Madie Hodges, and I’m the Community Manager for Kabbage. Your post “Targeting Your Competitors Customers” was very informative and helpful! Here at Kabbage, we pride ourselves on helping small businesses grow and thrive in their local communities.

    We’d love for you to join a select group of bloggers, and create a post on your blog sharing some of the difficulties most local small businesses face. We are looking for you to tell us some of the struggles that small businesses encounter while trying to attract customers. You could also include some tips for small businesses that could help them keep a competitive edge against the big name companies.

    If this is something you are interested in, let me know ASAP and I can send over more details.”

    At first I thought, this is pretty cool then I reread the email. What a horrible way to approach someone. Thank you for the great article. It is good to know that I am not the only one.

    • It’s crazy how these email templates are so similar, isn’t it? I really makes me wonder where these fools are finding this stuff.

      “Hi. My name is… and I’m with ….. [Insert some line with your blog post title here.]

      You’re one a small group / handful / some other bullshit quantifier of bloggers that we thought were worth reaching out to.

      Here’s what we think you should write about on your blog, because apparently you’re too incompetent (despite being the awesome blogger we just said you were) to come up with your own blog post ideas.

      Get in touch for more details about this totally self-promotional deal where we want to exploit you and your audience.”


      Seriously. I’m going to send a few emails out to old PR / Social media industry contacts and see if they have any idea where this crap started or who’s promoting it. Boy, would I have a field day with them.

  15. ‘The bigger issue here is that this request reeks of “do this for us and we’ll give you exposure.” You know — the same crap ignorant and no-budget clients like to spew when trying to convince freelance professionals to work for free.’

    ^ OMG Jennifer. I can’t stop laughing… this entire post was painfully hilarious.

    Yes, I’m a freelance writer, a blogger, and I’m on Elance… and no, Jennifer, I have never heard of you. I found this post via Sharon Hurley Hall.

    But Good Lord, I will say this – you are right on the money.

    I had 3-4 brands reach out to me last week with similar form emails. (Not Upwork) And my response was basically…

    “If you’re open to contributing a high quality, 1000+ word guest post, completely search engine optimized, with extremely actionable content for intelligent internet marketers, I’ll consider publishing it for you… after I review it carefully for typos.”

    Anyway, I’m going to follow you on Twitter — can’t wait to see more content from you!

    • That sounds like a very reasonable request to me, as long as targeting your blog made sense in the first place. But, you know, that involves work on their part. I think some marketers forget that’s an important part of their jobs.

  16. Wow. I received another gem of a blogger “outreach” campaign in my inbox today. I’m going to share it here so you know what to keep a look out for.

    Hi Jenn,

    I hope you are doing well! 🙂

    I was recently on your website and I wanted to suggest a few minor edits because I feel my suggestions would really elevate these articles for your readers – I’m certain they would find it valuable too! HostPapa is website hosting provider that offers free domain registration to both new and transfer customers. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee, which is also quite helpful. Here are my suggestions for your consideration:

    1) – adding HostPapa under “Step 8” with GoDaddy or readding HostPapa under step 8 with GoDaddy or to replace it altogether
    2) – adding HostPapa under “Self-hosting” with GoDaddy or replace it altogether
    3) – include HostPapa under your “web/blog hosting” section
    4) – Replace GoDaddy with HostPapa because HostPapa offers free registrar transfers and takes care of all domain name renewals automatically for clients using our hosting services

    HostPapa is also interest in finding new business partners. If you’re interested in learning more about this, we would be happy to discuss it further.

    I hope you find my suggestion useful and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

    I’m betting they wouldn’t look forward to hearing my thoughts if they had any clue as to what those thoughts are. Suffice it to say they’re much worse than what I’ll say here publicly.

    But really, I almost want to give them credit. At least it’s a new spin on the sleazy advertisers who want to buy links in your existing content just because you happen to use certain keywords in your post.

    No, these folks still want the links. They just want them for free. Because, you know, it’ll “elevate” your articles to your readers if you add their links to your older posts. It’s totally not about them desperately begging for links for their own benefit. It’s just because they care about your readers!

    And then they want you to become a “business partner” (which, when it comes to hosting companies, usually means they want you to join their affiliate program and promote them even more).

    Look. If you want people to recommend your resource, go about it the right way. Offer to show them what you have, and ask them for an honest review. If you truly provide something worthwhile to their readers, they’ll recommend it. And that recommendation will have far more weight than a few random links because their readers likely trust their opinions on things they’ve actually been able to test (not that I have any interest in reviewing hosting companies, but plenty of bloggers do).

    What is with the uptick in idiotic blogger outreach campaigns lately? I swear it wasn’t always this way (aside from the typical web designer / SEO / internet marketer spam every time you register a new domain name). Now it’s the same lazy approach to pretty much every promotional email I receive. Did all the serious PR people go “poof” when I wasn’t looking? Who the hell is running these campaigns? Everything feels like it’s written by a bunch of lazy kids plagiarizing each others’ email copy. And that’s incredibly sad.

  17. Speak it, sister. I’m a blogger who doesn’t work for free either. I’m sick to death of advertisers and marketers looking for free advertising for their companies.

  18. I’m so happy you’ve written this post. I keep getting these blanket emails from companies mentioned in the comments, and so far I’ve been very graceful with my replies and seriously gave it a thought, but you’ve outlined just how much is wrong in this approach, and the next person who sends me that outreach template will get an earful. If enough of us call them out, maybe thia horrible trend will finally die.


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