What Happened When I Replied to a Sponsored Content Email?

I receive offers for sponsored content on a daily basis. I decided to reply to one of them to see what happened.

If you own a website that’s relatively popular, you probably get sponsored post emails most days. These are emails from random organisations that offer a spot on your blog in exchange for some cash.

These services are often a way of building links for business to improve their SEO so they don’t have to wait months and put lots of hard work in, like the rest of us do.

My assumption is that the sites these companies are looking to promote are usually things like online casinos.

I recently received one such email from a gentleman named Paul Taylor. Here’s the email:

Sponsored post request example email from Paul Taylor

Replying to the email

For some reason this email piqued my interest. I don’t know why as it contains nothing special and my new mate Paul hadn’t even bothered to use my name. Maybe I was still on a Christmas high, or just in a rare good mood.

Whatever the reason, I decided to reply to Paul with a single line, just to see what happened:

Hi Paul,

Content of this kind would be £200/post and I’d need to review every post before they’re published.

Kind regards,

Kev Quirk

I plucked £200 out of thin air, but it seemed like a reasonable number to me. It wasn’t obnoxiously high, but not too low either.

Anyway, Paul quickly replied and after a bit of back and forth, we agreed on a fee of $200/per post (~£150). Here’s a copy of my agreement with Paul:

My sponsored post agreement with Paul

The wait for sponsored content begins

Even though Paul committed to getting me some sponsored content “as soon as possible” I didn’t receive anything. So I forgot all about the conversation and moved on with my life.

Then, this week, a whole 2 months after the agreement with Paul was made, I got an email from him:

Paul's offer of a sponsored post

When I read Paul’s email from January, I missed the whole ”no sponsored post label“ thing. Reading this new email from Paul with fresh eyes, that part really raised my heckles. I don’t think I would have replied in the first place had I read the original email properly. Silly Kev.

Also (and this may just be the way I interpreted the email) the way he tells me to make it live on my site makes it feel like a demand.

Anyway, the post was attached and I was looking forward to reading it…

The pressure increases

I was busy when Paul originally emailed me with the sponsored content, so I hadn’t had a chance to read it yet. Plus, I was 99% sure that I was never going to publish this post, so was in no rush to look at it.

After waiting 2 months for some content from Pauly Paul, he had decided it was now imperative we get his post published ASAP. So 24 hours after emailing me, he sent another asking when the post would be published:

Paul pushing me for updates

At this point I’m getting a little frustrated. Like, Paul, my mate, I’m a busy guy. Give me some time to read the post and make a decision.

I finally read the post

One evening after the kids were in bed and the dogs were walked, I managed to find 30 minutes to sit down and read through the post Paul had sent me.

Oh it was a doozy!

As much as I would like to, I can’t publish the entire post here for you to read. I assume there’s some kind of copyright attached to it and they will likely re-use the post somewhere else.

I’m thinking about sharing a link to the post with my newsletter subscribers so that it’s not fully public. If you want to see that this month, there’s a subscribe form below.

The post was titled “How to Build a Great E-Commerce Website” and was a mere 691 words in length.

Considering this ‘short’ posts nearly 900 words and my how to build a Jekyll site post is nearly 6,500 words long, I wasn’t expecting much from Paul’s guide. 🙃

Needless to say, I was right. The post contains absolutely no useful information whatsoever.

It starts with some useless information about why e-commerce is useful, then covers some platforms you can use, like WordPress or Shopify. Finally it talks about performance and registering a domain.

Then, somehow, Paul managed to shoehorn a link to an eCigarette shop in there. It’s so unnatural in the context of the post that it sticks out like a sore thumb.

At this point I felt that my pal Paul and I had a strong enough relationship that I could give him some tough love:

Ending the relationship with Paul

I’m sad to say that Paul didn’t reply. Maybe our relationship wasn’t as strong as I thought it was? 🤷‍♂️

Final thoughts

So it turned out I was right to ignore these requests for sponsored content. The result was a spammy, clickbait post that would have offered nothing to my readers.

It would have pocketed me $200, but from a moral perspective I just couldn’t do that. Plus, if I had, I’d instantly lose your respect. Needless to say, I won’t be replying to one of these emails again in a hurry.

Have you ever published sponsored content on your blog? Was it a more positive experience than mine? Please use the reply button below to tell me about it.


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