This post may contain affiliate links, which means I will receive a small share of any sales generated through these links

When to say NO to blog sponsors

Dress : Ginger Fizz Cardigan : Florence and Fred Boots : Internacionale  Okay, after dying to take some outdoor snaps, I remembered a little hidden…

Dress : Ginger Fizz
Cardigan : Florence and Fred
Boots : Internacionale

 Okay, after dying to take some outdoor snaps, I remembered a little hidden place I found while running, I packed my camera in my bag, folded my tripod up and off I went. I can’t say these photos came out exactly how I wanted, mainly because most of them were me holding my dress down because of the wind. But I went out of my comfort zone and tried, which is the main thing, right?

My housemate was not impressed that I’d wandered down a secluded path to take pictures of myself with an expensive camera – oops.

She also said ‘it’s a bit of an odd things to do’.

OK, let’s get to the good stuff.

When to say NO to blog sponsors.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been hanging out a lot in twitter chats and I’ve even started co-hosting my very own. One thing that has become evident to me as the amount of bloggers lacking information about blog sponsorship and their legal responsibilities. Be it a paid review, a review of a free product, a paid post or a guest post.

That, tied in with the fact that I’ve received about 10 e-mails in the past two weeks form companies asking if they could ‘guest post’ on my blog, I thought I should share some of the things I’ve learnt in the past year. And the mistakes I’ve made.

I’ve been blogging for a little over a year, and I am sure that there are still some things that I’ve to learn – but I didn’t have a clue about some of these things I am about to talk about until seeing a vague comment/tweet about it and then researching. 

I’m sure there is a lot more for me to learn – so if there is ANYTHING that you think I may have missed, please reply in the comments or e-mail me so I can add it. Or if there is anything I am incorrect about – let me know so I can edit this post.

When SHOULD you say no?

So, you’ve been blogging for a few months and you’ve seen a few more established bloggers review free make-up, host a give-away, show off some new shoes. You open you’re e-mail and there is an e-mail from a company, website or brand wanting to work with you. 

It’s the first time this has happened, you’re excited to be noticed and you’ll pretty much do anything to get that free bracelet, that $10 or whatever they may be offering. 

Stop. And think. 

The world is a HORRIBLE place ladies and gentlemen. People do take advantage of naive new bloggers. And they will. Because we’re not professionals, we’ve not had training, most of us are just winging it and very few of us know what we’re doing when we first start out. 

Here’s some of the ways in which websites have, or almost have, taken advantage of me.

Anchor Text.

One of the first websites I worked with offered me a free piece of jewellery, I was able to select any piece of jewellery of my choice from their large collection. But first, I had to make a post introducing the website to my followers. In this post, I had to include certain words – such as ‘cheap ladies dresses‘ and ‘mens shirts‘ with a link to that section of their website in those keywords

After I had made my post, I would get my piece of jewellery and then I could post it on my blog, along with another review with a new set of keywords and then choose my second piece. This would continue for a year and I could get one piece of jewellery FOR FREE every single month. 

Yippeee! This is great. 

It got even better when I was contacted by another website to do the same thing! 24 free pieces of jewellery in a year? Sign me up!!!!

I’m not going to name and shame these websites – I know I am an adult and I should have done my research about this type of sponsorship. But truth is, I was so caught up in it all, and excited about it that it didn’t even occur to me that the websites in question probably didn’t even give a shit (yes, I swore) about my tiny little blog. Or my followers. Or me. Sadface.

All they wanted was a link that will increase their PageRank.

This is how it works : 

I could pay tonnes and tonnes of sites and blogs to write a post and link my blog address under the word ‘UK lifestyle blog’. The means that when anyone Googled ‘UK lifestyle blog’ – my blog would come up higher in the search engine because more people had linked to it. Which means more traffic for me! Winner.

But google does not like this – as it means that anyone could pay and get their site on the first page, even if it isn’t the best quality. This damages Googles reputation as it is giving it’s users utter toff, as well as not being fair to those sites that deserve it.

If Google finds out that you are being paid, or getting compensation for anchor text links, YOU could be penalised. Your blog could lose page rank or not be included in searches all together. You can read more here

I fell for this, I am not proud of it. I have since gone back and taken the links out of the 3 or 4 posts that I did before realising that something was wrong and I’ve ceased to work with the websites.

If anyone ever asks you to link certain words to their site in exchange for money or an item, SAY NO. 

It is a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and it looks spammy to your readers! I cringe to think back to my posts, and to those that knew what was going on – I wish somebody would have told me so I could have rectified the situation there and then, instead of finding out months later.

Do-follow links.

#tips 1:When you write a product review, you need to add two “do-follow: anchor text links about example(or product names in this review article

We are always on the lookout for professional, high class sites to further promote our clients and when I came across your blog I was very impressed with the fan following that you have established.
I would like to submit an article as a guest author for your consideration and should you be open to the idea, I am also open to make suitable contribution, befitting to high standard of services that your blog offers to larger audience. All I ask in return is a dofollow link or two in the article body that will be relevant to your audience and the article. 

The first quote is from an e-mail I received a few months ago. The website wanted to send me a small nail varnish in exchange for a review. This is when I first learnt about do-follow links. I had never heard of them before so I Googled it and read all about do-follow, and no-follow links. When and when to use them, how some companies paid for them, etc etc. The same as paying for anchor text links, this is also black hat SEO and a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

The second quote is from an e-mail I received a few days ago. Clearly the ‘guest author’ is only after one thing – to improve their SEO. I have been getting tonnes of guest post offers lately, I don’t know if they are more common or it is because my blog is growing a bit – but do not let these type of e-mails make you think that they are doing a massive favour.

They don’t care about my blog. They don’t care about yours. They just want a link. 

If you’re confused about nofollow and do follow links, then there is something I wrote on the forums about it:

Nofollow vs Dofollow links

Basically, if you have a lot of links to your website or blog, the higher the ‘page rank’ and the higher it will come up in a search engine. This means that if a company wants to get more traffic/sales, they want to be higher on a search engine for the products they sell or their niches.

Some companies/sites will pay other sites, or bloggers, to put their link on their site or in a post to build more back links, this, in turn, gives them a higher page rank and improves their SEO. Google doesn’t like this because it could mean a site that isn’t very good or has poor content will rank higher than a site that ‘deserves’ to be higher, so to speak. Having rubbish sites come up higher in searches could ruin Googles reputation. Therefore, a company that is found out by Google to be buying links can have their rank stripped, or their site removed from the database. As can the site/blogger who is advertising the paid for links. 

This is why it is important to nofollow links to website that have sent you a product or payment for a review. It’s very easy to do this, here is how: 

Just click the ‘add=nofollow’ box when you add a link in blogger.

If you don’t use blogger, you can use this code instead:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Your anchor text here.</a>

Making a link nofollow allows you to add a link that your readers can click on to view a site/product, without the creating a back link to improve a sites PR/SEO.

Not disclosing a paid/sponsored post.

Some websites or companies may ask you not to disclose to your audience that you were paid for a post, or were given some form of compensation.

This is because your readers may/can/will expect you to be a bit bias in a review or post in which you have been compensated for.

Not only is it the moral thing to do to give your readers the ‘bigger picture’, but it’s the law to disclose when you have been paid or have been given an item for review purposes.

Say no if a company wants you no to disclose this information.

I hope y’all found this information useful.

Have you had any similar experiences? Have you feel for any of these?

Other posts about working with brands you might be interested in reading:
Why you should get paid for your blog posts.
How to run a blog competition. 
How to Write a Blog Pitch.
Recent Posts
Linking up with:


  1. Hard subject, dear! I will pay more attention. Thank you!
    I love your dress by the way! It’s awesome!!

  2. this was such a useful post, I’ve been blogging a lot longer than most people and didn’t know half this stuff till recently. I still allow guest posts but only for people I’ve worked with for some time and know…other than that, I am much more selective about who I work with and on what!

  3. Great post Corinne – so many people get blind-sighted by the promise of freebies and do whatever a brand asks of them without considering the possible consequences!

  4. This is so informative! Once in a while I receive e-mails from jewelry companies and clothing websites offering what you´ve just pointed out here but I don´t entertain them because I´ve had a bad experience about two years ago when one of the clothing websites offered me to choose a product for review. After several e-mails to and fro and promises from the company, the product( a faux leather skirt by the way) didn´t arrive and it was disappointing. Lesson learned not to trust product sponsorships anymore unless they´re from a very reputable company.

    On a lighter note, I love that dress on you. It´s so pretty! 🙂

  5. When I started blogging it has not been a year yet I got so many companies to do a post about one offer jewelry. another a trip, and so on. I personally believe to do research first before considering any company you never know if it a scheme or a company that does not exist or looking to increase traffic. I had turn down 20 in total due to finding out they were a scheme and I was blunt to let them know and threaten them that I will post about them if I saw them in any blogger post I believe we should protect each other from these company. When I post a company 100% its legit. like hsn, persunmall. Mall of style store in NYC do usa only, and Firmoo I do not grab company to get free items I want to see what they also have to offer to my readers. This information was very helpful and it true add the link with no-follow great job. btw today I got email that I will turn down once again.

  6. Beautiful location for a photo shoot really shows off your outfit! This is a great post- I receive emails from different places and I’m not really sure how to go about their requests. Thank you for the info!!

  7. This is a very useful post, I went trough the same experiences of you: many companies are really cheaters and i became very selective with time!
    I think we all bloggers should help each other to bring them down!
    Anyway, very nice photos, hun, love your dress! 😀

  8. That’s pretty horrible, they’re like vultures! I’ve had a few of these offers and emails, but I always decline. I started my blog for my writing and that doesn’t go with posting other people’s material (which, how presumptuously of them, they often simply send along with the initial request). But they always start with ‘we love your blog bla bla’ line. If you did and actually checked it out, then you wouldn’t even write because you’d know I’d say no, you twat. Again, I didn’t know about the ‘nofollow’ thing so thanks for that, babe!!!

  9. This was so interesting Corinne, I never agree to any affiliate links or product reviews, I feel like it cheapens a blog when its not from a reliable source. Also, a lot of these companies don’t pay shipping or customs to certain countries like mine, so in the end it actually costs you more. Love these outdoorsy pics, the dress is so pretty.

  10. this was SO helpful. i knew about some of these things, but definitely not in detail…or what the exact terminology was. thank you for sharing everything you’ve learned along the way. ps loving your outfit & the outdoor pics. i don’t think it’s strange to take outdoor shots…you have a blog! 🙂


  11. Great post, this is the information all bloggers need to know!!
    Great outfit and dress, I need more nice location and I would do this too but be careful…

  12. Great post. I feel like a lot of new bloggers don’t know about the anchor text/dofollow stuff, so it’s useful to have that info out there. I got emailed by one of those companies a few months back offering to send out free jewelry in exchange for dofollow links with certain anchor text, and I wrote back explaining that I am happy to accept products for review, but their stipulations were against Google’s policies. And guess what? Never heard from them again, haha! Yet somehow I haven’t lost any sleep over it. 🙂 I get the “guest post” emails occasionally too. I just send that stuff straight to the trash now.

  13. Sweetie, well done with the post.. It was the most useful post I have read in a long time.. You explained rverything so well.. I feel into the trap of those companies that gave keywords too but just left them , not because I knew the reason you have but I had a feeling that there us something wrong..
    And I am making the mistake of giving links..
    Doll do I have to check on the lower box in the screen shot you have shown. !!!
    Thanks a bunch for such great post, so informative..
    Anku the outfit , yes comming out if the comfort zone is something that matters, but in your case you came out of your comfort zone so well.. Pics are good..
    I am going to bookmark this post if yours..
    Have a great week

  14. Sorry for writing again, I have a question, is it ok to link pics to sponsors website and if yes, how can I use nofollow there !
    Hope to hear from you soon

    1. Do meant a picture from their website?

      You should make sure you have permission from them if you are posting pictures from somewhere else as they can, in extreme circumstances, sue you. I think most websites don’t mind you posting pictures but I would check by sending out a tweet – I’ve contacted 3 sites/brands and asked to use photos over the the past month or so. Two said it was okay, and one didn’t reply so I didn’t use them. Most sites have a twitter account so just ask. I no-follow the links still, to be on the safe side.

      If they are sponsoring you, they might ask you post some images in which case you know you have permission – still nofollow in the links.

      To link an actually image, just highlight it and click the link button, so the box comes up as if you were linking text – then you can check ‘no follow’ in the lower box

      Does this help?

  15. Thanks hun for this information, I am new to blogging and would have fallen for it. 🙂 Thanks for visiting my page- yes Iris is pretty awesome and cute. I am doing another inspiration featuring post soon so I will see if she gets on again, or anyone for that matter. Thanks for reading it! I need to read your posts some more- want to follow each other? ps- cute outfit! I love the mustard looking color cardigan. Do you remote control your own camera? Rachel Xx

    1. Now bloglovin following you! One of your posts answered my own question about the camera and I answered my”how do I photograph an outfit post.”

  16. Wow, this was an excellent, informative post! I haven’t had too many sketchy offers and really none of them made sense for my blog so it was fairly easy to say no, but it’s true, free stuff is tempting! I’m also laughing at your roommate’s comment. Most people definitely don’t get fashion blogs. 🙂

  17. Excellent Corinne! I always disclose at the top of my post if it’s a sponsored post. For the first time ever, I deleted a post last Tuesday because the company (after I posted it) didn’t want me to say it was a sponsored post. Not only did I tell her that her company was breaking the rules, but that I was reporting them to the FTC. Which I did! She had nerve to gloat that they work with many bloggers who do not disclose. THAT’S THE PROBLEM! Bloggers and PR people need to stop it. FTC needs to enforce it.

  18. This was extremely informative! Thank you for taking the time to post this! I learned a lot!
    Yes, free stuff is nice, but I certainly don’t want to become spammy to my readers!
    And thanks for linking up!

  19. Wow, this is truly informative nad thank you for sharing! I have no clue of all these and thanks to you I will be more careful about doing things in the future. I will be doing a review for a product sent to me but I will give my truthful pros and cons.. I mean c’mon now, they can’t expect us to lie, right?

    Mrs Jack Of All Trades
    Dubai, UAE

    1. I’m glad you found this helpful! I’m not sure, but I would expect they would be more likely to work with the bloggers that gave a positive review in the future than a negative one!

  20. This is totally amazing post. To be honest , I have done a post with that similar company . I hate this fact now but back then , i wasn’t aware of this tech problems as well .
    Plus , another wave of bloggers-fooling is that ” post this pre-written , link loaded post on your blog and we’ll pay you $xx” . Those are a piece of junk but people are totally selling out. Add it if you can.

  21. I’m a new blogger and this post was so informative. It’s so overwhelming to navigate all the blogging rules. I’ve never heard of this and I actually went back through my WP blog and put in the “no follow” HTML code after all my affiliate post links. Thank goodness I only have a few.

  22. Thank you for this post I had no idea about the links I’m a bit worried about some recent reviews I’ve written now :/ xx

  23. I knew it all, but I have no issues about all of this. To me it totally makes sense – you want a freebie, you have to give something back. The thing is that very few of our blogs are big enough for companies to be interested in for any reason other than ‘follow’ link. Nobody forces us to accept anything from any companies. I personally give follow links to everybody, unless somebody specifically pisses me off.

    1. I follow non-sponsored links as it is against googles TOS to use them when they are sponsored. The sites shouldn’t be asking to buy links and anchor text as it is tricking search engines into getting their sites higher when they may not deserve it, unfortunately most bloggers don’t understand that it can get them in trouble. I know I didn’t!

  24. Great tips and information. I had no idea companies did this.

    I get so many emails asking me to flog their stuff on my blog and half of it is from really undeveloped unprofessional companies. Safe to say I don’t.

    Some companies though are genuine so I wouldn’t cancel out promoting the odd thing if it ties in with what you like and fits in with your blog. I work with a clothing company and they’re great. But yeah, I’ll certainly keep everything you’ve said in mind for the future.

    1. Yeah, some are and it’s lovely to build relationships with them. I do enjoy really personal e-mails where you can tell the person who wrote it has actually read your blog and you have a bit of chit chat with them =)

      Corinne x

  25. Suuuuuuch a good post, babe. Bottom line- people/companies can be shady and you have to look out for yourself and your audience.

    Earlier on in my blogging career, I had a boutique reach out to me to do a sponsored post. I agreed, created a wish list of some items in their boutique, wrote original content, spent time researching the products I would recommend to my readers, etc. Then showed the draft content (the night before the post was to go live) to the boutique owner, who wanted me to remove all the “sponsored post” disclaimer content.

    I refused, explained my stance (ie, it’s ILLEGAL to not disclose to your readers when you are being compensated for content), and they STILL wanted me to “be more subtle.” In the end, I pulled the offer off the table and refunded their money.

    Now I have a statement in my media kit that says that not only will all sponsored content be marked as such, but in the event a vendor + me cannot come to terms about content after the post has been drafted, I will refund their money less a certain amount to compensate my time already spent drafting the post. Learned a valuable lesson!


  26. I actually only found out about do and don’t follow links about a year ago. For shame! I guess there’s just a major learning curve with blogger and if we all help each other out then we’re that much better for it.

  27. Nice informations. I sometimes accept partnerships but it is very rare.
    Your dress is perfect and I love the place too 🙂

  28. love your yellow coat and style dress,make you so pretty
    have a nice day
    No matter what you’re going through, it’s always better if you have people to share it with.
    thank you for sharing this to us ,enjoy here
    love the photos all!!!
    Hope to be your friend soon Pls post more!
    Would you like to follow each other? Just let me know in my blog
    hope you can check my blog and share beauty:

  29. Great post! I have received so many emails from people wanting to do a guest post on my blog for nothing too……errr…..that would be no! x

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

  30. Your Ginger Fizz dress is lovely. It has a pretty print and looks great on you. I like the way you styled it with the yellow Florence and Fred cardigan. The setting for your outfit photos is pretty too.
    With respect to blog sponsors, fortunately I’ve refused to have anything to do with money, compensation or gifts, so I haven’t run into those problems so far. I do include links in my posts but they’re always for free and because I like them, think they’re interesting and related to what I’m writing. It’s great information though and I’m sure it will save some people from having headaches later. Even though I haven’t accepted any blog sponsors I use that “nofollow” html code (AND I use blogger!) You gave some great advice here.

  31. Corinne, I found this post really informative. As a new blogger it’s crucial to know what’s real and what’s total nonsense. I have never heard of anchor text before for instance, great info to keep in mind! Thx. XO, Elif

  32. That is such a cute printed dress! I like it with the yellow cardi 🙂

    Good information about blog sponsors too – I get so many random websites offering to send me free stuff, always best to decline and only work with companies you know and trust. I still feel so bad after I accepted free product from a company really early on in my blog and a work colleague came over to ask me for help as they had screwed up an order she had made for her mum’s birthday…I couldn’t do anything to help and felt bad she thought I had vouched for them.

    Much more picky who I work with now! 🙂 And no-follow all the way, even from day 1 🙂

    Away From Blue

  33. GREAT POST!!!! Been blogging for years but just learned a few new things- thank you for that. Also, love you’re outfit! 🙂

  34. Great advice Corinne. I learned some helpful things from this post and I’m going to have to check a few of my old posts to make sure I haven’t made any of these mistakes when working with brands.

  35. This is such useful information! I’ve read about it, but forgotten and I appreciate the refresher! It’s useful to see how to do the no follow links, too! Thank you!

  36. i like the pictures, hope you’re encouraged to take more outdoorsy outfit photos, even though it might be classified as odd, haha! and this’s a great post:-) i’ve only ever been contacted by a couple of shady companies that i’ve immediately said no to and haven’t had to deal with this kind of things.. xx

  37. This is a really great post. I’ve always been extra cautious of offers and now you’ve just confirmed that what I’ve been doing is right!

  38. Great post, I’ve been getting these guest post emails too. Interesting about the follow and no follow too.

  39. Happy Valentine’s Day, sweets! Thank you for sharing these tips! I know quite a bit about SEO but I seriously don’t know about the no-follow link. Actually, I’m still a little unclear about it but I know I will just uncheck it the next time I have a link on my blog.

  40. Great post-this happened to me (the link thing) and I don’t even make money off my blog-it’s a hobby! And it was from a very well-known company and my blog is fairly small. Mind boggling. I deleted the post when I learned about it. I wasn’t that upset because,as I said, my blog is a hobby, but I didn’t want to support the jerks after that.

    1. I should mention, this particular company offered the same guest post to many other blogs-and it was content that was already on their site, copy and pasted. They just wanted the links. Pure laziness.

  41. That’s so useful, I was recently approached by a PR regarding a restaurant review and my experience has been brilliant, I mentioned my obligation to disclose and they were happy with that and encouraged it. I’ll watch out for the other issues in the future though. Thanks.

  42. Great post! I’ve read about no follow links but I never fully understood it before and hadn’t noticed that tick box below the link button!

    I’ve been blogging for a while but have always turned down requests as they all felt a bit iffy, and not quite right for my blog. This was far more by luck than skill I think!

    I enjoy working with guest posters but so far they’ve all been people I’ve approached to tell their story, or the same event from a different perspective.

    I shall continue to have a wander around your blog!

    Mars xx

  43. This was so useful thank you. I’ve not been blogging long but in the last few weeks have started to receive a number of e-mails from companies re reviews guest blogging etc. so this has come in perfect time! I’ll definitely be wary what I choose to do and not do (I didn’t know any of the things you’ve just spoken about!), and will put this on my list to research.

    Thanks for your honesty and great advice.

    1. No problem! You just have to be careful with those guest bloggers because a lot are just a cut and paste of the same articles so that they can build links, most bloggers who are new are unaware of these tactics so will try and use their lack of knowledge against them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.