Monday, November 10, 2008

Warning: Rant Ahead

A little while ago, I got an email that read, in part:

I’ve had your link posted for some time in the [company name withheld] directory on this page: [link provided] but so far you haven’t returned the favor.
I know that [company name withheld] will send your site a lot of visitors in the years to come if you will just take a few minutes and place a link to us on the link page of your site. After [deadline provided], we’ll be removing all sites that haven’t returned our link so please respond to me as soon as possible. [...]
Let me know when my link is posted and I'll upgrade your link to Premium status and get it to the top of your category!

This is the second message that I have received from this company. The first one was a cheery email notifying me that they had placed a link to my blog on their website and asking me to link to their site in exchange.

When I clicked over to the site, I saw right away that it is not a blog. It is the website of a business that, understandably, would like to increase its customer base. Out of curiosity I checked some of the other local blogs to which it had linked and saw that none of them had added a link to its website.

As my half-dozen readers know, I sell my CD over the Internet, and when I’ve advertised it on other blogs, I’ve either paid for the ads or received them in some other legitimate, above-board way. So I felt a bit annoyed. Businesses have every right to advertise. But a business asking for free advertising via an exchange of links? Nope, sorry, don’t think so. That would be as though I were endorsing their services, and since I’ve never used them, I can’t do that legitimately.

So I deleted the email without replying, figuring that the one who had written it would take my silence as I intended it: a polite but firm No.

Now I get the message that I quoted above... and let me tell you, it got my dander up. First, the writer gives it the following subject line: “Our Partnership.” Huh? What partnership? Is there something going on between us that I don’t know about? Did I sign the papers in my sleep? Then he tries to put a guilt trip on me, as if to say: See this nice thing I did for you, and here you’re not being nice to me back! Then he threatens, oh so gently, that if I don’t link back to him, he will remove the link to my blog that he put on his site, doubtless out of a pure, altruistic desire to bring more visitors to my tiny corner of the Internet.

Listen, Mr. Advertising Mogul: the reason I haven’t “returned the favor,” as you chose to put it, is because you did me none in the first place. You put up links to a number of local blogs, including mine, only as a ploy to squeeze free advertising out of their owners. Well, as you can see, I’m not falling for it, so if you want to remove your link to my blog, please go right ahead. In fact, I’d rather you did. I’m not sure that I want to be associated with a business that tries to skimp on its advertising budget. After all, advertising is a legitimate business expense. If you’re trying to avoid paying for it, then who knows where else you may be cutting corners?

Not only that. Let’s look at what you’re offering me in exchange if I should choose to link to your business: the possibility that over the next several years, people whom you don’t know at all may visit my site. This reminds me of how people sometimes ask my musician friends to play gigs for free, promising them “exposure” in exchange. It’s a fantastic deal for the one making the offer: they get excellent music for nothing, and in return the musician gets a promise that at some yet-to-be-determined point in the future, someone else—some nebulous entity whom the one making the offer has never met—may pay good money for his or her time, skill and expertise.

You know what my musician friends call an offer like this? “Dying of exposure.” And do you know they respond to it? You got it: No.

And not only that. I mean, come on, who are you fooling? If you have to turn to a tiny blog like mine for a customer base, how many visitors will you be able to bring me anyway?

So do me a favor. Stop with the guilt trip. It isn’t working, and in fact it’s doing the opposite. Stop trying to play on a relationship between us that doesn’t exist and never has, and go look for free advertising somewhere else. Or, better yet, find yourself an advertising firm and pay for their service, like a normal business. ’K?

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