Disclaimer for BlogHer’s Legal Team: All views expressed in this article are my own and in no way are meant to reflect the experience of all bloggers within the BlogHer Publishing Network. They can only reflect my personal experience within the network.
The first thing I wrote for this article was the disclaimer because I’m a little scared to take on the BlogHer giant. Ultimately, I’ve decided that others may benefit from my experience and so in the spirit of honesty, openness, and truth in blogging I will share exactly why I am leaving the BlogHer Network.
I have been blogging recipes as a hobby since 2008. In 2012 I decided to launch an all new blog where I could continue to share my recipes and love for food in a monetized setting. Blogging 5 days a week about food is a full-time job. Monetization helps make this possible. I had heard that BlogHer was a great advertising network and based on the little BlogHer logo on so many of my favorite blogs, I knew it was also a premiere network. I placed myself on the waiting list dreaming of the day when I could join the exclusive network.
In June 2013 I was invited to join the BlogHer Publishing Network. It was a significant moment for me and I was very hopeful for the relationship. It has been 1 year. 60 days ago I gave my notice that I did not want to renew my contract. I was done. So what happened? Ultimately, I think my unhappiness all comes down to the size of the BlogHer Network. It is huge. The size comes with a cost, and it was one that left me quite unhappy. I know some bloggers who are happy with the BlogHer Network and consistently renew their contract year after year. To each his own. The only thing I can do is to give a flipside and list out my reasons for leaving the BlogHer Network.
1. Sponsor Opportunities
During my time with BlogHer I was presented with a number of opportunities for sponsored posts. I would get a mass email that gave a few details about the opportunity with a link to a google doc where I could express my interest. Most of the opportunities had nothing to do with food so I just politely sent them to the trash bin. Occasionally an opportunity would arise that actually had something to do with food and was a brand I felt comfortable working with. I filled out the google doc with all the appropriate information and sent it on its way. Most of the time I never heard another word from BlogHer. I had a few opportunities where BlogHer actually got back to me to let me know I was selected. Of those opportunities, the campaign never started on time, and communication was all mass emails with instructions. One time the supposed post date came and went without a single word from BlogHer. Then a few weeks later I received an email saying it needed to post the next day. I hated how it messed up my regularly scheduled programming. It made it very difficult to work with them.
2. Contract Changes
During my year with BlogHer I was notified of no less than 4 changes to the contract. I didn’t like this. I don’t want to work with a company who is constantly changing how they do things. I see how they need to stay with current marketing trends and such, but most of their contract changes had more to do with detail changes, like the percentage of the pie they take. It rubs me the wrong way. I never felt like they had my best interests at heart.
3. No Personal Contact
I didn’t have anyone at BlogHer that I could contact for help. If I needed help I had to submit a help desk ticket. There was no personal contact. Emails were all mass communications. BlogHer didn’t even follow me on social media until I attended the BlogHer Food Conference in May. Did I mention that one of my sponsor opportunities was for a highly pinnable image for Disney? BlogHer was supposed to pin all of the images. I did the work and got a beautiful shot. They never even pinned it. I always felt like there was a lack of organization and no personal touches at all.
4. Limited Control of My Blog
The BlogHer contract limited how I could use my content. I spend a lot of time on my blog. It is my baby. I love the fans that eat and enjoy my food. Under the BlogHer contract I couldn’t always do what I felt was best for my blog or my readers. For instance, the images of my food couldn’t be reproduced anywhere on the internet with the recipe. It isn’t the most pleasant thing to have to turn down charities or nonprofits for free use of my content because of some advertising contract I was under. There are other things in the contract that limit my control of my own blog, including the layout of my blog. My blog is my baby and I don’t want to be bossed around at every turn by the nanny.
If you are still reading this then I’m sure the money part is the thing you might care about the most. You may have even just skipped down to this part. Shortly after I joined BlogHer I discovered that you could backfill the ads with adsense. I submitted a ticket to get that set up on my blog. I was informed there was a wait. After waiting and waiting I was then notified that they were going to stop doing it so I couldn’t get it for my blog. Now ads are automatically back filled through pubmatic. I guess BlogHer picked up a new business partnership. BlogHer requires that their ads receive premium placement. I wouldn’t mind if I was receiving premium pay for that placement. However, the last straw came when in March I made 10 times more money on Adsense than I did with BlogHer. The way that BlogHer ads are divided out left me feeling like a very small fish in a very large and overstocked pond. I know that some bloggers make a living off of BlogHer revenues, however, it wasn’t a relationship that was paying off in any way for me. It never even paid for the food.
And there you have it. I have left the BlogHer Publishing Network in pursuit of other ventures. I spent my last day with a little celebration that included 8 cronuts which were divinely tasty. I hope that in leaving I can connect more with my readers and grow my little place on the internet into something better than ever.