Almost every week I receive an email like the following:
I hope you're having a nice day.
We are interested in sending over a quality and relevant article/product/advertisement to your site ericwbarfield.com as a contribution. Is this something you might consider? If yes, I can email over the details asap. Rest assured that it will be subject to your review. Please note that we'll also add references to our client.
Aside from the article/product/advertisement, we will also pay an administrative fee worth $XXX.
Please email me back if this is something that might interest you.
Looking forward to hearing from you, Eric.
(Note: this is an actual edited version of an email I received this morning.)
I get these for everything from moving companies wanting me to recommend them, to new gear that people want me to review (favorably, of course) in return for money.
Here’s why I’ve never taken any of these people up on their offers: they want me to do things backwards.
Obviously I’m not against being paid to do product reviews, I just object to the order that these companies are proposing. I have an endorsement with Westone Audio and Moddart, because I was already using their products. I only reached out to them about getting an endorsement deal after I was a raving fan. This is how all good advertising should be: people love your product, review it of their own free will in a genuine, non spammy way, and then get endorsements for it.
So when should you sell your influence? When you can do it in a way you genuinely believe in, that’s not mainly motivated by money (I try to keep the coolness of product/service-money ratio at least 90%-10% because we do have to make a living at what we do) and super useful to those you’re talking to about it. If it doesn’t hit all three of these points, it’s not worth the drain on your social capital. And the only way you earn social capital and influence is by being 100% consistent to who you are as a person, and putting the needs of your readers over yours.
It’s really tempting to want to sell your influence (think some multilevel marketing companies who ask you to leverage your friend base for sales), particularly if you’re strapped for cash. But in the end it creates an echo chamber.