Beauty Blogging: 7 Reasons Not To Join A Blog Advertising Network Exclusively

7 Reasons Not To Join A Blog Advertising Network
I’ve gone over countless times to blog about this topic in my head but never got down to writing it till now. I’d procrastinated because I thought it’s a bit of a yawn for most of my readers who aren’t bloggers. However, I was inspired to finally put all my thoughts down after being amused by a preposterous comment made by a certain blog advertising network recently.

According to a quote in this article, bloggers like me are considered a “number two blogger” just because we are not part of their blog advertising network. Oh really ah?

“We don’t have a lot of organic competitors right now as we’ve gotten good at stifling our competition. We book our top bloggers and influencers onto long contracts, which means all that are available are number two bloggers and not worth it,” Mr Cheo Ming Shen, founder of Nuffnang was quoted to have said.

Well, this sweeping statement effectively puts many of us as number two, never mind we have higher traffic numbers than their number ones, according to this article titled The Top Bloggers And Blog Sites In Singapore. It also looks like many of Mr Cheo’s so-called top bloggers are noticeably missing from the list.

Well, whether numero uno or numero zero, isn’t Mr Cheo aware that a lot of bloggers CHOOSE NOT TO be affiliated or contracted to their network or even any other online agencies? It’s one thing to work randomly with a blog advertising agency but it’s another to be tied to them exclusively. Let me tell you why:

When the ship sinks, you’re going down down down
When Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean, so did many of its passengers and it certainly didn’t matter if they were the wealthiest or most powerful. Likewise, being closely associated with a blog advertising network can be detrimental when the reputation of the agency is adversely affected. Your personal reputation would likely be smeared and whatever you’ve built can easily go down the drain.

Those active in the Singapore blogging scene will remember the not-too-long-ago saga concerning a certain influencer marketing network exposed by XX. Many of their bloggers or rather influencers were badly affected when the agency’s questionable business ethics came to light. As a result, a lot of the bloggers have distanced themselves or even severed ties with the agency but you know what? Some damages cannot be undone.

Seriously, why put your blog at risk?

Do all the work and give up half your wages
I don’t get it when the bloggers or influencers show undue gratefulness to the blog advertising agency. Don’t they get that the agencies are milking business out of their blog, traffic and influence? It’s a business model for goodness sake so stop being naive already! Think of it like how a manager manages a celebrity—the manager works for the celebrity, not vice versa!

Most of these so-called blog or influencer advertising network get a cut of the fees due to the bloggers. It can be anything ranging from 40 to 60 percent. So imagine them being paid $500 or $600 from a $1000-advertorial when the bulk of the work is done by the blogger? Tsk tsk.

I would be more appeased if they charge a more reasonable commission, like the industry standard 15 to 17.65 percent that advertising agencies charge for media buys. Or even 20 percent. But 40 percent? On a long term basis? For what? Well, unless you are guaranteed a certain quantity of advertisers per month, I really don’t see why anyone wants to be shortchanged.

Do the work first, don’t ask to be paid till later
All agencies pay you after you have written your advertorial or placed your ad, sometimes immediately, sometimes weeks or months later. Whichever it is, being paid later is not a model I like to endorse. For starters, there is some uncertainty involved. In fact, a few times in the past, I had to breathe down hard on the neck of some agencies in order to get what is owed to me paid. Not a very pleasant experience if you ask me.

Maybe some bloggers don’t mind being taken for a ride but not me. All my advertorials and sponsorships are paid upfront. Otherwise, it’s a no-go for me. I ain’t going to spend my time writing a piece only to be told I won’t be paid for some lame reasons.

Shape up or ship out
Obviously, these agencies want to please their clients so like it or not, they will give you a brief on how to blog and what to blog. It’s no surprise that some bloggers had to resort to lying. You can say you want to have integrity and all but come right down to it, you may not be able to withstand the pressure or the lure. That’s why many of the so-called guru bloggers are being hurled with brickbats after they were caught deceiving their readers. So why allow yourself to be cornered? Well, unless you have no strong principles to begin with and don’t mind being led by the nose most of the time.

The truth is while the agency can tell you that you have a choice, a freedom, an independence, or even explicitly state that they value your blog’s authenticity, that doesn’t negate the fact that the agency would rather choose to work with a blogger who is more willing to compromise (more kwai in our local context). I mean if I were the agency, who would I choose to promote: a blogger who is a people-pleaser or a blogger who questions every brief assuming both have the same level of influence?

So where does that leave you and your integrity? On the shelves or in the freezer, my friend. You might end up not having that many advertisers to work with and yet can’t contract any projects outside the agency.

7 Reasons Not To Join A Blog Advertising Agency
Say goodbye to your blog focus
If you’re going to be contracted with a blog advertising agency, for the reason stated earlier, you might find yourself offered products/services that don’t quite fit your blog’s focus. Now what are you gonna do? Keep rejecting? If so, why bother to sign up with a blog advertising network in the first place? Compromise? Then say goodbye to your blog focus?

What I’m saying may not make sense to a blogger without a blog focus. But if you’re worth your salt, you’ll value what your blog stands for and put your blog focus above all blog-things.

You limit your pool of advertisers
Not many people know this but there are some brands who would not work with blog advertising agencies. When I was working with Lenovo some years back, their marketing folks specifically asked me if I was under Nuffnang. If I was, they wouldn’t want to work with me. I’m not too sure of the reason or if things have changed since but that just shows me that there are brands who prefer not to deal with blog advertising agencies.

Also, who is to say that the brands that work with blog advertising agencies only work with these agencies? Unless they get themselves contractually bound, I don’t see why they can’t work with independent bloggers as well.

Another point to consider is that not all brands have big budgets to accommodate blog adverising agencies and their multitude of bloggers. If so, they may not get the same attention as the big brands and if so, why bother going the blog advertising network route to work with bloggers? Why not work directly with the bloggers?

You may be judged for the wrongs of others
Going by what I’m seeing throughout the years in the local blogosphere, a blog advertising agency can be defined by who their top blogger is. This also means the rest of the bloggers on board are likely to be viewed the same. So say if the top blogger has questionable values, wouldn’t the rest of the bloggers’ values be judged along the same line? Is that a wise association?

Okay, let me put forth a more consequential illustration: If the top blogger of a blog advertising network is accused of having a lack of integrity in the way he or she writes, don’t you think you’ll be thought the same even if you are 100 percent above board? Can a blog advertising agency vouch for the principles of their top blogger?

Think thrice before committing
Obviously, I could have written a pro and cons of joining a blog advertising network piece. But I decided I want to put forth a strong stand on this topic. I want to exhort bloggers who are considering the blog advertising network route to THINK REALLY HARD BEFORE COMMITTING YOUR BLOG AWAY ON A LONG TERM BASIS. Be wise. Negotiate on your terms, not theirs! You can write your own rules!

I get it that many bloggers feel that signing up with a blog advertising agency is a big break. Or maybe it’s an easy way out. It’s like a chance for them to make it considering the promises that would have been belted out to them–more money, more exposure, more traffic, increased online reputation. But you know what? If you’re really good, advertisers will come to you. Even the blog advertising agencies will be willing to work on project basis with you. And even if your blog or traffic is mediocre, you’re still better off working independently with various agencies, not just one!

And the thing about these agencies? I’ve been approached multitude of times by such agencies to know that there are many around. So don’t limit yourself geographically. Guard your own exclusivity! Prized it above all blog-things! Look at your blog like a business, approach all offers with BOTH EYES OPEN!

Oh, just for the record, where Mr Cheo’s remark is concerned about those not being in his network a second-tier blogger, I have had a number of advertisers who have returned to work with me not once, not twice, but thrice or more. While I may be a second-tier blogger according to Mr Cheo’s limited definition but so not worth it? Well, not according to my returning advertisers. I just wish that advertisers are more discerning and not swayed by his sweeping statement that is obviously calculated to boost his business at all our expense. SHEESH. (-_-)


  1. Paris B says:

    Well said, Sesame! I too am a number two blogger then, since I’ve chosen to stay far far away from these local networks! Having seen their tactics & (lack of) ethics up close, I’m very happy where I am.

  2. stella says:

    although i would argue that you have the luxury of choice since you have a day job and this is a hobby blog. most full-time bloggers would be more compelled to join an advertising network to gain more exposure and work to stay afloat.

    i hope this blog stay this way though, since many blogs out there are such blatant advertising platforms, they’re just a real yawn–content is still king! (although, i would also argue that i have the luxury of a comfortable disposable income to support products endorsed by authentic bloggers even if they cost more)

  3. Sesame says:

    It’s true I have less urgency to blog for the money but then again, I see many respectable bloggers going on their own without joining the networks, at least not exclusively. I think Ladyironchef is on his own and he blogs full-time if I’m not wrong, and Mr Brown too. Of course, these are the bigger blogs but I think the smaller ones will be squeezed by joining the networks on an exclusive basis. Either they end up with no gigs or pressured to participate in gigs that are not all that desirable. So instead of joining any of these exclusively, they’ll actually do better by joining a couple on a non-exclusive basis. I think they’ll make more money freelancing.

    Personally I find a lot of “bullying attitude” with these networks. There is totally no finesse in the way they conduct their business…nothing respectable or above board. Don’t see the industry being improved with their presence at all.

    I think the lure of making money is real for bloggers. The question is, how are they making it so that their blogs do not appear overly commercial. It’s a fine balance.

  4. Sesame says:

    Yup, there’s just something tacky about the way they conduct their business. I particularly dislike the way they undermine their competition and everyone else not with them. I also learned that companies who sign up with some of these networks for blogging services are forced to take up useless banner ads. So their whole business model is also quite flawed.

  5. Advertiser says:

    As an advertiser, why should we engage independent bloggers vs agencise. How do we benefit in each case ?

  6. sl says:

    Very well-written and eye-opening! Thanks!

  7. Sesame says:

    Hi there! I wrote this post with the bloggers in mind but since you asked from the advertisers’ perspective, let me share a few points for your consideration:

    1. When you work with agencies, you need to factor in the agency’s costs. They usually charge higher than independent bloggers for obvious business reasons. Most of them likely get a cut from the bloggers’ fees. But say if I am a blogger sign on to them, I would raise my fees. Eg. say if my usual fee is $500 per post, I may want to raise it to $800 or $1000 because I want to get back the same net fees.

    2. On the other hand, if I join an agency and have to lower my fees (maybe because I’m promised more advertisers), I may be less motivated to produce high quality content for each post.

    3. I know some of the local agencies charge a higher package (bloggers’ fees + banner ads) and advertisers are forced to pay for extra banner advertising which may not yield much return. Or they expect advertisers to sign on a few bloggers which essentially means a higher advertising expenditure for the client. Advertisers may spread out their expenditure with independent bloggers rather than commit all at one go with an agency.

    4. Negotiation with independent bloggers can be more flexible. However, many independent bloggers may prefer you pay upfront. Whereas some agencies may allow you to pay on terms.

    5. With an agency, advertisers don’t need to do much homework on the bloggers since technically, the agency should have done that part of the job. However, transparency is required to know if the bloggers indeed have the stats they claim. With independent bloggers, advertisers need to verify with each blogger.

    6. Working with independent bloggers means advertisers will have to deal with each blogger on their own. With an agency, the point-of-contact with bloggers will be minimized. You may just need to deal with one account manager.

    7. When advertisers work with an agency, they may find themselves signed on to bloggers who frequently blog about sponsorship or advertorials. In this case, the mileage can easily be diluted. Readers may get tired of reading advertorials/sponsored posts one after another. Which means as an advertisers, your product/service can get lost in the deluge of commercial posts.

  8. Sesame says:

    Thanks for reading, sl! ?

  9. Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle says:

    Well, here is another number 2 blogger then. Even though I should be on that list you mentioned since my traffic exceeds 400k visitors each month. Like you I would never exclusively sign up with these agencies and do (almost) all my advertorials independently. I actually find that so much easier as communication gets a lot tougher (and time consuming) with another person in the middle. Payment up front means no hassle in that area.

    Also thanks again for your help earlier. The offending site is now offline!
    Sylvia @ 40PlusStyle last post is: Throwback Thursday: how to wear white, a skirt, look stunning in midlong gray hair and more!

  10. Sesame says:

    Hey Sylvia, so glad that the offending site is taken off. So I guess whatever you did worked.

    Oh btw, you could update Avinology with your site stats to be put up the list. I’m also glad I’m not alone thinking that a direct advertising relationship works better. ?

  11. Charmystique says:

    Loved reading this Sesame, my sentiments exactly! I think many bloggers join blogger networks simply because it’s the easy way to get their name out there and be exposed to bigger brands which might not necessarily be aware of their existence. Fair enough though! However, I do agree with you that you do lose a certain amount of editorial integrity and your personal voice when joining a network. I much prefer to stay independent and only write about brands that I personally endorse.
    Charmystique last post is: Nubian Heritage Review: Coconut Papaya & African Black Soap Body Wash

  12. Kelvin Tan says:

    Hi Sesame,

    First of all, I enjoyed reading your blog post. It gives me a new insight of blog ads agencies. I have my own portfolio website + blog and I work with Nuffnang as my ads agency. My main reason in working with them is to get a bit of side income to support my website (annual fees).

    After reading your review, I would like to ask if there is some other alternatives if we do not want to work with ads agency like Nuffnang?

    Thank you,
    Kelvin Tan

  13. Michael Parker says:

    Advertising is really the best to promote your business, i like this services.

  14. Advertising Agency says:

    This is what is was looking for great info. you shared its really very informative. Thanks.

  15. Sesame says:

    I guess the appeal is the ticket to exposure and more money but that can sometimes come at a cost. For me, joining an advertising network is fine. Just don’t sign on exclusively and be selective which one you want to be associated with.

  16. Sesame says:

    Hi Kelvin, what do you use NN for? Is it the banner ads? If so, there are others that provide better income but they are international. Some may require minimum traffic. I’ve tried a few and currently liking Adversal Media. Burst Media is not bad too.

  17. Kelvin Tan says:

    Hi Sesame,

    Thank you very much for your suggestion. Will check it out.

    Kelvin Tan

  18. Karla says:

    Very interesting points you make and this opens my eyes to some things I wish I had known when I started blogging 4 years ago!

    I guess it’s all part of the learning process!

    I am stunned to read that the agencies take as much as 60% of the advertising budget that should go to the bloggers when they don’t do much, we do.

    Now I will be raising my own fees and prefer quality over quantity, always.

    Thank you for sharing this ?
    Karla last post is: Viking River Cruise on the Danube Day 3 Part 2: Regensburg, Germany

  19. Rick says:

    Very informative! I admire you for your bravery and for standing up against some ad agencies trying to milk bloggers. I’ve only just began writing but this is eye-opening, I will take note of this someday ?

  20. John Miller says:

    Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

  21. Felicia says:

    Me too! So agree with you and your blog are awesome. Looks professional unlike those top blogger

  22. Kim Lang says:

    I totally agree with you and I have no idea why all people are targeting blogs for advertising. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Thanh Ngan Tran says:

    An useful blog!
    I think that people can learn a lot of information.
    Thank you so much

  24. Ngan Tran says:

    Thanks for your blog!
    I think that I can learn how to join an advertising network, it will help me improve my job.

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