As a blogger, arguably one of the biggest nuisances is email spam. It is a productivity killer, and a time suck. Still, email messages can just as easily be life-changing as they can be irritating, so it isn’t like we can ignore them. We lucky bloggers don’t just get the emails about Viagra and getting rich. We have our own categories of blogger-specific spam emails.
I asked on Facebook to find out which email spam bloggers hate and how they cope, and came up with this list of the most hated blogger spam emails. Here are tips for coping with some of the most annoying spam emails just for bloggers. I have some of my own tips, but I also reached out and got some great advice (and feedback) on Facebook. You can see the thread here, because I can’t possibly include all the great input in a post.
Blogger Spam Email #1: Spray and Pray PR Pitch
Easily the most reviled email spam cited by bloggers who responded to me on Facebook is the spray and pray pitch. It was mentioned so much and with such interesting debate, I think it probably will be a topic I turn into another post or two. In summary, this is the generic email with openings like “Dear Blogger” or “Dear Mommy Blogger” and a pitch. Sometimes that pitch even includes a whole list of things they would like the blogger to do (many of which don’t remotely qualify as word-of-mouth or earned media).
Sometimes, it includes an offer of high-resolution images. Here’s a free tip for PR people: most bloggers we don’t want your images unless we have something beyond that to write about already (or you are paying cash for advertising of said images). Also, web sites/blogs actually need low-resolution images (and rarely larger than 600×600 pixels) typically since we are not printing anything and high-res images slow down load times of our blogs. You’re welcome.
Here are some options for dealing with this spam:
- Set up a filter in your email to catch any incoming email with “Dear Blogger,” “Dear Mommy Blogger,” etc. to go into a special folder that you peek at once a week (or your trash if you are really not interested).
- Have a canned response (I would recommend a polite but clear one, personally) ready to send when you get really bad pitches and send them. PR people who send bad pitches will not learn if they only hear from the few who say yes to anything. You could even have saved responses for specific types of emails, such as one with a link to your rates when you get emails seeking marketing/advertising such as banners and widgets, requiring tweets or posts, etc. for free.
Some bloggers’ takes on this:
I have email templates that I use to reply to them – you never know which PR folks may have a future campaign that fits your blog better.
- Janice Luke-Smith of Fitness Cheerleader
If my name is nowhere to be found I delete it without even a glance. My assumption is that 400 other people got the same email so it clearly has no value to me.
- Jessica Gottlieb of JessicaGottlieb.com
Emails that waste time cost us money. We have to pay our virtual assistant to handle our inbox, so when companies ask us to work for free they are costing us money at the same time. It’s disrespectful.
- Susan Carraretto, 5 Minutes for Mom
Blogger Spam Email #2: The Text Link Buyer
A special kind of spam your grandmother probably doesn’t get (well, unless she is a blogger, too) is the text link buyer. Sometimes, it sounds really great. They woo you with professions of love for your blog. They tempt you by actually throwing out money payment (sometimes). The bottom line is that selling text links violates Google’s terms, is shady even if it didn’t, and could cost you your Google PageRank (the thing that they actually love about your blog). I did a post about Bloggers and Paid Text Links on this if you are still unsure.
To deal with this spam:
- Set up a filter that moves any email with text link ad in it into a special folder. This one can be a bit tricky if you instead use words like advertising because you might filter out authentic advertising inquiries.
- Have a canned response for these emails. My personal one is this: ”I do not sell text links as that is in violation of Google terms of service and could get both of our sites sandboxed in search results.” Better yet, add a line with information about your other advertising, sponsored posts, etc. rates.
Blogger Spam Email #3: The Guest Post Offer
This one has been a real nuisance for me at Type-A Parent, to the extent that I had to revamp the way I handle posts. For years, we have been a site where any parent could submit a guest post anytime. With so many SEO companies now using guest posts as a tactic to build links, I had to stop doing that.
These emails can be very misleading and sound completely legitimate. Many times, they will talk about how they are an authority in whatever topic your blog covers.
Here are some tips for this type of spam:
- Set up a filter for guest post subject line. You can visit this folder in your inbox once a week or even less frequently to scan for true emails from authentic bloggers.
- I would recommend researching any potential guest poster if you are really tempted. Most of the time, you will discover this “mom who is working at home” or “college student” is actually an SEO poster.
Here is a blogger’s take:
The worst ones are the ones that say they want a “guest post” but what they really want is a text link on my site. I’m not nearly as dumb as I look!
- Lindsay Chung of Lindsay Blogs
Blogger Spam Email #4: The SEO Expert
We’ve all gotten those emails, and they can be a little scary. They warn that you aren’t at the top of Google search results! (Of course, they don’t say for what term or anything). They promise to get you to the top! (Again, no explanation as to what). I crack up when I get these since I have been working with SEO for a decade (I even used to get these on my site offering my SEO services). This latest email I received especially cracked me up. Apparently, I am not active in social media? Huh.
I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Typeaparent.com.
1.Your website Typeaparent.com is not ranking top in Google organic search for many competitive keyword phrases.
2. Your website profile is not available in most of the Social Media Websites.
3. Your site has 53 Google back links, this can be improved further.
My response? “All three of those points are incorrect, but nice try/lie.”
Here is my advice:
- Honestly, this is such blatant spam (in my mind, on par with Viagra offers) that there is probably little point in replying. I did just because I was in a mood, but it is utterly pointless.
- Set up a filter to move any emails with SEO in them into a special folder to review once a week or less.
- If you want to optimize your site, research SEO yourself. Buy a book (hey, I have one, but I swear I am not pimping it and there are lots of other books out there as well and you can simply search SEO at Amazon or Barnes and Noble online). Keep up with popular SEO blogs which often have wonderful advice. Hire someone you know and trust (not a stranger spamming you) to help with SEO.
Blogger Spam Email #5: The Business Card Email Subscription Switcheroo
This one is common after real life events. We trade business cards like baseball cards and think little of it except that we are networking, only to return home and find we’ve been added to email lists. Let me be clear on this: arbitrarily taking someone’s business card and adding them to an email list is in violation of the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. You can do it in some situations (for example, a company has a booth with a fish bowl that says cards dropped in are subscribing to the newsletter). Mailchimp has some great situation examples here.
Here are some ways to deal with it:
- If you didn’t sign up for the email, unsubscribe. You can also report as spam with many email marketing companies, just be sure you never subscribed before you do that (perhaps you didn’t realize the fish bowl said it was for an email list, maybe you signed up a while back to get a coupon, etc.). If you report an email as spam, that is very serious and can hurt people who do legitimate email newsletters (like me!!). When in doubt, I would say unsubscribe instead of report as spam. You should find these options at the bottom of any email newsletter.
- If there is no CAN-SPAM compliant method for unsubscribing or contacting the sender, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
These are the blogger-specific spam emails cited the most. Is there another variation of the blogger spam email that you hate? Is there a tactic you have used to wrestle your blogger spam under control? Which of these five do YOU hate the most?
Photo © Nikolai Sorokin – Fotolia.com