Edit as of 12/11/13: After writing this post, I was contacted again by Grammarly with an apology and my promised gift card. I put their link back into the sponsored post that I had originally written upon receiving the payment.
Nick also gave me a free trial of Grammarly that didn’t involve giving them any credit card information, so I decided to play around with it, and it seemed like a decent tool. Like any computer program, it isn’t perfect, but I liked that it explained grammar rules when it detected errors. The explanations can help people become more conscious about their writing, and can help them to determine whether the problems detected are applicable within the context.
As a book blogger, I believe in being ethical and maintaining full disclosure, especially in cases where I receive any sort of compensation for my work. I don’t want to tarnish a company’s good name without justification, and I realize that anybody (including myself) can have a bad day and drop the ball on something.
However, I also don’t want to be the kind of blogger whose opinions can be bought, and above all, I want to be fair to everyone I work with, especially my readers. I can’t be certain that I would have received any payment for the sponsored post if I hadn’t written a post warning other bloggers to stay away. As such, I decided to leave this post for posterity, and to allow other bloggers to draw their own conclusions from my experience.
Confession: I recently fell for the Grammarly scam.
At first, I was hesitant to write this post, because I don’t want to discredit a company’s good name without proper justification. However, after conferring with other bloggers, I realized that my experiences could serve as a warning and prevent other people from making the same mistakes that I did.
Last month, I received an e-mail from a company called Grammarly offering to sponsor one of my blog posts in exchange for a $50 Amazon gift card. The text of the e-mail is as follows:
I just stumbled across your review of “Fifty Shades of Grey” (which is fantastic, by the way) and thought to myself, “What a perfect fit!” We’re currently looking to sponsor bookworm bloggers like yourself with a small text ad to appear in one of your blog posts in exchange for a $50 Amazon gift card.
In case you haven’t heard of us, Grammarly is an automated online proofreader that finds and explains pesky grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes that are bound to find their way into any writer’s first draft. Think of us as a digital second pair of eyes that saves you the embarrassment of making a silly mistake on anything from book reviews to manuscripts. If you’d like to join our 4 million users and try the premium version of our proofreader for free, let me know and I’ll make it happen!
Please send me the expected publishing date and topic of your next appropriate blog post (ideally something about books or writing) so I can give you the details you’ll need.
P.S. Let me know if you ever find yourself in foggy San Francisco; I’d love to grab some coffee. 🙂
At first, I thought it was too good to be true. I Googled the company, and at the time, my search responses seemed to indicate that the company was legit. (As of 11/29/13, that is no longer the case, as other bloggers have had similar experiences to my own and written about it.)
The first paragraph seemed to indicate that the author had read my blog. If Nick had mentioned any post other than the one he did, I probably wouldn’t have fallen for his scheme, but my post about “Fifty Shades of Grey” was the most popular post I’ve ever written. I was flattered and ignored the warning signs, especially the creepy line about grabbing a cup of coffee. Retrospectively, it sounds eerily like something that Christian Grey would say. Then again, I’ve been known to grab coffee with someone as a networking opportunity, so I ignored my gut feelings. This all occurred during the government shutdown, and I wasn’t sure when my next real paycheck would be. Fifty dollars can buy a lot of books and/or miscellany, so I decided to write a post.
I conferred with Nick about type of post I should write, and was assured that as long as I included the link to Grammarly’s home page, I would be receive my gift card within 72 hours of posting. After I posted, I received the following e-mail:
Thank you so much for getting that up there so quickly. I had originally intended for the mention to go up on http://barriewritersclub.wordpress.com, sorry for being a little unclear about that in my initial message. Would it be possible for you to move the text to a post on http://barriewritersclub.wordpress.com? I apologise for the hassle.
– Online Partnerships Associate –
This is when I started to get angry. A little unclear?! The Barrie Writers Club is a DIFFERENT FUCKING BLOG. It’s not my blog, and it never has been. I don’t work with them or contribute to them. I had never even heard of it before Nick’s e-mail. They seem like cool people, but THEY’RE NOT ME!!! Mind you, in our prior correspondence, I had included a link to my blog in my signature with every e-mail that I sent to him, so this wasn’t a misunderstanding. Also, people who are really from California tend to say “apologize,” not “apologise.”
I sent Nick a very polite e-mail explaining that I was not affiliated in any way with the blog he mentioned. I never received any further responses from him, let alone the promised gift card. Luckily, I hadn’t given Grammarly any credit card information, even though their site requested it.
I removed any mention of Grammarly from the post that I had written, and moved on. I’ll chalk this one up to my own hubris, and from now on, I’ll be much more careful with sponsorships/advertising opportunities on my blog. Hopefully this post helps other people to avoid making the same mistake.