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Dear Crissy - Life, blogged.

The Fairy Hobmother: The weirdest thing I’ve seen in blogging

I can’t even begin this post without laughing. Just typing The Fairy Hobmother makes me feel like an idiot, I mean seriously—what or who is The Fairy Hobmother?

For bloggers who are concerned with FTC and Google Quality Guidelines compliance, please read up, and please, for the love of God and unicorns, do not take candy from The Fairy Hobmother unless you DISCLOSE that you took the candy. Again, I laugh.

The Fairy Hobmother

The Fairy Hobmother Explained

If you haven’t heard of The Fairy Hobmother, let me try to explain. Apparently a man named Matthew Mitchell who works for AppliancesOnline.co.uk has given himself this magical moniker. I refuse to link to his site, but he has a Twitter too @thefairyhobmother, oddly enough. Matthew frequently emails bloggers asking for a “simple post” in exchange for a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

From what I’ve seen, Matthew Mitchell doesn’t come right out and ask for a backlink to his company’s website, yet most of the posts I’ve seen include it. The posts that I have seen also almost never have proper FTC disclosure stating that Matthew Mitchell or AppliancesOnline.co.uk paid them for the post.

An Email from the Fairy Hobmother

Below is an example of the standard email bloggers receive from The Fairy Hobmother.

From: Matthew Mitchell <Matthew.Mitchell@appliancesonline.co.uk>
Date: Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 5:27 AM
Subject: Greetings from the Fairy Hobmother!

Hi!

I’m the Fairy Hobmother, spreading light and joy across the blogosphere with the help of talented bloggers like you!

I caught your comment on *removed* and had to pop down to check out your blog *removed*. I liked what I saw, and I thought that you deserved a little fairy magic of your very own!

I’d like to send you a gift in the form of an Amazon voucher for $50!

All that I’d ask is that you write a little about me in one of your blog posts. I don’t need a whole article to myself (unless you’d like to do that!), a tiny mention would be good enough. As an added bonus if any other

bloggers comment on your post I may well be paying them a visit in the near future!

If this sounds like something you’d like to do please get in touch and I’ll get things moving.

In the mean time take care, and keep up the good work!

Matthew Mitchell
E-mail: Matthew.Mitchell@appliancesonline.co.uk
Follow The Fairy Hobmother on Twitter!

What’s The Problem?

Well, maybe nothing. If a blogger chose to write a post about The Fairy Hobmother, linking to AppliancesOnline.co.uk, that might be fine. To protect herself, however, the blogger should do two things in that post.

  1. No-follow the text link leading to AppliancesOnline.co.uk.
  2. Provide a proper FTC disclosure stating that compensation was received for the post.

The problem is, a large number of bloggers who are posting about The Fairy Hobmother are completely omitting the FTC disclosure, and I’m assuming they aren’t no-following the links. Some of these bloggers might otherwise at least disclose a sponsored post, but I guess The Fairy Hobmother’s magical Amazon dust may have clouded their reason.

  • To see what I mean, hop over to Google and search: Fairy Hobmother. You’ll see blog post after undisclosed blog post talking about The Fairy Hobmother.

These Fairy Hobmother posts spread like a virus through the blogging community. In the past few days I’ve seen no less than five mentions of the Fairy Hobmother “making his rounds,” and bloggers excitedly line up to leave comments on the posts, hoping to be the next lucky recipient of that special email.

The Moral To This Tale

Working for a $50 Amazon Gift card is no big deal. I’ve done it. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s anything more than a sponsored post, because it isn’t.

Be sure to protect yourself and your blog by including a proper discloser within the post, and if you value your Google PageRank be sure to no-follow links to Matthew Mitchell’s website.

*Throws a handfull of glitter into the air.*

Have you seen these Fairy Hobmother posts floating around? What do you think?

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Leave a Comment





43 Comments

  1. February 5, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    I was thinking the exact same thing as you! I’ve never received a visit from the Fairy Hobmother, but if I did I would definitely be using a nofollow link. I think he wants dofollow though from what I heard so that’s why I never bothered doing it.

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  2. February 5, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked not to disclose from a company/individual housed in the UK or Canada. Many, many times. Bad, bad, bad.

    I think I’ll stick to Disney fairies.

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  3. February 5, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    I assumed this was a sponsored post, but really, is it all that shocking that many do not? Thanks for the post Crissy, hopefully some take it to heart!

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  4. February 5, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    What an awesome name! Besides the legalities, and the inefficacy of getting a no-follow link, it’s a great method!!!

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    • February 5, 2013 @ 10:52 am

      Matt – I agree with you. If bloggers would just disclose and no-follow, then it would be a pretty fun way to spread the word about his company….but it feels like a cheesy way to build links…and saying the amazon code is a “gift” is there way of saying they didn’t “buy” the link.

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  5. February 5, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I often wondered about The Hobmother myself. I guess this proves that nothing comes free.

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  6. February 5, 2013 @ 10:44 am
    Amanda Joy

    I just got an email from him. Thanks for the reminder to disclose if I accept. Nothing in life is free!

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  7. February 5, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    The not disclosing is what bugs me the most about this fairy. Sure, it sounds like a really fun way to get bloggers to talk about you. But not disclosing or no-following the link is wrong. Very well said Crissy, I agree with you 100%.

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  8. February 5, 2013 @ 10:58 am

    He’s been around for almost a year now. I did a post for him a long while ago. I did a nofollow link (he didn’t complain) and also disclosed (he doesn’t ask you not to). I think it’s a nice tactic he’s using, definitely different from the norm. It’s fun though, which is why I think he gets so many takers.

    I would be willing to guess, that some of the non-disclosed posts for the Fairy Hobmother out there are simply from bloggers that do not disclose anything. Either they don’t know they should or they just choose not to for whatever reason.

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    • February 5, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

      I agree with you! I think the people not disclosing are not disclosing anything!

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    • February 6, 2013 @ 10:02 am

      ^ This. I also did a post for him and disclosed. I don’t think he’s trying to trick people, but rather just trying to have some fun while doing his job. I’ve never heard of him telling people that they can’t disclose or make their links nofollow if they want to.

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      • February 7, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

        And I’m curious from those that have posted from him before (I’ve never even heard of it!), did you in face receive your $50 Amazon voucher?

  9. February 5, 2013 @ 11:09 am

    I’ve heard he asks for do-follow, so I stay far away. Not going to compromise for a gift card.

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    • February 5, 2013 @ 11:40 am

      He doesn’t ask for dofollow, at least not from most people I’ve spoken to. Some people even ask for more than the $50 amazon card and get it.

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  10. February 5, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    I was visited by the Hobmother a while back and did the post. My links in it were no follow from the get go, I disclosed and he still sent the gift code. (I went and double checked after seeing your post.)

    Also, from what I recall, not every blogger was offered the same amount for a gift code. Some of the bloggers who were doing this when I was tagged were sharing amounts of $25 to $75 that they received. That might have changed and maybe he is doing a flat $50 now.

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  11. February 5, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    I don’t shop on Amazon, because the last time I received an Amazon card for a post I had the hardest time using it since it wouldn’t work on the Canadian site and the shipping from the American site was too much to buy anything that I wanted/needed. If he offered Paypal or even a gc to somewhere I do shop I’d be more interested.

    I have a plugin in Google chrome that highlights nofollow links. I did it so I could spot rogue dofollows on my own blog but with it I see SO MANY bloggers making mistakes with their links. The biggest one I see if nofollow internal links on their sidebar or even in posts, and yes it shows me the dofollow links in their reviews and sponsored posts. I know when I started blogging it wasn’t something that even crossed my mind and I’m sure it’s the same with many others.

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  12. February 5, 2013 @ 11:34 am

    I blogged about that last year but it was/is no follow and I had disclosure and now it is noindexed bc it was a post only 199 words long.

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  13. February 5, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    I got an email from the guy and will be no-following and not making it all about this one thing – I want to make it about something else and just put in the link somewhere. All sponsored content needs to flow with the blog, even this bizarre type of sponsored link.

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    • February 5, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

      Tazim, that is what I did in 2011 when I linked to his site. It was just a post I was writing anyway.

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  14. February 5, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    I have seen blogs work with him and do the Fairy Hobmother LOL I personally have never done it but it sounds SO odd!!! I would never do a do-follow in a paid post.. and $50 amazon gift card woohoo.. hahaha its a good amount for a post but at the same time not if it is against FTC rules.. no amount is worth that!

    Great post Crissy!!

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  15. February 5, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    I got an email from him a long time ago. I offered to do a post with a nofollow link and then he didn’t respond back.

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  16. February 5, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Haha Thank you for pointing this out Crissy :)
    I would have no followed if I was petitioned for a post from him/her, but I was not.

    I think so many bloggers will do anything for money without realizing or even CARING about laws and regulations.

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  17. February 5, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

    I did it in 2011. I did not get a gift card, I got an immersion blender (which I love). I stated very cleary in the post that I was given an immersion blender, I also wasn’t asked to do a follow link (but I wasn’t told not to either). I wonder if people think that by saying that they got something from the Fairy Hobmother that they are making a disclosure. Since mine was an object and not a gift card, it was pretty obvious from the get-go that I got something out of it.

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  18. February 5, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    I agree that most of the people who don’t disclose or no follow probably just don’t fully understand the rules.

    Shoot – when a brand doesn’t include a disclosure, I would often forget to add one! Which is why lately, I’m trying to make a habit of just adding a disclosure to EVERY post, as a habit, even if it’s {I have no relationship to this awesome toddler toothbrush brand – just think they’re super rad and wanted to share.} Lol. Then it’s extra transparent when I post. And I don’t forget to disclose when needed.

    But I betcha that even with all of his glitter and fairy dust and magical gift cards, that he’s kind of banking on people making those mistakes. He’d never ask you to break the rules – but if over half of the bloggers don’t know better or forget, then lucky him. You know?

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  19. February 5, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    I may be completely ignorant, but in what other cases would you want to use no-follow links?

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  20. February 5, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

    I haven’t seen this yet, but I can’t believe bloggers don’t realize that this is a sponsored post! This is really strange indeed.

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  21. February 5, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

    I was visited a long time ago and back then I didn’t mention the fairy hobmother at all. I just linked, nofollowed, and disclosed. It just looked like a sponsored post. :-/

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  22. February 6, 2013 @ 9:13 am

    Excellent points and well written as always. Also, Love this *Throws a handfull of glitter into the air.* Not going to promise that I’m not going to steal….

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  23. February 6, 2013 @ 10:13 am

    I did a post last year, but I did no follow and disclosed. Not sure why his fairy dust clouds judgement in that area. It is an easy $50, but you still have to follow the same logic as other paid posts.

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  24. February 6, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    I did a post for him a year or so ago, gave him a nofollow link and got my gift card (which was of a very decent value). I wrote right in my post that I received an Amazon gift card from him. I don’t think a disclosure gets any clearer than that.

    I think it is a fun way to approach bloggers for a sponsored post, and any experienced blogger should realize what he is up to. It’s definitely a different tactic than the canned emails we get from people saying how much they love our site and our content and offer to write us a guest post for FREE! ;-) At least I didn’t delete his email…

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  25. February 6, 2013 @ 11:08 am

    I haven’t had the pleasure of an email from the Fairy Hobmother. However, I had an email in the past 6 months from a company where you can do lots of smaller posts and earn money. Seemed legit until AFTER I posted, they insisted on a follow link. Um no. So I explained all about the FTC laws, and I was given a call by the owner explaining that all of the well known blogs are doing it, so they were confused as to why I had a problem. I don’t have a problem. I refuse a followlink if I receive money plain and simple. Nothing, and surely not $10 or less is worth me getting into legal trouble for, I can assure you that!

    Be careful what they tell you. If you receive an item worth $.25, you received compensation so you have to no follow and disclose!

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  26. February 6, 2013 @ 12:02 pm
    Robin Quick

    I’m not a blogger but I follow numerous blogs and I have read a few post about this Fairy Hobmother. The post I read were about receiving some big appliance they were in need of. It was written like this guy goes around blogs doing good deeds for bloggers by donating appliances to them they were in dire need of. This is the first I’ve heard of the Amazon GC. Huummmm !

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  27. February 6, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

    Wow – haven’t heard of this before, but will definitely keep an eye out – I think that’s why I make sure to be a part of trusted groups and not just taking candy from a hogwart, ooops, I mean hobmother!! ha/ha

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  28. February 6, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    I received an email from him too and declined :) It just didn’t sit well with me, not to mention it wasn’t really directly related to my blog. When I do accept sponsored posts, I ALWAYS disclose – it’s second nature to me now.

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  29. February 6, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

    I did a post a while back but definitely “nofollowed” and disclosed that it was sponsored!! I never even asked about the nofollow and her never said anything!!

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  30. February 6, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

    He is making rounds again, I see. Do I need to start sleeping with my Laptop under my pillow to get a visit? Congrats for being a lucky blogger.

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  31. February 7, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    I’ve seen them around for a long while, and I always leave a comment when I see it. But I’ve never gotten that email. Now I’m wondering if it is because all my sponsored posts are nofollow and I’m rabid about FTC disclosures. Probably unfair to speculate. I wouldn’t hesitate to do a write up, though, but absolutely, those things you listed would be done by me, as well!

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  32. February 7, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    I was actually JUST visited by Matthew a.k.a The Fairy Hobmother and wrote my post which went live yesterday! While I’ve always left a comment in hopes I’d get that special visit, I did notice that a good majority of people didn’t disclose. My philosophy is when in doubt, disclose, especially if you’ve been given or gifted something!

    I personally think it’s a really cute way to work with bloggers and get the word out about their company; who doesn’t need a little whimsey added to their life, if only for a little bit? :)

    Thank you so much for writing this great informative post! While I already did disclose, I didn’t do a no-follow so I just went and fixed that.

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  33. February 7, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    Times like these make me happy I’m so behind on emails, even if the fairy dust had been sprinkled my way, it would be months before I even find the email! Thanks for the heads up! :)

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  34. February 7, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

    Great post. I have seen “Fairy Hobmother” posts floating around the internet, and the ones I’ve seen have disclosed the FTC requirements. Your post is a good reminder about the no-follow links and FTC requirements. Thanks.

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  35. February 8, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

    Newbie blogger here – what is the difference between do follow and no follow links?

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  36. March 6, 2013 @ 1:59 pm
    Brooke

    He does end up asking for link in an email afterward, “As I said, I only need a little spot on your blog, but if you would be so kind as to pop in a link to my fairy overlords at LINK”. That said, when disclosure and normal sponsored post rules are followed, it can easily be treated like a regular sponsored post. Thanks for giving a good explanation.

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  37. October 17, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    The Fairy Hobmother paid me a visit a few years back. I followed all the guidelines that you mentioned and enjoyed the giftcard. I didn’t know he was still around.

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