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The most difficult aspect of being a freelancer is that nothing is ever certain. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Money and jobs that were promised to you may never materialize. Commission rates may change overnight. Or, an ad/influencer network you’ve partnered with may declare bankruptcy, which is exactly what happened today with Mode Media. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mode Media shut its doors effective immediately.
A memo circulated at Mode saying “that for the last five months, it had been ‘actively and continuously’ seeking financing or an acquisition and believed its efforts would not be successful if employees were told.” Their funding attempts apparently failed and the Mode Media bankruptcy became public knowledge earlier today.
It should be noted that while Mode Media has filed for bankruptcy and has apparently told their employees, they have yet to reach out to the thousands of content creators and ad hosts in their network.
Mode Media originally launched as Project Y in 2003, and then in 2005 it became Glam.com. Glam Media was renamed Mode Media in 2014, as the company had expanded to cover more verticals than its original fashion and beauty focus. Now, it seems that Mode will cease to exist.
Throughout much of its online tenure, Mode was both an ad network and an influencer network. They worked with thousands of bloggers and some of the biggest brands in the world to create sponsored content, be it blog posts, videos, or social media messages.
Mode Media Bankruptcy Screws Over Bloggers
With this Mode Media bankruptcy announcement, one thing has become clear: Bloggers that are owed money from Mode will likely never get paid. Unfortunately, freelancers go to the very bottom of the list when a company files for bankruptcy. There are some bloggers reporting that they are owed thousands of dollars, which is simply disgusting for a company that is reported to have made $90 million in 2015 and was allegedly on track to earn even more this year.
Many bloggers have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration. A search for #ModeMedia on the site leads to a growing number of bloggers sharing their Mode non-payment horror stories.
— The Shopping Mama (@TheShoppingMama) September 16, 2016
— Crissy Page (@Crissy) September 16, 2016
— Jen (@SuburbanMomClub) September 16, 2016
If you were working with Mode, here’s what you need to do right now:
- Despite shutting down, the ads generated by Mode Media are still actively running on blogs. Since you will never be paid for these impressions, pull the Mode ads from your sites.
- IMPORTANT UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 26): Mode Media has decided against filing for formal bankruptcy. Instead, Sherwood Partners has been retained to liquidate the assets and pay off creditors. If Mode owes you money and you would like to be considered as a creditor, you need to fill out this form within 180 days. Unfortunately, freelancers and bloggers are considered unsecured claimants, which means your claim will go to the very bottom of the list, but unless you fill out that form your chances of receiving anything are nil. Here’s more information on what to do when a freelance client files for bankruptcy.
- In order to fill out the claim form, you need to figure out how much money Mode owes you. If you don’t have this information, Sherwood Partners has allegedly taken control of Mode’s servers and can get this information for you. Here is how you can contact Sherwood Partners. (Please note that I am unable to personally verify this.)
- Join this Facebook group: Mode Media Publishers and Crew. This is where you will find other Mode bloggers sharing information about next steps and commiserating.
- Start searching for new opportunities.
- Remember that you may be able to use unpaid invoices as a tax deduction. It is important to talk to your accountant about this at tax time.
Mode Media Alternatives
While learning about the Mode Media bankruptcy may have come as a blow, there are thankfully plenty of alternatives out there, both in terms of ad networks and influencer networks. Here are just a few of the Mode Media alternatives that are available:
Activate by Bloglovin’ – **Formerly Sverve** As soon as you sign up you will likely see campaigns listed that you can apply to join. Tweeting is even easier! Within five minutes of registering I earned $1.18 for a sponsored tweet. (No, not the big bucks but I wanted to see if it really was that easy — it was!)
AdThrive – Those working with AdThrive will have an ad manager who will help them optimize their sites to start earning the most revenue. While there’s no contract required to work with AdThrive, they do currently have a waiting list.
Advowire – Applying for Advowire is quick, and then once inside you can connect all of your social accounts, as well as Google Analytics. Once you’re all set up you can apply directly to campaigns from their opportunities board.
BlogHer – BlogHer does not accept everyone into the advertising network. If you want to get a foot in the door, check out their social media influencer program.
Brandbacker – Not all campaigns through Brandbacker are paid, which might be why it’s one of the busier networks. There are lots of opportunities here to work on brand campaigns, especially if you are interested in beauty.
Cirqle – Cirqle connects influencers with brands. They seem to focus more on high-end lifestyle brands and have a strong European presence.
Clever Girls Collective – Clever girls connects advertisers and bloggers via paid campaigns. There are some social media campaigns but the majority are blog-based.
Everywhere Agency – Pairs bloggers with advertisers, including quite a few local campaigns. They also do a lot of promotions with Macy’s.
Federated Media – This is one of the most prestigious ad networks to join. Your numbers have to be pretty high for them to even consider you.
Fuel Digital Media – This advertising and influencer network is based in Canada and a great option for Canadian-based sites or U.S. sites with a lot of Canadian traffic.
Google Adsense – There’s nothing wrong with the original ad network!
Linqia – Linqia is a very popular network right now. Members must have 1000 followers on Twitter or Facebook and have blogs focused on “Parenting” or “Home & Garden.” (It doesn’t hurt to apply if you’re not in those niches, but those are specifically what they mention.)
Massive Sway – Massive Sway is a network that was formed by The SITS Girls. They are looking for publishers with 100,000 unique monthly page views.
Mediavine – Must have at least 30k views per month and be in good standing with Google Adsense. They work primarily with the following verticals: food, parenting, DIY, health, fitness, fashion, travel, crafts, education, or entertainment. Focused on high-quality and high-paying ads that won’t slow down your site. “Cannot work with any advertiser that runs programmatic display ads.”
Megan Media – Influencer network for bloggers. After you register with Megan Media they will reach out if they have a campaign that will fit with your site.
Monumetric – Formerly The Blogger Network, Monumetric is a full advertising partner, although unlike some networks they won’t lock you into a long-term contract. They will secure advertisements for your website as well as sponsored post opportunities. Must have at least 10k pageviews to join the Propel program, although with Propel you must pay $99 to join. If you have 80k pageviews and up you go to the next – free – tier.
Social Fabric – Social Fabric is run by Collective Bias. They help facilitate advertised posts between bloggers, Instagrammers and Youtubers.
TapInfluence – Tapinfluence is neat because when you register for the site they will guide you through creating a media kit that is shown to advertisers using their platform. Based on that, advertisers using this platform get the best full look at what you can do for them. After registering, you will be contacted if they have opportunities that fit your profile. You can connect your blog and all social media platforms.
For even more networks that pay bloggers, be sure to join our mailing list. I’ll send you the link to a spreadsheet with 100+ companies that pay bloggers.
Moving On from Mode Media
Nothing is ever set in stone in the freelancing world, but my hope is that all of you impacted by the Mode Media bankruptcy are able to somehow recoup as much of your money as possible, even if it’s just via tax deduction. While we may never know what fully happened behind the scenes at Mode Media that caused the company to implode so completely, at least there are plenty of alternatives for bloggers. And, as long as there are bloggers there will be brands that are interested in partnering with said bloggers. Mode Media was just a middleman and they are easily replaceable.
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