There is a lot of talk between bloggers about whether payment should come into working with brands and if yes, when.
As I’ve said before, an advocate for compensating bloggers and helping brands and PR understand why this doesn’t have to be a “cash for comment” arrangement but I also think the current model is distracting many bloggers from realising their full potential (& missing the opportunity that is before them now in a way that has not been available before).
The Current Model
There are three primary income streams for bloggers at the moment.
– Charging an admin fee for reviews and giveaways via admin (base rate is between $30-$50 for a giveaway)
– Advertising on your blog – see Nicole Avery’s post for a guide to pricing
– Sponsored posts (base rate is $110 per post but bloggers with high traffic can charge significantly more than this)
How long do you need to have been blogging to do this? In my opinion, unless you have started a review blog it’s a good idea to allow 3-6months of finding your groove before you start doing any PR stuff at all (unless you have found yourself with a strong readership base very quickly). Give yourself time to get established, I can promise you – you won’t miss out! Of course, that’s just my opinion. Once you do decide to start PR stuff and decide you want to charge for posts/reviews you can start straight away, you just need to realise that many PRs still see it as cash for comment and may say no.
Do I Need To Charge?
This is how I see it: I am a personal blogger, there are things that I love and if a company would like to send me a product that I love then mostly I’m pretty happy to find a way to share that – in my own time and way.
My rules? I keep the product and they pay for postage to giveaway winners. I confess the latter has more to do with requiring me to go to a post office with my two children than anything else!
For me, stuff I love + me = win. If it’s not stuff I love then I can just say no. I want to keep my blog purely about what I am interested in and not be tempted to make decisions based on payment.
So no, you don’t have to charge.
The only thing you have to do to is stay true to your reason for blogging not let monetising cloud your judgement.
Is There Another Way?
Part of what has made blogging so popular is that it is unfettered by commercialism. The value is in your voice, your popularity, the respect you have in your peers and none of that can be bought.
The question I have about the current model is that it doesn’t encourage true discernment nor offer real value to a blogger. Ask yourself this: How many giveaways and posts would you need to do in order to generate the sort of income you are looking for? How would doing that change your blog?
I’m not saying you don’t deserve to be paid, I’m saying that you are “worth” so much more than an admin fee…in fact what you have to offer isn’t even acknowledged by an admin fee.
If you want your blog to be respected by brands then you need to start by treating yourself with respect, and that’s where the current model is falling short. Respect is found in the word “no”. Thanks for your offer but that’s not the right fit for my blog. Great words. A smart brand or PR company will come back to you again, your “yes” is now more valuable than before because you don’t take just any offer that crosses your path. When a blogger says “no” they say I can’t be bought, this isn’t about money it’s about my voice and integrity.
A blogger who says “no” is more able to command a fee for their “yes'”, than a blogger who say yes almost always and charges for it.
None of this is to say you shouldn’t do it…it’s to ask are you undervaluing yourself?
The Way Forward
I’ll let you in on a secret…whenever I talk to bloggers they speak as if the brands hold the power but when I meet with brands they do the opposite. Each side is valuable to the other – the key is figuring out what you want that to look like for you.
When it comes to your blog, the best advice around is to write about the things you love, and take part in experiences you want to take part in. That will not only be the best thing you can do for yourself, but the best thing you can offer your readers and any brands you choose to work with.
Over to you…would love to hear your thoughts, stories and questions.
* I don’t really count product as compensation. For me, product is the absolute minimum and should be a given.