Let’s Talk About Charging Brands


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.

12 Comments

  1. Yes. There really isn’t much more to add from my point of view. For me attending events is as much about the social component as about the product/brand. I am constantly learning about things to consider when working with PRs and attending events. For example, I am realising that parking and travel costs for me are quite significant and I cannot really afford to go to everything that lands in my inbox. I’d rather organise a social catch up at a time and place that is more affordable.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes the parking costs – can be a shocker! It’s such a learning process for everyone, and it’s great to be able to share the journey together and hopefully be able to encourage one another to make some good choices 🙂

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  2. You manage to hit the nail on the head every time.
    I’d like to think that I could ask for an admin fee for a review or sponsored post. It takes time. OK reveiwing it (depending what it is) could be quite fun, but you still have to make time to process photos, write your post, upload it all.
    I’m leaning toward not always accepting everything unless I feel it holds value to my blog. And then I may ask for an admin fee. I guess the only thing is, if a company doesn’t want to pay it, there are plenty of other bloggers probably willing to do so without the fee. But that’s OK. I just have to remember what my values are and why I blog. However I’d love to be able to monetise my blog. I’d love it to be more than just a hobby!

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    • Hey Mandy, I was just saying to Caz that I’m thinking I’ve been a bit unclear in this post and I’m sorry for that – I won’t repeat everything I just said in case you have already read it but if not, just have a little look at my reply to her below.

      I definitely think stick to the things you want to write about and make a plan for what monetising might look like – what’s going to bring you the most joy to do? There are certainly opportunities out there and they are way bigger than a small admin fee. 🙂

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  3. Being such a niche (children’s science) I’m really on the outside looking in on many PR discussions, very little of it really affects me. But it does give me the perspective that there are other ways to monetise.

    Even as a personal blogger, there are other things you can offer brands than just advertising space. Your blog is also your archives, your references and demonstrating skills on your job application. If you stop thinking about it as a magazine and start thinking about it as a demonstration or learning space you might discover something you can offer a brand that is very valuable.

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  4. More wise words Ms Louisa. Do PR companies expect us to ask for an admin fee? I have never done so – but one day think it would be great to be able to. Running review & giveaways can often feel like work. To be honest I wouldn’t’ feel confident enough to actually ask for one at this stage. Lack of confidence I guess. At this point I just refuse giveaways unless I’m actually interested in the product myself (or if it’s a WAHM type of deal).

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    • I think I’ve been a bit unclear in my post and I’m sorry about that. What I was trying to suggest is that while it’s possible to charge an admin fee it’s not the best way to approach monetising. Rather, saying ‘no’ to the things that don’t fit and thus being more selective & focused in what you do run with, in my opinion, gives you greater bargaining power when it comes to running sponsored content that you charge out at a higher rate than the $110 base amount.

      My personal opinion is I would rather choose to do the things that I am really interested in and do them via a contra deal than do more because I might get paid $30 for them. That’s a very personal decision, but for those who want to truly monetise I believe that offering an admin fee might actually limit their true potential.

      Does this make any sense?

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  5. Thanks for the link Louisa! I presume when you say “There are three primary income streams for bloggers at the moment.” you are meaning advertising revenue?

    For me advertising revenue is only one part of the equation. I have my book, one e-product and hopefully will have a couple more by the end of the year, all generating revenue, along side my blog coaching and consultancy work.

    I think creating a product is something that bloggers should look at. They write and give away excellent content almost daily. How can they harness this into a paid product?

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    • That’s exactly right Nic although I am not including those other income streams you have mentioned as part of the current model/approach because very few bloggers are using them. But I completely agree that it is a major area of untapped opportunity – there are all the other options available to bloggers that go way beyond working with brands. I started to put that into this post but it got too big – perhaps I’ll take this opportunity (having just been kicked out of my bed by the 3yr old!) to finish and post it now!

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  6. Another great post. I’ve been turning down more offers than I’ve been accepting recently and find myself sticking to working with familiar brands and PR firms where I know my work is respected and the time I put in is acknowledged.

    Having just moved to self hosted the whole world of advertising has opened up to me and I’m approaching it all very cautiously at this stage.

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  7. I really am starting to think about this a whole lot more now that Veggie Baby isn’t a newborn any more, and I have more time to devote to my blog.

    I guess I’m lucky in that I have a strong niche… food and cruelty-free products… that it’s easy for me to incorporate somewhat of a “commercial” aspect with reviews and giveaways of food and and other things. I am adamant that everything I write is just like a post I’d write anyway, with the pertinent stuff woven in, rather than just a hard sell. I don’t know how I would work this if I had a personal blog or a parenting blog, so I feel a lot of the confusion and angst may be passing me by. I am in awe of those who do this, and do it well.

    I also see it as an experience at the moment – I get sent things or pitches, and sometimes they end up as blog fodder, which is helpful when I’m trying to increase my posts. Also, I’m happy to do a thing or two here and there when just starting out with PR relationships rather than to charge dollars straight up. I think it’s great that people do, and those with bigger blogs than me absolutely should, but I’m just a beginner in a changing online world, and for now, feeling my way around and seeing PR reps doing it also is OK by me 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing such intereresting content!

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  8. Hi Louisa,
    I work full time and then run my makeup business the other two days so my life is extremely hectic and I find it frustrating when brands approach me expecting me to trial and review their products (and do so quickly) when I have many products lined up to review before theirs and not being pad for the efforts.

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