This topic tends to be a little controversial, but I think it's a topic that we all want to talk about. I'm a member of several communities for bloggers, and in all of our groups, this topic frequently comes up.
If I'm being honest, it literally breaks my heart when I see bloggers not asking for compensation, but they want to make their blogs profitable. People do this for a number of reasons. One reason I thought was initially justified was my number of page views. I thought that I could only accept trades (like a product in exchange for a post) or my personal favorite, that they'll promise “social shares” for their favorite posts because I didn't think my blog was worth monetary value.
Well let me tell you something. Your blog is worth something, no matter the page views. Bloggers are underappreciated, until a brand approaches you about advertising their brand. They want something you have. They want your unique audience's attention, no matter how big or small. And you deserve to be paid for it.
Thoughts that hinder bloggers from asking for compensation:
- My blog doesn't have enough viewers
- I feel mean asking for money
- But they're willing to offer me a product
- They say they'll give me social shares
My blog doesn't have enough viewers.
No. Sorry. This one is the biggest lie that bloggers put in their heads. Seriously, I'm almost positive that at some point in their career, they've gazed at their computer screen and said, “I don't have 10,000+ page views, I can't ask for $100.” Bologna. I hate, literally hate that bloggers have bought in to this lie. You are valuable. You are worth it. Brands know this because they are asking you to promote them. It doesn't matter if you have 50 consistent readers or 50,000. If you have a consistent reader base and a large interaction with them, you have something that this brand wants. The influence you have is not something you should take lightly, nor should you just hand it over for free.
Times when I would say it's acceptable to use this way of thinking:
If you are just starting out your blog and have never blogged before, I don't recommend monetizing until you're around 6 months in. By then, you will have hopefully created a consistency, a vision, an audience and the beginnings of a brand. It may still need to be perfected, but you have a foundation to start on.
I feel mean asking for money.
Quit. It. Seriously. If you want a profitable blog, you have to learn to set prices. I can promise you, the person that is reaching out to you to do this post does not work for free, and neither should you! I can understand that brands sometimes don't have the budget for a paid campaign, but unless this is a brand that you are dying to work with and they are willing to give you credit for the creation of whatever they are asking you to do, I would advise you not to accept an unpaid campaign. You deserve to be compensated for your work.
Times where I would say it's acceptable to not ask for payment:
There are only select times where I either wave the payment or don't ask or it: It's a non-profit with a great cause or it's a brand that I have been dying to work with. You have to determine for yourself what you feel is important enough to not ask for payment. For me, I've worked for non-profits. I know their budgets and am more willing to negotiate with them. Of course, I would like to know what the cause they support is and what they are wanting to accomplish with the project. After knowing this, I make my decision.
But they're willing to offer me a product…
This one can be a little iffy. For me, it depends on the product itself. But when it all boils down, a new dress from a brand does not pay the bills. Money does. Bloggers offer a service, a product, if you will. You deserve to be paid for this product. This product is exclusive advertising to a specific, isolated, market audience. The brand knows that what you have is valuable, which is why they are wanting to get you to promote their product for the lowest cost possible. For them, it creates a high profit margin. So when bloggers accept products at a lower price than what they would charge, the brand remembers that, meaning you miss out on profit.
Set your prices and stick to it. One thing I have done in the past is I've subtracted the price of the product from my price on my sponsorship. They can still give me a product, but they still pay the remainder of my service fee. Here's an example: Brand X wants me to review their headphones, priced at $50. They are willing to gift them to me, but my price for sponsored posts is $100. I email Brand X and say that I would love to accept the product, and will discount the price of my sponsored post by $50.
Times when I think it's fine to accept a product:
Sometimes, brands will offer you a product that is worth equal to or more than what you would charge. I would say this is acceptable. Another time when I would accept a product would be if a brand that I really want to work with offered me a product in exchange for a review.
The brand says they'll give me social shares.
STOP. Go back to that email and re-read it. Any time I have received an inquiry from a brand where they want me to create “my favorite outfit featuring their clothing”, they usually state something like this after: “We'll be giving-exclusive-shout outs/pinning images/tweeting our favorite outfits.” This means they do not guarantee they will be sharing your outfit or your blog. If they are offering this, I would tell you to not agree to it. It's not to be mean, but if they aren't willing to agree to a mutual exchange, whether it be payment, social shares or product exchange, then it's probably not worth the risk.
Times when I would say it's acceptable to use it:
When a brand you really want to work with emails you and says, “Hey [Your name, spelled correctly], My name is [so-and-so] and I am a representative from [Super Awesome Brand]. I see you post a lot of our products on your blog. We at [Super Awesome Brand] would love for you to create an outfit using our products which we would feature on our website. This feature would have a direct link to your website and be shared on all of our social media outlets. Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in.
Bam! Mutual benefit. This brand gets awesome content and you get the traffic from their site.
Asking brands to pay you can be scary initially, but if you want a profitable blog, you have to learn to stick up for yourself. Taking low-ball offers is not going to turn a profit. This process is all about negotiating, and you should because your hard work is worth it.