There are many out there who believe that being paid to write posts or getting free products will result in your opinion being swayed by the money or the gift in question. Or that your blog will lose it’s personal touch and become more of an online magazine.
Let’s be honest here for a minute – everyone likes getting paid and everyone likes getting free things. It does not have to mean that your content suffers.
I have seen time and time again, across multiple blogs, on Twitter and on other platforms, bloggers declaring that they would never accept payment for a post, or ask for free things as they want to keep their blog a hobby and do not want their content to suffer or be diluted by adverts masked as blog posts. This opinion is fine is perfectly fine as everyone has different reasons for blogging.
Of course, as soon as you start to exchange money or products – there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes along with it:
You need to be professional while communicating with PRs and brands.
You need to keep to timescales.
You need to keep them updated on the delivery/post progress.
You need to follow through.
Some people simply do not want that kind of responsibility, and it can be stressful trying to plan when you are going to post certain things.
Just because you have been given something, either money or an item, does not mean you have to post a positive review. Throughout my blog, you can see examples of when I have:
Given a great review for free, because I loved the website or brand and wanted to share it. Example.
Given great reviews of a product I’ve been given for free, because I found the items worked well. Example.
Reviewed a product I liked, just because. Example.
Given bad reviews to products I’ve been given as I don’t recommend them. Example.
Given a mixed reviews of my experience with a website after getting free items. Example.
Joined in collaborative posts with no payment or incentive, because I thought it was good content for my blog. Example.
The question is:
Should you get paid when you are asked to write a post about a product or website?
I’ve recently been approached by some PRs, either through answering #PRrequest tags on Twitter, or them e-mailing me and have been asked to write a post about a new collection or write about a certain theme as part of a project that a website is doing. When I e-mailed back asking their budget, the reply is the same.
We do not have any budget for blog advertising. We have never had to pay any charges for bloggers to feature our news stories in the past.
I’ve noticed that it is often sold to bloggers as a great opportunity for us to feature their products on our blogs, but just think about it: It is us that do the research, us that spend time writing the posts, us that take the photos, edit the photos and do the finishing touches to then publish it to an audience that we have worked so hard in building, to then use our influence and the trust we have built to drive traffic and potential sales to their websites. For free.
How do you feel now?
Manipulated? Taken advantage of? Used?
I find most companies that are not willing to pay or gift bloggers physical items to review are those bigger brands. Blogger opportunities are often masked as a competition where you have to make a wish list or post a certain theme and then will be entered into a prize draw to win something, or be judged. These are not blogger opportunities. These are competitions. These are a way to get you to entice your readers to buy products. I have no issue with companies doing these types of competitions, the thing I have an issue with us companies masking them as a unique blogger opportunity!
Why you should get paid for your blog posts:
You are spending your time promoting something. How valuable is your time?
Do not underestimate the time it takes to research, write, edit and proofread a post.
You are sending your traffic to a website or promoting a product.
You are using the trust you have built up with your audience to influence their decisions.
Most of these companies will spend a lot on magazine, TV, newspapers and other advertising, why should blogs be any different.
The person you are communicating with is probably getting paid to get you to promote something, why shouldn’t you?
When you should consider not being paid for your blog posts:
If you are new to blogging, or do not have much experience in working with companies. Accepting posts like this for no payment is a way to build up both contacts and build a portfolio for you to show your experience in the future.
If you are struggling to find content for your blog, but want to be more active.
If it is a product or brand you truly love and endorse, or find the pitch enjoyable and just a bit of fun.
If it is something that will be of benefit to your readers.
If it is something that will help promote a charity or good cause.
If you are getting an item to review for free.
If you you get other benefits, such as your post featured on the companies website that would bring you traffic.
A new brand that you feel could benefit from or want to promote.
A new small or local brand/site you feel you want to promote.
How to bring up the money question:
There are several ways in which I’ve asked for payment, it can seem awkward and you might often feel uncomfortable about asking for payment. The key is to get the conversation out of the way from the start. I often get e-mails telling me all about a product or website attaching images and giving me a full history of the thing they want me to promote. Some of the ways I have brought this up have been saying things like:
Can I ask what your budget is for this?
I usually charge x amount for this type of post.
Can I ask what the incentive is for me or my readers if I was to promote this on my website?
What to charge:
If you are asked what you charge, you will probably be pretty clueless regarding what this amount will be. You can either start small and then up your price with future projects, or start high but state you are willing to negotiate. My first sponsored post, I charged $10 and I had around 600 followers on Google Friend Connect and 400 on blogging. I know of bloggers that would think $10 be too low, but go with what feels right for you as you can always adjust this in the future.
The Bottom Line:
Do not be afraid to ask, everyone I have asked for payment, but been told that there is no budget, have always still wanted to go ahead and work with me if I was willing to. So if cutting ties is a fear – don’t let it be. Your time is worth something, you have every right to ask to be compensated for your time and effort. There are circumstances where you may want to promote something for free, but in general, it should be a collaboration which is beneficial to both parties.