What I'm about to tell you is taboo among bloggers. The biggest kept secret about working with brands that no one ever talks about. It's time we talk about this very important topic because you're doing it all wrong. Why Bloggers Should Stop Working For Free.
On any given day I open my email and there are at least 10 pitch emails staring me in the face from brands asking me to promote their product or service. What's the big problem with these emails? They always tell me what they want, what I should write, how I should promote what they're offering, but guess what? They never mention anything about me, about my blog, why they want to work with me and why it would benefit me to write for them promoting them for FREE. I dread opening these emails and even put it off as long as possible because I hate asking for what I really want even though I know I am worth more than they're offering.
Recently, I had someone contact me asking if I would write a post about XYZ then link back to their site and talk about how it would benefit my readers. The person sent me links to other bloggers who had written for them as examples. When I clicked the links, I saw gorgeous photography with exquisitely written posts. It infuriated me that not a single one of those bloggers were sponsored for their work. They did all that work for FREE.
Now don't get me wrong. I do not expect a paycheck or freebie every time I write something. What I do expect, is a small return for the amount of time I put into the project and quality of work I do. Incentives like a social media shout out, adding my recipe to their website to encourage traffic back to my site or a cross promotion are all acceptable. Instead pitch emails offer none of these things.
Ask for what you want
Brands want as much free work as they can get. This is due, in part, to blogging still being this mythical hobby much less a real, respective job with an income. How many times has someone said to you "you have a blog? oh that's cute!" Then you feel frustrated because they don't realize how much work blogging is and how you're pouring your heart, sweat and tears into it. That comment shows how undervalued influencers are and it's not just your friends, its brands too. The difference is brands are businesses. They're on a mission to make as much money as possible which means rewarding bloggers as little as possible so they can make more profit.
But here's the kink. Social media is on steroids these days. Brands need influencers to sell. Without them, they are just another fish in the sea. They need influencers to market their product or service to set themselves apart from the other fish.
What does that mean for you?
Don't be scared to ask for what you deserve and you shouldn't undervalue yourself. I know it's hard not to feel a twinge of excitement when you receive an email or call about a project. You immediately want to jump at the chance to work with anyone and everyone who wants to work with you.
When you start blogging, I recommend you do free work because frankly, your work will be rough. Doing it for free, gives you the opportunity to improve your work and have examples of it for future projects. As you grow and become more amazing (which you will), you need to shift your focus to viewing pitched work as a collaboration. That doesn't have to mean a paycheck, but there should be a win in it somewhere for you. Never assume a brand will not compensate you. You will be surprised who is willing to play in the sandbox with you.
Why I no longer do product reviews
Product reviews are boring, time consuming to research and none of my readers want to hear about a product unless it's authentically weaved into my life. No one wants to pay for them either because every blogger is doing them for free. If someone wants to send me something, I tell them upfront it doesn't necessarily mean I'll write about it. Nine times out of ten, they still send me the product.
How to gracefully decline a project
Anytime I have responded to a brand this way, I've always received a cordial "I understand" response back.
How to tactfully ask for what you want
When I respond to brands this way, it opens up the gate to begin discussing compensation or other ways they can promote you in return for the work they're proposing. Remember everything is negotiable.
Would I work at Target for free?
My friend Gigi made a bold statement at Fit Bloggin' "none of you will ever work for free again." The look on the blogger faces in the room was priceless. But Gigi is right. The more bloggers continue to undervalue themselves, the harder it becomes for any blogger to have their work valued as more than "cute."
Every healthy living blogger promotes self-worth so why I ask, are you lowering your standards and undervaluing your monetary worth when it comes to your work? Stop underestimating yourself and the work you do. The next time you consider doing a project for free ask yourself this "would I work at Target for free?"