Beware… this is a little bit of a rant on why you shouldn’t blog for free, but I just couldn’t help myself.
I would estimate that at least once a day I receive an email that is basically asking me to work for free. The emails vary in appearance and content, but most of them contain the following main points: a greeting, a compliment about the blog or a recent post, and an upcoming campaign you are a ‘perfect fit’ for. Upon reaching out to get more details on the blogger collaboration, the standard response is there is no monetary compensation but the best posts for the campaign will be shared across the brand’s social media channels.
So basically that boils down to you writing a post on the company and it might, possibly, promote the post to its followers.
My response is always generally the same – Thanks for thinking of me for this campaign, but I have made the personal decision to not work for free. Should the campaign begin utilizing sponsored posts and compensating for these please feel free to reach out to me again. Over the years I have gotten various responses to this. Most are polite and delicate. Some are more brutal and aggressive with their responses.
I’ll be honest, this is something that really pisses me off. No other profession (except maybe freelancers, which is a lot like blogging) is so used and abused. You wouldn’t call up your mechanic and tell them to fix your car for free and you’ll be sure to tell your neighbor about the shop. You wouldn’t take a job that pays nothing but offers an amazing all-you-can-eat snack bar. The marketing professionals who are coordinating these campaigns certainly aren’t working for free and neither are the company’s executives or any of their employees. Social promotion isn’t going to pay my bills, just as that snack bar won’t pay yours.
Why you shouldn’t blog for free:
Well, let’s break it down….
Writing the post: A standard blog post is between 300 and 500 words. For most it takes about an hour to write a well thought-out post that is engaging and tailored to your brand. Even at minimum wage, an hour of work garners $9.00 an hour.
Creating art for the post: Photography or art for the post takes at least another hour. Between photographing things, editing the photos, cropping them, adding a watermark of my blog, creating a long pinnable image, a square Instagram-worthy image, and a handful of images for the blog takes time and talent. (We won’t even go into the cost of design and editing programs.) So, that’s another $9.00, if we are only making minimum wage.
Blog post promotion: Every blogger who is doing this for more than just her own pleasure, works hard to promote posts across all her social media platforms. We post one, or multiple posts on Instagram, with attractive pictures and captions. We post to Facebook pages and Google+ accounts. We pin to Pinterest. We share on StumbleUpon. And then we work to drive people to all those posts through blogger sharing programs, sponsored posts, etc… This can take an hour or two, if you are doing it well. So that’s an additional $18.
So, basically, if you were only making minimum wage, you should be netting at least $36 for the amount of time you’ve spent on creating and promoting this one non-compensated post. And no writing job makes only minimum wage – even the most basic and boring entry level writing job I had in New York for a tiny niche publication paid at least three times as much as that. I don’t know about you, but my time and effort is worth more. Personally, I would rather compose blog posts of my own that aren’t monetarily compensated, than work for another company doing their marketing through my vehicle.
But what about the benefits of that company promoting your content on its social media channels? Sure, that can be awesome if the accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers and a crazy amount of interaction with the readers. (I was retweeted by @IamDiddy once and my follower count spiked instantly.) But, the majority of the time these promotions will bring a dozen or so readers to your site. Some may stick around, others will be one-time readers. The likelihood that you will make $36 off visits from the company’s social promotion is pretty slim. Sure, some companies can make the whole thing sound really attractive. They have all the right words to make it seem like they are offering more than social promotion because of the diversity of their audience or the amount of markets they are in. But when it boils down to it you are working for a tweet. You are slaving away for a Facebook post.
Obviously, this is a system that works, because if it didn’t work companies wouldn’t be using it as a viable marketing tool. So, there are bloggers out there willing to participate in these campaigns and willing to work for free. But you shouldn’t. Please, please don’t. By taking these campaigns and agreeing to work for nothing, we’re all helping to further promote the idea that blogger marketing can be free for brands. That our platforms, which we work hard to create and foster, can be used; that our time isn’t worth even the basic minimum payment someone makes while scooping ice cream.
And what about blogging in return for product? Well, that’s a whole other ball game and deserves a totally separate post.
So what do you think? Do you have your own reasons for why you shouldn’t blog for free?