Two years ago I was getting paid £10 a pop to upload blog posts with links. The company that paid me to do so was called Fat Joe; an apt name given that it was probably rolling in it. Cash that is.
And I don’t blame their money-making scheme: pay £10 to bloggers for links to their clients’ websites – and then charging those same clients much more for the privilege.
They weren’t stupid. Nope. The problem being, I was.
Blogging is a hard nut to crack. Even in the last couple of years since I’ve become a blogger, it seems the whole world and his dog are at it.
There’s stiff competition everywhere you look and getting people to notice your little piece of the internet is akin to getting bubble gum off your shoe; you have to keep picking away at it, bit by bit, for AGES – and only then will the tiniest of fragments break off.
Don’t take blogging lightly
This takes me nicely on to my next point. Blogging takes hours upon hours of dedication and there’s no ‘end goal’ in sight. It’s by no means a ‘get rich quick’ option. It’s slow burn – and you have to be in it for the long run.
I’ll reiterate that: if you’re going to become a blogger then you really need to accept that you’ll be working even harder five years down the line than you are now.
Until you can afford to do it as your full time job – or you can employ a virtual assistant to outsource tasks to – you’ll be ‘a jack of all trades’.
Here are just a few things bloggers do on a daily basis: (stick with me – there’s a point to all this)
- Generating blog ideas
- Writing blog posts
- Proofing blog posts
- Sourcing images for blog posts
- Resizing and uploading the blog posts and images
- Promoting the new blog post across social media channels
- Ensuring that the blog post is repeatedly promoted via some kind of automated system
- Engaging in conversations with people across social media channels
- Checking email and responding to emails
- Creating and distributing newsletters
- Updating plugins and broken links
- And other tasks such as making vlogs (if a YouTuber) and editing and uploading them; podcasting, guest writing, engaging in blog threads to drive traffic and raise awareness of your blog, creating opt-ins for newsletters such as printables, generating affiliate links and inserting them, researching keywords for SEO to include in blog posts…the list goes on
The ‘out of the blue’ email
If you’re a blogger reading this, no doubt you’ll be nodding along – and if you’re not, you might start to realise just how much blood, sweat and tears goes into producing and maintaining a blog.
So then – I was absolutely flabbergasted to receive an email from a luxury property magazine ridiculing the fact that I was asking for money.
In fact, their exact words were:
Having a laugh!! Paid Blog!! Eh that'll be a no then!!
It’s funny how those 11 words can bring on a mix of emotions: sadness, anger, confusion and amazement.
Yes, there was once a time when I stupidly accepted a tenner from Fat Joe for a blog post; now I charge £150 and I’m totally justified in asking for that. I should probably be asking for more if I’m honest.
But for a brand to ask me to help promote them and have the cheek to call it “a collaboration” really does take the P – big time.
Let me take you back to the beginning.
Out of the blue I received an email:
I hope the start of the new year is treating you well. My name is Steven and I am the content editor at ___________.
We have been looking closely at your blog and all of us here very much enjoy the tone and subject matter of which you write. We would be interested in discussing a possible collaboration with homeandhorizon.com
Themed features on travelling on a budget while not compromising on style, as well as your well thought out interior design tips and tricks, would ‘fit’ extremely well within our curated portfolio of newsworthy property topics and appeal to our 35,000 subscriber database and 230,000 international readership base
(Followed by more info about the company, their blog stats and social media followers….A link to their media pack etc….)
We publish 30-40 new articles and blogs on our site each month, in addition to curated content from our print and digital publications.
We would be interested in:
Incorporating by-lined blog content written by you on our site, promoting this via our social media channels, back-linked to your site.
Creating tailored blog/content to be used on your site supported by social media push notifications with reciprocal back-links to our site.
That’s said, we are also very open to ideas you may have. It would be great to set up a chat to discuss further. If you could drop me an email or give me a call that would be wonderful.
I look forward to hearing from you!
As you’ll notice I’ve chosen not to disclose the company name. Perhaps I should, but at the same time I shouldn’t need to name and shame them in order to make a point and forewarn other bloggers about tactics like this. You can bet your bottom dollar that other brands are doing it too.
My response to them was simple: I was happy to be a guest writer on their website – and do this for free, but if they wanted me to publish a blog post (that I would spend hours writing and putting together) on my blog, including links, then I would need to be remunerated for doing so.
And back came their reply. Short – and to the point:
Having a laugh!! Paid Blog!! Eh that'll be a no then!!
I suspected that the email wasn’t meant for my eyes. The person who replied had done so via her mobile (it had that ‘sent from my iPhone’ message at the bottom) and I believe she had only meant for her colleague (also copied in) to see it, but she must have clicked on ‘reply to all’.
And so – on behalf of all the bloggers out there, here’s the email I replied with – word for word (names changed to protect the guilty).
I’m sorry to read that you think ‘I’m having a laugh' Lisa, although I suspect that your response wasn’t meant to include me.
Having said that, I feel I need to offer you an insight from a blogger’s perspective as you appear to be surprised a blogger would ask for something in return.
I’m a fully qualified journalist with more than 18 years' experience. I rely on my blog as a business – to provide an income to support my family.
It strikes me as very strange that you believe it’s unreasonable for me to request payment for a sponsored blog post – a post that promotes YOUR brand with links to boost YOUR site and raise YOUR profile as a brand.
A collaboration usually benefits both parties. As an editor myself I wouldn’t dream of commissioning a freelancer and ask them to write a blog post on their site to promote my company – and expect them to do this for nothing.
In my initial email I was actually offering to write a post FOC for YOUR website (in return for a backlink), but if you wanted me to publish something on my site, then I’d need something in return. Now that you’ve made your motives very clear, I’m no longer interested in any sort of collaboration with you – paid or unpaid.
You’ll find that most established bloggers and social influencers will not be willing to offer either their time or services for free Lisa, but I wish you luck in finding ones that do.
Unfortunately, I never received a response, an acknowledgement or even an apology from the company.
You may wonder why I’m publishing this blog post. It clearly isn’t to shame them; despite feeling gutted over their reaction, I’m a professional at the end of the day and I like to think integrity is one of my fortes.
I am publishing this to educate other bloggers on what some brands think is acceptable – and to encourage you to know your worth.
Just because one brand believes that bloggers shouldn’t be paid for their time and effort doesn’t mean that they are right.
If you’re blogging as a hobby and are not bothered about charging fees, then that’s your lookout of course. In fact, the content on my 10 New Things page is always offered for free – because I choose who I cover and no promises are made.
But when brands ask you to ‘collaborate’ with them, please do your bit in educating them and letting them know that a collaboration is something that should benefit both parties.
It’s time to STAND UP and for bloggers to be counted. Stop accepting pitiful payments. Stop doing things for free. And stop selling yourself short.
They’ll come a time when the penny drops, you’ll realise your worth and that in order to turn a blog into a business you need to be compensated for all the hours you put in.
I’m proposing that you stand united with your fellow bloggers and tell brands that your time and hard work count for something. Please don’t let others walk all over you – it’s harder to pick yourself up and start again.
Go out, work hard and hold your head high when you proudly ask to be paid what you deserve to be.
A helping hand
Here are some questions you might like to ask brands or PRs who contact you to collaborate – getting them answered will avoid any misunderstanding and save you time and effort in the long run.
- General requirements (type of article, minimum length of article and what it relates to/what you or your client want to promote/focus on)
- Deadline for publication:
- Links required:
- Any other blog post requests?
- Do you object to other links being inserted in the post (note: this will not be competitors but simply as a resource guide for my readers, internal blog links and non-competitor affiliate links)
- Do you require social media promotion? Which platforms? Which hashtags/accounts to tag?
- Budget for the Project:
- Payment requirements: (do you require a Paypal email address or an invoice to be raised? etc)
- Is payment made within one week of the blog post being published? If no, please state your payment terms: