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Bloggers Stand United: Don’t Get Short Changed

by LaurettaCWright
Bloggers Stand United

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:

Dear Lauretta,
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!

The explanation

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!! 

Bloggers Stand United

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. 
Lauretta

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.

  1. General requirements (type of article, minimum length of article and what it relates to/what you or your client want to promote/focus on)
  2. Deadline for publication:
  3. Links required:
  4. Any other blog post requests?
  5. 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)
  6. Do you require social media promotion? Which platforms? Which hashtags/accounts to tag?
  7. Budget for the Project:
  8. Payment requirements: (do you require a Paypal email address or an invoice to be raised? etc)
  9. Is payment made within one week of the blog post being published? If no, please state your payment terms:
Good luck bloggers. Remember – know your worth and let’s stand united.
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A Pin For Your Blogging BoardBloggers Stand United: How To Stand Up and Be Counted When It Comes To Working With #Brands

35 comments

Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) 15th November 2018 - 7:36 pm

Their behaviour’s disgusting, but sadly this kind of attitude’s all too common. Well done you, on calling them out.

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LaurettaCWright 15th November 2018 - 8:50 pm

Ah thanks Nell – yes, I never did hear back from them – sadly this sort of thing is very commonplace among bloggers.

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Carrie Talbot-Ashby 19th March 2018 - 12:24 am

Found this very interesting. My husband used to write for an online computing magazine, and while he started as fun, in the end they were turning to him for advice on content and sending newbies his way for him to proof read their stuff and basically, he was putting in so many hours, despite him also working full time and being a dad, so he decided to have a break, and they very rudely sent him a message thanking him for ‘Lifting them as a company; and dropping them when they needed him most! He was quite hurt by this as he had been doing the writing for fun and experience, to see if he enjoyed it, he was paid nothing for his time, but they still expected more!
Would love to see a bloggers guide too, and I am sorry you were treated so badly! x

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LaurettaCWright 21st March 2018 - 10:23 pm

Crikey – that’s really interesting Carrie, but it doesn’t surprise me. It’s such a shame that so many companies cross the line if they think they can get away without paying for someone working for them. It shouldn’t be expected but hopefully, the more people who say ‘no’ to these companies, they’ll start getting the message. We can hope!

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Su {Ethan & Evelyn} 24th February 2018 - 9:00 am

Laurretta – You are the bomb for producing this article! And I love you for it!

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LaurettaCWright 24th February 2018 - 11:32 am

Thanks Su – I knew you’d be a great supporter of this and feel the same way!!

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Kira 17th February 2018 - 8:31 am

Well said lovely . I have had a few replies on them lines and they use to knock me but now I’m like ‘on to the next’ 🙂

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LaurettaCWright 17th February 2018 - 8:32 am

Definitely can’t let responses like this hold you back – go girl!

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Laura 16th February 2018 - 9:09 pm

Very well said! I’ve received some similarly rude responses in the past. If everyone would stand united in not to accepting low fees we could start to get the respect we deserve. Thanks for sharing on this topic x
Laura recently posted…Unexpected Questions By Gemma Hall at Mummy’s WaistedMy Profile

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LaurettaCWright 16th February 2018 - 10:13 pm

Thanks Laura – and well said!

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Crystal 16th February 2018 - 2:09 am

Yes, Yes and more yes to everything in this post.

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LaurettaCWright 16th February 2018 - 2:40 pm

Hallelujah!

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Mellissa Williams 14th February 2018 - 7:27 pm

Yes to this! We really need to stand united when brands seek to short change us. I am shocked that company sent such an unprofessional response although like you, I gather it wasn’t perhaps meant for your eyes!

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LaurettaCWright 16th February 2018 - 2:39 pm

Yes, I don’t think it was Mellissa. Still, it just goes to show what they think of us, which is a shame!

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Linda Hobbis 14th February 2018 - 5:47 pm

Yes to everything you’ve said. Just this afternoon I had a major washing powder manufacturer try to get a free blog post and when I mentioned fees offered to ‘look at my SEO’ for me. The company in this example are appalling. On Friday on Twitter though I came across a tweet from a PR who said she needed wine because she had been dealing with rude bloggers all week and that “bloggers need to remember that getting paid is a privilege”!!! The problem is there is no ONE body acting for bloggers – whether that be a union or whatever. All we have is companies who rank us whilst profiting from their ability to offer outreach. Going forward that’s just not going to be good enough. I heard that the NUJ is opening it’s doors to bloggers – a tiny ray of hope that we can be regarded as professional, talented writers. Not opportunist hobbyists chancing our arm for a tenner.

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LaurettaCWright 14th February 2018 - 6:22 pm

Really interesting what you say about the NUJ – where did you hear that Linda? I might have to investigate further! But you’re absolutely right of course…there’s needs to be some sort of official body for bloggers – one that protects us as well. Until then, I’m sticking to my guns, continuing to charge for the hard work I put in, day after day, and hope that others do too! The sooner we all sing from the same hymn sheet, the sooner us bloggers will stop getting played off one another.

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A P Lister 14th February 2018 - 10:22 am

Came across the The Eternity Rose jewellery set today. Beautiful in all the colours but the blue one is my favourite!

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LaurettaCWright 14th February 2018 - 6:18 pm

Great! Good luck if you’ve entered!

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Kara 13th February 2018 - 6:15 pm

Like you I once accepted a very small amount for content I worked hard to produce but I learner very quickly that I was shooting my self in the foot. I do work fo free occasionally, normally if a subject is close to my heart or I was doing it anyway but now my fees are much more realistic of the work I put in

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LaurettaCWright 14th February 2018 - 6:18 pm

That’s good to hear Kara – thanks for this.

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Fashion and Style Police 13th February 2018 - 11:36 am

I can so relate. It is shocking to hear some of the fees be offered today from big brands.

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Claire 13th February 2018 - 10:10 am

Oh wow Lauretta, I can imagine what went throw your mind as it did me when reading this post. Writing a blog takes hours a week promoting and hours for just one post to properly write/promote each blog post. I was so mad at someone demanding free links a few weeks ago because I mention where my jumper was in a popular post, even thought they had contributed nothing what so ever, I ended up removing the brand mention from the post. Unbelieverble how they expected me to do all the hard work and then give them free promtion to an extent I ended up blocking him and filing his email as bullying pr!

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LaurettaCWright 14th February 2018 - 6:17 pm

Crikey Claire – I understand that PRs want to get results for their clients, but I think that everyone just needs to look at the situation with open eyes and common sense. I’m a journalist, I’ve worked in PR and I’ve also been a freelancer. Now I’m a blogger, so I’ve seen the situation from all angles. What I will say is that nothing in life is free, so don’t expect people to work for free – whatever they do. We all have mouths to feed, bills to pay and clothes for our back, so everyone should expect to get some sort of renumeration.

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Nancy | MapandFamily 12th February 2018 - 5:45 pm

I’m quite surprised that this is still the attitude from some companies – five years ago maybe, but I thought there was much more recognition for bloggers nowadays. Word will get round eventually! Thanks for the useful checklist at the end.

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LaurettaCWright 13th February 2018 - 12:09 am

Thanks Nancy – and great you found the checklist useful!

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Laura Dove 12th February 2018 - 11:51 am

That;s shocking they replied with that!! I think we can all relate to doing low value posts back when we started out. I think knowing your worth is so important!

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LaurettaCWright 12th February 2018 - 1:33 pm

It certainly is – thanks Laura…it’s great that you recognise this too.

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Jess 12th February 2018 - 11:40 am

I think we all need to stand together as bloggers and don’t under sell ourselves . Then companies such as the one you stated will have to change their ways

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LaurettaCWright 12th February 2018 - 1:38 pm

They will learn Jess. I’m sure they might even get a couple of bloggers agreeing to writing a post on them for free – in return for nothing – but these won’t be the bloggers that they’ll be looking for to spread the good word.

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London Mumma 12th February 2018 - 11:37 am

It is really disgusting what some brands offer you and the expect so much, I really like this honest post and will be sharing it.

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LaurettaCWright 12th February 2018 - 1:35 pm

Thank you – I just wanted to raise awareness on what happens, what some brands try and get away with – and how we should all know our worth.

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Jon 12th February 2018 - 10:29 am

Interesting topic this. I’ve shouted from the rooftops about bloggers underselling themselves but all I seem to get back is a mouthful about how I shouldn’t tarn everyone with the same brush and if people are happy earning £5 for an hours work then so be in 😉

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LaurettaCWright 12th February 2018 - 1:49 pm

I’m with you Jon. I get that not everyone wants to make blogging a career – and some see it as just a hobby – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when we’re talking about established blogs and the blogger is clearly an influencer, then they need to have defined rates (more than a fiver!) so brands can’t get away with playing us off against one another. It’s something that I feel quite passionately about. Fortunately, all the brands I’ve worked with have never had a problem with me knowing my worth.

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kerry 11th February 2018 - 10:50 pm

Ohh Lauretta this is so useful. As you know, I am new to all this, but I have started to receive emails with opportunities of collaborations. I currently do these for gifted items if I feel it is something I think my readers would be interested in. (I turn down more than I accept). I don’t see blogging becoming my job, but I would like to cover my costs of running my blog, as well as making sure I don’t “cheapen” the blogging industry. I also feel that I cant charge money as my social media stats are still pretty low. I think we need a “bloggers guide” on roughly what and when we should be charging. That would be so helpful lol

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LaurettaCWright 11th February 2018 - 11:04 pm

Thanks Kerry – I think I need to start work on that blogger’s guide! I totally get that bloggers (me included) offer coverage or promotion in return for freebies/samples – it’s about reciprocal benefits! I just couldn’t get over how one-sided this particular brand was – and how they expect bloggers to work for zilch to benefit them. I just hope the post has given others food for thought – and maybe even given some a bit of confidence.

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