Recently, I have seen A LOT of discussions – mainly long threads on Twitter – surrounding one particular topic; blogging and being paid. I have been thinking about it for a while and wanted to put my stamp on the whole situation, but felt like it had got to a point where I was just adding another opinion that maybe wasn’t wanted. Perhaps the subject has been touched on too much already? Well ya know what, even if it has, I have decided to stick my two pence out there anyway!
Before going any further, I just want to mention two posts that I LOVE which discuss questions and thoughts around this topic too. These are the posts that really ignited the motivation in me to actually share my thoughts, and are written by two of my all-time favourite bloggers, Beth Sandland and Chloe Plumstead.
It is a well-known fact amongst my peers that I am quite an opinionated person, but try to remain as polite as possible when expressing my views. So that is exactly what I am aiming to do here too. If you agree or disgaree with my thoughts, please feel free to comment or message me. I honestly love hearing different people’s opinions.
Anyway, I best stop waffling….
I wonder how many times you have heard the expression ‘blogging is still a relatively new career’? Probably 5000 times…? Slight exaggeration I am sure, but it is still said because it is so true! When you think about how diverse and different it is to any other career out there, and how the majority of the first people to ‘make’ it a career, started out not even realizing it would be a career (how many times do I want to say career). There is no surprise that there are still questions no one has clear answers to. Like how much should I be charging for a campaign? Or should I even be charging at all?
Pair that with the huge debacle not so long ago about whether the blogging industry has become too saturated (my opinion, no). Should all bloggers be in the mindset of charging for work, and only taking paid work? After all, there is no denying that the number of bloggers has BOOMED in the past few years. When I started my blog, I had absolutely no idea just how many people had blogs. I still thought I was being completely crazy starting one because no one really had one and what would people think of? Then low and behold, bloggers are EVERYWHERE. Whether their motivation is to make a career out of it, or keep it as a hobby, these larger numbers still mean one thing… competition. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make this into a cat fight, or saying so and so is better than so and so, or “don’t bother trying because you’re set up for failure”. I am one of the biggest “YOU GO GIRL” advocates out there. What I do mean is, with more competition comes having to show your worth.
And by worth, I mean that if bloggers are going to try and work with brands on sponsored content, contact them about collaborating or only take on paid work, we have to be able to show the brand that their money is a good investment. One of the biggest pet peeves of mine at the moment is the emphasis people are putting around numbers not being important within blogging. I agree that we shouldn’t be completely hung up on it and let it get us down. But when it comes to brand collaborations, numbers are everything! Brands pay bloggers to advertise, which works unbelievably successfully and many big bloggers have proven it. This paves the way for many others to do the same and shows there is money to be made in influencer marketing, because it WORKS. One of my favourites and biggest blogging inspirations, Lydia Millen, proves it time and time again. For example, the By Terry serum that she adores and raves about is so often out of stock, and countless other times she has mentioned something for it to be out of stock a few days or even hours later. She has built up a loyal following and has the numbers to go with it, which is why she is smashing it out the park with her amazing opportunities. She no doubt gives brands an amazing ROI (return on investment). And essentially, this is what it is all about. Chloe Plumstead eloquently mentioned this in her post too…
‘I’ve also become accustomed to seeing influencers expecting to be paid for their effort alone, even if their content doesn’t offer any potential return on investment for the brand (the relationship has to be mutually beneficial – if they’re not making anything out of paying you for content, why would they pay you in the first place?)’
Blogs have become the place to find trustworthy reviews, a more relatable place for brands to advertise than magazines. But what is paid advertising without the readers? Frankly, it’s a waste of money. Brands invest their money in bloggers – looking to see that ROI. It may sound harsh, but it is the reality. I am by no means disregarding smaller bloggers charging for campaigns or reaching out to work with companies AT ALL. I am more emphasizing the point that you have to be able to prove that you are worth the brand investing in. I have seen people with a small following produce some of the most professional and creative content, so it does seem somewhat unfair to say smaller bloggers categorically shouldn’t be paid.
Plus we can’t forget that being recognised by a brand is a gift in itself. I remember first being contacted by a brand and was over the moon that someone had recognised the content that I was creating and reached out to me. To start with the brands may not pay you actual money, but products do still have a monetary value. And if the brand then sees that you have a good influence and are able to help promote and sell their product then they will keep coming back. The more you put out quality content and show that people care about what you are saying, the more recognition you will get from brands and the more rewards they may be willing to pay you. Of course there may be times when you personally believe that what you are being asked to do for a gifted item is too much, but that is down to the individual to judge. In my eyes, there is nothing wrong at all in publishing a blog post or instagram post in exchange for a gifted item. Beth Sandland explains perfectly how she feels equally passionate about the products she is paid to promote and the ones she is gifted. Whilst also referring back to the fact that the relationship between brand and blogger, has to be mutually beneficial.
“From the brand or business perspective – and of course this is speculative and purely my view based on my experiences – there has also got to be something that makes offering a free product or service worthwhile. From their view, they are paying you in kind.”
And remember, despite me barking on about numbers in terms of your following for paid content – you don’t JUST have to restrict yourself to using those to sell yourself. ENGAGEMENT IS EVERYTHING. Engagement is one of the most popular words I see surrounding blogging; it’s a bloggers best friend, and the other number along with our following we are all trying to increase. As a small blogger, if you have a high engagement; make a song and dance about it to brands. It proves that people pay attention to your content; they ENGAGE with you and are more than likely listening to what you have to say. It is your brand, so use your voice to sell yourself – no one knows it better than you do.