Blogger Compensation: To Charge or Not To Charge?
By: Jennine Jacob

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When you’re starting your business as a blogger, one of the toughest questions you’ll face is knowing when to charge and when something should be done for free. It’s a delicate process as you want to make sure your work is being compensated for, but if you ask for money for something that is not standard within the industry to be compensated for, then you run the risk of appearing unprofessional.

Many people say the lines are not clear, but in my mind the lines are pretty clear as to what to charge for and what not to charge for. I say “pretty clear,” as things always change. A good general rule of thumb is, if you are asked to do a series of tasks within a certain time-frame on behalf of a brand, then yes, you should charge as it’s promotional work. If you are presented with information about a product or an event it’s not something you can charge for if you choose to post about it, as it’s editorial work.  Also, if it’s for a charity, don’t be a creep and demand a fee (that’s why they call it “charity”). The lines can get blurry, so we’ll explain in more detail.

 

Giveaways:

When to Charge: If you have a history of getting hundreds, if not thousands of entries for a giveaway an can provide this as a case study. You can package this service as a sponsored post with promotion on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and you can charge more provided you have a history of success with these channels. Selling in a shared email sign up or getting the brand more Twitter and Facebook sign ups is also a way to make a package more appealing.

When to do it for Free: If you are just beginning your blog, or your testing out to see if your readers like giveaways, this would be an excellent time to start collecting data on how your giveaways do. You can also use a giveaway to promote growth for your own Twitter, Facebook or Newsletter sign-ups in which case you would be promoting yourself. This should also be done at no cost (minus product) for the brand.

 

Sponsored Posts:

When to Charge: If a brand approaches you and wants you do to a “post” on your blog on a specific date, using specific links (usually tracked) in addition to Tweeting, Facebooking, Pinning using specific hastags this is clearly to benefit the brand and should fall under “sponsored post.” Here is where you can utilize data from your previous posts to justify how to charge for a brand. You can also package in other services ie, a Twitter chat or running ads to promote the series on your blog to increase your rate. The more information you have about how much traffic, comments and sharing your posts generally receive can help your case.

Extra Tip: Be sure to work with the brand to determine the topic of the post, and be sure to write the post with your authentic voice, and always, always, always disclose if a post is paid for. A good place to disclose is at the top of the post (where you can work with the brand to make sure you have proper messaging, it gives them a bit more visibility while staying transparent with your readers.)

When to do it for Free: If a brand is sending you information for a new product, or an actual new product, but is not asking for a post to go with it (specifically). While they are contacting you with the hopes of getting a post, they are not requiring it. This is a PR pitch, and is for the purpose of getting a press placement. Asking for a fee is not standard for this type of post. If you like the product, great, you got a scoop! If you don’t like the product, just delete the email.

 

Styling Challenges:

When to Charge: This phenomenon has been around for a while, when a brand sends bloggers the same item and wants them to style it differently for a specific campaign, this absolutely should be for a fee. Since most of the time, the blogger is asked to do this in a specific time frame, post it on their blog and promote it on social media channels, it falls under the category of Sponsored Post (see above).

When to do it for Free: If this is for a good cause, a charity, a startup, as small label you really love, and/or the person who asked you is your friend, it might be good to be a good player and do something nice for them. This pretty much goes for any of the services.

 

Modeling, Photography, Writing, Designing:

When to charge: Modeling, writing, designing and photography are all industries where people charge for. Because you are a blogger that does not mean you are not really part of that industry. If a brand asks you to to do any of these things and especially if they ask you to blog about it, you need to work out a fee. You could structure it in any number of ways. You can charge for the work, and separately charge for the sponsored post, and perhaps work out a package for them. However, some bloggers they use their blogs as a portfolio for their work so keep this in mind when structuring your package, you’ll still want to have data on the performance of your posts.

When not to charge: If you’re inexperienced, building up your portfolio and the project could be good for your portfolio. You can always work your way into charging when you’re doing a second project. If you’re working with a friend on a project that is not paid so you both benefit, this is also a good time not to charge.

 

Appearances or Event Hosting

When to Charge: If you are asked to organize an event, invite your contacts and readers, and promote the event on your blog. You absolutely need to charge for this. Events are expensive, they are labor intensive and also, if you have great examples of successful events you have put together, then you can really sell in a great opportunity for the brand. If you’re asked to host and the brand is doing all the labor but they still want you to promote the event on your blog as part of their proposal to you, then you should charge them for a sponsored post. This would be a great opportunity to sell in other services to provide a more robust package.

When to do it for free: If a brand invites you to attend their event. They’re just inviting you. Don’t ask for money. Just don’t go if you don’t want to go.

Guest Posting:

When to Charge: If a brand asks you to write for their branded blog on a regular basis. By all means, charge money for this. Going rates for guest posting are not as high as sponsored posts. You might want to ask around for what a post usually goes for. You could use this as an opportunity to sell in your influence to help promote the blog  by building a robust package that includes promotion on your own blog which then you can charge at sponsored post rates.

When to do it for Free: If guest posting is a traffic and exposure building strategy you are using for your own blog, and you are pitching your posts to various publications, then you really should be doing this for free as you are promoting yourself.

 

Rule of thumb:

Check around other industries and research what constitutes payment and what should be done for free. Check with publications, look at their media kits to see what they charge for. Most of all, listen to yourself and see what you are comfortable charging money for and what makes you feel creepy. But don’t shy away from asking because you are afraid of asking, you never know what doors might open for you.

 

Image by Nejron Photo on Shutterstock.com

Comments

  1. An Dyer says:

    This is such a great reference; the lines are usually blurry but when you lay it out like this, it’s quite clear. Thank you for yet another awesome article, Jennine! Xox

  2. he says:

    always get paid…do NOTHING for free

    -He
    http://www.fashionbyhe.com/

  3. Jenny says:

    Great article, and very useful for someone just starting out. Thanks!

    <3 Jenny
    http://www.crazystylelove.com

  4. Rachel says:

    I think this a fantastic post, and so much of the information and advice is spot on – I already do lots of the mid level blogger stuff, and the advice on bigger brand collaborations have given me some great pointers for the future!

  5. This is interesting. I went to a PR/Blogger event recently where the PR’s claimed that they shouldn’t have to pay a blogger if they were doing their jobs well and matching the right blog with the right product – bloggers would want to write about it anyway, so why should they pay?
    I thought this was very naive, given that I get about 20 PR requests a week, and only ever write about the ones which excite me. If 5 excite me I’m going to choose the one who compensates me for my time!

  6. Kashara says:

    This was such a great article. I’ve been getting a lot of emails from companies trying to send me things to do reviews on. It can become a sticky situation at times. I recently got an email from a PR offering to send me clothes and other samples in return for a post. When I got the package, I found a note in it that said “When finished please return samples to sender.” I personally don’t feel that I should have to return it if I’m going to be writing about it on my site. I’m not quite sure what to do about the situation.

    • Avatar of Jennine Jacob

      Some brands do that, also, it’s common practice in the publishing world. Press samples must be returned whether it be to a blog or to Vogue magazine. The best thing to do is establish in the beginning if it is a gift or a press sample. But don’t demand keeping an item in exchange for a post. If you want compensation for a post, see if they are open to your sponsored post packages and work out a deal there. Hope that helps!

  7. niyah says:

    This is very helpful! Lately PR companies have been contacting me for sponsored posts. I want to set up a pricing sheet for this but I don’t know what to charge! In each of the cases listed above that you suggest we should charge a fee for, could you tell us how much we should be charging? Thanks!

  8. Aitana says:

    Great article!!!^^

    xoxo

  9. Great post! the only thing I would add is we all need to remain grateful for getting things from companies for free…that in itself can be payment if it means saving you money or working with one of your favorite brands to build a long term relationship. sometimes people get too caught up in the money and burn bridges

  10. Rodica says:

    Well explained, thank you

  11. I am a blogger and a store owner and sometimes (especially for me its hard to compensate the way you want to be able to. I’d love to do a style post, a giveaway and a discount to all blogs that I sponsor. The thing is I have to make a profit so opted to try an affiliate program. It works out better for the bloggers because I am able to pay them for every purchase get me. Its often a lot more lucrative to them because its direct linking. I’ve found the ads just don’t work as well.

    • Agree with you – affiliates are fab. I recently did a post with The OutNet and ‘deeplinked’ all of the links to their site – meaning if what I wrote resulted in any purchases I would benefit from a % commission. Seems very fair! xx

  12. Brilliant article. I think it’s as naive for a PR to think an established blogger will do it for free, as it is for a newcomer into blogging (or a blog without significant traffic) to think they should be paid.

    I think you hit the nail on the head in your first sentence ‘when youre starting up a business as a blogger.’ A lot of people don’t do to run a business (like me), they do it because they have a passion for online media / fashion / style. In that case then I think they should realise that you are as useful to a brand/site, as they are to you.

    Think about what you get out of it before you think about charging.

    South Molton St Style

  13. Bruno says:

    I think, and this is just and idea, you should like to a board with the followers and to how much of a fee it would corresponde. It would be a great way for us to have an idea. I personally would not feel good asking any PR company for money, at least now. First because them showing interrest would just be awsome for me and I am at a point that I don’t have much followers (around 250) and I don’t feeling like they would pay me.

  14. This can be very tricky. With so many great bloggers out there, sometime PR companies have the upper hand of not wanting to pay for something that you could charge for. For starters, you don’t want to be seen as a diva, but at the same time it’s frustrating when you know that your work should be compensated but people wont do that. It’s kind of like going through all those unpaid fashion internships until you land a job that pays and you just have to do it because ” thousands of people would kill for this job” blah blah. The fashion industry is like the wild wild west sometimes ! *le sigh*

  15. Styleosophy says:

    Janine, the only issue I have is with this informative post is this statement,

    “If you don’t like the product, just delete the email.”

    Always, always, always respond to a request. Whether you will accept the work, or won’t accept the work. Always be polite, and remember, your network is only worth it’s net worth. It’s a smaller world out there than many of us think.

  16. Valentine says:

    Very Very interesting post!
    Those information are really useful as I think every blogger comes one day in front of a situation where you ask yourself, what should I do? Should I charge for this?

    I find that sometimes, as blogger we don’t feel comfortable asking for money when actually we totally should. They was time when I felt almost like an opportunist asking money but now I don’t. I know that if I do a job, I should get some kind of payment. Especially that most brand can afford it.

    On the other hand what I find now difficult is how much should I charge for this or that…? How much is too much?

    It would be nice to have a complete article about the different rates in the blogging industry, for beginners and top bloggers…

  17. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way towards anyone but it’s just an observation of the terms used in our blogging culture as a whole – your choice of words when talking with the fashion industry is very important: I think we should stop calling it ‘compensation’; it’s not compensation at all, it’s our going rate, our fee for a piece of work if we choose to carry out the task. If bloggers stopped asking for ‘compensation’ and simply stated ‘fees’ then we might start to get taken more seriously. If we make it sound like we are just running errands then we are doing ourselves no favours.

  18. Possibly one of the most simple and coherent post explaining this topic to date. This is such a difficult issues and so many bloggers find it challenge; it seems that there are a lot of PRs who don’t appreciate that most bloggers don’t have any financial backing (in the way of advertisements etc) and if they can get away without compensating a blogger for their work, they won’t offer to even if they have the budget.

    It’s a LDN Thing

  19. Avatar of mc
    mc says:

    This was very helpful! Thank you =)

    -mc
    http://www.looksbymc.wordpress.com

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