To Whom it May Concern:
Today WWD published “To pay or Not to Pay: A Closer Look at the Business of Blogging“, an exposé on how much some bloggers make and questioning if the fees were yielding a return on investment, stating that some bloggers have garnered over $50,000 for campaign or $20,000 for an appearance. While the numbers seem outrageous to those who would be grateful for a $50,000 annual salary, $50,000 for a campaign, is not a big budget in the advertising world. $50,000 would buy a one page spread in a magazine with a circulation of 1 million per month. Also, in magazines, there would be no data of how many people saw, where they were, what time of day and compared that with who bought, where digital campaigns can provide data to track.
The fees also do not take into account that the bloggers are probably running a business. They may have an office, with assistants, photographers or videographers all of which costs money, especially when a blogger cannot compensate their assistant with free clothes.
The fees may not also take into account if the blogger ideated the campaign. Agencies charge millions of dollars to big brands to ideate campaign strategies and execute them. If a blogger comes up with an idea for a collaboration and executes it, they should not only be compensated for the labor, but also for the value of coming up with an idea for the brand.
Most of all, the article did not take into account that someone is paying the fees. If a brand decides it's worth $50,000 to do a collaboration with a blogger and pays it, then it's not the bloggers fault for asking for $50,000. Especially if the blogger is able to articulate why a campaign is worth a $50,000 investment.
Tips for brands working with bloggers:
Be clear about your goals. Share your results with the blogger you partnered with. One of the things brands are shifty about is what their ultimate goal is when working with a blogger. “Showing your support” is not a viable business goal, and most bloggers know it. It's easier for bloggers to help meet a brands goals when they know what they are, and may be able to offer new solutions! It's also important to give feedback on the results. It helps the blogger understand what works for you and how to increase the ROI. Keeping track of the results helps in the negotiating process as well, to make sure you don't overspend or over-expect.
Tips for bloggers working with brands:
Be clear about what you will do and won't do, with everyone. If you're good at sponsored posts, and your readers like them (and they are clearly identified) then great. If you keep your content clear of sponsored material, great too, make sure your collaborations are clear to your readers. This goes for every type of campaign.
Collect Case Studies: Every time you work with a brand, collect as much data as possible. Use metrics services like TweetReach for your Twitter campaigns. Bit.ly to track your links and click throughs, Facebook Insights, Statigram. Keep track of how many entries you get in contests, and always, always ask for testimonials from your clients. This all builds a case for your rates. Don't expect a brand to pay $XX,000 just because you asked for it. But if you can turn $1 into $4 and show the companies you have a history of doing so, they might be more apt to pay. But most of all case studies help to justify the value to negotiate your rates and set expectations.
Be open for negotiation: Negotiation may be a hard thing to do at first, but if you don't practice you won't get good at it. Build your case with strong numbers, ask for more than you are willing to settle for, but don't settle for less than you are worth.
Tips for journalists writing about blogger income:
Bloggers are not necessarily journalists. Please interview your own ad department before scoffing at blogger's fees. You might learn there are more similarities than differences. And if you still think blogger compensation is outrageous, then try becoming a blogger, and you might find out that not every blogger makes thousands of dollars per collaboration, and if you get to that point where you can make that amount of money, that's great! You might find that all the work you have done warrants every single penny.