In last week's post on the Vogue Influencer Network, a lovely gal named Laura asked:
I have been approached by companies before wanting me to do posts about their new website/product before, and no one has ever mentioned compensation. I’d really love someone to do an article about how you approach the subject of compensation with companies. I know I would feel rude emailing them back simply stating ‘Whats in it for me’ Is there a certain etiquette that we should be following?
I can't speak for a certain etiquette– I can only know what I've personally done and what works and what hasn't worked in the past.
To start with, here are some excellent articles, both from the IFB archives and other excellent sites, that talk about working with brands & companies and compensation on a whole:
- Fashion Blogs + Free Samples
- Build Strategic Fashion Partnerships
- The Money Myth of Fashion Blogging
- Paying Bloggers for Coverage: A Good Idea?
I learned to ask for compensation when working with text link advertisers. You know the type– you receive an email saying,
Hi, I like your site and thought my site would fit well on your blogroll. It is called “Wholesale Women's Clothing.” If you send me your link, I'd be happy to put it up! Alternately, we'd be happy to do a guest post for your site.
These advertisers are trying to leverage a link on your site for a higher Pagerank and Alexa ranking, so I never share a link without compensation (*See the above post: Fashion & SEO and Are Text Links…). When I used Text Link Ads, they helped determine a rate for text link sales– they charged advertisers $15-20 per month, so that's where I begin my negotiations. So I might write back something like,
Thank you for your interest in Dramatis Personae! I don't accept shared link or guest posts,, but you're welcome to purchase an ad or link on my site. Rates begin at $15 per month, and there is a discounted rate for 6 months and 12 months purchased upfront. If you are interested, please let me know.
Now, a lot of text advertisers back down as soon as you ask for money. Regardless of whether you sell a link or not, it's a great way to get comfortable asking for compensation.
Sometimes a company will email you with a specific idea in mind– maybe they want a banner on your site or perhaps they'd like a sponsored post with a certain number of anchor texts (text links, like above). Having an idea of what rates you'd ask for things individually makes it easier to come up with a rate.
You could receive an email like:
Dear Sara Jane Sally Sue Blogger,
I really love your site and was hoping we could work together. Our company, SUPER AWESOME FASHION WEAR!! would love for you to do a post about our company with a link to SUPER AWESOME FASHION WEAR!! that says “sexy club clothes.” What do you think?
An easy response back to them could be something like,
Dear Martha Marketer at SUPER AWESOME FASHION WEAR,
Thanks so much for the kind words about my site! I'd be happy to discuss options of sponsored posts with you– my policy on those is that I get full editorial control, but give you the ability to share special sales and information about the company and incorporate anchor links in posts. Sponsored posts begin at $100 and vary based on your own needs. I look forward to hearing from you!
Here, you're putting compensation into their hands– you're giving them the ability to come back and negotiate, but you're letting them know that there IS a cost. At this point, they can chose to say, “Hey, $100 is not a problem!” or “Well, our budget isn't that high, how about $50?” (hint: I rarely accept a lower negotiation) or they can just not email you back.
As for etiquette when broaching the topic of compensation:
- Be nice and polite. Simple, but true. While I like to think all text advertisers are cheap jerks, the fact is that they're people doing a job (and one you may know more about than they do).
- Be realistic. I've found that a lot of bloggers undervalue their ad space, and as a result, it's harder to ask for more money (even if it's what your site is worth). Know what the going rates are on blogs comparable in size to you, in the same niche, so you can have numbers handy to share. Asking for $500 when you have a site with 5,000 monthly visitors is probably going to be rejected.
- Ask them for alternatives. If they can't come up with the funds, don't want to pay it, you can reasonably (and politely!) ask, “Well, what other means of compensation could you provide?” Maybe they can't give you cash, but can give you a gift certificate to a store, products, etc. It may not be cash (which, if you're a professional blogger, is what you need to pay your bills!), but it's compensation nonetheless.
- Remember business is business. They're trying to do business and you, likewise, should treat the interaction like it's a business deal.
Everyone else– join in, share your own tips and tricks, what has worked and what hasn't when asking for compensation!
Image by Tamaki.