If you are a blogger, you have probably received a million emails from companies asking you to work with them on some project. They don't mention a price in their initial email or that they are looking for your rate.
Today I am going to share my thoughts with you about the four reasons you shouldn't work for free. Hopefully, you already know this, and you are charging your worth. If not, I hope that you get something out of today's blog post.
This month on the blog we are chatting about all things sponsored content. Check out the other posts in this series:
1. Free Doesn't Pay The Bills
I don't know about you, but I have bills to pay. I don't have time to work with employees who are taking a check to email bloggers all day while I do all of this work and get no payment.
Your time is worth money. Creating a blog post takes a lot of work. You have to write content, shoot and edit photos, promote the blog post, and try to make the partnership as beneficial as possible. Since you have to do all of that, you shouldn't be expected to do it for free.
Now, as you will see in the video below, you may have your exceptions. You may offer your work pro bono to a charity you love or something of that nature. This shouldn't be a thing you do for every company that looks your way though.
Exposure Might Not Work For You
I remember a few years ago I was approached by a prominent sportswear company to do work for free. They said that if I worked with them they might share my work on the large network they had. I politely declined. Why? That network really doesn't mean much to me. While my network may mean a lot them, it doesn't always go both ways. You want to create mutually beneficial relationships. In other words, you get in front of my audience, and I get to introduce my audience to a new company while receiving a check for my hard work.
I knew that I probably had people in my audience who loved sportswear, but they probably didn't have all that many people in their audience who were looking for my type of college lifestyle content. So, while they may have had a nice, large audience I probably wouldn't have received the same level of benefits they did from the partnership.
2. It Brings Down The Value Of The Industry
There is always going to be someone willing to do work for free for exposure to get their foot in the door. That's just something that happens in the industry. As a professional blogger, you don't have to do what everyone else does though.
The more people decide to do their own thing and charge what they are worth, the more the blogging industry can be taken seriously.
If all of a sudden bloggers stopped taking on free work, brands would have to adjust how they work with bloggers.
If you have turn down free work, I don't think you are missing out on much at all.
Brands know that influencer marketing is the bees knees and their goal is to get the best marketing for the least amount of money. So, brands will always try to go for free bloggers. If bloggers who do work for free stop accepting that free work, the industry would adapt because influencer marketing is too important.
3. Your Influence Is Worth Something To Them
If someone is emailing you asking to share a brand message, your work is important to them.
I don't care how they try to spin it, twist it, or warp it.
If you are on their radar, you are doing something right.
Some companies just aren't with the times when it comes to true influencer marketing (i.e. paying people to do it) but they understand its benefits (i.e. increased exposure and sales for their company.)
You are worth it! You do not have to work for free!
4. It's Not Fair To People Who Pay You For Your Work
The more often I get paid to work on sponsored campaigns the more I realize my other brand clients are worth more than working for free.
If someone is willing to pay me hundreds of dollars for an Instagram post, what would I look like posting something there for free?
Think about the clients that you have.
Think about all those companies who are paying you for sponsored work.
Don't devalue them by accepting any and every "work for free" message that comes into your inbox.
Have standards. There are other ways to build your portfolio of beautiful blog images.
5. You Can't provide Your Best Work For Free
When it comes to regular posting, you have a grand scheme behind every blog you post for yourself. When it comes to working for and with brands, it's really difficult to provide your best work for free.
It takes time to communicate, create, post, and hype up those posts.
Keep in mind, this is not content that you would have published automatically. This is content that you are working with a brand to create. Teamwork always makes things more difficult. So does getting the products, photography, editing, writing, and social media post creation.
If you are working for free you don't have incentive to really work hard for brand work. This makes the industry look even worse because companies aren't paying and you can't expect amazing work on no budget.
Instead, go for paid work and then do an amazing job with the paid work that you get.
Bonus Reason: They Are Getting Paid To contact You
Like I mentioned before chances are the person contacting you to work for free isn't working for exposure. Therefore, you shouldn't be expected to do that either. People will try it.
They will say that this campaign doesn't have a budget. That this campaign isn't specifically about their brand and therefore not worthy of payment. There are an infinite number of statements they will try to run by you.
It is your job as a blogger to stand by your blog and make sure that any posts like this are fairly compensated.
Bloggers must stop working for free.
You are valuable and so is your time.
Newspapers don't work for exposure and neither do television stations.
You should value the time, energy, and resources it takes to create a quality blog post by asking for compensation. You should also educate businesses (where appropriate and appropriately) about how you see your blog as a business and how other bloggers feel the same.
We have forged an amazing bond with our readers. We should be taking all the time in the world to carefully craft great brand messages for our sponsored content.
If you believe this, please stop working for free.