24 March 2017

Why Bloggers Need To Charge

lifestyle blog, Hampshire bloggers, why bloggers need to charge for posts, Dalry Rose blog, should I charge brands for blog posts

I have been blogging for 5 years now, and my first brand collaboration came about weeks after I set up and starting getting myself 'out there'. I was so excited to work with brands, that someone noticed me and my blog, and liked the work I was producing. I didn't charge the brand and tended to all their requests without question. Hell, I even published posts on my blog written by others and received my 'thank you' in 'exposure'. And after that, a snowball effect of brand collaborations followed which helped me grow my blog, make connections, and create engaging and captivating content.

I stand by my decision not to charge brands as a beginner blogger - I was expanding my skill set, starting out a new venture, and learning on the job. And like with most things there isn't an instant gratification where you step into a new career and everyone immediately recognises you as an expert, and your diary fills with appointments/meetings/projects. You learn and you grow. Blogging is no different from that, but what is different is that there are too many bloggers who don't want this as a profession and too many brands who take advantage of that. Harsh, but true. 

Let's look at the stats: 92% of people trust peer recommendations vs advertising. That is a staggering percentage of people. And only 36% trust ads on social media platforms. To me as an ex agency marketing professional it is no question that bloggers take the lead as key influencers in a decision whether to purchase a product or not - with their honest reviews (yes sometimes these backfire but just make sure your product is good enough to be reviewed publicly), real life imagery, and a reputable recommendation why wouldn't a brand want to place products with bloggers? The thing is - brands do want bloggers. 

A blogger offers the whole package - written digital content, original photography, product review, social media advertising, advertising on their website, and recommendation. Let's not kid around - at the end of the day, it's advertising the product/service/event/restaurant/hotel... the list really does go on with the amount of collaboration opportunities and the types of advertising. The advertising industry is worth £18bn in revenue to the UK media and entertainment industry, making it the second largest sector behind TV. And I have to wonder: with this kind of money sitting in the pockets of big brands, why are bloggers still getting paid in 'exposure'? 

I've lost count of the amount of times I have been approached by brands who want to 'work' with Dalry Rose and when I ask them what their budget is for the campaign the answer is typically 'we don't have one'. Ok, let's work this out: as a blogger, I would want to review the product that I am endorsing to set an accurate expectation for my readers who may want to purchase is; I then use professional equipment and often times when working on a fashion post I will use a photographer; editing photos/videos to suit the blog post and then also social media platforms; the research that goes into the product/brand/venue; the content which takes time and thought to be written; the social media promotion.... Typically all of these things take me anywhere from 4-6hrs. If there is a location photo shoot involved, then longer. That's a days work and the amount of time I usually would spend in an office or now being full time freelance is the time I spend on my client accounts. And not to sound ungrateful and all, but exposure isn't going to cut it when my landlord comes knocking for my rent. And unfortunately neither is a gorgeous new lipstick, as much as I love it. 

What bloggers give to brands is what agencies are paid to do - and paid well, trust me I know. I also know how difficult it can be to convince a brand to put a budget behind blogger outreach - remember guys, I've worked on both sides of this debate. It's fascinating how many brands still don't see the value of blogger collaborations and social media - which is basically the digital 'word of mouth' that is the most effective way of swaying customers into buying your products.
But what makes bloggers different from cold marketing machines is that bloggers tend to build communities around their social sites, especially microbloggers/microinfluencers - but more on that topic another day. These communities are people who really trust in what that blogger is doing and show genuine interest in their reviews. 

Now don't get me wrong, we're not all going to rise up and ask for ££££'s immediately when working with brands, but when you feel confident that the work you're producing is worth something - and I know mine is because of the types of brands I get approached by and also the fact that I am doing work like this as a freelancer for local brands and businesses - that's the time to stop and asses the value of your time. 

This post came about because recently I have been in several situations with brands which I am 'working' with when the demands got uncontrollable, and I've been stressed because I have a huge list of paid work which obviously takes priority over the projects which are unpaid. I have mouths to feed and a roof over my head which needs to be paid for, just like everyone else. But I feel awful about pushing back projects which are unpaid because I don't like to let anyone down - which is why I have started to say to brands that I do charge for placement on my blog. And guess what? Suddenly, the projects got 'dropped' or they 'ran out of stock' or they just didn't have any budget left. And that's OK by me.

Of course I will still carry on accepting samples, reviewing restaurants and styling outfits with brands because I love discovering new companies and items to share with you guys, but because my blog has become my business and source of income I need to make it super clear to everyone that priority is being given to those that pay for my services - which I think is a fair deal. If a brand wants the post to go live by a certain date, have a certain style/amount of photos, include X amount of posts on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest, review the post and photos before they go live, request changes to the content - your wish is my command, as long as my hours are covered. 

And just to note I am super thankful for all opportunities which come my way and all the brands that approach me and want to work with me - I have made some great contacts! Like I said at the beginning of this post, I stand by my decision not to charge as a beginner blogger and I think doing things for free sometimes get's you where you want to be (think internship anyone?!) but equally there comes a time when you have to think about your skill set and your career.

I'd love to hear from you on this topic - what are your thoughts about brand and blogger collaborations? What are your thoughts on professional blogging? 

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