Should bloggers be paid for their work? Absolutely. No doubt there. I am one to believe that you should never work for free. Whether it is writing a blog post or completing an internship. You spend time, effort and energy for something or someone that is work and deserves payment. Free samples and smiles don’t pay the bills. So yes, as most bloggers out there I think bloggers, no matter their size and following, should be paid for their work.
Ask a PR manager or an influencer outreach executive to work for free just to see their reaction. Yes, they would never do it. So they should not ask other to work for free.
This being said…
I think that sometimes, bloggers need to reconsider unpaid and gifting-basis opportunities. When a brand gets in touch with me, I try to see the bigger picture. Yes, that first collaboration might be on a gifting basis but it does not mean the next one will be too. If I start to create and nurture a good relationship with that brand or PR, the chances that they will work with me in the future and this time on a paid basis are way higher than if I dismiss them straight.
Depending on the brand, the products, the project, etc. Someone asking me to create a campaign worth of content without paying will get a straight no. Way too much work for not much in return.
I try to think of first collaborations as a job interview. When you get an interview for a job you want, you will research the company, what they do, who they are, if you like the culture. You will devote a certain amount of time preparing for that interview. Once it is done, you either get the job or you don’t. I think it is the same for a first collaboration.
Having loads of followers and pretty pictures is like having a good resume. It is great but it actually does not mean much. A good resume does not mean you will be good at the job. Many followers don’t mean you will convert, generate sales or even drive traffic to the brand’s website. Having worked with a lipstick company with success in the past does not mean your followers will engage with another post about lipsticks.
So yes, showing your blog stats and previous collaboration is great. Talking about past experiences at a job interview is good too. But what a potential employer is interested in is what you can do for them, to help the company grow, how you can contribute. A brand working with you for the first time will want to know how you can help them, how working together will achieve good results, how they will make an investment and get returns on it.
Because YES, even a collaboration on a gifting basis is still an investment for most companies. Not for those massive labels, no. But for many other brands which are young brands, sending out a product is an investment. In you. Which per se is a sign of trust and a business decision that has costs. That £100 watch you received could have been sold to someone. Then, the money could have been reinvested in the business. But they decided to take a risk with you and give these £100 up.
Getting back to what I said above, that startup which does not have budget right now will grow. They will remember that you worked with them on a gifting basis, that you were willing to do that sacrifice, that you put a lot of effort in an unpaid collaboration. Brands remember. They will be willing to invest in you again. A bit more this time. A paid collaboration. You never know.
Again, this being said…
I do think you should always ask a brand getting in touch with you (or when you pitch to a brand), if they have budget for collaboration. Again, you never know, they might. However, I don’t think you should decline opportunities because they are not paid. I also don’t think that because it is an unpaid opportunity, a blogger should treat it less seriously.
Working in marketing and with a lot of influencers, when I see some people putting little to no effort in the content they create despite receiving a rather expensive product, I know I am never going to work with them again. I would much rather work with someone who treated that collaboration seriously even though it was not paid. As a blogger, I consider all collaborations, paid and unpaid, alike. To me, they all deserve the same care and attention. I will do my best to create content no matter what I get in return. Because, in the long run, these efforts will turn into a good relationship with the brand which will be rewarded.
This is one reason why I think bloggers should do their best to make a brand happy. If they send you a few requirements, try to match them. Within limits of course. I have had a brand who had so many requirements and asked me so much work for nothing but samples in return that I had to say no. But going the extra miles for a brand you genuinely like will show professionalism and dedication. Keeping the job interview metaphor, you’d be working for a company, you’d make those extra effort to get a promotion. So why not as a blogger?
As a blogger, I understand how frustrating and disheartening it is when a brand gets back to you saying they don’t have budget. As a marketing manager, it also kills me to tell influencers that I can’t pay them because I have no budget, as I know how much work and time they will put in one picture. I do think what matters most at that point is the relationship you create with the brand. On the other hand, what I do not get at all is bloggers asking small brands with no budget for payment while they’d be ready to sell their soul to work with big brands. Not sure that adds up.
Despite all my words on why you should still say yes to unpaid collaborations, especially if it is a brand you love, products you need and would have bought, I also understand why some bloggers do not take on any unpaid work. If you blog full-time, paid collaborations keep you afloat and you cannot always afford to work on a gifting-basis. Fair enough.
My final words? Yes, ask for a budget. Always. Try to get as many paid opportunities as possible. Always negotiate for a budget and a payment. Because your time is precious and your work should not be free. Yet, do not dismiss an opportunity just because it’s on a gifting basis. Like I said, you never know what might happen next.
Faux Fur Coat – Shein
Jumper – Gérard Darel
Skirt – New Look
Boots & Bag – Shein
Necklace – Betty & Biddy
Sunglasses – Boohoo
I am aware this is quite a sensitive topic in the blogging community and I do understand why. I understand arguments from both sides. But I am quite curious to know what is your take in it.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope you liked the post.
See you soon,
This is definitely a hugely sensitive topic but I totally agree with you. I think it’s up to the individual really whether they wanna ask/argue for monetary payment on top of gifting. After all a lot of bloggers do it as a hobby so who are others to say how they run their site? I will always ask whether there’s a budget now when brands contact me because why not!
This is a very well-thought out post! Amazing job! I cannot completely relate only because I’ve really just been blogging as a hobby, but I’m looking into trying to get some money out of it (I mostly just do it because I have a lot to say and I enjoy writing). But I TOTALLY agree that you should never spend time/effort on a job that doesn’t pay you. I really hate unpaid internships and stuff of that sort just because of that reason. Thanks for sharing 🙂
This post makes me think. After all these years, I’ve been blogging for fun and solely for that reason. Then again, I’ve never received an offer in working with a brand, so I can’t really say much. Though I agree, that if anything, blogging deserves payment – especially if you’re working 24/7 on it. Another great post, Corinne! x Ain
This was such an interesting post to read! I definitely think bloggers deserve to be paid for all the hard work they put in for brands. I’ve never been paid by a brand before but hoping that will happen in the future! Xx
I totally agree with all of your points. I feel like bloggers should get paid for their work because we really deserve it. I can see how free marketing for a brand would lead to something further on, i feel like it just depends on the company.
Great post! I’ve always worked with brands on a gifting basis. I do sponsored posts as well but if a brand is sending out £50+ worth of products to me, that’s absolutely fine with me. I think some bloggers will ALWAYS want payment as well and that’s fine. But I don’t like it when people shame others for how they work with brands. I think as long as you’re being treated right and you’re happy with the collaboration then that’s what matters?
I agree with this. I have done some posts without compensation if I like the company. But these days I don’t always have the time to work without being paid, so I’ll politely state that in the email. Sometimes I do get a reply saying they do have a budget! Sometimes I get no reply back.
I totally agree! I am always willing to waive a fee if I know the company will return! Working with a company on their budget often means they will work with me several times down the road which means more money for me, versus a one-time payment!
This is a really great post, I for one wouldn’t mind receiving products as a gift basis since if I do love those products and I can use them then why not. Doesn’t really bother me.
first of all, i love your outfit, so chic! second, im a new blogger, not even a year so this is really helpful to me as i venture more to the world of blogging!
Good thought for any business.
Nothing is free, especially your time.
It’s something I struggle with. I want to put my blog out there even though it’s just a personal one and it’s small so doing collaborations and free guest spots seems like the norm to me. I’m dreading the day I have to charge or expect to make money because I’m not sure how to price what and who gets freebies and who is going to have to pay me. Great post that brings up important issues that bloggers deal with.
Interesting post. However as a blogger I totally agree you on this.
Great article! honestly I think its different for every blogger, depends on your goal as blogger. As a mental health blogger I have different goals as a lifestye or fashion blogger.
I am going to be honest here. I think when you are working with brands, you have the power to set your own standards. If you don’t work for free, don’t ever work for free because then that will become what they come to expect from you. Why would a brand ever pay you if they know that you take on free projects?
Great to know information about the gift-based promoted posts. I can see why this a polemic topic.
I agree spending time and effort on a job that doesn’t pay you can be frustrating in any the industry.
When a blogger write about a product, it’s not only the effort they put into and the space on their website, but also their authenticity and credibility with their audience they are lending to it.
Preach! You put together some really great thoughts on the topic. Thanks for sharing your voice, Doll.
There’s also the factor of if you take a product in place of payment, you should be declaring the value to HMRC if you would charge for the post in other situations. So for many bloggers who blog as a job it just isn’t worth it financially to them as they will be paying tax on an item.
Yes, it’s not always easy for small brands to send out free samples/products for bloggers to try. Most of the time they’re hesitant to do so.
That outfit is, as my mother would say: “an walk-stopper and a jaw-dropper.” But this is overall a really great post! It made me think. Thanks for sharing.
Very cute outfit and stylish boots!
I have just recently started treating my blog like an actual job. This info is really useful since I’m still so new to all his. Thanks!
This is soooo helpful! I’m a new blogger and I’m learning what to ask brands for, how I should get paid, etc. Thanks for clearing some things up for me!
This post just opened my eyes, I’m new in the industry and I agree with you totally, there is nothing for free and again if you are given a product to promote and it’s, unpaid then I think you should put as much effort as you would if you were being paid. It’s your job you enjoy promoting brands. So it goes both side.
Hi, it is a very informative for me, because I have just started blogging 9 months ago. I would never think to ask a brand directly if they have a budget. I mostly work with small companies at this point, and have only 4k+ followers on instagam, I assumed i should not expect money for posts at this point.
I agree with your post and I think it is very VERY important to talk about this subject. However, I live in a country where blogging is not (still?) taken as a serious job. Of course, if you have several million of followers you are obviously offered a remuneration and allowed to negotiate without questions asked.
I have merely a few thousand followers. I’ve been blogging for 14 years because I like it, but as soon as I ask “do you have a budget for this partnership” brands and sponsors EVAPORATE in the air. That is for ONE simple reason: every other blogger out there in my country accepts to work for FREE.
As long as bloggers ourselves won’t value our own work as such and agree all of us (tacitly or in an organized way, like a union) we will continue to be exploited by the system. I suffer this daily, and it is very frustrating to ask a remuneration when there are thousands of other people ready to do the same for free.
Whatever agreement you work under when you are blogging you should be giving it your all. You should never do anything half way. You need to do it completely or not do it at all. I agree.
Love the outfit, very comfortable but smart looking! I agree we shouldn’t really work for free but sometimes doing things for nothing can lead to bigger things. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a brand three times in a row, one time the parcel they sent me was huge and I honestly couldn’t believe their generosity, I even began to doubt that I deserved it for what I do. Now I try and see it as a compliment to the work I do trying to promote them. I love how people assume if you are a blogger you are raking in cash just by letting your pc roll over. Sadly its not the case and I think the amount of time and effort posts take to create isn’t always noticed.
What an insightful post. I generally don’t work on a gifting basis until and unless I really like the brand. It is important to get paid for our work.
This sounds s such a great and insightful post! These are things I have thought about often and wondered about…
Many bloggers don’t get paid and just do it out of interest. This article will help bloggers ponder more and how to promote and get notice!
For me, personally, it depends on if the product is suitable for my audience and if I would like to try it myself. I do prefer paid collaborations and I did turn back a lot of companies for the no budget reason. I did however notice that when you keep your grounds and negotiate, you will have a higher rate of success and out of nowhere, a budget will appear. Companies shouldn’t really do outreach if they don’t have a budget.
It’s a tough one, but the way I see it is that if you work for free, the brand will never pay you in the future because they know you are willing to work for free.
I started blogging as a hobby. Now I am making money off it. I have been doing it for more than 10 years.
This is such an amazing post, I really like and agree with your perspective. I do like to collaborate with the brands that I like outside of the blogging and it is always great to work with the brand you like and use products of. I have not done any paid collaborations but do agree that I do spend most of my time creating some nice content and taking pictures which I sometimes feel to ask for the compensation for that.
It is different for every blogger. However, you really need to take into consideration the time and effort that you will have to put into each project.
I get what you’re saying, we should definitely keep our mind open to all opportunities. I think it’s important to consider the small brands who really has no budget but would like a chance to put themselves out there through your blog. So many good points in this post! Love it.
I definitely agree with all of your points! I get at least 2 dozen emails a day, offering free product for review. There are so many companies I’d love to support, but at the end of the day, I really have to weigh what I feel is worthy of promoting, if my readers are interested, and if it’s worth my time.
This is quite a delicate subject. I just restarted blogging, but I used to make origami workshops. I started doing them for free and then got to make them for money as well. I agree with what you said. You should always see what their plans are if they have a budget, what they want from you and so on. The last free workshop I did was for a TedX talk in my city and I got tickets to the event so that for me was amazing.
You made some really interesting points here, I do think you are right when you say bloggers shouldn’t work for free but broaden their minds to the bigger picture when considering taking a gifting opportunity, as it can open up to a paid job really easily!
This is a really nice post. I think a lot of bloggers struggle with this. BTW those boots are really cute.
having paid and paid cooperation with a brand highly depends on what this cooperation is about it.gift basis is great and I am always happy when brands offer me some goods.
however if brand offers some fun cooperation even without a sigle penny or a piece f product recieved it could be valuable as fun. However the brand should understand why they been worked with (because they offered something interesting) not simply because blogger should not get paid for their work
Love your article, and your outfit is amazing, I have also made a living now on my blog.
Firstly, I love your outfit, you look amazing. Secondly, I completely agree. I think collaborations need to work for both the brand and the blogger, and it needs to be mutually beneficial. Saying that, you’re right, always ask if there is a budget, if there is not, then you can make the gifting work for you – as you say, a £100 watch that a brand chooses to send you is incredibly generous and could lead to paid work in the future, building relationships is key.
This is such an interesting look on this subject. I love that you have tackled both sides of the argument and I completely agree with you – no job should be done for free. I have never really thought of asking brands of their budget before, but will definitely bear that in mind. Thank you so much for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. x