October 3, 2016

Your blogging is worth more than a free T-shirt


I had actually planned to share another part of the Wordpress Blog Series that I am writing, but this weekend I read a blog post from one of the bloggers I follow and she touched on a subject that is so important for all of us bloggers that I need to share this with all of you.

Her post was about sponsored posts and the often unreal and downright rude expectations of sponsoring companies. I don't write any sponsored posts on this blog just for the simple reason that it is not worth my time and effort. I use this blog to share information about blogging and graphic design and as a way to promote my design work. My design work is what brings in the money and I just don't have time enough to focus so much on my blog that I get an income out of that as well. But I know a lot of bloggers out there would love their blogs to generate some kind of income for them. Well, this post is especially for them!

WHAT IS A SPONSORED POST?

To understand this topic better you first need to know the whole concept of a sponsored post. It is basically a form of advertising through a blog article. The blogger is approached by a company with the request to write a post about a product or service they sell. In the world of lifestyle blogging these products will mostly be a fashion item, a makeup product or an accessory. The company will send the product to the blogger and he/she takes pictures of himself/herself wearing or using the product and then writes a blog post about the product. Sounds great huh?

THE COMPENSATION FOR A SPONSORED POST

Getting the opportunity to write a sponsored post is great when you want your blog to become a source of income. So when that first proposal for a sponsored post hits your email box you will probably be over the moon with it. You got noticed and some company thinks you are important enough to write about their stuff! In your excitement you gladly accept their offer to write this post in return for a cool free t-shirt from their new Fall collection. You just made your first income with your blog! Or didn't you?

You might think you made a great deal in accepting a free product for your writing services, but wait, wasn't it your intention to generate an income with your blog? A free t-shirt is nice, it will probably look awsome on you and you don't even have to buy it yourself, but will it pay your utility bill? Or the gas for your car, or your groceries? Not really...

That is the pitfall with sponsored posts. The marketing departments of companies have found a whole new way of advertising their stuff to the public and if they play it smart they can reach thousands of potential clients for the costs of only one t-shirt. Pretty clever.

YOUR TIME IS WORTH MORE THAN A FREE T-SHIRT

What most (beginning) bloggers often forget in their excitement over a sponsored post opportunity is that writing a good blog post costs time. And a lot of it.

Photography is a big part of blogging and taking a good quality photo shoot for an article is a lot of work. Not to mention editing the photos and writing the article to go with it. Before you know it you have put many hours into such a post. And for what? For a free t-shirt....

Keep in mind that if such a sponsoring company would contact a magazine or newspaper to write an article about their product or service they would have to come up with much more than a free t-shirt. 

HOW MUCH TO CHARGE FOR A SPONSORED POST

But how much can you ask for a sponsored post? It all begins with valuing your time, your blog and yourself. And that is something that most people struggle with, myself included.

While I don't write sponsored posts, I had to figure out the fees for my custom design work. In the beginning I definitely didn't value myself enough, resulting in very cheap fees for tons of work. In the two and a half years I am offering graphic design work now I have learned my lessons when it comes to valuing myself. I know what I have to offer and how I treat projects, how much time and love goes into each of them. That time and love is worth more than a free t-shirt.

The way that I set the fees for my custom work is based on an hourly wage that I am comfortable with. I took the hourly wage that I receive at my cleaning job (I work as a cleaning lady one morning every other week for a family in my town). This was the minimum hourly wage I wanted to earn with my design work. By doing a lot of custom design projects I started to learn how much hours I averagely spent on a design. So I multiplied my basic hourly wage with these hours, then added any extra costs that I need to make (like taxes for example) and the outcome was the fee for a custom design.

If you are not sure about what a good hourly wage is to start with, use the hourly wage that you earn at your job if you have any, or find out the minimum hourly wage in your area. That would be a good point to start from when your blog is not that big yet and you want to start offering sponsored post opportunities.

As your blog grows and you reach more readers and followers you can raise your fees accordingly.

HAVE A MEDIA KIT READY TO ANSWER INQUIRIES

If you want to take it up a notch with professionality you might want to invest some time in creating a media kit. A media kit is basically a document that you can present to companies/people that make inquiries about sponsoring options. This can be a short .PDF document that lists your fees and services and your blog's statistics. Blog statistics include monthly pageviews, monthly unique visitor count and numbers of follower on social media.

When a company is paying for your services they want to know what they are paying for. If you ask $300 for a sponsored post, but you have only 5000 pageviews per month on your blog, that will not be a very attractive collaboration for the sponsoring company. So your fees should be in good balance with what you have to offer. But even as a beginning blogger you should be compensated for the hours of work you put into writing an article. 

And that means that you often will have to turn down a sponsored post proposal if you value yourself and your time. I highly encourage you to read Summer's post on this subject that inspired me to write this article. She is one of my favourite bloggers and she has put in hard work to build up her online presence as a blogger. Her blog and social media accounts are currently followed by over 40.000 people and she won't settle for a free t-shirt any longer. And so should you!


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