Bloggers Working For Free: Not A Black and White Issue

by Gigi Ross on December 4, 2011

Last Friday, I read a post by the lovely Ciaran from Momfluential called 5 Stupid Reasons Mom Bloggers Work For Free. It’s a great read and I respect Ciaran’s take on blogging very highly.

It seems that about every 6 months, there’s an outcry that  mom bloggers need to stop working for free, because it undermines the rest of the community’s ability to be legitimate businesspeople and charge fairly for their work.

bloggers work for free

In principle, I couldn’t agree more with this outcry, because I know how hard I’ve worked on my own blog and career over the last two years. If a brand can get someone else with the same reach as me to do for free what I would charge $X to do, why would they pick me?

I’ve had several posts started in the last year talking about why we shouldn’t work for free. And I’ve never been able to hit publish. Why?

Because it’s just not that simple as to say “don’t work for free.”

Blogging Needs Interns, Too

The bottom line is that newer bloggers don’t have a ton of influence. College students frequently intern at companies in nearly every industry to learn the business and cut their teeth. Bloggers shouldn’t be any different.  The best and brightest will learn, build their influence, grow their personal brand and move up to the more lucrative opportunities – and by then, should understand when the time is right to stop working for free.

Which brings up the next factor that muddies the waters:

Not All Bloggers Are Created Equal

We cannot all be measured by the same stick. Some bloggers work at their craft as a full-time job. Others may spend only a couple of hours a week at it. Some are extremely talented writers who keep their readers coming back for more…and some, well, are not. Some are fabulous at marketing themselves and some are happy to just take whatever comes their way.

Should the fact that you are a blogger entitle you to be a paid professional?

I believe that paid work is EARNED, not a blogging birthright.

Talented, professional, creative and influential bloggers who generate quality content should be paid: bottom line. But I’m sorry to say that not all bloggers make the cut. I realize some reading this might respond, “but any blogger who reviews a product for and tweets and Facebooks about it is creating content and that is worth pay.”

No it’s not. Not if the content is crap. Not if people aren’t compelled to take action after reading it. I’ve worked on the side of a brand, and believe me, I’ve been surprised at the lack of influence a person with a sizable blog and Twitter following can have.

In fact, I believe the theory that every mom blogger should be paid does more to undermine the earning potential of our community. Why? Because paying everyone implies that everyone is delivering value. If someone can throw up a crappy blog with half-assed posts and still have the same crack at being paid as someone who approaches their blog professionally, aren’t we just settling for the least common denominator? What incentive does a blogger have to improve themselves?

Compensation is Different For Every Blogger

Each and every blogger has a meter by which she defines success. How the needle on that meter is moved, though, is different for every person.

Danielle Wiley, who runs The Sway Group and represents a lot of the more “famous” mom bloggers, commented on Ciaran’s post that:

I also think that free stuff is enticing. But, as I’ve said before, five posts, 10 tweets a few Facebook status updates are worth a lot more than a free refrigerator. Why not charge what you’re worth and then buy the fridge your own damn self, you know?

And that *feels* like that should be true. But how many of you average bloggers out there are routinely offered $1500 or $2000 to work on a brand campaign? That’s not the reality we are operating in. I realize someone could respond, “If we don’t push back, brands will never change.” Maybe the more successful bloggers have the street cred to push back and ask for that, but I’m not sure that most of us do.

So why not take a free refrigerator? If that has significant value to you, and your personal success meter says this feels right, more power to you. I never begrudge that from any blogger. And that’s why I’ll be reviewing a very expensive mattress on my blog tomorrow. And I won’t feel bad about it OR that I’m letting my community down.

I Am Responsible For My Own Success, Not You

There are a lot of bloggers who reviews tons and tons of products for free on a daily basis and they are looked upon disparagingly, called “sellouts” and said to be ruining the environment for the rest of us.

This makes me very sad. We don’t know every blogger’s financial situation. For some, not having to buy a bunch of baby products because they’re doing reviews is a huge, huge contribution to their families. And while I know that yes, these bloggers may be impairing my ability to charge more for my work, that’s a burden that many bloggers are not able to shoulder. They are trying to feed their families and doing the best they can. They are not responsible for my success or failure – I am.

Instead of worrying about what those bloggers are doing and how they’re affecting me, I believe that continuing to generate quality content will ensure that paid opportunities will continue to come my way. My opportunities have only grown exponentially, not diminished.  There is space for everyone.

Maybe it’s erroneously Darwinian of me to think that the best of the best will financially thrive in blogging. Maybe I shouldn’t look at it as a competitive industry. But I think the best way to ensure that the best among us are paid is by creating an environment where you are paid because you deliver quality, not because you have the title of “mom blogger.”

I believe that setting the bar high is the best thing for our community’s earning potential.

What do you think?

time’s running out to #elfitup. Link up and be entered for a chance to win a really, really  nice HD webcam.

{ 101 comments }

Little Gumnut December 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Interesting thoughts. I’ve been blogging for five or so years and have been thinking a lot about making it into a business but I just can’t bring myself to ‘go commercial’. Perhaps its the fact that I’m English and we’re not that great at commercialism, don’t like to push ourselves out there and are prudish about money matters and naturally suspicious of the marketing industry… I’ve worked in PR but on the side of big corporates and feel my blog is too small to really be of any value to brands. I do wish there was some other way of making a blog generate money other than reviewing products or selling advertising. I don’t really enjoy reading product reviews on blogs so have avoided going down those routes. Perhaps there is an alternative and I just haven’t come across it yet. I’m certainly not in the camp of BrandsOweMeALiving and very much with you in that pay should be on value for money.
Little Gumnut´s last blog post ..Celebrating friends

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I think some of the really engaged brands do a good job of finding creative ways to work with influential bloggers that don’t necessarily involve product reviews or ad buys. These are the companies that “get it” and, hopefully with ongoing dialogue and education, more brands will get on the bandwagon of how to think creatively about working with bloggers in ways that are mutually beneficial.

Melisa December 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm

“Instead of worrying about what those bloggers are doing and how they’re affecting me, I believe that continuing to generate quality content will ensure that paid opportunities will continue to come my way.” <—-YES. This is my philosophy, too!!!
Melisa´s last blog post ..Screech!

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Thanks for coming by. It is hard not to engage in comparison with other bloggers, but the fact is we each bring something very different to the table. I have to remind myself of this every day!

Lisa @ A Little Slice of Life December 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I completely agree with you. We are each in charge of our own destiny. If bloggers what to do free reviews and such who cares. Most likely it is helping that blogger in some way. Either they are getting more readers from the affiliation with whatever company or they simply want the product. Like an intern they are gaining experience.
Lisa @ A Little Slice of Life´s last blog post ..8×10 Photo Canvas FREE

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I really struggled with this post because for a long time, I felt like we all should be paid…but it’s just so darn complicated. It’s much easier for us to own our individual careers and be accountable.

Christy @morethanmommy December 4, 2011 at 9:14 pm

This is a wonderful post. I agree that this is a complicated issue that is often over-simplified by more experienced bloggers. Having been blogging for longer than most people have been online, I get the outcry for more payment. On the other hand, it’s a bit hypocritical to work for free for years and then tell others they are wrong for doing it. And I also agree that not all bloggers are the same. Some are hobbyists, some are professionals, some are talented, some not so much. We aren’t all going to be paid the same, nor should we.

As for Ms. Wiley, I’m thrilled that she has started to represent bloggers, but she chose a small and very specific group to start with. I don’t know many bloggers (including those that she represents) that regularly make enough from 5 blog posts and 10 tweet to buy their own refrigerators. I understand the sentiment, but let’s not go that far!

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Christy, you said better in your comment with what I struggled to say in 1000 words. Thank you!!! :) I agree – I am thrilled at what Danielle is doing for our community and think it only means great things for us generally. :)

kim/reluctant renovator December 4, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I love what Danielle is doing for the community, but you and You and Christy make valid points and my personal thoughts tend to echo yours. And I say that as someone who helps bloggers get paying gigs sometimes.

I think the answer to many questions in life is “it depends.”

I’m a strong believer in the Value Exchange, an arrangement that benefits all involved parties. The perception of a value exchange is highly subjective. For a given blogger it will not only be based on her site numbers, perceived influence and reach, but her education, past employment and many other factors.

With my home renovation, I’m pleased to have partnered with a few select brands who are providing product for the house. I will be declaring these items on my taxes, which amounts not to getting them for free, but at a substantial discount. It works for me. And it works for the brands.
kim/reluctant renovator´s last blog post ..Wow, That Sure Didn’t Go as Planned: Kitchen Install, Day 1

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 9:06 am

Amen – as long as both parties are happy with the arrangement, who am I to question it? And yes, so many factors that bear upon an individual definition of value.

Amy, Using Our Words December 5, 2011 at 9:47 am

Great post, great comment. Every time I read one of those posts, I feel like I’m failing myself and the whole blogging community because I haven’t established well-paid gigs as a fairly new blogger. I very rarely work with brands because I want to be sure that when I do, it’s meaningful for my own brand and believable to my readers. We each just have to be true to ourselves. And, hey, if a brand wants to pay me for doing that, I’ll happily accept.

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

It sounds like you have a great philosophy from which to continue!

Carolyn December 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

This is well written post.
My thought, we all have to start somewhere, and I concur with your Darwinism thought.
Carolyn´s last blog post ..New Disney Princess, Vinegar is Versatile, and Christmas Crafts

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Thanks, Carolyn. It is not an easy stance to take, because I know I might come off as unsupportive. But it’s totally the opposite. I want to encourage newer bloggers to be the best they can be SO THAT they can stand up for what they deserve.

Maureen | Tatter Scoops December 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Very interesting topic, Gigi. I honestly sometimes feel slightly jealous at successful bloggers out there who have more opportunities to work with brands. I had only made money from my blog twice and it was an amazing feeling but again it all came back to quality like you brilliantly put. Knowing where I am and the fact that I haven’t been able to grow my blog the way I hope for mainly because I work full time, I’m more selective of the reviews and offers to take. Thank you for this post.
Maureen | Tatter Scoops´s last blog post ..We Are Sticking Together!

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

My sincerest hope is that someday, the quality of the content that we collectively put out as a blogging community is so high that this issue isn’t even one that needs to be discussed anymore :)

Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy December 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

OMG I love this post. I get so tired of everyone complaining about people doing it for free. I do think people with the expertise working for free is crazy but you are so right, we all have to start somewhere. After three years I will still give a big company a lil bit of me for free because I want to prove to them I am worth it. It doesn’t always pay off but it is the way I chose to run my business. And I am simply a person who believes EVERYONE whether blogger, teacher, Dr etc should be paid on merit. The best will make more. To say no one should work for free is to say that I should be paid as much as Pioneer woman or Dooce when I have no where near their influence (and likely never will). We all need to be ok with where we are at and not be threatened by others whether they are giving it away or raking in the big bucks!
Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy´s last blog post ..Tyson Mini Chicken Sandwiches- Quick Dinner #CBias #TysonGoodness

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Exactly what you said – we all have different ways to run our business. In the end, we have to follow our hearts and do what we feel makes sense for us individually. I truly want what’s best for the community as a whole, but I also realize that the reality is we are all sole proprietors and have to make individual choices!

Annie December 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I agree with a lot of the points here. No one wants to pay for crappy content. But those of us who are well connected and can create excellent content should be compensated accordingly. That mattress is well-deserved! :) Enjoy!

Tracie December 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I have read so many posts about bloggers needing to charge for their work, and there has always been that underlying feeling that I couldn’t quite define. You just defined it.

I want to write a big huge YES to this post.

As far as your mattress is concerned – good for you!! I’m a reader of your blog, and I don’t feel let down at all.
Tracie´s last blog post ..Locker Room Haircut

Kristin Shaw December 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Great post! I have been blogging for just a few months, but writing for many years. I blog for the joy of having others read what I write. Of course, I don’t have a huge following yet, but maybe someday I will. In the meantime, I feel like I have so much to learn about opportunities to enhance my blog and enable myself to earn free things and money for what I write.
Heck, I’d love to earn a new mattress!! I already work full time as a marketing manager for a Swiss company, and my blogging time is at night, after my toddler goes to bed. Slowly, slowly, I’m learning. Your post was eye-opening, honest, and informative. Thanks to @busymommymedia for tweeting about it so I could read it!
Kristin Shaw´s last blog post ..The chameleon days

Alison@Mama Wants This December 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Gigi, you raise some very valid points, and I agree with you, 100%.

Great topic for discussion!
Alison@Mama Wants This´s last blog post ..Five Things

Keri Wilmot December 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm

This is a fabulous post, thanks for having the notion to hit the send button this time around. This is an area I have struggled with lately, guess it’s called blogging growing pains! When I left BlogHer there were many rants about getting paid, but not as many concrete ways to make it happen. These were the kinds of answers I was looking for there, thank you.

My questions these days are more related to the brand side. I know that brands want to do the best for their companies in terms of visibility, but we all know that there has to be a financial bottom line. Do you feel as if brands are making the leap to initiate changing their relationships with those bloggers whom they feel are relevant, by then offering new, different and possibly paid opportunities overtime? I worry at times that if I have worked for free, which I do a lot because my site was built on mainly product reviews, that brands will assume they can get me to continue to work for free, while they offer paid opportunities to others who have changed their policies and have either begun to ask to be paid, or who have just started being pickier and saying No.

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I think that most brands will look to minimizing costs where possible, and that if you’ve set a precedent of working for free, the onus will be on you to take your business in a paid direction. I’ve found some brands to be incredibly receptive to ideas, and targeting the brands with whom you’ve had a longstanding and trusted relationship is a great place to start asking for paid opps.

Holly December 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Gigi, thanks for such a great article. The next step is for brands to realize that they need to pay bloggers. Some have, some haven’t. For me, it’s mostly the latter. I’ve been blogging for about two years and while I do sometimes get the opportunity to write for pay, I still often contribute to publications for free. I don’t always consider myself getting ripped off as quite often I benefit from their traffic, new exposure, etc. However, when I know that the site is capitalizing on my content and others, it bothers me and I’m finally at the point in my blog career when I know when to pull out. I also think that we must always remember, as Christy correctly stated, that there are many tiers of bloggers, and we can not all buy a refrigerator with our earnings from blogging.

I may not make much from my personal blog, but the satisfaction, the friends, the opportunities make all worthwhile.
Holly´s last blog post ..Theater Non-Review: The Mountaintop

kludgymom December 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I agree that brands will need to continue to be educated on paying for quality content…and that is where I believe and hope the top echelon of bloggers can really make a huge difference for our community. They have deeper relationships with brands and can demonstrate the value.

I’ve never had the promise of exposure amount to much, but I have taken unpaid short term gigs in the past for resume building. Now, I don’t need to, and I’m able to be more choosy and turn down unpaid work. But that wasn’t always the case. I do consider valuable product “pay,” but realize that not everyone shares or agrees with my definition!

Alexandra December 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I really enjoyed this post. You always speak the truth, and do have the eyes to see both sides.

It’s unpopular, I know, to take the side of no compensation, but nothing is ever an easy answer.

I wish more people would look at the whole picture, too…because we never know anyone’s full story.

This was really, really good, geeg.

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 9:04 am

Exactly – we never know anyone’s full story – we’ve talked about this before. I am actually surprised to wake up this morning and not see more disagreement with my view. I’m sure it will come, but for now, I’m buoyed by the fact that there are others in the community who can see that we are all diverse in so many ways and t hat a blanket rule is difficult to apply.

Stacey Nerdin @ Tree, Root, and Twig December 4, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Love, lovelovelovelove this post. I said (mostly) this same thing 2 years ago on my blog: http://treerootandtwig.com/2009/11/17/slaying-dragons/*, and I still feel very much the same. Which is funny, because now I am on the other side of the fence and am making what I consider respectable money at this thing, but I still stand by anyone’s choice to work in certain situations for free.
*ps: I think I did this before – included a link to my blog in a comment – but again, I swear I’m not trying to spam you! Mostly just giving freaky evidence of just how similarly we think sometimes! ;)
Stacey Nerdin @ Tree, Root, and Twig´s last blog post ..Movie Review: We Bought A Zoo

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

Yes, we shared a mind meld somewhere along the line, didn’t we? And I agree – I make respectable money as well now, but it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t, and maybe that’s what makes our perspective in being able to see both sides.

Mrs. Wonder December 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm

So much of it seems to be the direction you want to take with the blog as well. I got a good project very early on that has helped define where I want to take my blog, so now I have a higher standard than when I first started.
This is a great post on the subject! I’ve heard every piece of advice twice concerning pay. But the only one that can tell you your worth is yourself.
And I’d totally blog in exchange for a fridge!
Mrs. Wonder´s last blog post ..First email – a toddler milestone?

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 9:02 am

The only one that can tell you your worth is yourself – PERFECT. I love how readers can sum up in one sentence what I try to say in 1000 words sometimes :)

Leigh Ann December 4, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Gigi, this is such an important post. I read and agreed with the post at Momfluential, then someone else said not all bloggers deserve to get paid. I think you expanded on that perfectly. We’re all at different levels of experience and influence.
Leigh Ann´s last blog post ..Julie Anne Rhodes membership giveaway!

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 9:01 am

It’s funny, but I actually didn’t really know how I felt about this topic until I read Ciaran’s post, started writing my own on Friday, left it aside and came back to it yesterday. It was then that everything really crystallized for me and I truly understood why I’d never been able to stand up and say “all bloggers should be paid.” It’s a tricky issue. I need to go back and read the rest of the comments on Ciaran’s blog, because I don’t think when I commented, anyone had taken the stance that I have. Will be interesting to go back and see the discussion.

sam @ goa carnival December 5, 2011 at 12:20 am

Hi,

Nice and perfect info which will be work good for us. All things are very important in blog post but from my point of view content is the main part of any blog post because we can’t imagination that we can make a blog post without content and we should have good quality in that also which we can learn from you because you have awesome quality to create content and make blog post.
sam @ goa carnival´s last blog post ..Goa Carnival 2012

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 9:00 am

Thank you Sam, for reading!!!

Just Jennifer December 5, 2011 at 1:02 am

Gosh, guess I’m still pretty green because I didn’t know this was such a hot-button topic. Of course I’ve noticed the differences among bloggers, but I didn’t know that was any issue with doing it for free vs. pay. My question is, if you are sent a product to review and keep, is that actually free blogging? Seems to me you got something out of the deal. Or am I missing the point?

I recently had an offer to review a product. The guy who emailed me said he’d send me the samples to try but to let him know if I required any further compensation. I had no idea what exactly he meant. I thought about it for awhile, asked for some opinions and replied with what I thought was a small dollar amount. I’ve never heard back from him. Does that mean I overstepped? Or does it mean he wanted to take advantage of my blog?

Interesting stuff to think about!
Just Jennifer´s last blog post ..How You Know it’s Time for a GNO

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

Well, that’s a topic I alluded to but didn’t really delve into a ton in my post (due to length).Some people feel that blogging in exchange for getting a product to keep is not considered compensation. Others absolutely do. Once again, it’s a personal definition that everybody has to make for themselves (in my opinion) and run their blog and business according to the definition that they are comfortable with. That definition is driven by a lot of different factors, the makeup of which are different for all.

Truthfulmommy December 5, 2011 at 1:29 am

Gigi,
I think you and I have been at this about the same amount of time and I agree because through experience comes wisdom. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that I should be paid for my writing:) but I have read some posts in my blogging lifetime that were simply not worth reading.
I used to always agree that no one should ever write for free and I still think no one should write for free product unless it is worth the blog post and they actually believe in the product. But I think we all need to decide WHY we are writing our blogs. I have a friend who does reviews for. The very reason you mentioned and she is great at that. She excelled and thrives in reviews and giveaways. It has proven very lucrative for her. She is getting out of her blog what she wants out of it.
I want to get paid to write, that has ALWAYS been my end goal. Slowly but surely that is happening. I’m no James Brown of blogging (:-) but I have my goals and I try to stick to a plan.I know one day I’ll get to where I want to be but do I think all bloggers deserve equal compensation? No. Do I think bloggers should be paid in lipgloss and dildoes? No. Computers and mattresses? Well, that’s compensation for a quality post.
Bottom line is that it is up to the blogger to decide what they are worth and then make it so. If a blogger wants higher compensation then they have to be willing to work towards a goal which means hard work, quality writing, social media savvy and , in my experience, making decisions to turn down offers that are not befitting where you want your blog to go. Just because it’s offered doesn’t mean you have to take it. In the very beginning (b4 I knew ANYTHING about blogging. Before I even had a Twitter) I did a review of a little doll, retailed for about $15 and I was just thrilled that anyone was even reading , little lone, would even offer me
Something in exchange for my words. That was almost 3 years ago. Today that offer would go in the trash because my writing, my reach and my community are worth more than $15 these days. I’d prefer they pay my fee for a post and I buy my own product, in most cases. But we all have to start somewhere.
Sorry for the dissertation, this is just something I feel passionately about but can only speak on it as far as it concerns myself and my own blog. Every blogger had different wants and needs .
P. S. Is your mattress review a giveaway, as well? Because this Mama’s in need of a new one :) Go you! Xo
Truthfulmommy´s last blog post ..Fashion Haul Friday ~ Shabby Apple Dress #Giveaway

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:55 am

I think your personal standards and mine are similar. I will do a product review if the product is something a) I need or would use and b) is valued at the minimum of what I’d charge for a compensated post. In some cases, I have done brand work for “free” because I quite simply love the people I’ve worked with at a brand and feel passionate about the product. And I’m okay with that too…I think there is some relationship building that happens that you can’t always put a price on.

I turn down far more opportunities than I accept, but realize that’s not the case for everyone, too. thanks for reading :) ) xoxo

Ashley {at} My Front Porch Swing December 5, 2011 at 5:38 am

Gigi, such a great approach to this topic. I think far too often there are bloggers who hear success stories and in the excitement of what could come to be, they put themselves on the same level as others. A blogger who has a small following with minimal influence and has only been doing so for a short period of time is not going to command the same compensation as someone who has spent years honing their blog and growing their community. Yet far too often, it becomes “That’s not fair!”.

Um, yes it is. Those who work hard, deliver quality content, and establish influence are the ones who should be compensated. Some bloggers stick to delivering quality content regularly without fail (you). Some bloggers let their blog lapse in lieu of other opportunities (ahem). Some bloggers blog every day but without quality.

All bloggers are not created equally, and that gets lost far too often. Excellent as always.
Ashley {at} My Front Porch Swing´s last blog post ..Holiday #cookieswap Time!

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

Thanks for your insight, as always. You are spot on!

tracy@sellabitmum December 5, 2011 at 5:58 am

I love many of your points, Gigi and it’s truly not a cut and dry issue. Also sometimes I do love just a free pair of boots. ;)

Thank you for writing this. xo
tracy@sellabitmum´s last blog post ..When It’s Not a Wonderful Life…How to cut down your own Christmas tree..

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

I would enjoy a pair of boots. anyone??? :)

Barbara December 5, 2011 at 6:09 am

Love this post. This is exactly what I was thinking the other day when I read about the mom blogger council working for free for that magazine. Ok, not free, for “exposure.”

At the end of the day, they made that choice. They signed on because whatever they were offered, it was worth it to them. As a new blogger (I started my site only 6 weeks ago), I’m simply working to get my blog off the ground. I do hope opportunities come along but I know I will have to pay my dues and work on my craft with smaller opportunities. I’m sure many of the bigger bloggers wanting us all to fight for payment did the same thing when they started out.
Barbara´s last blog post ..Holding It All Together

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

I’ll admit that I am surprised at how many bloggers took that opportunity with Redbook for no pay, especially since they are most likely bloggers who certainly can command good pay for their work. While I’ll never begrudge another blogger’s personal choice as to how to run her personal blog, I do think it’s incumbent upon the successful bloggers to be advocates for the community as a whole and help be the voice in educating brands that quality content does deserve to be paid. That doesn’t mean they should refuse an unpaid opportunity if it’s right for them, but I do think that if we want to change the mindset, our energies should be focused on changing the brand side and not asking newer bloggers to take a stand. Regardless, I think everybody’s hearts are in the right place!

Shannon December 5, 2011 at 7:43 am

Well, the trouble is that blogging is such a hugely over-saturated market on the supply side. Anybody can put something out there on the Internet, which makes blogging different than other hard-to-make-it-big careers like acting, singing, or publishing novels. So we’re in uncharted territory here in terms of who is actually “famous.”

However, you can still draw an analogy between blogging and these other fields. As in, you’re still going to have your A-listers, and for every one of those you’re going to have thousands of wannabes that nobody has ever heard of. Would it make sense to compensate some guy toiling away in community theater at the same rate as George Clooney? No. Same thing with blogging.
Shannon´s last blog post ..14 Days of Festivity: Day 2

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

The no-barrier-to–entry nature of blogging is both a wonderful blessing (because it makes for such a feeling of inclusion) and the very thing that complicates this issue as well. Couldn’t agree more!

Sherri December 5, 2011 at 7:57 am

Lots of important points there, Gigi…and a lot to think about.
Sherri´s last blog post ..Christmas Memory at SITS

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

Thanks, Sherri. Not a simple problem with simple answers.

Amber December 5, 2011 at 8:09 am

I’ve only recently started writing content for someone other than myself. Sure I did guest posts for friends’ blog, but nothing serious and nothing formal. Now I’m writing (for free) for a larger website.

When I read the article you mentioned above I was struck with a weird sensation. Of course, over the years, I’ve heard other bloggers ranting about sell-outs ruining it for everyone. I don’t feel that way. Like you, I feel like paying your dues in an “internship” like way is normal. In any other business you’re expected to prove yourself before someone will pay you to do what you’re trained to do. I don’t know what I want out of this in the end, but it’s fun to write in a way that isn’t my “natural voice” and even better than it’s well received.

Once I can transfer my current blog to a self-hosted platform I’m toying with the idea of offering some free ad-space month to month just to see how much bearing my influence (or lack there of) may have on the sales of someone’s items. Again, it’s another test to see if I can build up my resume enough to actually start asking for pay.

Thank you for the well thought out post. It was just what I needed to read today after a long discussion with my guy last night about why I’m doing this ;D He’s a good one, he’ll let me rant about blogging LOL!

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

I’m glad the post provided some food for thought. Whether readers agree or disagree with me, that we can have the discussion and think about what it is that we want for our individual blogs is most important! Good luck :)

Lea Ann December 5, 2011 at 8:13 am

Coming from a background of being a creative in the ad agency biz, I approached my blog as if it were yet another promotional venue for brands to advertise within…like a magazine ad, a tv commercial, or a display in a store. I’m not a journalist, I’m a promoter. My blog is a living breathing advertising and promotional venue.

Having this perspective on the blogging business allowed me to apply my career path from advertising to my new career path in blogging. In advertising I started as an unpaid intern, to get big name agencies on my resume. Then, using that cred I was hired as an assistant art director, then art director, associate creative director and so on up to the top of the ladder as a creative group head.

My pay for this growing expertise grew with each subsequent position. The same career model can be applied to blogging. Now after 3 and a half years of being a blogger I have progressed from “unpaid intern” to what I’d consider a solid Art Director. My goal is certainly to be the equivalent of a “Creative Group Head” again, earning the six figures from blogging that I did in advertising. It took me 8 years to get to that point in advertising (and that was actually meteoric for a woman in the south) so I expect it to take me at least 10-12 years in blogging to hit this goal. One cannot start at the top.

So, in regards to my opinion on pay for blogging, I will say that as a former Creative Group Head in charge of hiring both staff and freelancers, all bloggers do not have the same skill sets to offer, and therefore are not entitled to the same compensation, or even the opportunity to get the job in the first place. Everyone must start as the unpaid intern and work their butt off to move up the corporate ladder, if this is truly the career path they want to pursue…just like in any other industry. The compensation is different for every blogger at every rung of the ladder in every brand context. Even freelance creatives charge differently for each client job, according to the level of difficulty, the time allotted to perform the task, the likelihood of getting further work from that client, who the client is, the years of experience one has, and many other personal factors.

I will also say as a somewhat experienced Blogger, that no one should judge any blogger for doing a promotional post in exchange for a product. If I need that particular product, I will write a post in exchange for it. It is valuable to me and helps me feel a bit more empowered to be able to contribute to my family in some way. I HAVE blogged in exchange for a refrigerator, which my family desperately needed at the time. I have also blogged in exchange for many smaller items. Because I needed them. I will continue to do so as long as I blog if it is an item that I want. Pay is in the eye of the beholder.
Lea Ann´s last blog post ..Load new UPromise coupons on your grocery card.

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:44 am

I love that you responded to this, Lea Ann, because you do product reviews as well as other stuff. I think your perspective, both as a former career professional and as a blogger, adds a great dimension to this discussion. I, too, had to start out my legal career making next-to-nothing and grow it from there…and did that same thing in marketing. We all gotta pay our dues.

Jessica December 5, 2011 at 8:18 am

Such a great post Gigi. I completely agree that bloggers should be paid based on their skills/experience, just like in any other working environment.I’ve never really understood the “sell out” arguement. To me, if I were in the position where I was being offered free appliances every month or two because of the hard work I have spent building my blog it would be pretty difficult to say no.
Jessica´s last blog post ..A Week In the Life Of A Mom

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 8:42 am

The term sellout makes me so twitchy. While I could never run my own blog doing exclusively product reviews, I certainly don’t question those that do. Thanks for reading!

Lea Ann December 5, 2011 at 9:02 am

Gigi and Jessica, we have the same argument in the art world. Those of us who decided to be art directors instead of painters after art school, have always been called “sell-outs” and worse: Art Whores. Why? Because I want to support myself? And eat? And not live in abject poverty for the sake of my art? I think I am a rather clever girl by figuring out how to actually make money doing my art. I think that I help show the world that art has value in the terms that the world understands value: the bottom line.

All that applies to blogging as well.
Lea Ann´s last blog post ..Eat $25 worth of food. Pay $2.

Leigh Ann December 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

A-MEN! I floundered in the art world for years after art school before leaving my non art job to stay home with my kids. It’s still amazing how many people though are looking for work to be done for free so you can “put it in your portfolio.” Really? You want me to pain a huge mural on your wall that will take HOURS of my skill and time for free? The arts, graphic design and writing included, are severely undervalued. For some reason people think that we can just sit down and crank out this stuff with ease. They don’t realize that it’s WORK. Love your comment.
Leigh Ann´s last blog post ..Julie Anne Rhodes membership giveaway!

Dominique December 5, 2011 at 9:12 am

I too have been thinking of how to get more paid gigs for my blog and yes compensation really depends on how a person’s perception of “Value” is. For me it’s more of $$ then of free products as being an International blogger many companies are unwilling to ship out of USA due to high shipping costs.
Dominique´s last blog post ..Top 10 Wishes For Christmas

Amanda Austin December 5, 2011 at 9:20 am

I spent a LOT of time improving traffic to my blog, taking pictures, building my community, commenting, etc. I’ve become not “successful” in the big scheme of things, but successful according to my own goals. I’m happy with where I am with my traffic, etc. But I know that I am not worth what some of the big bloggers are worth. I know my limit. I know according to my traffic, I can’t charge much for sponsored posts or ads. I think you’re right….You should get paid what you’re worth. Would you start a job making $100,000 a year? No. You’d start with an entry level salary. It’s the exact same way with blogging. Sometimes it’s about working with brands for free so you can build your portfolio.
Amanda Austin´s last blog post ..We have a Loaner Phone situation

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

Thanks for your comment, Amanda. Knowing your limits and “weaknesses” is just as important as being able to celebrate and monetize your strengths.

Kristin @ What She Said December 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

You make a lot of great points here, Gigi. As does Ciaran. But I think, for me, it all comes down to this statement:

“I think the best way to ensure that the best among us are paid is by creating an environment where you are paid because you deliver quality, not because you have the title of ‘mom blogger’.”

This along with your thoughts under “Not All Bloggers Are Created Equal” are what really hit home with me. As someone who takes a lot of pride in her writing and strives to produce dynamic, interesting, error-free content, it does pain me a little bit to see revenue-generating posts by bloggers whose writing, I feel, can be rather flat and/or riddled with typos, all because they have a “following.” (Which then leads me to wonder how they got that following in the first place. But that’s another post entirely.)

Bottom line, I do believe – as with any professional opportunity – that you should have to earn it, not simply be entitled to it.
Kristin @ What She Said´s last blog post ..Two

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

Thanks, Kristin. It is a tricky issue, and as I said in the post, my gut is torn over this but ultimately, I just can’t subscribe to a blanket rule.

julie gardner December 5, 2011 at 9:57 am

A new mattress? That’s not black and white.

It’s awesome.

Great post, Gigi.

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thanks, Julie. :)

Sandra December 5, 2011 at 10:15 am

Read your post Gigi. Read the comments (which is something I hardly ever do,) and yes, of course, I agree with everything you had to say, and then I saw Tracy say something about free boots, and now I want free boots. So yeah…anyone???
Sandra´s last blog post ..Squeezing out tears of joy…sort of…

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

I don’t think I blog about fashion enough for anyone to think I’d deserve a pair of fancy boots. Sigh. :)

Marinka December 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

I’ve been thinking about this a lot too lately.

I feel strongly that I will not work with a company without compensation. Because I think it’s bad for me and I think it’s bad for blogging. Earlier this year I put it right in the “Contact/Advertising” section on my blog that I will not work for samples or coupons but that I’m happy to discuss rates. And I got a good response. Some PR people appreciated it and approached me with proposed rates.

When I started out, I did a review of a cleaning product for free. Well, I got the cleaning product (hold the applause!). I did it because I thought that it would build my relationship with that PR person and would eventually lead to paid opportunities.

It didn’t. (Although I suspect that it led to my being placed on a “will work for samples” list because OMFG, take a look at my inbox.)

And I think that’s important for bloggers starting out to know: Writing product reviews without compensation does not lead to paid work.

As for your internship analogy– I get it but I don’t agree. Because if a newer blogger wants to do product reviews, etc. for free, then that’s fine. But her reach isn’t the same as a seasoned blogger’s. So it doesn’t hurt the seasoned blogger as much as when another seasoned blogger– with a similar reach– does it for free. Does that make sense?

Where I agree with you is that we can’t know the other people’s situation– and you’re right, for someone getting samples of wipes may be worth it because it lessens their weekly budget. But I suspect that’s not always the case.

Finally, the refrigerator. Yes, that’s the kind of sample that I would work for as well. See also, new car. (Others who are smarter than I am will point out that there are tax implications with that as well.)

Finally, part 2. There are times that I will work for free. I’ve promoted an event for a local school on my site (not a school that my kids go to, but a school that’s really important to the community) without compensation. I was happy to do it. And I’ve done events for free when the PR agency let me know that they were doing it on a pro bono basis themselves. So we all do have different yardsticks. I just wish that we believed in ourselves more.
Marinka´s last blog post ..How To Change The Toilet Paper Roll

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 11:23 am

Thanks, Marinka, for your perspective.

I *have* had reviewing products in exchange for keeping the sample lead to very positive relationships. I have had it also lead to paid work – maybe not by that particular PR brand, but by another who liked how I write reviews (which is, for the most part, not in the typical way people write reviews).

Right now, I run a side business with 3 other bloggers called Have Wine, Will Drink. We blog about wines and feature wine labels at a weekly Wednesday twitter party. At the start of this endeavor, 3 months ago, this was an untested model. So we asked wine labels to send us samples in exchange for featuring them in a blog post and at our twitter party. Our philosophy was this: we don’t have the data to show them that this is worth investing money in right now, but join us for our proof of concept phase and we think we can prove that we have something special.

Now, we consistently generate wickedly high media impressions for our weekly twitter parties, and are getting ready to officially monetize the project for something more than just free wine (which, by the way, I place a pretty good value on all on its own). We’ll now be able to go back to these PR folks and wine labels, with whom we have forged a strong and trusted relationship and to whom we have proved a successful model, and we will have a much, much better chance of closing the sale now than we would have as Jane Random Blogger Insisting To Be Paid 3 Months Ago.

I will say that I rarely work for product samples anymore because I don’t need to. I am blessed that I don’t have to write for “exposure” anymore. But that wasn’t always the case. I’ve worked my ass off. I built my blog business, and all of my side businesses and freelance work, with a hefty amount of forethought and planning, and now I’m able to reap the fruits of my labor. Last year at this time I was making $200 a month from blogging. Now…well, let’s just say I support our family of 4. Was that first lower-paying gig I took a mistake? No. It helped me build my writing resume and led to other opportunities. Should I have refused the offer of taking product to review back then because it’s hurt me? Absolutely not. #1, my husband was out of work and some of those products were helpful to us at that time – things we couldn’t have afforded to buy. #2, every single thing I’ve done, whether paid or unpaid, has helped me be a better businessperson. It’s helped me understand the value of my own work v. the work of another blogger in a similar situation. It’s helped me get that next opportunity. It’s forged a connection that’s led to another writing gig. I’ve definitely upped the ante when it comes to paid work and get to say no more than I say yes – a very fortunate position indeed. But I don’t regret nearly any of the choices I’ve made for myself – free, paid or otherwise. And I don’t want anyone else to regret, either.

I appreciate your feedback, as it’s helped me actually be even more certain of my view, which even as I published this, I was still sorting out in my head. :) it’s always good to see that what works for me isn’t necessarily the right approach for everyone else!

Nicole @MTDLBlog December 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

I love that you added this perspective into the “discussion” because I have done work for free and I did look at it as part of my learning experience (internship) because I looked at as a way to learn from those who are making it all work well for themselves. I have always tried to put quality work out there, but this post made me feel even more compelled to work hard at putting quality work out there on my blog as well as the sites of others, because that will hopefully allow for me to continue working on reaching my creative and professional goals while working with those that I respect. Love this post.
Nicole @MTDLBlog´s last blog post ..Sugar and Spice {Chick Mom Life}

Ali December 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

Really poignant post Gigi. I read almost every comment too!!! As a newer blogger, I can see both sides of this. I’ve never done a review, never been approached, and honestly I’m not sure I’d even want to do one. However, I can certainly see how a new blogger who is still trying to find her footing would want to do it for a freebie just to offset the costs (kinda) of setting up and designing her blog. I think something important to point out is that for a person to be a relevant review writer (paid or otherwise), they have to be a person we can relate to. I have NEVER followed a blog of a person after I realized they pretty much posted nothing other than reviews. I’m not in the market for that kind of info. However, if I read personal posts from another person who I think is smart or has something unique to offer, I might actually read their reviews when they write them.

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I agree that review writing can be an art unto itself and very tricky to do well or to keep readers coming back. I think there are people who do a lot of reviews very well, or they use their other marketing vehicles to promote those posts v. just relying on blog readership.

All Fooked Up December 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I agree. It’s a personal choice. I have NO DESIRE to get paid just like i have NO DESIRE to be politically correct or say the RIGHT THING.

To each his own. If you have the ability and the influence and the desire to get paid, go for it. I mean people do charity work and it doesn’t undermine workers at jobs.

Live and let live i say
All Fooked Up´s last blog post ..In which i have peace and quiet again

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm

live and let live…perfect! :)

Cyndy @Yankee Texan Mom December 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Well said! It is refreshing to see that someone else agrees that there’s not a “black and white” way of looking at this and that we all have to find our own way in the blogosphere.
Cyndy @Yankee Texan Mom´s last blog post ..My Kitchen: Going Green With Tupperware

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Thank you for reading, Cyndy! :) I appreciate it!

Heidi December 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

My bottom line as a blogger is writing content that will interest and benefit my readers. If I can write about something that I think people will enjoy reading AND I can get paid for it, that’s awesome. But if it comes down to a choice between writing a paid post OR writing a useful post for free, I almost always choose the unpaid route. It doesn’t make my blog the most profitable job, perhaps, but in the end I’d rather have a site worth reading than one that makes me buckets of money. Plus, I do think that in life if you work really, really hard at something, you generally see results, even if those results are not ones you were shooting for. I have certainly found that to be true in blogging, with many of those results being surprise perks (I’m driving a brand new car this week, on loan from GM) and unexpected friendships. The friendships, especially, have been worth more than money.
Heidi´s last blog post ..Nightly Entertainment at HolidayFest

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Your commitment to your readers is something I have always admired about your blog, and explains why it’s been successful for you. Congratulations on the new car to try out!!!

deborah l quinn December 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

The post and the conversation in comments are equally fascinating. I’ve been blogging for what seems like a long time now and have made a whopping total of…90$ on my site. I would love the opportunity to do more work for hire but apparently I don’t want it that badly or I’d figure out how to do it (how do you do it?). One of the joys of blogging, it seems to me, is that we get to decide for ourselves where our limits are, where our needs dovetail (or collide) with our ideas, principles, talents. Pro bono blogging (PBB) for causes about which we are passionate can create a deeper awareness of the power of the internet and the online community — but oddly, I’m not sure that bad writing about random products diminishes the online community in the same way. It’s too easy simply to click away from bad writing, or a blog that’s just lists of products (unless that’s what you’re looking for at that particular moment) won’t draw traffic and thus won’t garner repeat business. Although, as you say, it’s hard to explain those “big time” blogs that get a gazillion hits for writing that frequently seems mailed in. That’s a question for another post, I guess.
In your case? I would totally trust you on the mattress question. Where do you stand on the whole tempur-pedic thing? Of course, if I made money on my blog, maybe I could afford a fancier mattress.
deborah l quinn´s last blog post ..the seven year old, at 1.5

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

It’s been a long two years of 40 hour work weeks (many weeks it was much more than that) to get to where I am supporting my family with blogging (and by blogging I include the freelance writing jobs and social media work I’ve gotten as a result of blogging). It is grueling, exhausting work, especially with how competitive it’s become given the saturated market. I’ve seen firsthand, too, that it’s not always just hard work – there’s a fair share of networking that has to be done, and I’ve found that can make a huge difference. In fact, some of the crappiest paying jobs I’ve had were the ones that gave me critical connections that then developed into very well paying jobs. So you just never know, and that’s why I never discount the value of paying dues. :) Thanks for reading!

Christina December 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Gigi,
I adored and looked up to you before but now, wow. This was such a compelling post! I found myself muttering, “amen” a lot as I read. I have run the gamete over the last 2 years of strong writing to flat out sucky writing and everything in between. I have written for pay and written for pleasure. The more I write the stronger my opinion becomes, if it is right for you, then it is right for you. I think many bloggers (including myself at times) can sit high on their horse saying, oh, that is not the way it should be done and I would never do that. Well good. Because they are not me. I totally agree that others success is not dependent on me and vice verse. Thanks for you 2 cents!
Christina´s last blog post ..Celebrate the Holidays with Texas Beef- Week 1: Beef Crostini Appetizer

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm

If we all can just do what feels right, we’ll go a long way. :)

Ciaran/Momfluential December 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

We don’t disagree Gigi. Not even a little. I think this issue is far from black and white and chose to delve into the emotional issues that drive so many mom bloggers, even professionals (myself included) to “give it away”.

Only the woman involved can say what exchange feels right. I just hope she will not fall into the traps that tell her she is worth less. Or worthless.

Last year I spoke at Bloggy Boot Camp and encouraged people seeking to work with brands to write about their favorite toilet paper and shampoo if they were so moved. I have no problem with people writing about things for free. I encourage them to reach out to the brands. Things matter to us, they make our day better. There’s nothing wrong with sharing that. When we engage authentically about our favorite brands it will resonate. That’s part of building your voice. As a marketer I’m always saying that with a little media training, (unpaid) advocates can make great (paid) ambassadors.

But… Once there is an exchange (goods, cash etc) there is an expectation. It’s not an internship. Legit internship programs have clear guidelines and trajectories that lead towards employment. Bloggers that volunteer to work for free for a brand are diving into a mosh pit.

Which is not to advise bloggers NOT to work with brands.

But by all means if someone offers you a to-die-for refrigerator, and yours is about to die (hint hint fridge people, my 5k fridge is about to RIP!!!), go for it. Just make sure that the time and effort involved adds up to a fridge and not a year long indentured servitude as an underpaid ambassador, earning less than minimum wage in cooler parts.

I edited out a final point on my post. It’s the topic for another post yet to come. I did this because it was not about mom bloggers in particular but about the economy. We’re living in tough times. I know that when my husband was unemployed for two years I wrote a lot more reviews than when he was gainfully employed. I also wrote for cash but I knew that the cash was going to go straight to the mortgage and car payments while the reviews were keeping my kids in nice shoes and strollers – a luxury we would have otherwise given up for a time. I stuck to the brands I already knew and loved and felt no shame about that.

This is not really an issue of mom blogging. This is an issue of the economy and parents doing what they have to, in order to survive and thrive.

And that the subject of my next post…
Ciaran/Momfluential´s last blog post ..{DIY} Transform your Home with Wrapping Paper?!

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I agree that we agree. And I didn’t really want to position this post as disagreeing with yours so much as saying that it gave me a chance to think a bit further about how I felt about the whole topic – even though your topic was looking at a much different dimension, which, as you said, were the emotional motivations behind what we do.

As you said, as long as the time and effort adds up to the value received, I’m good with that. And that value will vary from me to you (except maybe for that refrigerator!).

Can’t wait to read your next post. Because I do think the current economics play a huge role in how value is defined, as well as in our motivations. Thank you for reading!

Lynn Miller December 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm

You compare bloggers to interns, intimating that interns are not paid either. Actually, that’s illegal unless very specific criteria are met (non profit status or educational benefit only, etc).

The brands that are REQUIRING ANYTHING of a blogger are asking you to work. Period. Their PR firms OR their employees are getting paid for running these campaigns.

I’m a long-timer marketer (own my own firm now) who also runs a “green mom” blog. When my firm does blogger outreach, we NEVER give LISTS of what bloggers need to do to participate. There’s a reason “Mom bloggers” do this and not men. It’s exploitation.
Lynn Miller´s last blog post ..Thanksgiving: A Missed Opportunity for CSR

kludgymom December 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm

As you said – there *are* legal internships. And regardless of what you call it – there are people everywhere in a myriad of industries who are willing to work with no pay in exchange for experience, exposure, whatever: aspiring actors who work in community theater, volunteering your time at a nonprofit to learn the industry, etc. It’s a common and useful practice for many. Should they work for free forever? No, not if they have a goal of earning a living or monetizing. It’s a gradual learning curve and hopefully, people use their education and experience to move on to bigger and better things. My husband is out of work and my blogging and freelance work has grown so exponentially that I am able to support our family of 4. I hardly consider myself exploited for having made choices to write about products I love from time to time, or to have written for several large websites for the hope at some exposure (whether I got good exposure or not). It was all about my learning curve, understanding at what point I was providing value, then having the balls to say I want to be paid.

I don’t really understand your comment about lists, sorry.

Thank you for your comments!

lynn@4greenps.com December 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for your quick reply. iLet me clarify. By “lists” I meant requirements or list of things that a blogger “must do” to participate. I’ve seen agencies give bloggers very specific criteria to fulfill. This is very different from offering a blogger a “sneak peek” or sample of a product and if she chooses to blog about it, so be it. That is up to the blogger’s discretion.

Re working for free for a non-profit, yes, that is completely different, as is blogging for a nonprofit.

Christopher Campbell December 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm

A very good article. I love the analogy between the interns and bloggers.

I guess the blogging community should treat this post as a wake up call.
Christopher Campbell´s last blog post ..Feel Good Friday: Green Holiday Gifts

Susan in the Boonies December 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

I find this post to be a more balanced look at something that is clearly NOT a black and white issue.

While I appreciate some folks’ encouragement to NOT give it away…you have to start SOME PLACE.

Shari Lynne @ Faith Filled Food For Moms and Grandmothers December 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hi KludgyMom,
I’m a newbie..blogging for just 4 months. I never thought about all of this stuff until I read it hear..HA! Isn’t the web without drama..boohoo..I have teenagers so I’ll escape any way I can..

But honestly, I started blogging because I felt strongly that I was suppose to be writing, but all along I have been wanting to monetinize. I signed on with an agency and they wanted me to do some full posts for a menial $6.75!

Now I know I’m new and all, but I think that my writing is worth more and then to have a permanent place on my blog..nope not gonna do it..

I hope this makes sense. I have done some reviews and gotten free books and stuff like that and I feel totally ok doing that, but I’m not going to lower my standards or lower the standards of the bloggers who write much better than I and get paid $6.75. Nope

gigi December 7, 2011 at 6:47 pm

$6.75 is ridiculous. I’d sooner write in exchange for a really nice product. Truly. But, there are people that value their writing at that amount. that’s why it’s not black and white.
gigi´s last blog post ..The Sacred Hour

Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop. December 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

This brings up so many issues for me. I do think you covered all the angles. This is not a black / white issue. We all come at it from a different place and should be allowed to get out of it what you want and / or what you put into it. I’m all for freedom of choice!
Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop.´s last blog post ..Naughty.

JDaniel4's Mom December 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm

The SITS ladies said at the Atlanta conference that it was important to know what you thought a posting or ad on your blog was worth to you not to the lady sitting next to you, but to you. I totally agree.
JDaniel4′s Mom´s last blog post ..Explaining How Santa Isn’t Everywhere to JDaniel

kludgymom December 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Amen!!!!

Amy Bellgardt December 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

In love with this post. I wrote a similar post a few months ago that covered why there isn’t (and shouldn’t be) an “industry standard” regarding fees/income for mom bloggers, based on the same reasons you listed above. (because of the vast differences in each one of us)

Sadly, our community puts an immense pressure on us to make a living blogging and if you aren’t currently doing so, you have somehow failed. This is so far from the truth, and any business owner would tell you the same. To do so takes talent, skill, experience, business savvy, and knowing when to work for free and when not to. Working for free has its place and benefits, even as a successful blogger/business owner. I have personally built amazing, long-term business relationship from initially working for free. Guess what? They are my best paying clients now. Great post. :)
Amy Bellgardt´s last blog post ..Words To Live By: Keep Calm and Embrace Your Inner Geek

kludgymom December 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I’m so glad you came by to share your thoughts, Amy. I know that you have a really successful business, and to hear somebody in your shoes share my perspective is really encouraging to me. I agree that some of my best business relationships have come from a partnership that didn’t initially involve pay. You just never know where things will lead – or, I should say, if you pay attention closely enough, you can tell which PR people or businesses will have a legitimate interest in taking the arrangement to a paid level, and which ones are there to keep milking the cow indefinitely.

Jennifer December 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

This is a really great post Gigi, and I agree with you. Not everyone is at the same level. Slapping some words on the screen doesn’t make you a writer.

I’ve never approached my blog as a business. It is something that I do for me. I have a full time job where I get paid pretty well, and I don’t have the time to devote to blogging to replace my salary. I think you have done FANTASTIC and are an inspiration to anyone that wants to go that route.

Do I get paid to write sometimes? Yes, but for me that is fun money, and I’m not counting on it to pay the bills. Do I accept product sometimes to write a post? Every once in awhile if it is something that I want to try out or think is cool. Have I turned down pitches when they didn’t want to pay me? You bet. My time is valuable and I’m not going to give it away. Have I written for free? Yep, but only when it is something that I believe is worth my time.

I think there is space for all us in the blog world. Some people deserve to get paid so they should. Some people don’t mind giving away their time so that’s fine too. I think each person has to decide what is right for them.
Jennifer´s last blog post ..3 Things I Like About Weight Watchers, Week 9

Jessica December 9, 2011 at 12:30 am

It can’t be said enough: this is one of those incredibly tricky topics because so many different factors play into it. As you said – it’s not as simple as being black and white. AT ALL.

If I felt that one particular set of words summed this entire thing up appropriately though, I feel like it would be these: ” They are not responsible for my success or failure – I am. Instead of worrying about what those bloggers are doing and how they’re affecting me, I believe that continuing to generate quality content will ensure that paid opportunities will continue to come my way. ”

YOU are in charge of your blog and YOU are in charge of your success, not someone else. If that’s not the case for you then perhaps you’re one who “doesn’t make the cut” at all times and while that sucks, such is life.
Jessica´s last blog post ..2011 Holiday Gift Guide – Stocking Stuffers

kim December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Word up!

Kristl Story December 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

After 1 1/2 years of blogging, I finally feel like a paid blogger! I agree…you have to earn your “stripe.” I love my job, the flexibility and being able to sit in my kitchen to work!
Kristl Story´s last blog post ..Warm Sangria

Robin | Farewell, Stranger December 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Totally late on this (moved, Christmas, blah blah blah) but I have one word:

YES!

I totally agree with you – on when bloggers should be paid and how much it’s worth and the fact that some people just don’t offer good content. A lot of it, sad to say, is crap. And I doubt it’s read.

I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in all of this, but nice to see this perspective offered by someone like you, Gigi.
Robin | Farewell, Stranger´s last blog post ..Farewell to 2011 in Photos: Link-up

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 5 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: