As a professional blogger, social media influencer and digital marketing strategist for almost 10 years, there is something that really gets under my skin. I rarely see it myself, because I nipped it in the bud many years ago. However, blogging forums are peppered with posts from new bloggers sharing how they received an email from a PR rep asking them to promote a service or app without any mention of compensation. Even over the internet, I can see the quivering lip of the new blogger, as they meekly ask, if this is okay. Some will try to justify it by saying they really have no right to ask for compensation, because their blog is brand new.
It isn’t just bloggers, who are routinely asked to “donate” their services. Photographers, Magicians, Vocalists, Graphic Artists and DJ’s are often asked by friends to provide their services for free. These well meaning friends will even go so far as to tell them it will be great experience, they will make new contacts and build their portfolio. The way they spin it, they should be so grateful to provide their services for nothing. When people get something for free, they don’t put much value in it. By accepting the gig, they are putting a nail in the coffin of their career. The bottom line is, if they want to be treated like a professional, they need to start acting like one!
Even the newest blogger needs to quit acting like their work has no value, and their time is not precious. This is easier said than done because many newbies have a hard time standing their ground. They may even try to justify taking the job for free, telling themselves it is a portfolio builder.
I tell new bloggers they are going to need a strong backbone. Next , they need to respond to the email with confidence. Their response should let the PR rep know that they think the app or service sounds like it would be a great fit for their blog audience and social media followers. Further more, they need to explain they are skilled at creating buzz worthy content that will drive targeted traffic to the brand’s website and social media accounts. Lastly, they need to ask what the compensation is for promoting this content on their blog and social media channels, I guarantee Gloria from XYZ Media is getting paid to find the bloggers and social media influencers to promote this, so why shouldn’t they?
I also prep them about how to respond if they receive a reply from Gloria stating the client has a very small budget and while they are not able to provide compensation for this campaign, they have many other clients and may contact them in the future for paid promotions.
Now, they say that for a reason, they want the new blogger to think, if they throw this away, they will never hear from this agency with any other opportunities. It usually works like a charm, and the rep gets free promotion that they then charge their client for. To make it worse, the blogger goes on the agency’s “Will Blog For Free” List. Their name will never make it to big budget clients, because by accepting the free gig, it showed the rep they are not a professional blogger.
The bottom line is, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to respond confidently, that you can definitely create buzz worthy content to promote the product or service, but you don’t work for free. Go even further, turn the tables and ask them if they work for free? Don’t be afraid, let them know, you are well aware they are not a volunteer at XYZ Media.
I’m not saying you should never volunteer for worthwhile things, but make sure you are not being taken advantage of. The perception some have of bloggers, is that what we do is so easy, or of such little value, we should be glad to have some content to post. They want us to think, they are really doing us a favor.
It is the exact opposite, bloggers are powerful influencers brands can plug-in with to have their product or service promoted to the blog’s audience which likely is their target market. Bloggers have the power to create and amplify stories, experiences, services, images and ideas through their posts as well as ingniting a social media fire storm of tweets, pins, posts, likes and shares on every major social media channel.
Start valuing your work! The next time you get an email from any rep or agency trying to make you feel special because they picked you to promote their client for free, just ask what the blogger compensation is. Go on, you can do it. Be proud of your work. When you feel the butterflies, just ask yourself if the client they are pitching you about is paying them for their services. You know the answer is yes, so why would you let them take advantage of you?
Have you ever dealt with someone asking you to do your craft for free like they were doing you a favor? How did you respond? Please share your stories, I would love to hear them.