Usually when I talk about blog related topics, I try to avoid using the terms should and shouldn’t, because who am I to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t be doing on their own sites?
There are exceptions to this and one of them is:
You SHOULD value yourself, your blog and your time enough to not become a free advert for brands. It’s one thing to help out a fellow blogger or writer with a shout out, a guest post or a recommendation, but some of the brands that try this are multi-million dollar empires.
Firstly, If You Don’t Value Yourself, No One Else Will
Let’s be real here – if you are willing to work for free, who is actually going to offer to pay you? Why would a brand or PR value you, your blog and your time if you don’t? The answer of course is they won’t.
Exposure Isn’t Payment
Many PRs and brands will give you the spiel about sharing the post on their social media giving you “exposure”. Newsflash: you can’t buy your groceries or pay your bills with exposure.
A good PR will share your post anyway. They know as well as we do that a review written by a real person will be more likely to sell their product than a sales spiel. That’s why they contact you. So why wouldn’t they share your post?
You Have Literally Nothing To Lose
I often hear new bloggers saying things like “but I’m scared if I don’t do it for free, brands won’t want to work with me anymore.” This might be true, although I think it’s unlikely. But even if it is true, what are you losing? They aren’t paying you for your work – you’re not losing anything.
If your readers enjoy your product reviews, choose a product you genuinely love and shout about it from the rooftops rather than promoting a product for a brand who don’t believe you’re worth paying.
It Makes Bloggers Look Like Mugs
There, I said it. Every time you work for free, it gives the PR people the impression that we all don’t value ourselves, and we are all willing to work for free. We’re not.
You know that scene on Peter Pan (or it might be Hook) when they kids get told “every time someone says I don’t believe in fairies, a fairy dies”? That’s what this is. Every time a blogger says I don’t value myself, a blogger’s value dies.
You Have An Engaged, Targeted Audience
Assuming you know your readers, you know if the brand or product would be a good fit. If it is, that means you have a ready made target market for a brand.
That makes you valuable to that brand.
They know that an advertising campaign that can reach the same targeted audience in any other way would cost them.
Do you think brands call up ITV and ask for free adverts? Do you think they ask them to show their advert for free in exchange for a tweet or two? Nope.
Especially now, as online ad blockers rise in popularity, sponsored posts are a good way (and soon may just be one of the only ways) to get their products in front of people online. Surely you can see how that has monetary value.
It’s Unheard Of In Any Other Role
Would you go and serve in a store for free (unless its a charity shop)? Would you go to the office for free? Would you do any other work for free? Of course not.
There seems to be this assumption that creative work isn’t really work. It is. The fact you enjoy it is just a bonus. If you’re an accountant who loves doing tax returns, you would still expect to be paid. Blogging shouldn’t be any different.
And that PR person who’s trying to persuade you to work for free? They’re getting paid.
How To Say No To Unpaid Work
You don’t have to be rude about it. Just send a polite email explaining that you’re too busy to take on unpaid work. It really is that easy.
They may then come back with an offer of payment when they realise you aren’t going to be taken for a mug, or they may not. You haven’t lost anything either way, and you may just gain something.
Have you ever worked for free? Would you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂