Charging for Blog Work and Saying No
“You get paid for what?” *sigh* I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that blogging can indeed earn you money, or even how many times I’ve had to explain how. If you’re not part of the digital world I can understand that it’s all a little bit confusing – people send me stuff and I charge them to do so?? Obviously, if you’re a blogger/social media queen/marketeer, you know that it goes way deeper than that, but to others, it can seem absolutely barmy.
Trying to explain the ins and outs of blogging aside, actually getting into the habit of charging for work can be tricky. I’m in that weird transitional phase where I’m starting to think semi-seriously about blogging full-time, so taking my finances seriously is a must (ew, adult) and I’m having to be much more stubborn when it comes to the work I do and don’t do. Working full time throughout the week means that my time is now precious; sometimes unpaid work is worth way more than £50 in the bank, and sometimes I get a wave of amazing paid work that I have to work my arse off to complete.
And now, gradually, I’m learning to say no – either to work that I just don’t have the time to complete, to work that isn’t that valuable to me or to individuals/companies that refuse to pay my rates.
Because not everybody wants to pay for the service I provide, which, broken down, is content creation and social media sharing. In it’s most basic form it’s advertising – and a form of advertising that is more trusted, more natural and more influential than most other conventional forms on the market. You guys (hopefully) know that I would never share anything that I’m not interested in, and recognising this, brands want to buy into the “influence power” (hence the term influencer). Photography, editing, writing, sharing – it all takes time, so when companies pay me, they are paying for my time, my content, my platforms, and access to you guys.
In a world full of bloggers, vloggers and Instagram huns, you have to prove that you’re worth it. This means having a comprehensive media pack with everything from stats to previous collaborations and most importantly, rates. Obviously, not all companies have the budget to pay, but you would be surprised how many of the huge high street names are actually reluctant to do so. Some of them offer vouchers, some of them offer ‘exposure’ (can be super beneficial but also does not pay for coffee, cake and telephone bills) and some of them offer absolutely fuck all, and gradually I’m learning when to say yes, and when to say no.
I had one guy once offer me £4.50 for a sponsored Instagram post. His reasoning behind this was that he’d ‘never had to pay anybody with below 100k followers’ and that he could also offer me exposure by reposting my original content on his Insta feed – which, by the way, had way less followers. That’s a solid wet fish slap in the face. I work in a marketing company and if somebody asked us to do social media for £4.50, we’d laugh them off the phone. In situations like this you just have to keep your cool, remain self-assured but polite and say, ‘I’m sorry, this is way below by current rate, so I’m going to have to say no’.
On the other hand, I work with plenty of start-up/smaller businesses that are more than willing to pay for a blog post or social media series. And depending on the product, I’m still more than happy to work in exchange for gifting or products, especially if I think you guys will love them or if it’s something that I feel needs sharing (cakes and flowers – always cakes and flowers). Even then, however, sometimes I just don’t have the time or the resources to say yes to unpaid work. Outfit posts, for example, take hours. I have to travel to location, shoot, edit, write the post (which more than often has some kind of a brief), add in special links, share, schedule etc. etc. It’s absolutely not unreasonable to want to be paid for your work (and never be too shy to ask for a company’s budget), and if you don’t want to do an unpaid post, then it’s fine to say no.
And even if you are getting paid, sometimes you just don’t have the time. Whether you have tons of stuff already in the pipeline or you simply need a break, saying no to paid work isn’t necessarily shooting yourself in the foot. I struggle with this the most because I’m so impatient to progress, and whenever I say no, I feel like I’m slowing myself down. But you need your sanity. You can’t work yourself into the ground, and something Keiran is always saying to me is: ‘It’s okay to say no.’
So, guys and gals, it’s okay to say no to work. And I’m learning. And it doesn’t make me unsuccessful or neglectful, it just means that I’m making the choice to be choosy and manage my time – and sanity – cleverly.