Business of Blogging: Know Your Worth

The email I’ve excerpted below has been changed to take out the identity of the companies. My intent is not to shame anyone, or to start trouble. And please do not comment with the name of the company if you have received a similar email, your comment will be deleted.

The intention of sharing this information is to educate fellow bloggers on when to look at a pitch from public relations as an opportunity for compensation, or when it’s simply a pitch of tips, offering a source for interview, or sharing information.

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Building and maintaining relationships with brand public relations is, or might become, a part of being a blogger. I think new bloggers feel a great deal of mystery around this, and sometimes, they miss out on opportunities to be compensated for the great work they’re doing.

I think it’s just as easy to confuse a straight-forward “pitch” as a paid opportunity, too.

I see a lot of bloggers asking – should I be charging for this request? A brand wants me to do XX, is that something I should charge for?

I’ve put together an overview of what I think you should look at as paid opportunities, vs. simple PR pitches that can either be helpful, or you can ignore or say, “thanks, but no thanks!”

Also, I’m speaking mostly about mainstream companies vs. indies.

This isn’t comprehensive. And I would definitely urge newer bloggers to never hesitate to reach out to the blogger(s) you look up to, who might be larger or who blogs in a way that you love. When I started out, I reached out to fellow bloggers to ask questions – how do you get ads? How do you get readers? These are normal questions and the community is so friendly!

Anyway, I think it also goes without saying that while of course, this is my opinion, and you should always consider for yourself what your best opportunities are, that this is a guide for you to “Know Your Worth!” based on the experience I’ve had not only as a blogger, but from working in PR, as well.

When You Might Want to Send Your Rate Sheet

Let’s look at this email that I received in the last six months:

“My name is XX, and I am the XX for XX. We’re looking for inspiration for XX, and we want to hear from great bloggers like you! I noticed your fabulous beauty tips.

To get the community involved in the fun, we’re asking you to create a blog post to share your favorite look *Insert very specific instructions for a look, relating to the specific product/campaign that PR is promoting*. You could share a hot nail design, make-up trick, or even your favorite updo; the more creative the better!

We will be picking some of our favorites to shout out on our social media channels each week.  Let me know if you’re interested and I can send you some additional information on how to take part.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

XX”

Sounds like fun, right? And hey, they’re *possibly* going to promote my work that I do specifically for their campaign on their social media channels – I might gain some new followers!

But what would you do?

This is what I’d do: I’d send them my rate sheet or inquire about the compensation. Here’s my email back:

“Thanks for reaching out, XX.

My rates for sponsors posts start at $XX. Let me know if that’s in your budget, deadlines, and any other details you’re looking for. Thanks so much!
Kind regards,

Judy”

The reason I sent that back? They wanted me to draw inspiration from what they offer, write a blog post and share it with my followers, all for the “chance” at having it shared by their social media. You guys know how much effort goes into nail art or a makeup look; this is a very specific request and not something I would do, so this is a perfect example of a “send them my rate sheet” opportunity.

I didn’t have high hopes for this to pan out as a compensated opportunity, and I was right. The PR wrote back:

“Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I completely understand if your blogging schedule is really busy and you need to be compensated. We actually have no intention of this being a review of XX. I just thought this would be a fun challenge for you as well as a great way to inspire your readers as they gear up for XX.

We would love to see how you would XX. Feel free to use any of our images of XX from our page when creating your post.

I think your post would be something your readers would really enjoy and I’m very excited to see what you come up with. We’d like everyone who’s taking part to use the hashtag XX when posting your look to your blog and sharing through your social channels. Tweet your post directly to us XX, as our social team will be sharing their favorites to our XX followers.”

At times like this, I feel like I need to explain JUST why this is something I should be compensated for, versus something I’d do for the heck of it. I think our world is still evolving in these experiences, and I have to take ownership of helping to educate PR about it, if I expect it to become the norm. Instead of just ignoring her email or responding something short and not-so-sweet, I took this route:

“Hi XX! I understand it wouldn’t be a review of XX but you’re asking me to specifically style a look/makeup/nails and promote your campaign to my followers, and I do charge for that as it’s promotional and benefits you as an organization. I hope that helps explain! But I do understand if you don’t have the budget, no worries! I just wanted to explain why I’d ask for compensation. Thanks so much!”

As you might expect, I didn’t hear back from XX again. And that’s fine.

Don’t sell yourself short. Know when you should be compensated. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What are they offering in exchange for my time and effort?
  • Are they using me to promote their campaign or product?

This is an example of a time when I should be compensated. Here are others, that I’ve come across most recently:

  • When a brand asks you to do nail art/makeup or other looks based on their products or services – they’re using your talents and efforts to promote their brand and you should be compensated.
  • When you’re being asked to promote a brand’s contest through your social media networks, with very specific details – aka, hashtags, links, etc. If you’re being asked for specific tasks related to promoting something, that’s work, not a “just thought you might find it fun!” situation. You have the right to charge for tweets, Facebook posts and other social media tasks, with varying rates depending on your numbers. Just carefully look at the email they’ve sent. I don’t think every contest promotion is a paid opportunity. If you have questions, ask the community!
  • When someone wants you to run their infographic, or article, the way it is, on your blog, and promote it a certain way – send over your sponsored content rates!
  • When PR is asking you to swatch their products so that they can use it for their website or marketing collateral.

OK, but what the heck is a rate sheet and how do I “know my worth?!”

This is a great question, and it’s going to greatly depend on the number of your social media followers, blog page views and unique visitor per month – and what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack!

Most bloggers have a “media kit,” in which their rate sheet lies, and if you reach out to a blogger you are friendly with, consider a mentor, or admire, chances are that they just might share theirs with you, or know where you can start to build one. I’d share mine, but in all honestly, it’s not that fantastic. I’m working on cutting my down – it’s too wordy (and just over four pages long!).

Here’s some great resources that already exist on building your own rate sheet:

Honestly, I think another great idea is to privately email or message a blogger who you admire, that maybe you’ve got a relationship with, who’s media kit you’ve seen on their website, or who is larger and might have more experience, to see what they’re doing. Like I said early, the community (for the most part!) is friendly and there’s no reason why we can’t help each other! There’s room for everyone!

A Pitch

Sometimes, PR is simply sending you a pitch – it’s not a press release, which is straight up news about something, but rather a more creative or conversational way of trying to get their brand/service into the media – or YOUR SITE. Examples of “pitches,” include:

  • Receiving an email offering XX as an expert source on a subject. They just want to offer you someone to interview for a story you might be working on, or as an idea for a post you might want to work on.
  • THERE’S NO HARM IN PR SENDING STORY IDEAS. This happens sometimes. How else are they supposed to pitch their product or service, if not by clever, creative ways? Just delete if you aren’t interested. They’re not making a specific ask of you, they’re just throwing out some ideas or stories that would lend themselves to including the brand/service for which they work, and they’re offering you images/sources/more information.
  • Getting a tips-pitch – an email with a list of three to five (sometimes more) tips for things like, summer hair care, or summer skin care. This is a huge PR tactic. They aren’t looking to offer you a sponsored content opportunity with this type of email, they’re looking to fit in with posts you might already be planning, or to provide you with tips based on the expertise of being a company that deals with the situation they’re writing about. If they’re not asking you to run it as-is, or they’re not asking you to promote via social media, it’s just a pitch and it isn’t a paid opportunity, in my books. You can either say thanks but no thanks, or see if there’s a way to work those tips in, if they’re appropriate for your audience. I received a tips-pitch this week that really piqued my interest, but because of my heavy editorial calendar right now, I just don’t have room for it on BeautyJudy. It’s nice to know, though, that I have something if I needed a filler! It’s a bit of an “evergreen” topic. Because it was a list of six tips, it’s something I can add to with my own tips, to make 10, and I can always take advantage of talking with the source the PR also offered. I could also use images provided by the PR if I wanted. To me, this is just PR trying to do what they do – publicize their client. It’s not an opportunity for me to make money. While I have no room on my blog, it might, however, make for an interesting column for the freelance I do, and I’m considering it.

Please don’t hesitate to start a discussion in the comments – is there a situation that you’re unclear about? Do you feel differently? Anything that you need clarification on? What did I miss here that might be confusing, too? I’m really happy to have this discussion, and see how as a community we can talk about these things!

Other Beauty Blogger Resources

I’ve written other posts over the course of the last couple years that touch on a variety of topics when it comes to the “Business of Blogging.” Here are those posts, if you’re interested:

Thanks, as always, for reading these longer posts <3