Once upon a time I was a newbie blogger in the big, bad world of blogging. I wanted to make a name for myself, be famous, and make a ton of money like all the bloggers I idolized. So I worked my butt off producing content that I liked and I hoped was interesting to others. I fostered relationships with other bloggers, built networks of like-minded individuals and I promoted everyone and everything I enjoyed.
Then, one magical day, an email appeared in my inbox. It was from a brand I loved. No, not just loved, but adored. I could barely even open and read the email, I was so excited my fingers were shaking. In a nutshell, the brand told me they loved my blog and offered me what I thought was the holy grail of blogging: a public shout out. I would get this shout out on their Twitter feed if I wrote a blog post highlighting some of their products that I liked.
Did I do it?
You bet your ass I did!
I was new, and I didn’t know any better. Did I get that shout out? Of course not. Did I get anything for my work? Nope. And this is the point in the story where I tell you not to do what I did.
Know your worth as a blogger. Even though you may be the new kid on the block, with a small following and few pageviews, know that what you write has worth. Every word of it. Every minute of it. Every moment of time spent thinking up ideas, snapping pictures, editing, writing, editing some more, publishing and promoting. It is all worth something.
Knowing your worth as a blogger is important from the very beginning, because every ripple you make as a newbie turns into a wave by the time it reaches the rest of the blogging world. When I accepted that brand’s request and provided them with free advertising, it gave them the go-ahead to approach others, because they knew they could get people to say yes. Now I get emails all the time asking for free advertising under the guise of a feature on Facebook, a pin on Pinterest, or even a write-up on a big website. Claims that will never come to fruition because they really don’t care.
Don’t let anyone, be it a brand or another blogger, take away your dignity by trying to convince you to do something for nothing. You may not be able to rake in big bags of money in the beginning, but there is no reason why you can’t be paid for promoting someone or something, or given product in exchange for your honest review.
What should I be asking for my time and work?
It really all depends; there is no set standard. There are a few ways to dip your toes in without drowning, though.
1| Join blogger agencies. They specialize in connecting brands with blogs and work to negotiate fair rates for the work bloggers do. You can examine almost any blog’s sidebar or footer and find buttons leading to blogger agencies. Go apply!
2| Start offering ad spaces on your sidebar. Check out blogs with a similar size and readership, see what they are charging and start there. Do a few ad swaps so others can really see what you’re willing to do for them, and the sponsors will slowly start rolling in.
3| Start pitching! Find some small shops on Etsy or Storenvy and offer to do a review in exchange for some product. Use the opportunity to collect testimonials from store owners about how awesome they think your work is. Testimonials are important; they show people who are interested in working with you that you are someone worth working with.
4| Research, research, research. Look into creating a professional-looking media kit, so that when you reach out to brands, you have something easy and beautiful to show them. See what brands other bloggers are currently working with and send those brands emails with your media kit, and talk to them about how you could benefit their company by promoting their products.
5| Be confident! If you want others to believe you are worth something, you have to show the world that you know you are worth something. Never hesitate or doubt yourself when you present your offer to a prospective brand, because you’ll find yourself rejected time and time again. Enter the conversation with confidence and you will find yourself receiving more and more work with better and better pay.
Even if you start out asking for $25 and a promotional item, it is still better than nothing, and nothing gets you, well, nothing.
Know your worth as a blogger and the blogging world will thank you with plenty of opportunities to make that cash.