I recently burned my bridges with a brand over a potential ‘collaboration’. The experience has left me feeling a bit icky inside, and I wanted to talk about it a little bit. This is, after all, my blog and it’s what it’s here for.
Last year I took the decision to make my blog my job.
That’s why you’ll see sponsored content on here, and why I have adverts, annoying as you might find them.
I love writing, and for a long time I did this for nothing and that was fine. However things change, bills have to be paid and the fact of the matter is that unless I make this blog pay for itself, it will have to go to make way for a 9-5 job.
I’ll be honest, I really don’t want that to happen. I love blogging, so I want it to work out.
Contrary to what a lot of non-bloggers might think, it’s not a whirlwind of freebies and money for nothing, and it’s definitely not easy. Blogging involves a hell of a lot of time behind a computer screen, late at night and early in the morning. Like any other kind of self-employment it can wildly fluctuate month to month. Some weeks I hardly stop, others I send myself emails because I swear my inbox is broken.
You need to be on top of everything. You need to be a writer, a photographer, a social media guru, an expert at pitching and negotiation, and then there is all the boring admin. I’ve spent longer chasing some invoices than the payment was worth.
But anyway, back to the topic at hand.
I was recently approached by a large brand offering me the chance to take part in a big campaign.
They are the really exciting emails to receive, when it’s a brand you’re familiar with and use yourself. Their email offered me a really great prize to give away in exchange for hosting a competition. In their initial email, the word ‘receive’ made me a bit confused and I incorrectly assumed that they would be sending me an item in lieu of payment.
Rightly or wrongly, that’s quite common in the blogging world. Obviously cash is king, but as I see it, if you can get something for free that you would have to pay out for otherwise then although it’s not as good as money, it has to be weighed up on merit. Will it bring a lot of traffic to your site? How will it fare on google? How easy will the post be to write? How much do you want/need the item? Do you have an ongoing relationship with the PR person?
Sometimes, you get the balance really wrong and say yes to a ‘hamper’ that ends up being worth two quid and I’ll tell you now, those posts are always the hardest to write. On the other hand, I find writing toy reviews a breeze, the kids love doing it, and it brings traffic to the site. It’s a win/win and so I’ll often say yes to those without payment.
Anyway, it was quickly made clear that no, there would be no item and there was no budget.
Just an expensive prize for some lucky comper to win, but nothing for me.
Sure, there would be some page views in it. Empty, meaningless page views that would come from compers scrolling quickly to the end of the post in order to win the item. They wouldn’t be like the readers I get from Pinterest or Facebook, they wouldn’t be reading the post that I had spent time writing, they wouldn’t care how long it had taken me or what I could have been doing instead. It might earn me a fiver in advertising fees depending on how fast their scrolling fingers were and how many had ad blockers on.
But there was definitely no budget.
And further to that, they wanted a post created to complement their current PR activity, giving details of their product, embedding their advert and using their hashtags, sent to them three days in advance for draft approval and then shared over social media to the followers that I have worked hard over 2.5 years to build. It was at this point I started to think about how much those page views would really benefit me.
All this for nothing. No budget.
But this is a multi-million pound company.
They do have a huge budget for marketing.
They have hired a PR company. They’ve created a TV advert.
They have a huge budget but they have chosen not to pay bloggers because they think that they can get away with it.
And the worst bit is that they probably can. I very nearly let them take advantage of me.
It’s wrong. It isn’t fair, and I just couldn’t get over that feeling. So, despite the potential page views, I said no.
And instead of spending time writing their post, for free, I’ve written this one instead (also for free, but for me).
Because it shouldn’t be the way. We – all bloggers, whether we have 30 followers or 30,000 – should not be expected to work for free by huge household name brands, when this is the way that we pay our mortgages and feed our children. When it’s hard work.
I’m not saying I expect and demand hundreds of pounds for next to nothing, but I do expect to be compensated fairly for the work that I do.
You wouldn’t expect a magazine to print your article for free. You wouldn’t expect a TV channel to air your advert for free. You shouldn’t expect it of us, either.