Blogging isn’t what you think it is.
Here’s a little dose of blogging reality. This world, is not just a big ol’ group of people who get paid to write their thoughts on the internet, who get a bunch of free stuff and tons of exposure. Most bloggers, make no money at all. The ones who do, either have very specific content or have devoted their lives to their brand. Don’t get me wrong, those people deserve every dollar they’re earning, but most of us aren’t like that.
You see, at the start of 2017, I was positive that by the end of the year I’d be in my groove. I’d have a steady stream of ad revenue, advertising campaigns, and social media content to utilize blogging as a second form of income. I purchased the platform, taught myself coding, joined pretty much every affiliate program, and spent hours emailing companies to work with me. I created a media kit, email template, and my rates to advertise with my blog. I spent probably over 75 hours just getting all of that together.
Then, I made no money.
All those things you saw on my blogs, were product-advertising trades. I was ecstatic. Holy shit, people from back home were watching me get mail every. single. day. that was free clothes, jewelry, etc etc. I thought I had the life. I’d open the mail, spend a couple hours taking pictures of the things I bought, wrap it up into social media postings or blog posts and then throw it in the back of my closet.
I had two paid campaigns on my blog, that was it. Everything else I spent hours of work, for free, to give companies advertising, for free, in exchange for a t-shirt or necklace. After about six months of it, when the busy season of radio started, I slowly drifted from it, and then I realized that I was duped. So are a lot of you.
So you got a t-shirt…
That shirt is probably of retail value between $10-15. Probably costs less than $3 to make. Or even let’s say you’ve gotten a package from a brand, which includes a dress, t-shirt, shoes, and a skirt. Overall, you’re ranging around $75 in that package, and their cost to create probably runs around $20. You get these items, arrange them, pull out your backdrops (which you paid for with your own money), your camera (which you paid for with your own money), your lighting (which you paid for with your own money), and spend about an hour (at least) to create content. Then you put the clothes on, get pictures in them, upload the pictures, create a blog post, and we’re five hours deep here. So, for your $15 T-Shirt, you spent around 5 hours to create total full content, and got “paid” about $3/hour. Mix that with the cost of the items you used to create these things (lighting, camera, backdrop, laptop, etc) and you’re all types of ass backwards.
You’re being fooled.
If you’re just starting off, like I was, in terms of advertising- that’s fine. Just be aware that for $3/hour, you’re giving a company free advertising. Something which can cost up to $10,000 per post on social media, upwards of $200 per THIRTY SECONDS in mainstream traditional media, and something that can cost $300 or more per ad on print media. You’ve given a company a discount in all of that, for free, for a $15 shirt. Think about it.
Once I did, I was angry. Not angry because I got a bunch of free stuff and didn’t get paid for it, but because I worked hard to put out content that was of no cost to the company. Free advertising is. not. fair. for a blogger. Please read that again. Even if your monthly page views are ten readers, that is ten free advertisements a company is getting. I want to also add, that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do trade-advertising, or that you shouldn’t get free things. I’m just saying that you need to be weary of being burned. Some things, like trying a detox clease or getting to wear your favorite brands new sweater may end up having a pay off, if it’s benefiting you. Make sure that you’re getting a useful benefit from what you advertise. Also, if a company responds to you saying your rates are too high for your engagement rate, follower count, etc, feel free to mention the above. This is a form of advertising for the company, advertising comes as a cost. You spend time to create freelance advertisements for companies, and doing business with bloggers or influencers costs money.
Do not be afraid to speak up. You deserve to be paid for your work.
When creating this post, I debated posting my previous advertising work alongside my blog.
I decided not to, except for the above picture, because that was a paid advertisement, and I was compensated for my hours of work, rather than just gifted in free product. I, myself, still accept trade-advertising, but as stated above, the benefit must weigh in to the amount of work I give for the companies.