So there I was, happily pottering away on my laptop, totally not Googling ‘Katie Price divorces again’, feeling nice and calm after having had a lovely facial this morning.  And then I got an email from a PR company that was representing a major brand.  And by major, I mean a MASSIVE brand.

 

Exciting!

 

I was happy because not only are they a great company but they asked if I’d like to take part in a Google+ Hangout with some respected journalists … and not only that, but it was to talk about something I’m actually really passionate about.

 

I’ll paraphrase somewhat, but here’s how the conversation went:

 

Them:  We think you’re amazing and beautiful (OK, they didn’t say that), we love what you’ve done on G+ Hangouts before and would like to know if you’d like to take part?

 

Me:  Why that’s very kind of you.   I had a facial this morning so yes I’m looking particularly glowy.  Would you be looking for me to be one of the ten participants or are you just asking me to tune in?

 

Them:  We’d love you to be one of the participants, alongside (insert respected journalists names.)

 

Me:  Awesome.  Could you please tell me if I would be compensated in any way for taking part?

 

Them:  I’m afraid not Kate.  We don’t have budget for it. Sorry about that.

 

Me:  Wow.  (Insert major brand name) has no budget?  I’ll have to politely decline but wish you the best of luck.

 

*Deep breath*

 

I took my vexation to Facebook and had a really interesting debate amongst fellow bloggers about this and being asked to work for free appears to be a very common thing within the blogging community.  A good friend Tanya had actually blogged about it herself last week.

 

So here’s the thing.  For those of you that don’t have a blog, you might not find this post particularly interesting, but let me ask you this … would you work for free?  Would you put aside an hour or so of your time to work for a big, well respected, and monied corporation, that’s time away from your family … for nothing?

 

Nor would I.

 

Because as much as I started blogging for the love of writing (and I really did), I am also ‘lucky’ enough, after four years of hard graft and nearly 700 blog posts, to earn a small income from my blog.  I also happen to have another job, providing a social media and content consultancy to firms, so I work really hard.  I take a lot of pride in what I do. ( I also happen to be a lone parent and receive no money from my ex … so yeah, this attitude riles me a little.)

 

Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I’ve worked with companies for nothing, but that’s because either I’ve worked with them before or I just happen to be a massive fan of what they do.  To be told that a big company has no budget just isn’t true … they just have no budget put aside for bloggers because they haven’t deemed us important enough.  To be honest, I doubt the brand even knows.  That whole ‘bloggers will work for free’ approach just isn’t going down well within the blogging community.

 

Granted, I’m a bit ranty because I started a Paleo diet today so I’m on a carb withdrawal downer, but still … I believe I’m making a valid point.  (And just to point out, the last G+ Hangout I did was for one packet of fake nails.  That I didn’t use.  But I was treated with respect as a blogger and it wasn’t assumed I’d work for free so I was happy to reach a compromise with everyone involved.)

 

Maybe there are and will be younger, newer bloggers who would jump at the chance to be affiliated with a major brand for nothing, and I won’t judge them for doing that …  their blog, their rules.  But I really would like PRs (and ergo brands) to understand the importance of forming great working relationships with bloggers.  Rather than a quick link for the brand to Google, wouldn’t it be better, especially in the long term, to work on building a real connection with a relevant blogger – they’re 100x more likely to provide great content and word of mouth for that brand.

 

My thinking is slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.  PRs should take time to build a relationship with bloggers, and compensate them accordingly for their time.  I’m not greedy, I don’t make demands, and I’m always always polite … but I also have 2 mouths to feed and am a great believer in respect.

 

I respect you, you respect me.  Simple.

 

What do you think?

 

 

UPDATE:  I’m delighted to say that the brand in question had a change of heart and understood the importance of compensating bloggers for their time, so all is well again.  For now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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22 Comments

  1. In order for a contract to be deemed fair it has to be balanced. You give me six apples, I give you ten bananas.

    I give you space on my blog and you give me …. tumbleweed.

    I really dont think it is fair. And that working with brands should be compensated. What that compensation is will be entirely up to the parties to decide by “exposure” is not it in my book.

  2. Totally agree! I do the same and wish them luck with their project just like you 🙂

    The no budget thing does wear thin but like you say it is unlikely the brand itself knows!

    Now understand your egg & bacon thing last night, Paelo tempting but for me those coffee revels call to loud! 🙂

  3. Completely agree. But as bloggers we need to value ourselves as a group. While you won’t, and I won’t. As likely, someone will. This confirming the view bloggers are of little value. they may. get some one less experienced, and of course who actually matches up to Kate?
    I was greatly vexed by a large high street food shopping type place – who despite huge profits and I imagine an enormous PR, marketing and advertising brands wanted much for nothing from bloggers. The same tired excuse. No budget. Bloggers are smart and engaged – we know the value if page rank and links, we work hard on our blogs and content. Brands need to respect that.
    Am keen to hear the conversation with the journalist about time and contribution for nothing. Oh! Of course, that didn’t happen!

    1. Who matches up to Kate? Lol. I’m going to steal your comment about knowing our SEO, page rank and links because I hate being treated like I’m stupid. I mean I REALLY hate it.

  4. As a blogger who in previous years earns a living as a musician and has a best mate who is an illustrator, I can confirm that this attitude seems to apply to anything ‘creative’. Exposure can be a positive thing, but I have never managed to live in it or give it to my kids for dinner. All creat

    1. Love it Sonya! “Here you go Dexter, have some exposure for your tea.” “But I’m soooo hungry Mum.” “Be quiet … you had a mention on a brand’s website the other day, be grateful!”

  5. Oops, silly phone submitted when I was in prime rant mode! I was going to say anyone who is good at what they do in a creative sense has spent a long time learning and honing their craft and not to treat them as the professionals they are is insulting in my opinion. I have done many jobs of a musical/writing kind for free over the years, but only if it has been for a cause/person I love.

  6. You know my thoughts on this are the same as yours, but I’d just like to add…

    Next time someone asks me to do something for ‘exposure’, I’m so going to quote Sonya (‘can I give it to my kids for dinner?’).

  7. I actually can’t believe this is still going on. For a few years now I’ve followed conversations on various Facebook groups, blogs, Twitter etc, about the shoddy partnerships between PR/SEOs and Bloggers, and I bowed out of many FB groups because I’ve never been interested in working with outside companies. Your blog is a VERY well respected blog in the sphere and has become particularly popular. But that shouldn’t make a difference. The reason why outside companies treat bloggers like unimportant tools in order to freely advertise for a huge organisation and receive masses of compensation in the bargain, is simple – and it’s been going on for far too long in my humble opinion: too many bloggers undervalue themselves; they don’t deem themselves important enough to swim with the “big fish”, i.e. the journalists, PR companies, large corporations with massive budgets. They offer their blog for next to nothing in return, and often for absolutely no payment, assuming it will attract more outside companies to work with them, thus shooting their blog up the rankings and gain fabulously impressive stats. Meanwhile, bloggers such as yourself who work tirelessly to achieve success and an income to keep your family afloat, are being offered the crumbs that these “blaggers” are being offered, because now all bloggers, parent bloggers in particular, have been tarnished with the same brush. Cheap, easy, gullible labour. Stick to your guns. I only wish others had the same attitude because this shocking “no budget” crap being spouted by these PRs and companies, needs to end – RIGHT NOW! Bloggers are valuable commodities and should most definitely be treated with respect.

    Sorry for the rant – I’m just gobsmacked that this is still going on after all these years and all the complaining.

    CJ x

    1. Firstly, thank you so so much for your kind words. It’s really easy to doubt yourself (and ergo your blog) when big brands and PRs are basically saying that we’re worth nothing. So it meant a lot. You’ve been blogging longer than I have and so this must be even more frustrating for you but now more than ever, I DEMAND RESPECT .. in every aspect of my life, blogging as well as dating and parenting. It’s just such a shame that there ARE bloggers who WILL work for free just because. Like you say, it’s important we all stick to our guns and sing from the same hymn sheet. Thanks again K for taking the time to comment xx

  8. I absolutely don’t mind doing something for nothing because I want to, because I love the brand, they’re local, they’re interesting, they smiled at me or made me laugh etc. but when huge companies who I’d never usually deal with stroll along and expect me to participate mainly on the basis that they’re a huge company? I’m with Helen from FussFreeFlavours – not sufficient incentive I’m afraid.

    1. Thanks for commenting Jenny. I totally agree with what you’ve said … I’m happy to work for free if that works for me, but big corporations saying they have no budget for bloggers is wrong and I see it time and time again. We’re all smart people and I’m smart enough to know when people try to take advantage.

  9. Don’t you get FREE products sent to you to write about?
    Think about why you started, it surely wasn’t for the money! You should go out and work for a company if you would like to get paid, the same as everyone else. Getting totally free stuff for sitting at home isn’t a bad shout, at all! Don’t do it if your going to complain about it, it’s extremely frustrating to read!
    #BloggersGettingGreedy

    1. Hi Becky, thanks for commenting. I wrote a lengthy reply to your comment but decided that you obviously weren’t a blogger and you just really didn’t ‘get it.’ So I deleted it and ate some ice cream instead.

  10. Such an important post. We have to keep this conversation going because as Sonya pointed out it affects all creatives. And we do have to stick together and stick to what we believe and know is right — fair compensation for professional work. Because the professionalism and sheer talent in blogging these days deserves proper recognition.

    As someone who works on both sides as a blogger and content professional, and hooking brands up with bloggers through MaSh, I would never dream of asking a blogger to work for zero. Even if the budget is small, I will find the room or at least ensure there are great perks and compensation down the line.

    The real issue as you beautifully put it is about respect. This company contacts you out of the blue and expects you to kowtow for the big name brand. No thanks!

    Whereas many of us happily do occasional stuff for ‘free’ for brands and PRs that we’ve built up a relationship with. Because whether money changes hands or not, there’s an exchange of positive energy that goes beyond ‘exposure’. Compensation is key but forging real relationships with bloggers is invaluable.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. “Fair compensation for professional work,” should be our tagline across the board. It’s a shame that not everyone understands this. I also like your comment about an ‘exchange of positive energy’ .. and I’ll just keep on doing my thing and hope that brands and PRs will come round eventually.

  11. I had a rant on this on a FB blog group recently, and was amazed that the response of most people was “well what do you expect, you’re getting free stuff”, as per B above. And this view was from bloggers, not ice-cream inducing numpties (great response btw). I think that it is a real shame that as a group we are not united in respecting ourselves and the work that goes into constantly turning over new content, to request payment for our time and creativity. The problem, having worked with some big brands on the marketing side, is that bloggers fall into a no-mans land of most marketing budgets – they are viewed as PR, but unlike journos who are paid by the mags that subsist and thrive on advertising, bloggers don’t charge massive upfront rates for hosting ads on their sites (can you imagine if Vogue et al survived off off PPC? Excuse me while I pick myself up up from laughing on the floor!). And so brands often baulk at what they see as “paid PR”, but it does need to change, and slowly it will if we are firm, and if not accepting payment make it clear that we usually would be paid, but are doing it for love and appreciation of a brand. Your blog and writing are brilliant, and you deserve to be recognised for that work, as in any other job! Sorry for the rant, but it is definitely a bug bear!

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