Why you shouldn’t sell your blog space for peanuts

by Veronica on May 1, 2012

in Blogging

I’ve been blogging for a long time now and slowly, with the rise of mummyblogging in Australia, I’ve found myself on the lists that PR companies seem to share around. This means that I get offered some things that are interesting, a bunch of stuff that is totally unsuitable and have my inbox regularly filled with press releases that appear to want me to regurgitate them here for my readers.

But here’s the thing:

This space is not free.

Sure, it’s only pixels on a computer screen and so therefore, if I decide that I love your charity/business/company and want to promote you for nothing, then I can.

However.

This space was built on trust capital. My trust capital, to be precise. My readers visit because I give them something that they’re looking for. Maybe that’s escapism, or an amusing story, or a diatribe about facebook. For whatever reason, visitors trust that the posts I put up here will contain good value.

I’ve noticed recently a decline in high-value items for review. I’m not bemoaning this, I’m just stating it as fact. Instead of items that I will actually use, I’m being offered $15 kids shoes that I could buy myself, or cereal, or small value items that can be sent out cheaply and easily.

It’s a natural evolution of things really; it’s easier to send 50 bloggers a small item than it is to send 5 bloggers a decent trial selection of product. Mass marketing at its finest.

It’s nice to receive a few products in the mail that my children will eat or drink, something that I may decide to buy myself later on down the track.

But I can’t seem to bring myself to write 200 words about a product that costs less than $10. In fact, the latest thing that arrived in the mail had a dollar value total of $6 and I was left wondering: Is this what I’ve sold my soul for?

Sure, the product is great. The company is fantastic and one I’ve supported in the past. But I can’t get past being expected to promote something through my social media channels that I could have bought for the cost of a cup of coffee.

I offer a sponsored post option here on Sleepless Nights. It’s in my media kit and while some businesses are hesitant to pay real money (but it’s so expensive, can’t we just have an in-post link that stays on your blog forever and ever for $40?), others have seen the value of dealing with engaged readers and have paid up promptly. It’s this that makes me so hesitant to sell my space for peanuts.

And, I don’t think you should be devaluing yourself like that either. Giving away a $5 gift voucher, or writing about a food item that is worth less than a sandwich at the local bakery, it’s a bit ridiculous. You are worth more than a $10 product, and so is your trust capital.

Sure, it’s your blog and you can do whatever you like with it.

But if you sell your soul for peanuts to begin with, don’t expect businesses to start paying you anything more later on down the track.

***

ETA:

The ever lovely Zoey and I were discussing this earlier in the week and she’s got things to say about not selling your space for nothing too. You can read about her thoughts here.

carmen@musingnmayhem.com May 1, 2012 at 9:56 am

Amen! Thanks for putting this out there! :)

Danielle @ Hello Owl May 1, 2012 at 10:28 am

Well said. I agree unless its something fabulous its not going on the blog.

Sonia @ Natural New Age Mum May 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

great advice for us newbies – thanks !

Naomi Ellis May 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

Awesome advice.

Sharon A. May 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

I agree. That said though, I did recently write about/for Kellogg’s. I was asked to interview a rice farmer’s wife and offered to provide a giveaway.

I said yes to the interview, because I live near a lot of farms, and felt it was relevant to my life and my blog. I also loved the idea of honing my interviewing skills, as studying journalism is on the cards for me. After the interview, I became hooked on the idea of interviewing more people! I experiment a lot on my blog, so was happy to have this new experience, and discovered a passion, which was great.

I was hesitant about the giveaway of cereal, because if it were a giveaway of a few boxes of cereal, I would’ve just had the interview without the giveaway. Thankfully, we were able to negotiate a generous sized pack that would save families a decent amount on their grocery bill, so I was more than happy to run it.

I do agree with what you’re saying, 100%

Tam May 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

I so needed to hear this, V. It’s hard when you’re starting out and state your requirements, and the company comes back to you querying your charges. You start to second guess yourself, when really, it’s a chance to value your space and stand up for yourself.

tassie_gal May 1, 2012 at 11:11 am

As always you are the awesome sauce.

Dorothy @ Singular Insanity May 1, 2012 at 11:14 am

Couldn’t agree more :-)

Christina Williams @ The Blog Entourage May 1, 2012 at 11:17 am

This is so great!!! It’s so true. I find myself getting a lot of markting firms willing to pay me a lot for a sponsored link, then I get “guest blog” submissions that try to sneak in a link to a product-based website. Why on earth would I include links like that for free?? (Unless of course it is an actual guest writer linking to their quality-content blog.) I think a lot of bloggers devalue their websites because they see it as a hobby. But it is internet real estate! If you work hard to provide quality content, you shouldn’t give away that space for free. It takes some patience, but it is well worth it.

Salz May 1, 2012 at 11:20 am

thanks for sharing this. as a fairly newbie to the blogging world I haven’t yet come across anything like this. But your right getting paid less then $10 to have your time sitting down writing a review on a product you have to trial isn’t worth it. When I do product testing with survey companies they at least give $50 minimum.

rose May 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I agree because it takes years to ad sites with quality content.

Libby May 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I decided a long time ago no ads on my blog. I just don’t think it’s worth it. And I swear too much.

Mrs Woog May 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Oh V, you know we share the same view on this. Truth is, if you do a “review and giveaway” of say a cereal, are you really providing your readers with interesting content? This is different that Sharon’s comment up there, which was to provide a story and something she can relate to, that being a discussion with a Farmer’s Wife. There is a story.

I have been thinking, if all bloggers just stopped working for brands for free, it would entirely change the way we work with brands. ENTIRELY. And yes, I know, not every blogger likes to have a commercial aspect to their site, but for the ones that have chosen to go down this path, we should bloody well stand together and say ENOUGH!

And you know something else? If you ask for more, YOU GET MORE. And if they say no and stand their ground, then they never really valued you and your readers and you should tell them to shove it, but in a nice way.

Because we are all ladies.

FUCKING awesome post V xxx

Deb @ Home life simplified May 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I agree 100% and recently found deafening silence when I explained I would not give away 1-2 DVDs but had an idea for a post that was relevant to my blog and could include them if they did a huge DVD pack (it was a great idea that would have had massive cut through for all concerned). Somehow 10 bloggers giving away 1 DVD/cereal/discount code(how do you do a giveaway for 20% off instead of actual items i will never understand) seems better to them.

Carli @ Tiny Savages May 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Great post Veronica, I completely agree. Some people are happy to spruik every brand that comes their way and I don’t begrudge them, it is their blog and their choice but I find it more difficult to believe that you like the brand and it makes it harder for everyone else to raise standards.

Alex Merton-McCann May 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Danni. Some great perspective. I couldn’t agree more. I’m relatively newish to this game to appreciate the tips. Take care, Alex xx

Kathy May 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I agree with you!

My exception is probably books, but only if they are books I wanted anyway / like. Technically a book is a low-value item but I’ll still review it if its content is relevant and interesting (will be putting up a review of a great kids’ book this week, in fact). However I do lots of book reviews and would do even if I was never sent freebies – I just like writing about books! – so it’s a bit different to fitting content or a post around something I wouldn’t normally write about.

Increasingly I’m saying no to the random new-product-whatever offers. My favourite continues to be – will always be, I suspect – event / performance / experience tickets + review / giveaway combo. Those have provided real benefits to my family AND my readers – boy do those posts get hammered in stats! (eg. the review / giveaway I did on Adventure Park Victoria is my third-highest ranked post of all time, and we had a brilliant day there that we never could’ve afforded otherwise.)

I am less concerned about being contacted by charities, though. I don’t say yes to all of them but I don’t object to being asked, and I often will post about their campaign, even if it’s as part of another post.

river May 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I would never sell my blog space for peanuts.
I’m holding out for hazelnuts….

I did get an email today which I didn’t read thoroughly and I probably should, it’s from a health company/magazine/something…they appear to be offering me a free trip to Denver….I really should read it properly before I thank them and decline.

Rhonda - Silly Mummy May 1, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Thank you for this post. (and thanks everyone else who continue to give great advice)

I’ve been blogging for a year now and I’ve been receiving some emails recently. So I’m starting to work on a media kit for the serious ones when they decide to approach me. Better ready than sorry, lol.

Carley May 2, 2012 at 7:49 am

I appreciate this, and love your blog…

P.S. It’s a girl. 12 oz, 21 weeks now. Healthy and perfect! We’re going to name her Edith (Edie).

xoxo

Donna @ NappyDaze May 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Its great to see your and Zoey’s stance together on this. I’ve taken the olunge and responded to a review/giveaway with my fee included. I’ll soon know either way if that PR company values my space or not :)

Next question though – when you disclose on your post that it is a review, should you say you have been paid and if so, how much?

Thanks oh wise bloggy one!

Veronica May 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I tend to use sponsored in the wording if I was paid, otherwise I disclose that I received product to trial and no money. I wouldn’t disclose how much I’d been paid however.

Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky May 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I hear you! Totally agree.

The Accidental Housewife May 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Exactly!

I haven’t been offered sponsorship or products yet, I’m still very much a beginner, but I don’t want to sell myself short if I do. I have an incredibly loyal following and I am selling *them* out if I sell out. I only want to endorse products that are actually worth my time and loyalty.

Omega May 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

Stay true to your readers and yourself.. your stats will thank you for it, and eventually bigger, better brands who “GET” bloggers will reward you too.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: