Bloggers and Creatives Work Hard for the Money

Before Christmas I told you guys that I wanted to share some thoughts about bloggers (and other creative entrepreneurial types) and business. After I read Holly’s post on Decor8, I felt compelled to write about the kind of things I’ve done for non-monetary compensation and why. 

Yes, We Should Be Compensated

I’ve seen quite a few blog posts that encourage us to stop “giving away” work. But what does that mean? For me, every opportunity has to be considered individually. There is no exact formula that works for each situation. I may be asked to do two things “for trade” that seem very similar on the surface, but only agree to one of them. But one thing stays consistent – if I’m asked to write, speak, photograph, design, consult, or coach, I will be getting something out of it. 

Working “For Trade”

Sometimes creative professionals are asked to work on a project in exchange for something other than money. Blogger A may ask Blogger B to promote something that they’re working on and then return the favor later. A life coach may exchange a session for a new business card design. 

If you’re approached to work for non-monetary compensation, you have to make sure it’s worth it. When I receive emails that ask me to do things in exchange for “exposure” my answer is almost always no. As a rule I don’t seek out unpaid professional opportunities. However, there are exceptions.

  • I published an essay on The Huffington Post for exposure. Why? Because it’s The Huffington Post. They get a lot of traffic. I’m planning to pursue more freelance paid writing opportunities this year, and having published clips there is good for my resume. So, for me, this opportunity wasn’t just about exposure. Sure, getting extra traffic to my blog is great, but the real benefit has to do with further building up my writing resume.
  • I’ve promoted things for friends that have done the same for me. Having a group that you can go to who will help you out, no questions asked, is invaluable.
  • I’ve written guest posts for blogs I admire that have larger and similar audiences. That’s free advertising. 
  • I’ve given a company a shout out for sending me something for free that I was planning to buy anyway. This exchange was revealed in the blog post and I only wrote a few sentences.
  • I’ve traded blog ads. 
  • On paper I’m leading a roundtable at Alt Summit in exchange for my conference fee, but in reality I’m getting so much more than that – new client leads and credibility, new sponsorship opportunities, a chance to hang out with some of my best friends for a few days, and a large roster of inspiring speakers that I’m going to learn from and be energized by. 

Working for Less

Another issue that creatives often have to face is being underpaid for their work. You have a certain rate for sponsored posts, logo design, consultations, etc., but your would-be client wants to pay you less money. Again, these kinds of requests usually get polite declines when they show up in my inbox, but occasionally they’re worth pursuing.

  • I’ve given discounts to friends to build my portfolio. 
  • I’ve agreed on lower fees for design work in exchange for services that a client could provide.  

Saying No

If you’re a blogger or freelancer, one thing you have to get comfortable with is saying no. It’s okay to pass up a project if you’re not being compensated fairly. You have to look out for yourself. Like in every business, there are always some people who will try to take advantage of you. When you get a request, look at it in a non-emotional way. Don’t do something just because you’re flattered to be asked. Put your business hat on and make sure that what you’re agreeing to is a good investment. 

Charging (and Paying) What You’re Worth

Today I have a guest post on Small Businesses Do It Better about something I haven’t seen much about: paying what you’re worth. This is something that all bloggers and creatives need to think about when they’re hiring other bloggers and creatives to work for them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. 

I hope this post has been helpful! If you have any other questions, feel free to post them in the comments section. If you’d like to schedule a coaching session you can learn more about that here.