Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Money for Nothing

I've been getting a lot of inquiries from PR firms as of late, and while the attention is flattering, I'm rather stunned by the lack of professionalism displayed by some agencies on behalf of their clients. Pitches asking me to do something for nothing are particularly baffling. Oh, I see. You'd like me to run a campaign including a blog post of a few hundred words with links, keywords and several pushes on my social media properties - activities that will take somewhere in the neighbourhood of two hours of MY TIME - in exchange for a sample of your client's product. One which has an approximate retail value of $5.

Just so we're clear, I assume you're going to pass the savings from the donation of MY TIME on to your client, who will in turn pass those savings on to the consumer. Therefore you're asking this altruism of me for the betterment of society, right? No? Yeah, that's what I thought. You're working the cost of MY TIME into your proposal to the client and then asking me to work for free. That's just not cool.

Look, I have a full time job that actually pays pretty well. I spend my days launching products with campaigns including several promotional pieces, links, keywords and multiple pushes on social media properties. Sound familiar? I do this in exchange for MONEY, because at last check that's what babysitters, stores, banks, utility companies. etc., are dealing in these days. If I want your client's $5 doodad, I'll buy it. If I think it's great, I'll tell the whole world. If I think it sucks, I then have the option of returning it or petitioning the manufacturer for a refund. I might choose to blog about the experience, but I have the option of not blogging about it too. The best part is that I'm not beholden to anybody but me!

I found this article interesting. It states the average parent blogger earns less than $1,000 a year for their efforts. The 64 cents per hour quoted in the article is a bit misleading because it assumes all blogging activity is intended for commercial purposes, which I expect is not the case for many bloggers. For example, I prattle on endlessly here because it's cheaper than therapy and because I want to show the world how adorable my kid is as I do my best to ply her will ALL of my neuroses. It's a hobby, not a means to feed, clothe and house my family.

However, it does mean there are a whole lot of people out there doing something for nothing. If you are one of those people working for free or something close to it, it's none of my business what you do with your time. I happen to think I deserve to be paid for ANY work that I do at the request of someone else (The Husband and The Parasite aside), but maybe you don't agree with that sentiment. Therefore you're welcome to take the following advice with a grain of salt.

I would recommend that every blogger that reads this post and is approached by a brand or an agency estimate how much time will be spent working for that brand or agency. Then compare that time spent to the minimum wage for your province/state/country/whatever as a starting point. If the agency or brand you're thinking of working with is offering you less than that amount in actual cash money (i.e., not product, unless your local phone company happens to accept shampoo samples as payment), SAY NO!

I ask for compensation that is in line my hourly rate at the office, because I'm doing similar work and I know I'm worth it. And so are you. Demand payment for your time, because every minute you spend doing something for nothing for somebody else is another minute you don't have to yourself.

13 comments:

Kristen Daukas said...

So true... I got one today that was nothing short of a hot mess. I was so confused as to what he wanted that I actually WANTED him to explain himself to see if it was even close to my interpretation. It wasn't. In the end, what he was offering was 3 certificates for kids meals to chick-fil-a. Since I've already invested 45 mintues trying to figure out what you want... then the time to run the promo like you asked, I have to say...Uhm. No.

Julia Warrender said...

@Kristen, right? Especially ones that attach a press release to a vague email. I hit delete, but I'm always tempted to reply with "And what the actual fuck am I supposed to do with this?"

GENdMOM said...

I am one of those bloggers that is blogging for the purpose of creating a community of like minded people and NOT because I want to sell a product for someone else for free. I have also been asked to 'sample' their product and tell my followers what I think. I am surprised by the lack of editing, proper sentence structure and professionalism that is being displayed in these requests.

Sweety Darlin said...

I follow The Bloggess and she gets this stuff all the time. However the best one was when she responded with one of her funny sarcastic retorts, and the guy hit "reply all" (which included her) and wrote "what a fucking bitch. She didn't let it alone and the whole ting turned into a hilarious kick the fence session on the PR firm.

I have a decent paying job, while I am starting up my company. The blog is just to keep myself sane and laugh at the stupidity of life.

www.sweetydarlin.blogspot.com

Kyla said...

I've been thinking about writing a post similar to this. But yours is better :)

P.s want to promote my blog in 400 words for $5?

Joyce Lansky said...

I know exactly what you mean.

Catch My Words
http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/

texas_sweetie said...

pretty interesting article.

I was being asked if I could do a guest post of 500 words in my PR2, paid own domain, own hosting blog... and when I replied to her YES, WITH A FEE...she didn't get back to me boo! she wanted free for posting her links to mine forever? nothing is free anymore even though I don't have to waste my time writing article of 500 words...

merlmd said...

hahaha, I never even thought I could make money blogging. I just learned I could earn from this last year BUT still that doesn't change my motivation for blogging which is primarily to just write about stuff I care about and to satisfy my journalistic cravings and frustrations. In fact I still do not know how to make money on line...what makes me happy is the fact that people read what I write and even enjoy them. That's why I love getting comments. Have a Blessed Easter!

merlmd said...

oh and you're right about getting JUST compensation for something you spend time, effort and work on!

unikorna said...

I love your honesty and sense of humor, it was a pleasure reading you :). Kisses.

Just Jane said...

YES!

You know, I don't want to turn up my nose at extra money but, frankly, I don't want to turn my blog into a place where I hawk products for other people either.

Most of those e-mails go right to the spam folder...one I rarely check.

Emme Rogers said...

Very well said! Thank you for this!

Jen said...

I get about 10+ "offers" a day and not a single one has ever offered me money. Oh wait unless you count the one that was 2 posts a week for 4 months and then at the end of the 4 months each blogger would be entered into a draw for 1 $100 giftcard. Yah OKAY SIGN ME UP.