June 19, 2017

How To Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul












Whether you are a new blogger or not, I hope this blog post helps you to blog for profit the right way or at least help you to define what your brand will be and what is the purpose of you blogging. Profit? Receiving free product? A hobby? Are you an Anything goes blogger? Are you more of a defined brand? Blogging for profit is something we all aim to accomplish as bloggers. Blogging may be challenging (if you recall my blog post about Things Bloggers Find Annoying), but as challenging as it is, it is also so rewarding in so many different levels that sometimes go beyond profit. But how do you blog for profit without selling your soul? We have all at some point fallen into the selling our soul trap and that is totally fine. It is completely part of the process. I think the important point here is to not keep selling your soul for profit, but to rather put your brand first even if you lose profit along the way. 

Charging a Fee

When I first started blogging I was accepting to do projects for free in exchange for product all the time. I was totally ok with this because I had not established my brand to the level I wanted. To me, it didn't make sense to charge a fee because my brand was not well founded yet. It wasn't until I hit 5k followers on Instagram that I felt I had accomplished a stable brand or even for that matter that I had finally figured out what blogging means to me and how I would like my brand to be perceived by others. I then started charging a fee that coincided with my following and engagement numbers plus what I considered to be a fair rate for my brand. It is up to you when you choose to charge a fee, and what fee you charge, but be reasonable. Don't ask a brand to pay you $600 for an Instagram Post when you only have 3k followers and your engagement is lower than 3%. It is one thing to undervalue your brand and it is another to overvalue. Both equally dangerous.

Know What Your Brand is Worth

I cannot stretch enough how important it is to evaluate the worth of your brand. Based on the quality of your work and how much time you devote to create your content, think about what your brand is worth to you within reason. When you are a freelancer and have bills to pay, it is hard to turn down brands that are not willing to pay your rate, but my personal preference is to stay true to my brand and turn down brands when I feel the compensation does not reflect the time and effort I am going to put into creating the content. As I said before, if you want to build a refined brand and make the profit that you deserve, you will have to lose some profit along the way. Also, when the expectations do not reflect the compensation that is being offered, it is important for you to think twice before saying yes. This is definitely a difficult element, but it is a principal I follow to ensure I am not selling my soul for profit, regardless of what that profit number is. Always evaluate what you say yes to especially when compensation is way lower than your rate or when a brand asks you to promote them without payment.

Ask Yourself These Questions

1.Do I like the product I have to promote?
2. Would I want to buy this product?
3. Is it a good fit with my brand?

If you answer no to most of these questions, then I suggest you turn the collaboration down. Again, it is hard to turn down a brand especially when payment is involved, but why are you promoting a product you don't even like? It makes no sense! 

Your Personal Brand Comes First

I have turned down many great opportunities with great brands that were not necessarily brands that matched my personal style or products I would normally use. I am very strict with the collaborations I do and do not accept. Thankfully, I have been very fortunate that brands recognize my style and me as a brand so I don't receive too many weird requests. I did once have one brand reach out to me with a budget that wanted me to promote men's underwear. Payment was going to be more than satisfactory, but it made no sense for me to accept. Men's underwear does not really have much to do with me or my brand. I do have posts here and there with Kamiran, but it still doesn't seem a good fit to be posting about the topic. Now, if I had said yes to the promotion this would have been a great example of how I am selling my soul. The brand I am promoting has nothing to do with my own brand, but I am saying yes because of the compensation.

For me, compensation does not come first, which is hard when you have bills to pay, but you also want to have a refined brand. Some bloggers do promotion after promotion, and maybe that is what they want for their brand, but for me it is more important to invest in quality over quantity. Collaborating with a brand shouldn't be just about getting paid, because that is when you are ending up selling your soul. Collaborating should be about loving a product and promoting to your audience.

If Compensation Isn't Offered, Is The Product Offered Worth My Time?

For example, say Louis Vuitton reached out to me and said they don't have a budget, but will give me an LV purse in exchange for a post. You better believe I am going to accept without payment. The product on its own is of a significant value so I am not loosing anything on my part. Creating content is time consuming, so when a brand reaches out to me to promote a pair of flip flops without any compensation, chances are I will turn this opportunity down. Why would I spend 1 hour or more creating content just for a pair of flip flops? The LV purse on the other hand is a great investment. In most cases the product being gifted for promotion is not equivalent to how much work and thought goes behind each post, so this is when a lot of debating will happen as to whether or not you should accept. 

Does Collaborating With This Brand Add Value To My Brand? 

Going back to the LV example. LV is a prestigious brand that will instantly add value and elevate the worth of your brand. Yes, it sucks they are not paying, but you are still gaining from this collaboration. Ask yourself if the brand you are collaborating with is going to add value to your own brand, especially if it is not a compensated post. This is crucial to not selling your soul. Don't say yes to brands just because you are going to receive a free product. Saying yes just for the sake of saying yes is a no no. Sometimes you may want to support a local small brand without compensation even if the product is a pair of flip flops, and that is totally ok in my books too. I have done unpaid posts for small local brands because it is important for me to also give back to my community. Also, I liked the product so I was ok with not being compensated for promoting it. In other cases too you were planning on buying the product anyways, so the fact you are receiving it for free is a bonus. So say yes to unpaid campaigns, but do it for the right reasons!

Ask The Brand

This is where the selling your soul happens the most. A brand will reach out to you telling you how much they love your work and are dying to work with you then they end their email by saying there is no budget for this campaign. Really? No budget? I always ask myself when brands tell me they have no budget Would they ask Julia Roberts to do this for free?  In most cases the answer is no, so why should you be promoting something without compensation? Ask the brand what their marketing budget is, and honestly don't be afraid to turn down something because compensation is not being offered.  Also, some brands will tell you they have no budget, then you promote their product for free and next thing you know you find out that another blogger did the same promotion and they got paid. How sketchy is that when you are pouring your heart and soul into the creation of content and brands are playing favourites? It has happened to me, and it was a major wake up call to start saying NO. Be fair to your brand because no one else will. 

Negotiate

Negotiate the deliverables, negotiate the compensation amount. Just because a brand is offering you $80 for an Instagram post it doesn't mean you have to accept just because that is what they are offering. Always give your rates before accepting a compensation that is way lower than your usual fees. Harsh reality is that even though you have a rate at times brands will not have the appropriate budget that reflects your rate. What do you do then? First step, is to think about how much you love the brand and what they are offering instead of the monetary compensation. Also, if the compensation you are being offered is not compatible with the deliverables, negotiate. For example, say you charge $120 per Instagram post, but a brand says they only have a budget of $200 and expect you to do 3 Instagram posts. Don't be shy or afraid to go back to them and ask to do 2 Instagram posts instead of 3. 

 Quality of Compensated Posts

When my posts are compensated, you better believe I spend hours trying to come up with the best fitting way to promote the brand, and come up with ideas that are new and unique to previous posts I have done. If you are getting paid for a post you better be pouring your heart and soul into the content you are creating. For me any post, but particularly sponsored posts should be your best work. Why would anyone want to pay you to create a post when it seems like you put no time and effort into it? You also sell your soul the moment you stop caring about your brand.  

Find a Balance When Building Relationships

Don't get me wrong it is of utmost importance to build a strong working relationship with a brand or a PR company, but you also have to think about yourself as a brand and how you can build a profitable brand. Do not sacrifice your principles or your values in order to build relationships. There has to be a fine balance between both sides. It is a give and take relationship. That has always been a core value for me while blogging and because I valued myself, but also valued the brands I worked with I have been able to build some amazing relationships along the way. No one wants to be the Katherine Heigl of the blogging world, but that doesn't mean you are going to let brands or PR companies mistreat you so that you can be on their good side. Build positive relationships, but know where to draw the line and stand up for yourself when something rubs you the wrong way. Although I may be a bad example just because I am a no bs person that tells it as it is, but I personally do not care if I burn bridges with brands or PR Companies. If someone doesn't respect me as a person or a brand, why would I want to be on their good side or work with them? Not everyone is going to like you or your brand and I am ok with that. Don't sell your soul and principles so that you can guarantee yourself future collabs. That is my core value when it comes to seeing my blog as a business. 

 In Conclusion: 

My number one advice so that you do not sell your soul for profit in the blogging world is to take a moment and think about what is being offered first before you jump the gun and reply YES. The land of  YES is a dangerous zone if you do not take your time to think. Because next thing you know, you have committed to a project that is not compensated and you end up spending hours of your life creating content that you hate and in some cases will add no value to your own personal brand. Blog in a way in which you are not selling your soul for profit, but rather you are building a refined brand. Blog with intention, blog with honesty and blog in a way where your collaborations nurture your brand with quality, substance, and in a way where your own personal self shines through it. 

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5 comments

  1. Such a great post, Eleni! Great tips and i love that top.

    xx Gabriella
    pastelsandpastries.com

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  2. Thanks so much for this advice Eleni!! It is so interesting to hear you talk about this because Iv'e recently been thinking a lot about it myself. Being relatively new on the blogging scene its good to hear a more experienced blogger talk about their experiences and the do's and don'ts . I 100% agree in taking a step back and thinking about if this partnership makes sense for you and your brand,although it can be tempting to just jump in and say yes it's not always the best for you in the long run. Thanks for sharing girl xoxo

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  3. Such great advice, Eleni, thank you!!

    Mary
    sweetlifestyle.ca

    ReplyDelete
  4. Eleni! I loved this post - you did so well at communicating your thoughts, and a lot of it rings true for me! I especially was interested in what you had to say about the PR companies, because sometimes I get concerned that I am "burning bridges" with PR companies when I send them my media kit when they send me product, assuming I will post on Instagram with no compensation. I really respect PR companies that ASK, or clarify that they are gifting product with no expectations -- often times I will include some of these products in flat lays anyway if I really love them! Anyways, thanks for your post! Was really insightful :)

    -Kristin
    www.thedelilahblog.com

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  5. Hi Eleni, I am very lucky as a new blogger to be able to have such great advice given by someone with such a well established and respectable brand and following. I have been paid as a brand ambassador under contracts for the last ten years, ive always received compensation from major brands at hourly wages and so I have been clueless towards how I will negotiate compensation that isn't per hour rates. During my Brand Ambassador work when I found that the brand or quality was not what reflected what they said their product was, for b.a. work we inform our agency of issues and they inform the marketing company or pr company who informs the clients how do you go about this when you are your own brand? Do you have some sort of non engagement letter? What happens if you discover the product is no good once you've signed a contract? Do you have a sort of personal non engagement letter? What sort of details do you include? Another thing I've wondered is what do brands expect of influencers, from what I've gathered it can be clear or ambiguous? Do you have specific questions you ask the brands? With many people's 5k plus numbers being full of robots that can't be influenced or become customers I wonder is there any sort of accountability for paid posts how do you determine if you can deliver? When I'm paid by the hour by brands I often have a sales quota but it's often set much higher than what's actually predicted or expected as just a target they are thrilled if you hit it but usually expect a lower number although some can be very demanding about numbers. Do paid posts or sponsors have targets what happens when you try hard and don't meet the targets? I just asked so many questions but it's because your content got my brain wheels spinning.
    Sarah~ youareacanvas

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