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Should Bloggers Get Paid?

 

Others have written on this subject as well. Heather wrote here on Crafterminds Why Readers Hate it When You Make Money. Amy wrote a word on Paid Blogging over on Mod Podge Rocks. I wanted to add my 2 cents. And since this is an ad-free blog, you’ll be getting those 2 cents for free! As bloggers, we all have opinions on if, why, how, and how much we should get paid.

We’ve said it here before, and I’m sure we’ll say it again. Blogging is still the “Wild Wild West.” Blogging is “new media,” and has a lot of parallels to traditional media, but is dramatically different in a lot of ways as well. I used to work for a Pulitzer Prize Winning paper in one of the top 10 DMAs in the country. The advertising and editorial departments of this paper are housed under the same roof, but on completely different sides of the building. So far apart there were different bathrooms! We shared a cafeteria, but ate at different tables. Sure, without great editorial content, the advertising side wouldn’t have valuable newspaper space to sell. And without the advertising sales, the editorial department wouldn’t get a paycheck at the end of the week. So both sides needed eachother. But we kept things separate to avoid any perception that the editorial content was influenced by advertising dollars.

In the Blogging world, for most of us, the Advertising “department” is the same person as the Editorial “department.” But that doesn’t mean that paid bloggers in any way lower their standards because the review they’re writing is for the same company they will be sending an invoice to at the end of the week. Bloggers have readers we’re accountable to – readers who can, will, and should provide feedback if we as bloggers recommend a sub-standard product. Just like that Pullitzer-prize winning paper, the value of the space on any blog is determined by the size and quality of that blog’s readership. Providing readers with false information will drive them away faster than curse words on a preschool mommy blog.

In the Craft and DIY blogging world, there are plenty of bloggers that are sent free products by Manufacturers, or the PR Companies representing these manufacturers. In order to try out these products, we spend our time creating projects, and in some cases, take the time to chronicle the steps in a tutorial. This has value, and value can be compensated monitarily. Additionally, we use other items in order to make the project. The simplest example is that if we’re sent paint, we need something to paint on. This costs us money, which can be reimbursed. Blogs of all sizes are starting to recognize the value of their content, their work, and their supplies, and are asking for appropriate compensation for all three. Because we can’t pay our light bill in glue sticks.

Being paid to post about a product, regardless of the niche the blogger is in, is not new. And the controversy surrounding it isn’t new either. Much has come to light recently because of the FTC’s new guidelines. In the past, the guidelines indicated that the FTC Act applied to things like celebrity endorsements, and truth in advertising. These new guidelines indicate that the law applies to bloggers as well. And that penalties can be levied against both the blogger and the advertiser. Personally, I think these guidelines are a great step forward. Which is no surprise as we craft bloggers are all about keeping it real.

I’m not saying that every product post has to be compensated by product and cash. I’m not saying that bloggers who don’t allow compensated content on their site are being irresponsible or devaluing other bloggers who blog to make a living. I’m not even saying that you can’t use a four-lettered word on a preschool mommy blog. What I AM saying is that it is okay for bloggers to be compensated fairly. And what is “fair” is determined by each individual blogger, and the brand they’re working with.

Here are some other articles with varying opinions on paid blogging… please add your own opinions in the comments!

The Way of the WebCorporate EyeHightalk

 

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5 Responses to “Should Bloggers Get Paid?”

  1. Great thoughts. I do not have personal experience with this subject but I feel that disclosure is good. As a reader I would want to know if the blogger was paid to use their product and who they are sponsored by. I agree that this choice and amount should be determined by each individual blogger. I also feel that a person should be free to blog about whatever they want to without being sponsored. Thanks for making me really think about this for a moment.

  2. I love your line, “Providing readers with false information will drive them away faster than curse words on a preschool mommy blog.” SO TRUE – although I like reading the blogs where bloggers curse much more than those that say “dontcha” and “cantcha”. I don’t mind ads on bloggers’ sites. I don’t mind them making money at all. It’s the promotion of certain products that bothers me because it wastes my time. Slimfast? If I have to read one more Slimfast review on another site I’ll roll my eyes and probably unfollow. I mean at least if a blogger is going to review/promote a product can it at least have something to do with crafts (because those are the blogs I follow), like Styrofoam week (which was painful)? What is so funny (but not in a haha way) is that when these sponsored posts come out we, the reader, just sigh, groan and skip over the posts. Especially for Slimfast (which I buy already, thank you very much, and I certainly don’t need the “expert opinion” of a blogger to tell me about it).

  3. And now it’s Jewelmint week. Thank you to the bloggers who mention at the top of the post that it is sponsored (Flamingo Toes – who I love). I like it when it is posted at the beginning and out there.

  4. Stefanie says:

    I’ve been on all sides…as a Marketing Exec for a company, an Ad exec for an agency, an Event Planner/PR exec, and now as a blogger…I can only tell you from my experience that when I was not blogging, it was nerve racking and stressful to find the target demographic and use everything we knew to make sure the campaign worked or the event was successful. Now coming from a bloggers point of view, I see an opportunity to work with a blogger, or network of bloggers, as a way to really hone in on your target demographic. These people/groups are the pulse of the demographic companies are looking for to help spread organic word of mouth. We mobilize the masses. Yes, you can spend $10,000 on a billboard ad seen by thousands of people everyday. But that is just traffic. It’s a huge amount that blankets part of the city. It doesn’t mobilize the masses. It’s the mom who shares her personal experience with her friends. The crafter that tries out the glue that works and tells her colleagues. The foodie that recommends a whole in the wall restaurant in her town. These testimonials are based on our integrity (not because they are forced or paid to do so). They reach a demographic that is structured and decided upon by each follower . That alone is priceless. So, yes, I would say it’s only fair to pay bloggers for mobilizing the masses and ensuring your ad campaign, product or service is being exposed to the exact right people your campaign, product or service it was intended for. That right there is money well spent.

  5. I totally feel that bloggers should be fairly compensated for their work- and like the point you made, if they’re getting free product, other considerations need to be met like the canvas or other supplies used to make the post possible, but I find too often, bloggers sell themselves short- I know I have.

    For instance, I recently heard from a bag company that wanted me to review their products (with pictures and a giveaway) and RETURN the product. Now, I understand that to a point- but they wanted me to not only spend my time reviewing the product, photographing, blogging and coordinating the giveaway, but to reach out to the reader base I created FOR FREE and then pack it up and return it to the post office (though they offered to pay for shipping, gee thanks).

    I get that for high end items, this may seem reasonable- but if you’re giving them free advertising PLUS putting the effort into putting together a quality post, it seems ridiculous- but apparently other bloggers have done it. To me, it’s gotten to the point that free product (that they can write off on their taxes) can sometimes be insulting if it’s not swapped out equitably with bloggers.

    Some companies trick bloggers into adding widgets, doing “guest posts” and giving out fake awards to generate press and build backlinks for themselves and that infuriates me! I hope the trade becomes more equitable and that it can become more fair and beneficial for both parties! Great post!

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