I’ve always maintained that blogging is an amazing job.
The hours are flexible, it can be done from home – and you can pick and choose what projects to take on.
But if you’re a blogger, knowing what to charge – and how to talk about money – might be difficult. Many bloggers don’t have a history of sales, or self-employment. So where do you start?
Well, the Fleamail Influencer Rate Card is a great place to start. We asked 500 bloggers what they charge for different sorts of content, so it will give you an idea of where most people are pitching (although it’s by no means gospel).
Today, though, I wanted to share five quick tips on negotiating rates with brands that you might find useful. I’d love if you could share your own tips in the comments, too!
Have a guideline, not a price list.
I think it’s really useful to have a guideline price for different sorts of activity. But don’t have a fixed price list. Sometimes a sponsored post will take me 20 minutes to write. Sometimes I’ll need to take a day out, go somewhere on the train, take photos, then write an original post. Charging the same price for both those activities is crazy! So I always start by thinking how long something is going to take me to do, whether I need to travel, and will I incur any additional expenses by having to go somewhere or buy something.
As a related side point here, I personally don’t recommend ever replying to an opportunity with “I don’t do anything for less than X”. Because you never know what opportunity you might be opting out of in future. Far smarter to say, “Actually, given the work involved, that’s a bit less than I would be happy to accept, but please bear me in mind for other things, or let me know if the fee is open to negotiation.”
Ask the Brand
Sometimes the answer to, “What would you charge?” is “How much have you got?”. Don’t be afraid to ask a brand if they have a budget in mind if you literally have no idea where to open negotiation. In my experience, a brand will often come back with a figure, that we can use as the basis for negotiation.
Don’t be Scared to Pitch
Sometimes the opportunity being offered (and the fee involved) won’t be right for you. Don’t worry. And don’t take on things that don’t work for your blog. But if you think of something else that might work, it’s always worth a pitch. Brands won’t always say yes (a client may have fixed ideas about what sort of coverage they’re looking to buy) but sometimes they will! So for example, a brand might ask you to create a recipe using their products – but you don’t do recipes. So why not ask if they might be interested in a giveaway or a haul video on YouTube? It’s worth a try!
About 50% of the time, I turn down projects offered to me because the fee is too low. That’s okay – I do relatively little sponsored content and when I do take on a paid project, it needs to be worth my while. But there are ways of saying a fee is far too low without being rude, or making the PR feel like they’re getting a lecture for a decision that’s (probably) nothing to do with them. Something like, “I’m afraid I don’t take on this sort of work on an unpaid basis. My fee would be closer to X. But thanks for thinking of me, and if you do have more suitable projects in future, I hope you’ll think of me.”
And don’t forget – PR professionals move from account to account, and agency to agency. That reputation you pick up for being friendly, fun and flexible to work with could open up all sorts of new opportunities in future.
9 times out of 10, when I see bloggers and brands fall out about money, it’s because they have different expectations. So try to confirm the financial arrangements before starting work. Perhaps a quick email to confirm the content being delivered and deadline, along with the payment requirements and terms? Depending on the sort of project, you might need to know:
- Do I need to invoice, if so, who do I invoice, when, and do I need a reference number or PO on my invoice?
- What exactly are the key pieces of content I am expected to deliver?
- Will my fee include expenses, are these covered separately?
- Will the invoice be paid on receipt, or according to other payment terms?
- Will payment be made by BACS, cheque, Paypal?
- Will I be paid separately for any licensing of content to be used on, for example, the brand website and/or social channels?
It pays to have all this clear before you do any work. I once saw an agency promise to cover bloggers’ travel expenses – but at the event in question, the bloggers were told they needed to invoice for those expenses, and they’d be paid 60 days after the invoice was submitted. That’s the sort of thing that should have been made clear upfront!