If You Pay Crap, Expect Crap in Return

If You Pay Crap, Expect Crap in Return

I blog because I feel compelled to share opinions here, to share my creative work, and also to connect with others. I’m a writer because my heart lives in the words I string together, and nothing is more rewarding than knowing my words impact others positively. But, I’m also lucky to be able to earn an income through blogging (both here and at Irritated By Allergies). Blogging for dollars is a hustle, and it’s a constantly changing gig.

I’ve been blogging since 2002, so I know a little about how the blogging game works, and despite not being the most well-trafficked site, I’m extremely proud of I Don’t Blog. Why? Well, because I’ve worked very hard to create a blog that represents me in every way. Nothing I write about is “just” for the money. None of my opinions are for sale, but I happily work with brands I like, when they’re willing to pay me for my work.

A conversation took place on the Blissdom Canada Facebook page this week about bloggers who “phone in” sponsored posts. It was a surprisingly quiet post, actually, which I found strange since I know a lot of us have strong feelings about the quality of sponsored posts. Marketers complain that posts are boring and uncreative, and bloggers complain they’re underpaid. And here I sit wondering what the big problem is? You want quality work? Pay for it. You want to be paid what you’re worth? Work for nothing less.

When working with brands, there’s no need for posts to be dull, or poorly written. I place the blame for this low quality content on everyone involved. Why settle for less than excellent? Noisy, crummy, empty-calorie blog posts do nobody any good.

In the aforementioned Facebook conversation, I asked who wants to read content that’s unprofessional and uninspired? Nobody, that’s who. Nobody wants a no-budget commercial blaring in their face. This is why people spend so much time complaining about Twitter now. It’s so noisy, so full of cheap garbage. It does a brand no good to pay for content that isn’t compelling. Yet many aren’t willing to pay for the good stuff. Brands, you have no room to complain about dollar store quality if you’re paying dollar store prices.

Our blogging world is chock full of talented, dynamic, creative writers. Just take a look at the rich tapestry of blogs out there! Why are we not embracing these differences and leveraging them with brands?

Each writer is unique and has their own voice and style. If brands really did their research, they’d find the ones that fit properly.

Same goes for bloggers seeking work. Who’s getting the work? If it’s a bunch of bloggers “phoning it in”, then that’s what the trend will be going forward. Most people will simply emulate those who blaze the path.

We constantly preach about being unique yet we’re a giant herd of sheep chasing the same field of grass. The marketers are unimpressed, and we are unimpressed, yet here we all sit making no changes.

Truthfully, I think most brands have no real clue what they’re looking for in bloggers. They think, “We need these “influencer” voices!”, but have no idea how to leverage our power.

This year I created what I thought was a dynamic, interesting, engaging video and post for a product and the brand hated it. It wasn’t offensive, or edgy; it was just creative. Entertaining. Funny! And it got the brand point across in a way I guarantee you’d enjoy. Nope, they still hated it.

They wanted bland. They wanted uninspired, uncreative, unoriginal. Instead of re-doing it, I declined the job because that’s just not who I am, or the quality of work I’d want people to see when they search for me.

Why aren’t more of us sticking to our creative guns? Why do we allow our voices to be changed and morphed into something unrepresentative of ourselves? We should be proud of our work, and view it as our online resumes. We should create to the highest standards, and expect appropriate remuneration in return.

I take a fairly hard line with my rates, but I do quality work. I’m worth the money, and the brands who understand that are willing to hire me.

There needs to be understanding from both sides.

And here’s another thing (I could go on about this all day): we are still asked to work for “exposure”, and are invited to events to just promote brands without monetary compensation. What does that communicate to bloggers? That we are not worth money, that’s what.

It’s the endless dangling carrot, and for many it doesn’t lead to much beyond those events or “exposures”. You cannot pay your bills with exposure.

When I started staying firm with my rates and compensation expectations, I got less jobs, but I make FAR more. The invitations to events almost ceased to exist, but again, my content is solid and I’m compensated fairly. I don’t spend hours on the road traveling to events, worrying about childcare, and filling my social media streams with brand ads anymore. I cover what I value, and I cover those who return the respect.

I’m a professional, writing is my job, and I expect to be fairly compensated for work that demonstrates my talent.

If you pay crap, expect crap in return.
I know that it’s hard to turn down five $50 jobs in the hopes of getting one $250 one, but it has been the successful option for me. If we all demanded better (and offered better!), this wouldn’t be so difficult.

I strongly believe that paying higher rates for better content is the right choice for brands, too. You cannot expect someone to write for pennies (or exposure) and get quality results, you just can’t.

I know my readers appreciate that I never write about anything I don’t genuinely use and love, and the brands appreciate my talents and skills.

So yes, this isn’t the most trafficked blog in Canada. I’m not an ambassador for many brands. I don’t attend all the events and I don’t write about all the products. But what I do is cultivate a community of integrity and quality. I lend my voice and talents to those who respect it, and I am proud of the content I produce.

We deserve professional rates when we offer professional work. Both sides of this equation should expect nothing less.

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9 thoughts on “If You Pay Crap, Expect Crap in Return

  1. I love this post! I have strived for fair compensation for quality work for most of my blogging career. I’ve been called expensive by pr, but stood my ground and been much happier for it. And I must be naive, but was is “calling in” a blog post? I’m not familiar with that term.

    1. “Phoning it in” is a slang phrase for doing something half-assed, or not up to potential. 🙂

  2. Dammit, I had a big reply to this and my phone lost it when trying to log in via Twitter to post the comment, boo!

    Regardless, totally agree and thank you!

  3. It’s refreshing to read a post like this, and even more so because you hold your audience in such high regard. In the past, I’ve represented brands who wanted to work with bloggers (working at a marketing agency) and many are hesitant to try something new, or even relinquish creative control to a blogger. What’s even more sad is that I watched the rep for one brand push one blogger to over calculate and over analyze the ROI on her proposal to him, which he eventually turned down because it didn’t make financial sense. She was simply asking for one (low value) product for herself, and one to giveaway to her readers. Blogging’s a tough gig. My only hope is that more bloggers stay true to themselves and hold out for the right opportunities, like you’ve mentioned.

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