Money Talk: Should Mom Bloggers Discuss What They Earn?


There is a consistent theme that runs through a lot of conversations about money in the mom blogosphere. Typically moms want other bloggers to reveal what they earn in order to get an idea of how to price various partnerships they have with brands. But is this the right thing to do?

I know it can be frustrating when you’re new to the world of brand partnerships. You don’t want to undersell yourself and you don’t want to price yourself out of an opportunity either. In my case, I had to figure out the hard way through good old-fashioned trial and error. When I first started working with brands many years ago I charged far too low for services rendered. Then I got hip to the world of business and started charging what I was worth and I haven’t looked back since.

Whenever I can put mom bloggers in the ballpark of what they should charge brands, I am always happy to help because as women we tend to undersell ourselves a lot. That said, however, sharing specific rates that you charge brands can become quite problematic. People talk behind closed doors and relationships can become strained if money discussions come into play particularly if a brand pays two mom bloggers different rates.  That’s never a good situation!

There is also the potential for other bloggers to throw roadblocks in your way if you reveal too much of how much you earn, especially if you’re on the higher end of earning potential among mom bloggers. It’s sad, but true. Even though in an ideal world we would all love to throw numbers on the table, money talk tends to complicate things, right? People act strange. Think about all the hubub made over what Dooce makes in a month or what Chris Brogan charges in a day.

Like Melanie wrote in her brilliant post this week, Why Do Bloggers Continue to Work for Free?, no blogger should work for free. (As an aside, I would like to clarify something very quickly. When I review products I don’t charge for that. When I work with a brand on an extended campaign by lending my likeness to their web site and social media outlets, create content for them and generally work for them, I always charge.)

I’m sure you’re wondering: How can I NOT work for free if I don’t know what to charge? Good question! Always start by knowing you will charge a brand for services you perform or content you create. You also have to be confident in your ability to perform and therefore should charge accordingly. If you overcharge, oftentimes brands will negotiate a rate that works for both parties. If you feel it is too low, always be willing to walk away. Never accept a lower fee than you know you deserve because you are desperate to work with a certain brand.

Remember this: Always err on the side of overcharging because you have the option to negotiate. And you never know, a brand may go with your original rate!

Let me know what you think about money and the mom blogging community.

76 thoughts on “Money Talk: Should Mom Bloggers Discuss What They Earn?

  1. Could you clarify something for me? Why don’t you charge to review products? It’s my understanding that bloggers will have to pay taxes on the value of the products they receive and keep. So, by not charging, it will actually costs bloggers to review products for companies, thus they are “paying” to advertise products for companies. Am I missing something here? Thanks for any feedback/clarity you can provide!

    • Hi Christine: I consider products I review a part of my business, so paying taxes on the items I review I chalk up to what I have to do as a business owner. I work with PR firms on product reviews which in turn make my editorial presence stronger on my review blog, The Mom Salon. That said, I don’t review many products anymore, but I would never charge a company to review a product. When I’m working on larger campaigns, however, I always charge.

      • I’m glad you clarified that upfront because often the conversation on posts like this gets confusing regarding who is charging for what. I do not charge for reviews, either. I think any blogger who is looking at blogging as a professional, should set aside the time and money to meet with an accountant to discuss what’s taxable and what’s tax deductible.

        I agree that pricing is tricky, especially if a person is just starting out. It’s good to have a trusted and experienced circle of friends to call on for advice.

      • I don’t do a lot of product reviews but I do giveaways and work with My Blog Spark- which does not pay cash for their giveaway/features. My opinion with reviews and giveaways that I am not getting “paid” for, but get to try the product or receive a gift card as compensation, is to never accept a product that I am not really interested in. If I would not normally by it or a similar product it is not worth it for me to feature it on my blog.

        I can regard getting a product for free that I will buy in the future pretty much as getting paid, because it saves me purchasing it.

        But that said I will rarely feature a promotion without cash (or I personally will take a really good giftcart IF and only IF it is to a store that I will be going to regardless of the giftcard, like groceries) unless it is something I would normally post and would greatly benefit my readers.

        I recently had a very large and well known company contact me wanting me to post about some promotion- I told then I would be glad to if they wanted to chat about compensation- I didn’t hear back from them.

        jen

      • I’ve only heard a case for charging to do a product review but I’ve never heard a reason for not charging so I really appreciate you perspective. Thanks for responding so quickly!

  2. Great post – as a new to advertising (okay, I just switched to wordpress.org and it isn’t up yet) and working with brands, this is very interesting. I always use your site as a resource – many thanks!

  3. I don’t like discussing money with other bloggers. I feel like money is personal and private, and should only be discussed when providing a price sheet/media kit to a client. I have heard gossip after gossip about which blogger charges what, and I honestly don’t know why we care or how we even know it’s true. I’m not a fan of “raise your hand if you make money blogging” either. Not anyone’s business, honestly.

    I agree with you. Trial and error. It doesn’t matter what other bloggers are charging because we’re all so different. Blogger A may have a huge following on their blog, but Blogger B may have thousands of followers on Twitter. YOU know what you are worth, so let’s think less about what other bloggers are charging.

    Great post.

  4. Spot on. I’m getting tired of people hearing “pay your dues” and thinking that means “work for free”. Or, on the flip side, hearing “insist on being paid what you are worth” and thinking that means “charge exorbitant rates for everything”.

    I am pretty much at the same point right now–I do not charge for reviews but do charge for content, ambassadorships, etc.

    A few other tricky areas:

    Ambassadorships when there is a charity element… I have to admit I’ve broken my own rule there a handful of times. I do think the company should still pay and I have been paid for the most recent corporate charity campaign I did. After all, it is cause MARKETING. If they were just donating money out of the goodness of their hearts they wouldn’t be making it part of a blogger campaign! They are getting good publicity out of your work so the blogger should get something, too.

    I know what I am worth in the fields of education and writing because I have been working professionally in those areas before. I also know how much my time is worth to me because I do still work from home.

    However, there are moms out there who do not have that same sort of professional experience and for them hearing that at least $50 / hr is a standard consulting rate if you have some experience or that anything under 10 cents a word is a signal to run, fast, and that higher rates of 25 cents a word are more standard for anything but hack work is good information.

    And then there are other parts of the equation.

    Usually when a company says they will promote you and hope you build your business, that is not a fair exchange…but sometimes, in certain circumstances, it can be.

    I charge less for other indie mom entrepreneurs than a big corporation. I will occasionally guest post for other bloggers.

    I’ve noticed a lot of discussion around the idea that the big companies will suddenly start paying. Sorry, if you start working for free, you will continue working for free for that company. They are already paying someone. It just isn’t you. Another idea I hear is that the big companies will take their ball away and go home. I seriously doubt it. Even if they do? I’m okay with that, honestly.

    I am trying to resist the reverse sliding scale that seems to have reared its head in the blogosphere: working for big companies for peanuts or for free (because somehow their success might rub off on the blogger?) and charging small businesses. We should be giving breaks to other small businesses (if anyone) and then showing the big companies we’re worth it by expecting fair payment and then delivering the goods.

  5. As a blogger, I don’t charge for reviews because if I’m not interested, I’m not going to accept a sample of anything. I’m selective in my products and also not nearly pitched as much as you are – not even close! With my PR hat on, I also wouldn’t pay a blogger for a product review. BUT, when it comes to creating content, participating in a focus group, etc., bloggers should receive payment. I really think more and more bloggers are understanding their worth (and their brand) and thinking hard about each opportunity that comes their way, making sure it’s a good fit for them.

  6. I understand your points – and I don’t. Maybe I’m looking at it from a more traditional approach, but for any industry there are understood “industry standards”. Some garner higher, some lower based on reputation, exposure, etc.

    I don’t work with brands currently. If I was approached tomorrow I’d have no idea what is fair and reasonable. SOMEONE ought to throw the gauntlet down and give some guidelines for the benefit of the industry, in my opinion. We need to move beyond the whispers and “mentoring” behavior and take on some business acumen. You don’t want people to work for cereal (thank you, Bloggess)? Then show them how much money they are potentially leaving on the table ON AVERAGE. What’s the ballpark for certain kinds of work? Which models work best? What’s a reasonable hourly rate? For those fees what are you expected to deliver?

    It’s unfortunate that even now women get uncomfortable talking about money. It really is – and more unfortunate are those with ill intent based on the success of another. But those are outliers, and for the benefit of the whole, I’d sure like to see someone get not only brave but SMART and share the real business side of blogging.

    • I hear you, Pam. I really do. The only problem with averages is that there are so many bloggers with different levels of influence that it’s difficult to do.

      For example, Julia Roberts can demand more per movie than Lindsay Lohan even though they are both actors. Drew Brews will be paid more than a fifth-round draft pick even though they are both football players.

      See what I’m saying?

      There really is no industry standard for blogger rates. It’s all about what you can negotiate for yourself and really, honestly knowing your worth. It’s also about taking risks and being willing to walk away if you need to.

      • True…but there is “scale” in the acting and performing world. And hopefully by the time you reach the level of Julia Roberts, you don’t really need advice on how to price your work.

        I do think it is fair to say, for example only, “I charge more because I have been doing this for 5 years and have previous experience in a related field and bigger stats BUT a blogger with some writing talent, UVs of a bare minimum of XK, and at least Y months of solid content under her belt should be able to reasonably ask for at least…”

      • Yes, I agree with the both of you and I love the post, but what I think should happen is an average taken anonymously with current monthly stats, so that there is a comparison to go by. Amounts for guest posts, reviews, giveaways, review/giveaways, communities, promos, ad buttons and banners, whatever else there may be. Divided, for instance, into:
        0-200 reader/subscriptions/followers, 0-500 unique monthly visitors, 0-2000 monthly page views
        201-500 r/s/f, 501-2000 v, 2001-5000 pv
        etc.

        All anon. What do you guys think?

      • Wow, this is great information. I’m just now beginning to post product reviews and giveaways – I’m very new. I had no idea that bloggers get paid for participating in focus groups or marketing brands. I knew you could get paid for content but I thought the rest was just about getting the product, using the product, writing about the product and then giving away the product. Now I hear I may need to pay taxes on these products too? Interesting. Is there an e-book somewhere to understand all these things?

  7. Making Money off your blog seem’s to be a challenge for me. I have flood product reviews & trades but I am running into road blocks when it comes to getting brands to pay for ad space, blog posts, digital press reviews. Does anyone have any advice for me? How BIG do you have to be to matter to brands?

    Thank you, Angeal

  8. Making Money off your blog seem’s to be a challenge for me. I have flood product reviews & trades but I am running into road blocks when it comes to getting brands to pay for ad space, blog posts, digital press reviews. Does anyone have any advice for me? How BIG do you have to be to matter to brands?

    Thank you, Angela

  9. While I think that the terms between contracts should be private (usually that is one of the terms), I do think that rough numbers are great to be armed with so that people can understand if they are short-changing themselves or not.

    A spokesperson job doing this should get between x and x, a blog post for a company for 200-400 words should get between x and x, consulting for a company should be between x and x… not necessarily disclosing the pay of what their projects are, but knowing what is a fair pay to ask for helps so much.

  10. I posted a blog post replying and linking to this post. I love your voice and you’re very influential. I don’t charge for product reviews and/or giveaways. I am not too big of a mom blogger yet to think I should be paid for everything. I think PR companies don’t pay moms either to “review” a product. That’s paid endorsement. Receiving a free product with no money isn’t endorsed. That’s just my opinion.

    http://www.MomBit.com

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  12. (what Amy said too – she has taught me SO much!!)

    I’ll also add that others need to know that it’s not about the traffic from your blog that warrants the pay scale we negotiate from. It’s about lots of factors in my opinion: influence, professionalism, niche, experience. Truly, it boils down to what your personal rates are and going forward with that, through trial/error as you suggested. Just have a rate to start from.

    The other thing I believe companies really need to focus on is past experience. As in, “before I became a blogger” experience no matter what the industry or homemaking specialty was (and still is). I didn’t suddenly acquire project management skills or learn how to have strategic partnership discussions when I entered the blogosphere. It happened long ago with my past experience. Looking at the breadth and depth of experience shows the company how much more there is to offer.

    • Good point, Andrea, regarding past experience. I always use my past experience when discussing my experience, even if it has nothing relating to blogging. (i.e. leadership roles, direct sales, online communities, etc.)

  13. This is a great post… I think we should talk about and share what we’re making or at least a range especially if someone asks directly. I often find that as women we are so suspicious of each others’ motives. I find that the more helpful I am, and can be, to others the more help that I get. I don’t feel uncomfortable answering direct questions and try be helpful to those who are genuinely trying to survive and succeed just like I am.

    Why do you think men make more than women across the board? What do you think they talk about when they play golf, hang out after work, etc.? They talk numbers. They give references, referrals, tips, etc. They don’t make everything a competition or so personal. The blogging industry should be like any other where you can look up the numbers yourself and see a range that also annotates relevant experience, etc., to at least give newbies (or those who are unsure) a basis to work with. Make sense? I hope so.

    An-t-way, I said all of that to say that yes, I think we should share especially if asked. Oh, and no I don’t charge for product reviews and I do quite a bit of them.

  14. I agree. A guide might be nice. An average of top bloggers, medium bloggers, and new bloggers maybe? There are people who write 50 words for $5, there are people who write 200 words for $30+, and so on. I guess, it depends on where you feel you are. As with most jobs, more experience equals more money.

    I don’t charge for reviews. If I get a product free, I’ve been paid what that product retails. That’s how I base my judgement.

    It is hard to discuss money though. I don’t discuss money with family (or anyone). The only thing I could think of to help average a price would be to use common sense.

  15. I was recently approached by a pr firm, representing a rather large corporation, for “advice” on how to approach, engage and compensate bloggers and I agreed to help him/her for this very reason. So, I explained the campaigns I’ve worked on and that my readers seemed to enjoy (I also list this info on my professional website, which is directly accessible from my blogs) and felt very comfortable with giving “ball park estimates” of what I thought was fair compensation for a blogger’s time.

    Why not; especially, if it helps a fellow blogger, right?

    On the other hand, I found it very insulting to be asked, point blank, “How much do you get paid for blogging?” by a corporate representative, during a speaking engagement. So, I answered him with, “How much do YOU get paid?”

    I believe that common sense is a great factor, in deciding what is appropriate, in this case, as well — excellent post, Jennifer!!!

  16. As the owner of a small PR firm that believes in a compensation model for mom bloggers, I see great discrepancy between blogger rates and wonder if there is any way that the community can have more open and honest conversations in order to create some sort of universal standard. I realize that each person’s rate hinges on their own influence and knowledge (not only as a mom and blogger but also past professional experience) but in order to companies to adjust from an earned-media model to a compensation-based model, we need to know how to budget and manage our client’s expectations from the start – not 1/2 way through the process.

      • That 6 month timeline works fine for large firms that are on retainer with clients and are researching strategies waaay before they present them to their clients. However small firms, like mine, work primarily on a project basis and we don’t always have that kind of leeway. Granted, we take steps to inform/educate the client on the variables however it seems blogger rates are also changing on a month to month basis as the bloggers become more educated. I know that businesses don’t like to announce their rates but at one point someone should take the leap and help provide some sort of general guidelines.

  17. Great question. I don’t think that it’s a good idea to say what you make online, because there are so many issues that come into play. However, I don’t mind sharing ranges with individuals that I personally know who ask for specific advice. (It’s kind of like how I don’t share extremely personal things on my blog but I will share it with trusted people one on one if they ask specifically!)

    • Completely agree. If there is an industry sheet with ranges I think too many problems will arise from it. The range is huge, I’m sure, in both directions.

      But, like you, if anyone asks who I know personally, I’m always happy to help.

  18. This seems to be more of an issue for women in general. You never see too many men questioning their worth or demanding to get paid for work or a job well done. I know I have underestimated myself many times thinking that I wasn’t “good enough” to ask for money or to get paid. Now, I know that I can expect reasonable compensation for my expertise, talent, and skills, as well as access to my particular audience. I think we need to set the bar higher for ourselves and stop undervaluing our work.

    BTW, I sometimes do charge for reviews if the company wants me to do a video review. I think we should be compensated for giveaways too because running those things is alotta work!! LOL

    Here’s to more “cha-ching” for us all!!! :)

  19. GREAT discussion, as always, Jennifer. I, too, would love it if someone like Problogger (or YOU!) wrote up a post of what should be paid. I think the industry standard would be based on that post.

    Here’s how I chose my rate: I felt taken advantage of by the end of 2009, so sat back and thought hard about what hourly rate was worth my time. Then I thought about how long it takes to write up a giveaway or a post for a company. I figured 2-3 hours in emailing back and forth, writing the post, and closing the giveaway. So that’s what I charge.

    I feel that rate is cheap for a billboard! It’s a billboard that helps the company with SEO, is on the homepage for a week, in the archives indefinitely, heavily tweeted and facebooked. The companies are happy to pay that, and I’m happy because I’m getting a nice hourly rate for the time spent away from my family to benefit a company.

    As I get too many requests – something that’s happening this month — I’ll raise my rate a little bit. I only want one sponsored post/giveaway each week. I don’t want my blog to be all about that.

    As for reviews, I don’t charge for them, either. But I also rarely do them anymore, accepting only those products or books that I wanted anyway.

    Lori Seaborg (p.s. If you come to TypeaMom, say “hi!”)
    I’m @ JustPureLovely.com and the blog linked from this note

  20. Yes, we should know our worth. I think that, at least, we should set our own personal standards (much like my husband does as a paint contractor). You want x, y, and z? Ok. This is my estimate/bid on the project. I have learned from this conversation that we let the companies be in charge when we need to take charge of our “blog business.” I guess, we tend to give in because as women we are use to giving in as wives, mothers, etc. Selflessness.

  21. Excellent article, as always. I pored over every word and every word of the responses; still trying to orient myself in this world of blogging! As a freelance writer, I know how to charge, because it’s either hourly by the word count. But advertising, reviews, giveaways, billboards, media kits…oy! Still trying to figure it all out. Thank you Jennifer, for being such a fantastic and consistent resource!

  22. I’m very new to reviewing products, I just started a couple months ago…. Now with that being said, I never looked into any of it. It just sort of happened. I was emailed a few times and I was off. Now it’s seems its been non stop to the mailbox since. I haven’t had a chance to ask or even think about taxes. All these review products I have to pay taxes on??

    Please help :)

    Thanks!

    Peace, Love and Much Respect☺
    ~Veronica

    • Veronica,
      My understanding – and i”m not a CPA – is that if WE ask for a product and it’s sent to us… that is taxable.
      If a COMPANY offers to send us a product that we then accept… it’s a gift and isn’t taxed.

      Anyone have any other advice from their CPA’s?

  23. Thank you so much to everyone first of all for all of this great feedback.

    I am with a lot of these ladies on both sides of the conversations, one question that i have had is :How do I know my worth if I have nothing to base it on?”

    that’s going back to having nothing to compare too. I have asked for advice from bloggers, but of course the money issue is such a hush subject, that no advice is ever given. Never have asked “how much do you make?” or anything of the sort, but asked for advice in finding out what is fair, what is normal, what is right?

    For example, I have no idea of my worth as a blogger, and I put endless hours on each campaign and review, if a company were to ask about payment, my first thought would be :Don’t ask for too much Lily, or you will loose them” So from advice I have read it’s $10dllrs. In my head I am worth $10 dllrs, so that’s what I would ask for, and end up not only missing out, but putting my Family on stand by so I can make some money, and at the same time, basically wrk for free. did I make sense? LOL

    I know that money talks are sensitive, but at the same time I always hear about unity and supporting each other as Bloggers or Mom bloggers, but when it comes to throwing a bone to something as important as this, the support ends because no one wants to admit what they make, again, I have never asked how much, but some sort of table estimate to go by, to have an idea u know?

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  25. Here’s the thing. Mom Blogging is very quickly becoming an industry. Every industry needs to have standards. If we don’t start talking to each other and being open about our practice… how can we standardize our industry?

    If we don’t unite and stand up against doing free promotions we will continue, as I am, to be inundated by requests from XLarge Multinational corporations to do their promotions… for free. NO thanks. I am happy to work with their company – after we have negotiated our price from my rate card. As long as bloggers are doing free promotions – these requests for free advertising will continue.

    Reviews? No payments. You are being paid in product. So if you have to pay the tax – so be it – think of all the other things you can write off when you register your company. That’s why you need to pick and choose what you review. Don’t forget you are writing for a niche market – what are they interested in reading about?

    Ladies, we are an industry. The louder our voice, the more powerful we are. We must work together, and to do this we need standards. The choice to deviate above or below these standards is yours… it will benefit everyone. It is a win-win.

    Let’s start talking and stop hiding…

    • I agree with you, I used to be a professional photographer (mostly wedding) and occasionally I would do a bit of commercial work here and there. To be honest photographers generally sell themselves short and undersell or giveaway for credit (in the hopes that it will get them paid business or recognition that rarely comes).

      But that said there are at least resources that you can go to, as a professional photographer, that will give you a “rate card” for your image. And there are lots of variables- just as we would need as bloggers.

      This is just one that I could find again, but I know that there are others- http://photographersindex.com/stockprice.htm

      Something like this would be such a great tool, even if it were only a starting place.

      -jen

  26. Um is it me? This was hysterical. So this is what I took away from this article “Bloggers should totally talk about what they get paid to help other bloggers know what to charge” AND You never mention what you charge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Something doesn’t add up here. literally.

    How about sharing some numbers?

    • Not sure how you came to that conclusion from my article. I mentioned how problematic sharing numbers can be. However, if a close friends asks about ballpark figures I am always happy to help.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Jennifer, Thank you for the post, and for saying that you are always happy to share with friends, I believe I have asked over 15 ppl, for an idea as to what I should be looking at in regards to prices for certain things and not one ever answered, mind you that several of those were ppl I speak with, and some were bloggers that I have communicated with often. ;)
        You are one of a kind hun ;)

  27. “You do not have because you do not ask.” I wasn’t until I started asking for compensation, that I was given compensation. And I think it’s time to review my rates again… (there goes that trial and error)

  28. I had someone on my team (home business) who had a great response to prospects who asked much money she made:

    “Show me your W2 and I’ll show you my 1099.”

    According to her, it shut people up quick!

    But I really like the sentence:

    Remember this: Always err on the side of overcharging because you have the option to negotiate. And you never know, a brand may go with your original rate!

    Sometimes we forget that there doesn’t seem to be a “fixed price” for services on the Internet. It depends on so much…..

    • The rule of thumb for charging, and which I’ve been successful in selling ads on my blog (which is admittedly a small blog), is $2-4 CPM. I’ve seen other bigger bloggers, with less than 100,000 Alexa rating, who charge $1-1.50 CPM for 250×250 sidebar ads. I am by NO MEANS an expert, but since this post is about transparency in earning, there it is.

      For giveaways, consider how long the giveaway is and how many posts will be required (at least two, one for entering and one to anounce the winner), and charge that many times your ad rate. So if you have 50,000 page views, and you charge $1 CPM, than an ad would be $50 and a giveaway w/ 2 posts would be $100.

      Of course you have to take into account extras that will cost you time – will the winner be picked by random number generator, or will you have to judge the best entry? Will you have to manage FB and Twitter entries and monitor a hash tag? Is the contest quick or ongoing for 7 or 10 days? And so on.

      That ‘s the rule of thumb I’ve been working off of; how does that compare to what you all might do/have been told?

      And I agree with negotiating. I work as a staff writer on another blog/site, and my editor pitched me a low number for (4) 1000 word articles per month. I responded with my minimum rate – 50% more than he offered. He accepted the higher rate. But if I had taken the lower rate and then asked for a “raise” a few month later – I doubt I would get paid that rate.

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  30. Great article!

    I’ve always said there are two topics which always seem to make people uneasy 1. politics 2. money.

    I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to discuss rates as it can cause too many issues. There are so many different factors that play into individual rates that discussing them can complicate rather than solve anything.

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  33. Thanks for approaching these topics so candidly, Jennifer! I know your blog posts are truly outstanding because I read them thoroughly PLUS I read all of the comments.

    You (and your readers) have given me much to think about it. My first impression is that I agree that it is not wise to throw around dollar figures carelessly. I also agree that there are many, many factors related to compensation so it would be hard to come up with an industry standard. “Influence” is difficult to measure as it involves a complex formula (that is different for every blogger): page views, unique visitors, twitter followers, reader loyalty, experience inside and outside the blogosphere, “fit” with a particular brand, etc.

    All that said, I do think it is good for bloggers to help each other and provide guidelines in individual relationships. I’d like to see more “mentor” type relationships evolve in the blogosphere…just as they exist in the business world.

    Thanks again for starting this conversation!

  34. Well, you know me, I’m a big advocate for proper compensation. I think bloggers get scared that there won’t be other opportunities, or that they should work for free in order to build a portfolio. But really, bloggers need to remember that their time is money. Think about whatever job you were in prior to blogging (assuming you were in a traditional job). It might be apples and oranges (if, like me, your prior field was completely different from current), but it helps to think about the hourly rate to just remind yourself of your worth (or, in my case as a former lowly paid postdoc, how much more I should be getting paid now!).

    It’s challenging to talk hard numbers amongst bloggers because everyone’s situation is different…what your cover, how big your reach, whether there’s particular added value in your niche (if you’re a niche blogger), etc. But I suggest envisioning what you think you are worth (fairly, not grandiose) and go for it.

  35. I once saw Suze Orman on The View and she said that for women to get ahead that we need to start openly talking about money, specifically how much we earn. Of course she was happy to reveal how much she made (it was in the millions) but it made the other women on The View very uncomfortable. I do agree with Jennifer that relationships can become strained over money discussions, but at the same time I think there is some true value to having these open and honest discussions and I think the majority could benefit from them. However with that said, I’m not ready to show my cards either.

  36. Jennifer,

    Thanks for another insightful post, which got me really thinking.

    While I do have the advantage of having worked in corporate and agency PR and also journalism for more than 25 years prior to transitioning less than 2 years ago to full-time mommy blogger writing for my own blog, I still consider myself rather new on the blogging front. Since the beginning, I have always worked hard to build my skill set and visibility — starting out just writing my own blog without any income. But, as my presence has grown in social media, companies now seek me out. So far this has resulted in paid guest columns for two blogs on an ongoing basis as well as a host of other social media consulting projects that are now in the works for various other clients.

    I don’t consider myself an elite blogger just yet, though as I’d guess that on average it probably has taken the most financially successful women bloggers about 3-5 years to really reach their potentials. Those of us who are on the upswing of the learning curve (like me) or newbies need to strive not to be jealous of those major league members because they are there because they earned it. Yes, I’d postulate that those bloggers have created their own successes, for the most part, by investing many hours of their own time and possibly other resources.

    Considering the range of skills and experiences of bloggers, I think it’s fair that the rate of pay is usually greater for more experienced bloggers and less for those that are less experienced along the entire spectrum. Those that are newer to social media can’t expect to command the same rates as the more seasoned pros, but we can listen and learn from the pros what they were bringing when they were newbies themselves. That’s why I love your blog, it’s a place for us each to learn about what we lack knowledge- and experience-wise. It’s also a great place to share the things that we do know something about with others who can benefit.

    Further, I think compensation is not only dependent on the blogger or social media consultant who is hired to do the work. Payment will and does vary greatly depending on the type and complexity of project(s) involved, client’s industry, size of company, economic climate, and a range of other things. So, in summary, my advice on pricing services is that each blogger should consider both what they have to offer to the client and what they think the client can reasonably afford. Then, prepare a custom price schedule for each job proposal — and be flexible enough to negotiate a deal that is a win-win for each party involved.

  37. Jennifer ~ you never cease to amaze me. As always ~ right on target!

    I hear both sides & I find myself agreeing WITH both sides as I finished up each comment. It’s a tricky road to navigate.

    So, I offer these perspectives:

    Remember, 3 years ago we were all stumbling our way through Twitter {& honestly? Who could have predicted it would become our 2nd inbox?}

    And ~

    When getting started in the compensation game provide yourself benchmarks. Sure, you may not know how much your worth ~ but you can negotiate a timeline of when you’ll evaluate how it’s going. For me, this is always 3 months. Long enough to fully get into the projects. Long enough for me to determine if I’m “worth more” to continue or if everyone’s happy.

    Best of luck to everyone,

    xoxo

  38. I think a point is being missed here. I don’t think anyone needs to know what Jennifer makes. Or what I make. etc. and so on.

    BUT…it is helpful to know a reasonable *baseline*.

    In acting, in writing, in consulting, in speaking, etc., there are people who command much higher rates based on talent, experience, education, fame, followings, etc.

    But I think the people asking are really wondering, what’s a reasonable *starting point*. And in all those fields, there are generally accepted fees.

    In web design, for example, you can get someone who knows their stuff for $50 / hr. Sometimes you can get lucky and find someone for $35 / hr. Someone just starting out who wants to develop a portfolio might work for $20-25. And an established designer who has tons of work might price themselves much higher, of course…I’m not going to tell a major design firm that they should be willing to work for $20 an hour just because a newbie is willing to do so! I have a budget and I will select the best and most appropriate designer I can afford within the budget.

    I don’t think quoting some possible rates at all traps the higher earners or overly simplifies a complex equation. It is just a starting point so people do not sell themselves too ridiculously short.

    No corporate representative is going to demand that Ree or Heather work for a starter rate. If they want “Dooce” they know they will have to pay her rate.

    And even at the more typical levels, we can all feel free to set our own rates higher–which people will take or leave. However, if there are guidelines in place for reasonable rates, then it will keep the floor in place. Those who charge more will be able to explain why they are quoting higher rates and then companies can take or leave it. If a company wants someone with my experience in education, my degrees, and my traffic level, they will have to pay more than someone who doesn’t have these things…but if they don’t need these things in their campaign, then the campaign may not be a fit.

    That is certainly better than explaining why I am charging for consulting at all or charging more than minimum wage because “plenty of bloggers work for free” or “I’ve never heard of bloggers charging” (both of which I’ve heard) for goodness sakes!

    There are a number of ways to calculate your rate: What is the going rate? What is your time worth? What have you made in the past / could make doing something else from home?

    If you get more work than you want, raise your rate and refer projects you can’t take on to your fellow bloggers.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  39. Great article thanks for the tips. I’m here from the list of 50 best women blogs. I have a blog too about product reviews,giveaways,diabetes and food tips. Lots of giveaways too! I’m now following your blog. I don’t charge for reviews and I love doing them. I also enjoy doing giveaways but if a company doesn’t want a review included it would be nice if they gave us something for doing the giveaway for them as they are a lot of work. I’d love to find some focus groups to be involved in or a brand ambassador opportunity that would be nice.

  40. That’s a great post. And a great point.

    To bad no one thinks I’m a good enough or well known enough blogger to work with me in any way shape or form. Paid or not. Makes me sad. BUT!! I can continue to be my normal random self on my blog ’cause of it ;P

  41. Pingback: Interesting Links October 2010 Edition

  42. Great article! I never charge for reviews even though I was charged by duty fee and broker fee. I met a few good companies. When they knew I was charged by the duty fee, they offered me the check immediately.

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