I read about this online a fair bit. For instance, bloggers who ask for payment to do product reviews or cover brand campaigns remind brands that ... the free stuff doesn't pay the light bill or put gas in the car. They also mention their commitment to the hard work of having a blog or of doing what they do. They have learned to be their own megaphone - "I'm a writer, I work hard at this blog, I pay attention to industry needs and new technology, and the time I spend covering brand events, products or services, is worth being paid for. I am not 'just' a blogger."
It's great to see the kind of chatter around Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media. It's encouraging to hear bloggers help other bloggers answer the question, "what do you say when a big brand wants you to write about them, and in return they'll promise free traffic on their big-name site?"
What's missing, I think, is an overview of the industry. We're a new industry, by the way. This whole marketing online thing is still in its infancy. Most brands have teams of marketers who are quite comfortable in the display ad space, or the TV ad space, and even in banner ads - it's what they know.
They are not so familiar with blog advertising - via the blogger. Ad in the sidebar? "Sure, here's my creative blogger, put it up and track the 'impressions' and let us know what they are. If they're any good, we'll consider another ad next month." Or, they go through a media company for the ads and the media company tracks the ROI (return on investment). It all comes down to the return, doesn't it?
Well, maybe it doesn't. Or, maybe we need to look at 'return' differently.
A good friend of mine, in blog and social media consulting, has a great question for brands that ask what the ROI of being on your blog is worth... He says to them, "What's your cell phone worth?"
Think about that. What is your cell phone worth, in business? Is it only worth the $100+ you pay Sprint or Verizon each month? Or, is it worth a lot more because you use it to connect to people, to make deals, to introduce brands to other bloggers, to research content, and hundreds of other things? When you think about it, in today's technology based world, you wouldn't be without a cell phone, if you're a business person. It's integral to your success.
Engaging with bloggers on social media is the same. It's integral to the brands' success, in any number of ways.
Now, as a blogger, stop and think to yourself - back in the day, newspaper ads were all the rage. Everyone had to be in the newspaper. Why? Because of the high circulation. Everyone read a newspaper, at least once a day. Sometimes, twice a day. More eyeballs meant more possible sales. What did brands pay for that? A lot.
A simple ad in black and white cost less than a full page color ad. Right? We're talking a few hundred dollars compared to thousands and thousands of dollars. The decision to spend less or more depended on the brand's budget, their needs (was it a short campaign that needed a lot of attention right away?), and their belief that the newspaper's distribution list was worth it.
According to this article at High Beam Business, "In 2004, newspaper-advertising revenues approached $47 billion, accounting for a 17.7 percent share of the nation's total advertising."
Apparently, in its hey-day, newspapers were making a good buck. And, brands were paying a good buck to be included.
Push ahead to the new digital age, where social media dominates, and the State of the Media is showing charts and graphs of how quickly the newspaper business is declining. It's no surprise to anyone that online ads are now dominating the industry.
For bloggers, this means We are the new influencers. Our blogs are a better way for brands to connect. We are the newspaper, the magazines, even the radio. But, so many of us forget a truly phenomenal and powerful part of having a blog - that the content you write and share is there FOREVER. Unless you remove it.
It doesn't go away when someone puts out the trash for the day.
It doesn't go away when you press a button and turn the TV off.
It doesn't go away when you walk out of the room.
Google can find your content each and every day and often serves it up in response to a particular search, each and every day. That post you wrote for $50 - will serve the brand to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars, over its lifetime, if you consider each eyeball that sees it worth a select amount of cash.
I'm not going to say each eyeball is worth xx dollars. No one knows the answer to that question. Minds more vested in this question than I argue over it all the time. In the end, if we look at your blog and your traffic and your comments and your consitency, we can approximate your 'influence', much the same way newspapers did back in the day.
Problogger wrote a great post about this back in 2006 that is still relevant, "How much is a Blog Post worth?" He talks about traffic and longevity and understanding your market. All valuable things to consider, of course.
But the best article I found, in quite a few searches, by the way, is this one, "How much should you pay your company bloggers?" This is valuable because it discusses why and how you could get paid to blog. It doesn't delve into paid programs, which we do at BlogPaws, but it shows how to look at the idea of paid posts, and it demonstrates the reasons a brand would want to pay a blogger to post - not just for the eyeballs but for the quality of writing.
Back to the 'industry'... we've established that social media is still rather new, advertising on blogs and with blogs, is still new, and the marketing industry is still trying to figure all this out. If you didn't know by now, let me tell you - they're looking to you for the answers. They WANT you to show your creative side, to tell them what your influence is, to share your social media channels, and they want to know what YOU think all that is worth.
No, I didn't say they would pay what it's worth...but they're starting to believe it's worth something. Me, I don't work for less than $150 and often request $250. I am working my way up to $500 - for one post.
I'm a freelance writer. I serve a specific market. I have influence. I'm better than a newspaper or magazine ad. My content is always going to be relevant to my market. A brand that works with me gets my full attention and promotion on my social media channels. If that isn't worth $150, then... go slap a banner ad somewhere... everyone loves banner ads, don't they? (sure they do... click the link and discover how popular banner ads are)
Who's with me?