If Content Is King, Why Should I Remain A Pauper?

SOCIAL MEDIA | | June 29, 2011 at 8:49 am

Yeah, this is another of those posts I don’t want to write. I debated writing it because I don’t want my blog sounding like a whining fest but I needed to put this out there. Many blogger friends talk. Whether it is on twitter (especially DMs), Skype, on phone (yes, several of us still resort to this age old technology method), on Facebook, in email (yes we respond to our bloggy friends first) or in person and we discuss blogging. We do it because we want to learn from each other what is expected, and whether there is a trend in habits and most often to see if what we’re working on sounds fair. Brands and agencies (and everyone) should want to be a fly on the wall for these discussions. Not because of spying but to learn. The fact is we’re all learning, and we’re all evolving.

The fact that the Social Media field is growing so rapidly, means it is difficult to keep up with putting up tips and tricks or guidelines. When I wrote that post about the unfair pitch I saw someone tweet that they would have just deleted the pitch (rather than make a stinker I presume)- and contrary to what that person  implied – I did not write that post to create drama. I wrote it to highlight the matter. Someone needed to – several of us were already talking about it. Had it not been out there brands would continue to think that that was acceptable practice, good brands would not have believed that such ridiculous pitches existed, newer bloggers might have felt that this was acceptable behavior and other bloggers (in the know) might have felt alone at the frustration at it. Whatever you chalk up the reason for me writing it I will say this – it made the brand sit up and take notice (enough to change the wording) and I somehow doubt any brand would have the gall to put up a pitch like that again. You can thank me later!

The same goes when I wrote about those voting contests we are made to dance to the tune of. Now back to the point of this post – boy do I get side-tracked easily. This post is not about reviews, compensation for your blog, events or pitches so please refrain from getting off-track when you place a comment (I do enough sidetracking for us all). This post is about content. More specifically content created for brands on their “property”. If you want to slice and dice it further – THIS IS ABOUT CONTENT YOU CREATE FOR A BRAND’S SITE!

Let me make it simple:

If you create content on a company’s site you should be paid!

No ifs or buts about it, and that took me a lot of courage and confidence to not add “in my opinion” there but I said it, so there. Now if you are wondering if I have ever done it the answer is YES! You can chalk up my reasons for doing it before to any from the big bag of reasons containing “I wanted to build a relationship” “I believed in the cause/topic” “I wanted the link” “I wanted the traffic” “It was an honor writing for the publication” “I did not know you could ask for money”. The thing is I have grown and learned (a little) and this is not because I think I am influential now (I don’t have delusions about that at all) and now expect to be paid but because just like the blogosphere,  I have evolved. I think we all have.

Let me slice those reasons I mentioned up there:

“I wanted to build a relationship”

I have done, and will continue to do things gratis for something if I feel kindred enough to the relationship. I will however make sure that these are favors and not expected behavior. The issue is once I do it for free (like I have) it becomes a habit and the “You did it before” comes in – then I have dug myself into a hole. Seriously what a dark and yucky hole it is – because I feel like a heel saying I want to be compensated. I feel cheap and greedy and I can just see them thinking “This Mommy Niri is too big for her boots these days“. I start feeling like a hooker who will do anything or write anywhere if the price is right. While I will expect compensation for creating content that does not mean if someone is willing to fork out money then I will write anywhere. My writing is still my baby – I would still like to be careful where it is featured or included.

“I believed in the cause/topic”

This one is a tough one for me, especially since philanthropy is a passion of mine (as you can see in Mommy Niri Cares) so I have written and may actually do it for a cause – but not on a brand’s site where people actually get paid to work there. I also do not appreciate people making me feel guilty with the “out of the goodness of your heart” nonsense. Getting paid does not make me any less good.

“I wanted the link”

This one is a plain stinker. Notice that you are not offered a link from the main site but a micro-site or their blog? Chances are that site has less traffic than yours. And if it does don’t worry you will help them with traffic by all the promoting of your post that you do.

“I wanted the traffic”

Have you been promised traffic for your content? Well a good giveaway on your site also delivers good traffic. Issue is traffic like that is so temporary. It’s short lived. And all in all is not worth the effort. Sure they may read your content there and someone may actually click on that link to your site, but chances are pretty good the majority won’t! Think of it: how often do you click through all the links when you read a post? Exactly! Now if that content sat on your own site – the traffic to read it is 100% yours to keep!

“It was an honor writing for the publication”

I am sure it was. Of course the honor does not or should not diminish if you are getting paid to write there (in fact, that they would actually think highly enough to pay you should increase that honor). If you need real life examples then Huffington Post anyone? I wonder if any of those unpaid bloggers manage to use their “honor” in writing for them to get another job or pay the mortgage??

“I did not know you could ask for money!”

Really, I didn’t! I bet many of you didn’t too. And those of us that do or are learning this – well we should be sharing it with others so they don’t feel so alone in that dirty hole trapped considering whether asking for money is tantamount to greed. Also I bet that many brands and agencies did not even consider that content for brands is actually quite different from reviews etc.

Are you bored with this post yet? Ok, I promise I am almost done. When the FTC can come out and make laws about declaring getting paid then working for free should be something I hope the laws should start to look at. Make no mistake that writing on a blog other than your own is working for them, not you! The skinny is working for free for a company could be construed as ILLEGAL. Don’t believe me? Then read this or better yet how about the Department Of Labor site about FSLA law and take special note of minimum wage. Geez, I feel cheap again!

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