WHAT IS YOUR WORTH AND HOW IS IT MEASURED?
Lately there’s been an overwhelming lot of information about money (some conflicting) when it comes to blogging, and even for someone like me (who has been blogging for almost 2 years), it is often confusing. This post covers what is the law, before we consider “what is our worth and how it is measured”.
If you have money coming in then you are a Sole Trader
The first FACT you need to know is, that whether it is working with brands who are covering your costs, run adverts, sponsored content, or sponsorship for an event – then if you have any money coming in (even if it is ALL going back out again) – then you are a sole trader: Unless the person paying you is paying tax and National Insurance contributions on it. So you must declare yourself as Self-Employed. You can do it online here http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/register-selfemp.htm
If you wish to verify this information please do call the Self-Assessment Helpline: 0300 200 3310.
When you register at the end of that tax year (the following April) you have until the October do a tax return by paper or January to do it online. So make sure you keep copies of incoming (invoices/paypal etc) and outgoing (receipts – paper/e-mail etc). If you are really organised you can work out what your income and outgoings are every month. I label my receipts by writing on the back what event they were for.
Disclosure – it’s the Law! But Google isn’t
The second FACT is that LEGALLY if you receive payment of any kind (product or money) then you must DISCLOSE. Whether you use follow or no-follow, is a matter of choice to you as whether you upset Google and risk losing your page rank. What this means is when a Google search is made, depending on your page rank how high up in the search listings you will come. If you already write about say ‘Pinkoddy’ – and no-one else is writing about ‘Pinkoddy’ – then you will come out on top anyway – so does it matter (may be someone could answer this – if stripped of page rank does it not appear in the listings at all?) But if you are writing about Children then it could make a huge difference (especially if you’ve made to the first page). NB: if you write about ‘Pinkoddy’ and your post isn’t relvant so people go back to google to look for relevant stuff about ‘Pinkoddy’ you will get what is called a high bounce back rate.
For more information on these issues please look at information by MummyBarrow
Is my worth measured by the financial value/payment?
I read this post Blogsploitation and then there was a discussion on twitter,
Sian said that, she considered that accepting £4 a week for a link was better than reviewing a £2 soft drink – as you’d only be worth half as much to the brand.
This got me thinking; I can understand how if bloggers are asked to put a “follow link” into their blogs for a small amount of payment, then their blogs are possibly not being valued, and that the SEO may not care how well the blogger writes, or the content of the blog, as they have set deadlines and budgets. This comparison, I feel, only works if both examples use follow links too – because the review item isn’t a “risk” in terms of Google. That in agreement with the blog article we were discussing (above), I do agree that whilst people feel that they are only able to be paid £4 for a link then it does run the risk of undervaluing bloggers time/effort and expertise. This is because follow links are to be picked up by the Google bots and not on the quality of social media sharing, etc. That these follow links may as well be “sold” for as cheap as possible – so why pay someone say £100 for one when you can get away with selling it for £4? This may not be the case with all SEO though and I feel we shouldn’t tar them all with the same brush – and sometimes if you help them out with the smaller projects they will respect you and remember you next time.
But PRs could be impressed with your work on smaller projects and consider you in the future.
“I reviewed and returned a tablet and laptop: Just got commissioned to write something for them for £250. They valued me! I also did some Moshi monster stuff for free for 77pr who then sent me a Wii u for Nintendo who were another client of theirs. I reviewed some £1 liquid margarine and ended up getting loads from that PR including Playtex bras etc. I could go on. It’s all about the relationships for me.” – TiredMummyofTwo
Why do we accept Sponsored Content/Reviews & Why do we accept different rates?
Is the amount you receive in money or product your worth though? People blog for all manner of different reasons, but most that I know, don’t set out to do it to make money from it. One of the reasons I started mine was because I couldn’t justify going out to work because my family commitments/the cost of childcare prevented me (mainly because I feel that one of the parents of my son with special needs need to be available if the situation arises – I don’t care if you disagree with this, this is how it is for us). Originally meant as a way to keep my mind ticking over, it started to evolve. I started to write things to try to help others, before moving onto sponsored content/reviews that benefited my family which otherwise would not have had, it also gives me the opportunity to support my family?
“Cinema tickets don’t cost much but provide exclusive opportunities.” – Alice
Does blogging this way help empower women – to help with the work/home balance? I can understand bloggers accepting whatever ££s they can get to help pay the bills/put food on the table etc – so again why should they think of everyone else? Surely they are going to put their families first? But would they accept so little if they knew they could get more without risking losing the opportunity?
“You may review an item for fun, or because you are interested in it; these could end up being a big source of traffic too” – MummyBarrow
I do agree that we should be talking about what kind of rates we are all getting as some SEOs do lie, telling us “there is no budget” “this is the highest I can go” – when if we speak to each other, then actually they can afford to go higher, they are just undervaluing you and trying to pay as little as possible. But without talking we fear we will lose that opportunity so best not to push/upset them. But it’s not just SEOs/Pr companies being dishonest and here is a great bit of advice in this post here http://scissorspaperrock.co.uk/general-stuff/rantyfriday-sometimes-bloggers-lie-too is about us forming better relationships and being honest – telling bloggers to make sure that they are clear whether you want no-follow from the off-set.
“Media packs are really tricky things – they are finely tuned to the individual’s skills and outreach, “ Mammasaurus
It really is your blog so do what you like with it, personally I try to build relationships and only work with people I trust.
“Things to consider are: is it something that you’re happy to be associated with, is it a pr that you’re happy with, do you want to spend your time doing it and it is something that fits with you, your life and/or your blog.”. – Liz Weston
“I charge more nowadays than I used to for 2 reasons: 1) My readership is bigger and more targeted than it used to be, so it is worth more to a brand than it was when I had a smaller audience. Which is why it’s difficult for all of us to get paid the same amount. At the end of the day if they desperately want a particular blogger they’ll pay her more than someone they like but can afford to lose. And 2) I get so many requests these days (and I’m doing paid work too) that I can’t afford to spend my working hours doing a review unless a) it’s paying well enough or b) it fits my blog perfectly or c) it’s something I really really want. Some people say that new bloggers should expect as much as more established bloggers, but I disagree, it has taken me time to get to the point I’m at. Unless you are a niche blogger, in which case they’re totally right. ” – ActuallyMummy
We need to be confident in who we are and what we are doing. Do you have a community or an audience – (Communities talk to each other when you are not there – this is more influential). It is then about the value of the community and not the size. It’s no good having an audience of 10,000 if no-one is actually listening. How attractive is that audience to Brands? If you are talking to everyone with new babies but want to review computer games the Brand is going to be less interested. Can you influence people to retweet/share/engage in content? Are you honest? Do people trust you – so you are more likely to influence? Do you have a low bounce rate? Do people spend a lot of time on your site? Do you have a unique selling point?
“I find that when you work with a brand and get to know them they think of you first for projects and get in touch”. – ACupCakeMum
Blogging for Good
Some people do blog for good – or to help others in their situation (e.g. DownSideUp), or find answers to help with their situation, or help charities, such as, Team Honk – this then in turn may, and has, lead to further opportunities because they have built up a relationship.
What about Companies with products not worth a lot
What happens to those small companies, ones who have products not worth a lot? Are we no good as bloggers to them? Or should they be paying is lots of money to review their £2 soft drink? What if they are new or small – should we not give them a helping hand?
I reviewed the Write to Read App and actually discovered that it was a very useful tool for my son!
“I’ve agreed to do things for a lot less if it was a new company or a small business to help them start out – because it’s a nice thing to do – encouraging people – and yes if they are success then maybe your loyalty will be rewarded too! Equally if it’s something I really like or care about then I would do it for a lot less” – Keynko
I did reviews/giveaways for local businesses because I wanted to show them how important social media was, whilst helping support my local community. Buying local is a very important issue to me. I feel this is how I’d measure my worth, by being supportive, rather than n ££s as I feel that we have become too fixated by money http://pinkoddy.co.uk/blog/2013/02/20/are-we-really-that-fixated-about-money/. I think it also illustrates to Brands/PR/SEOs looking at my blog what my reviews are like – to make sure we ‘fit’ together.
“I reviewed a couple of fabric pens for that cost of about a fiver 2 and a half years ago. I’ve since reviewed a massive range of their products, built a brilliant relationship with them, appeared in their newsletters and craft magazine features and they have sponsored me the past 2 years running to attend an event” – Me and My Shadow
But also I know when to say no to posts, if the product has no interest to me then I’m not going to review it. If I wouldn’t endorse if without being given it for free then I will not endorse it just because it is free. If I have agreed to review something and not been happy, I will go back to the PR Company – the message I keep getting back from Brands is they prefer honest criticism as long as you go through them and not posting it straight out on social media/your blog. Again I can see how attractive a loans company offering £100 for a prewritten post with a follow link can be for someone who needs the money.
Blagging – Don’t be afraid to accept Products/Payment
When thinking about a price to accept for sponsored content/review we could ask ourselves some questions– was the post written in free time for fun? Or have you had to put things off/work to deadlines/stay up late? Has the product cost anything to review (have you had to travel to London (for example), stay overnight in a Hotel)? Will you have made a loss? What kind of loss are you willing to make? And for what kind of product/service/event? Why do you want to review it?
“Go with what you’re happy with…I’ve reviewed cheap as chips stuff & it hasn’t done me any harm” – The Crazy Kitchen
Don’t be afraid to approach Brands you love – your enthusiasm for their product/service will be beneficial to them. Don’t worry about being called a “Blagger” either – sticks and stones and all that. As long as you know your worth – work hard – ADVERTISING – for the Brand you are not blagging, you are providing them with an important service – so never need feel bad for accepting/ asking for payment.
In conclusion, it’s your blog, and only you know your worth and that of your blog – just remember that it is not necessarily measured in £££s and do what is right for you.
“At the end of the day, if it’s something you’re happy with reviewing or being part of, you should do it – it’s your blog, your presence and your decision! Don’t worry about other people” – Liz Weston
Kind thanks to the many people who have helped me compile this post – it is not a Sponsored post.