This is my first time writing about brands wanting you to work for FREE. I have been guilty of asking people to write for FREE but I have never asked anyone to work for FREE because I know how it feels.
I have read Sisi Yemmie’s blog post and Verastic’s blog post on how brand make them work for FREE. They are a bigger brand than mine but I am a niche blog so I will not necessarily get their numbers but the people who read my blog love technology and digital/social media marketing.
One word of advice: Don’t ever work for any brand for FREE. They always have a budget.
The excitement when you get a mail or a call about your blog fizzles out when you hear that they want you to work like a slave in a plantation. Considering that there are no plantations in Nigeria, it’s a very bad feeling.
I started blogging to build authority and to help people solve problems in the area of digital marketing. I have had other blogs for other reasons and I am a honorary member of blogville but those were personal blogs and we used blogspot.com and wordpress.com. When I bought my domain name, that was a signal that I was serious about doing business. So when a brand approaches a blog with a domain name and asks for FREE stuff, that is like spittle in the face.
Last week, for example, I received an email from a huge car manufacturer. Nice, right?!!! Wait till I finish the story. They always have commercials running on television, and when I saw their email, I was excited because this is a vehicle brand that I have never driven, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to find out more about them. And I wrongly assumed that this campaign would pay generously. Boy, was I wrong!
In exchange for at least two blog posts, I would be given a 2017 make and model and allowed to loan it for a week, and they would generously give me $50 for gas. Well, here are the problems with the offer:-
I work in a media house and the cost for two blog post is 200,000 naira or 550 dollars. This is in Nigeria. So it is even ridiculous to be giving 50 dollars for fuel. 50 dollars of fuel might last three weeks but it won’t buy you one blog post because we don’t want fuel when we can gain revenue from our blog.
So Vera’s reasons are listed below:
1. I already own a car, so loaning one for a week is of no value to me.
2. I have a diva toddler who I need to buy clothes, shoes, and diapers for. I am unaware of any diaper company that will take a borrowed car as payment for even one diaper. If you know one, please let me know.
3. When my tank is empty, it costs me about $30 to fill the tank, and this gas lasts me about three weeks – sometimes less.
4. The brand rep who contacted me probably gets paid in dollars, not in free car loans.
5. I don’t see one single way that I benefit from this collaboration. None.
6. I’m going to make an educated guess and assume that when this car brand advertises on TV, they don’t pay the TV people with free car loans and $50 gas.
So I don’t own a car yet but I can use an Uber/Taxify, shout out to two brands that make us look good in this Lagos that is determined to take out all the swag that we have in us.
That’s a FREE ad.
So she then went ahead and pointed out stuff that could be useful.
There are times when getting paid in product(s) might be just as beneficial as cash. For example, you’re an expecting mom who receives a $400 car seat in exchange for a blog post. Sure, you’re not being paid in cash, but in return, you receive a car seat that you would have had to pay for anyway. The car seat won’t be as valuable if your children are in college. Or you receive a free flight and/or free hotel stay that you would have had to pay for. In these instances, you take the deal because it’s mutually beneficial for both you and the brand. Now, if you wanted to travel to sunny Jamaica and a brand was offering you a trip to North Korea where you might get tortured to death, that would not be mutually beneficial.
For me who is in the digital tech industry, the only freebies that would make sense to me is 3 months free data, one year free data, mobile phones, laptops, free flights, free hotel stays, free holidays etc.
Nothing else would be worth it when I consider what it takes to buy fuel in the generation since power is not consistent in Nigeria. Please don’t give me a flight to a country I don’t want to visit.
When brands want bloggers to work for free, it feels like we are being offered a free flight to North Korea when we really want to go bask in the Jamaican sun. It does not matter if the North Korean trip is worth double or even quadruple of the Jamaican sun. If you cannot give us money to go bask in the Jamaican sun, then give us a trip to go bask in the Jamaican sun. What you cannot do is give us a trip to North Korea. We don’t want to go there. Figuratively speaking, of course. If you do in fact want to go to North Korea, then have a safe flight.
When brands want bloggers to work for free, it’s downright disrespectful. It means you do not value us and our platforms and our own brands. Most of us may not have a huge team of people working for us, but we do pay, one way or another, to do what we do – not to mention the time it takes us to do what we do.. In my case, my blog designer did not take exposure as payment. The stock photo company I use charges me in dollars every month. My hosting company and Google also charge me, Even my business bank accounts charge me. None of these people will take a blog post or exposure as payment.
There’s much to take note of in the above discussion. Give us something that has value.
When you give us something that is worth nothing to us, it’s like a slap in the face. It means that you don’t value us or our platforms or our brands. Most of us don’t have a huge team working with us, we pay a high price to get everything looking good and a lot of time working on our platforms. The blog designer, webmaster, internet service provider, mobile phone and laptop inventor did not take exposure as payment, we spent good money.
There might be other blogger or social media consultants willing to work free but if they have read Sisi Yemmie’s blog, they would learn how to love themselves better and value the work that they do. When you work for free, it’s not good for your blog reputation.
In my long years of experience, free work is never valued until it is paid for. Value your work.