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There have been many blog posts this week (MomCrunch and Momfluential to name two) about Mom Bloggers, Mommy Bloggers, Bloggers who are Moms, who blog for free, why that is just a horrible thing, and why we do it.

First, let me be clear that no one should ever use the term Mommy Blogger. Why? Because it is personal. It is like your child calling you by your first name. It is unprofessional and it a personal term used by kids towards their Moms. Added to the fact that you never hear about Daddy Bloggers, just Dad Bloggers, so let’s be consistent shall we?

Second, there is a difference between a Mom Blogger and a Blogger who is a Mom. Mom Bloggers write about Mom stuff. That is the focus of their blog. Then there are Bloggers who write about travel, food, technology and social media. Oh, they happen to be Moms, just like many male bloggers are Dads, but those men are called Tech Bloggers or Food Bloggers, not Dad Bloggers (unless they write about Dad stuff). Again, let’s be fair shall we?

On to my point about the various posts regarding Bloggers working for free. While I agree with the sentiment out there that we should have standards in the Blogging industry about payment for our work, I disagree with the fact that we always need to be paid. Let me share why.

In every other industry, there is a class of individuals called “Interns”. They typically work for free in exchange for experience, exposure, and reputation building in that industry when they start off in that profession. When they get some experience and entry into that market, they start landing paid jobs. When they do well in those paid jobs, they get paid more, etc. Blogging doesn’t have anything formal like interns. What we have are certain bloggers (usually new bloggers) that choose to work on a campaign without payment for experience, exposure and reputation building. As they build their reputation, they get paid. See the parellel?

I think the real issue is not about Bloggers working for free, but rather brands, PR firms and companies not seeing the difference. Many Bloggers have done their time. They have been blogging for years and have built their own brand, experience, exposure and reputation. They should be paid. Then there are newer bloggers like me, that don’t get paid on certain campaigns because I don’t yet have that Blogging reputation. So I choose to participate in those unpaid campaigns, because it can show my ability to review technology products, toys, or hotels. It basically builds my resume. If I do a good job, the brand may recommend me for another paid campaign or the PR person may select me for a paid opportunity going forward.

So the onus is on those PR firms and brands to pay Bloggers that have built their exposure and reputation, whether in a niche or a platform, that would benefit the brand, while realizing that the Bloggers they select for non-paid opportunities now, may not always work for free as those Bloggers build their blogging credentials.

The reality is advertising and marketing departments are going through a change. Some faster than others. The ones that ‘get it’ realize that social media dollars go further than a one time paid ad in a magazine. If you pay 50 Bloggers a sum of $100 to write about a new restaurant, the Bloggers’ posts can be viewed by thousands with tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and more, expanding the reach that goes beyond the December edition of “ACME Magazine” with your add on page 52 in the upper left corner.

Thus, companies need to allocate a budget for Bloggers and not just for traditional print or radio ads. They also need to realize while they may not pay the interns in their company, they do pay the people they hire (with that person’s past experience benefiting the company). So with regard to Bloggers, there should be a similar philosophy.

All in all, I think many of the recent posts about Bloggers working for free are valid, and I agree with many of the points. This is just a realistic twist on reality in the Blogging community. Rather than demanding payment, we should be educating brands and PR companies instead, and having all these posts about this subject is a huge step forward in that dialogue and that ability to effectuate change to benefit everyone.

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  1. You know I love you, right?

    I disagree with you (you probably saw my post on this from a couple of weeks back, or maybe you didn’t)…I do agree that bloggers need to prove that they can write before getting paid — but in my opinion that’s why you write for free on your own blog (or in group blogs or whatever). I’m not just talking from the old-timer blogger perspective — I used to work in brand management, and it just doesn’t work that way. You just don’t see outside contractors as interns. If someone is willing to work on your project for free, then that’s their problem.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard of someone working on a campaign for free and having it turn directly into a paying job with the same company.

    I think if you have a reputation as someone who is willing to give it away, that’s the kind of “work” you’ll get.

    Why should the onus on valuing bloggers be on the brands and not on the bloggers themselves? We should value ourselves.

    Companies will always try to get the most work for the least amount of money. That’s true of everything, not just blogging. And there is nothing cheaper than free.

    Mind you, I’m only talking about bloggers that want to make a living. If you don’t care, then you don’t care. It’s fine to blog as a hobby and get a free bottle of soap or whatever — I get tons of samples all the time because I like to write about certain types of products. However, I only accept samples without any strings attached. I don’t think fooling yourself into thinking that’s the way to break into paying work is correct either. Work is one thing, hobby blogging is another.

    OK, I’m getting off my soapbox now. Sorry for the long ass comment!

  2. Great points Charlene…totally agree! In my “day job”, I am a huge advocate of consulting my clients to set aside money for social media and blogger partnerships. I feel it is so much more targeted than a lot of traditional media and the return can be a lot better and more measurable as well. Great post.

  3. Thanks Kelly for commenting. I love that a lot of companies are going that direction, but there are so many more that just don’t get it yet.

  4. Yes, I 100% agree that just writing on your blog builds your reputation, as well as taking the time to go to conferences to learn and network. That is primarily what I have done, but I still think there should be some culpability on behalf of the brands. Esp. when they can see a certain blogger is making it their profession and not a hobby (e.g. engagement in social media and how often one posts and the quality of the posts). We all know it is hard for a blogger to turn down Disney or Ford or GE, which would be big exposure. Each blogger needs to weigh it and sometimes passing it up may free up time to work for another brand. But other times, it can lead to even bigger opportunities since not all brands know that you are not getting paid, but they can see you can handle a big brand. Love having these convos, especially since I primarily agree with your post, as well as the other ones, but wanted to throw out another angle. I <3 you too!

  5. Employers can only know what you tell them. When you let them boss you around for free you are telling a lot about you. And when you insist on on fair pay, you are letting them know that you are a professional.

    The brand managers have a pretty good idea about which campaigns are built on pro labor and which use hobbyists. It’s competitive intelligence.. That’s how the PR agencies pitch their (paid) campaigns to brands.

  6. An excellent post Charlene. You brought up some very thoughtful, valid points. Yes, there are times when you should write without payment. I love the comparison to interning. What a great way of looking at it. Nice job!

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