The Problem with Blogging Today

One of the main issues discussed through the Independent Fashion Bloggers collective (an excellent group I am a member of), and in traditional media at the moment, is blogger compensation. Some people feel that bloggers earn too much money from brands, others feel that bloggers don’t ask for enough.

independent fashion bloggers, blogger compensation, writers

I’m not the type of blogger that can command huge fees, however, I do have a decent sized readership and expect to be paid when I do work. That can be a sponsored blog post, advertising, giveaways, or other activities. I am always surprised when brands expect me to work for free. Sometimes they want me to write an article about their product and do a giveaway, but don’t want to give anything to me. Or they want to write an article FOR me (hmm… would that perhaps be to promote their own product?!?!) and don’t want to pay me to use my space. This kind of thing happens a lot, and I simply will not advertise someone else’s product for free, unless it is a product I love. In that case, it is called editorial, and I won’t accept money for that.

independent fashion bloggers, blogger compensation, writers

Last week I had an email from someone asking me to do some writing for a company’s promotion. It was a significant amount of work, and guess what? No pay. But they will “promote” me. The shocking thing was that this company turns over 2.9 BILLION euros a year. Yet they can’t afford to pay bloggers to write up city guides for them? Pathetic. (p.s. They mistakenly thought I was based in Montreal. They didn’t even bother to read my bio.) Here is the email:

“I’m working on a campaign with BRAND X where we’re looking for cultural insiders across 15 different cities around the world to contribute to an online platform we’re building. John Doe recommended yourself as a potential Montreal insider.

The task is fairly simple; contribute by writing 10 short (50 words) articles on the best events/venues to attend throughout September in your city. These could be parties, restaurants, clubs, galleries, hairdressers, shops, etc.. Anything that’s cool, fun, buzzy happening in the city that would appeal to aspirational 25-35 year old women.

This content will be placed on an online platform alongside a nice profile of the ‘insider.” It will be a part of the main BRAND X site (average 2m hits per month) and it will get huge profile via marketing, so this is perfect for anyone that already runs a blog or is keen to push who they are and what they do to a wider global audience.

There’s no payment involved, but as well as the great profile and awareness, there will also be a gift from BRAND X for taking part in the project.”

Last time I wrote content for people for free (this was about a year and a half ago, I haven’t made that mistake again), I got a surge of about 2% of traffic which disappeared after a few days. A total waste of time. If it was a media outlet, that I respected, I’d consider writing something without compensation, but not for a multi-million dollar private company. This is probably the worst email I’ve ever gotten, given that the company is so, so big, and clearly have the money to pay their contributors. Are bloggers that worthless, that big companies can presume they will work for free? It is ridiculous.

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  • Roshh Ko

    this article + the article about young designers being forced to stock in big department stores without being paid is a side effect to the many people wanting to get in the industry. I don’t see, however, how this will change. If that’s not too much to ask, how many people on average read your blog a month?

  • Priscilla P

    I’m glad you stand up for yourself and for what you believe in. It really is pathetic that multi-billion dollar companies don’t want to give you anything. I’m not sure what you charge but would $5000 leave them broke?! Just comes to show us how selfish they are. I know this is different, but I was doing retail for awhile and was supposed to get promoted, when the recession hit. Then they told me they would give me the promotion but no raise and same amount of hours. They expected me to turn backwards for them for no extra compenstation and same measeley minimum wage….I quit within two weeks.

  • Jasper

    well it might be that some companies think an article on a blog is more la-di-da and doesn’t require a fee, versus them buying ad space on a blog instead. THEN AGAIN they might just be pretending to do that and are just cheapskates. but if they’re expecting you to actually work a little a bit, then you should be compensated.. they did mention a gift though? 

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    A gift doesn’t pay your mortgage, though.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Between 25 and 40 thousand, depending on the time of year (slow in the summer, lots of traffic during my catwalk reviews.) I think it will change, when they realize they can’t get good quality talent for free.

  • Eve19873012

    What do you recommend for someone who is starting a new fashion website supporting very small and independent designers? How should he approach bloggers if he doesn’t have much of a budget (if at all)? I guess what is the etiquette on contacting bloggers? Possible Fashion 101 post?!

  • Mt

    welcome to the writers life 101. this is why writers who paid their dues and wrote for free for YEARS to finally reach a level where they can command a fee hate bloggers and the blogging world in general.
    if you didn’t get the memo, writers and now bloggers are at the bottom of the paying totem pole. the only ones lower are poets.

    and those big companies still don’t get it. now they get to dump their write-for-free bs on massive pool rather than a smaller pool. which means even less writers who paid their dues will get paid.

  • SELLOUT

    I think you’re a sell out! I read one of your other post comments and you were talking about how this blog is just a job! If this isn’t a passion or something you’re that interested in, you shouldn’t be collecting money for it.

    NO ONE SHOULD BE SUPPORTIN THIS SITE!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Good move!

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Um, ok. So, if it is a passion I should be collecting money, but if it is a JOB, I shouldn’t be collecting money? Just so you know, the definition of job is “a paid position of regular employment” or “a task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.” Your comment makes no sense whatsoever. 
    And yes, this blog is part of my work, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it, or have integrity with what I do.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Contact them, explain your situation, and ask them what they can do. If I get contacted by a small company whose product I like, I will try and work something out with them (and if it is a product I love, then I’ll probably write about them anyway) regardless of their budget. A lot of bloggers will do that.