Charging for Content Creation and Sponsored Posts:The world of professional blogging- both full and part time is still a novel concept. Style bloggers across the world look to the celebrity bloggers like The Blonde Salad and Song of Style for inspiration, yet remain in the dark about their journey toward monetary success. Everyone wonder’s “Should I be charging to style a brand into my Instagram? Should I charge to post a link in my blog?” A lot of professional blogging sites will say YES- start charging from the beginning. Always charge for content. But I will be honest here. I’ve seen a lot of aumetuer bloggers who still haven’t mastered quality images or captivating articles- who want to know what to charge. Sometimes the answer is- you’re not ready to send rates. So, here’s a general guidelines for beginning to mid-tiered bloggers.
1.When Should I begin charging for content? Begin charging for your work as soon as you feel ready. Keep in mind both your experience as a blogger, but also the quality of your images and publications and then see how they measure up to established bloggers. If you have a small following, hit or miss content (it’s difficult to find a consistent photographer in the beginning) this does not mean than you can not charge rates for a new blog. It just means that if you start charging too early you will likely get turned down by brands. If you don’t have either the quality or the readership, you may not have a product to “sell” to your client- aka the brands you’d like to work with.
So, this article is for those who fall into Two Categories– those who have a small following- let’s say 2,000-10,000 with QUALITY images and posts and those who already have a Substantial Following of 10,000- 30,000 followers.
2. What can I charge for? You should be charging for 1) your image creation 2) the usage of your images 3) the links that brands require to post in your blog and 4) each social media post.
3.How much should I charge? If you have an established following on Facebook or Instagram, you should be charging $50-$200 per post. If you’re just beginning however, and the brands are saying there is no budget- there a couple of things to weigh. A. Does the brand have a HUGE following? B. Does it elevate your brand to receive their product and to tag them in your posts?
The reason you should ask yourself these questions is because when you are a beginning blog- most brands will offer no pay. If you have under 10,000 followers on Instagram or less than 500 subscribers on your blog, most brands don’t consider it a large enough investment. In other words- your readership and views are simply not high enough for them to pay. This is a not a reason to feel bad, since the idea is to establish yourself and you may still be working towards that. It just takes time and resources to grow a business, a brand and a blog. So- if your content is good and they are hitting you up for a collaboration you may want to consider the “payment” of exposure.
Now, I want to stress that this should not apply to anyone over 10,000 followers or 500 subscribers because you should be getting paid most of the time at least a nominal fee of $20-$100. But if you have less than this, your goal is to network and gain exposure which larger brands can help with.
4. Should I Negotiate? Yes! Why not? This is not to be taken as an offense when a brand negotiates your rates. Some brands contact me with an immediate budget in place. If the budget is good, I accept but if it’s too low I will begin to negotiate. You can offer a two-for-one social post rate or knock off some posts/ word count from your blog packages. Another common strategy is to lower your rates for First-time-Clients, letting them know that fees will increase after a first-time collaboration.
5. Don’t Sell Yourself Short with Images Even when you are starting out, try and control how the images are being used. I read every contract and term sheet a brand sends me and sometimes while the offered rate looks good, I have to turn down the gig because they want to use my images in perpetuity (forever) for all advertising and extensive use. This means that they can use my images in any way they’d like forever- through online advertisements, banners, lookbooks and more, while I may have made a measly $300.
Instead of giving them eternal usage on your content, work up your own contract or term sheet (you can also request that they simply alter this on their own contract) so that it limits photo usage to 2 years. Make sure anything outside of Social Media use is excluded. You don’t want them running Facebook and Instagram ads with your face on them for free.
Surprisingly, I have found that most bloggers are nervous to share their prices with one another and because of this, we have a confused and lopsided industry standard. AKA No common standards, no standard rates. I believe if we begin to share more and more about rates and contracts, we’ll dispel the mystery and regain some power as artists and creators. Right now we are only hurting our chances of negotiating great rates by either keeping our competition in the dark OR undercutting our competition.
If you’re interested in reading about more concrete equations on how to charge- check out Blogger’s Bazaar’s article here. She spells out in an easy-to-follow calculation guideline. In my experience, brands offer payment through more of a tiered system, but other bloggers have found success using calculations like this.
Social Media 2,000- 10,000 or Blog under 500 subscribers: You should send rate sheets for $20-$100 per post. Keep in mind that many brands will not have a budget, so if they decline you can “wave your fees” if they are a large brand and will expand your network or elevate your own brand.
Social Media 10,000-30,000 or 500- 10,000 subscribers: You should send rate sheets for $100-$500 per post. Make sure that you are reading contracts closely and not giving away all your rights to the images. (See above as to why).
I’d love to continue writing on this subject with more in-depth breakdowns if you guys are interested. I will continue to offer transparency and knowledge from my personal experience in the commercial print industry, my recent venture into style blogging and my 8 years in commercial fashion photography. Let me know your thoughts and please shoot me any additional questions or even info you think I should include in an upcoming post!