The The PR Desk is a regular column on FBC written by PR professional Heather Travis to help food bloggers navigate the ins and outs of working with PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather explains how to determine your value as part of her ongoing Show Me the Money! series.
Let’s start this next part in our series on money with a spoiler alert. After reading this article you won't have a number assigned to you. There's no magic number I can provide or simple equation to calculate "what you're worth" or "what you should charge" in your work as a freelance content creator and influencer, blogger, vlogger, or Instagrammer.
Sorry, not sorry.
What I hope to show you is a very clear guide for how you can really start to figure out this very big question of "worth."
But First, a Story
This is the story of a woman with a tool box.
One day this woman received a call from a ship's captain who was having trouble with his boat. The woman, a known expert in solving such dilemmas, was called in to help.
After speaking with the captain and learning more about the boat and the problems they were having, the woman took her tool box and went aboard. She did some looking and some poking and finally pulled out a tool from her tool box. This time, it was a small hammer.
With one swift but very precise tap the boat came to life and all the troubles that ailed the boat vanished; and in less than 15 minutes after her arrival onboard, so too had the woman.
When the bill arrived the following week the captain was outraged with its $1000 price tag and demanded an itemized explanation for such a lofty bill. The response was as follows:
“Tapping the whatsit … $0.50, knowing where to tap….$999.50”
The moral of the story is this: You can have all the tools, but knowing "where to tap" is the key.
Worth as a Representation of Your Value
The worth you assign to yourself in your negotiations with brands (in dollar figures), should be a representation of your value.
The value of your services comes from three things:
These three things will provide you with the valuable insights and experience of knowing where to tap. This is where the money is. This is where your value is. Your audience need not be huge — knowing where to tap means having an impact, getting results and proving you're worth it.
The more experience and skills you have, the more you can justify increasing the value of your services. We’ve touched on this before; you can't walk in fresh from publishing your first blog post and demand the rates of an experienced blogger with a track record of delivering value for brand partners. You must gain experience first.
Kiss a few toads, sew your wild blogging oats, make mistakes, delete posts, and LEARN. Invest your time in working for free, or for product or for a minimal fee for brands you love, and gain experience and improve your skills.
All of this will help you clearly articulate the VALUE you demonstrate to partners. Show me the campaign you did for your local farmers market, show me the results, show me the value you created. Show me you know where to tap. (LinkedIn is helpful for this — read my article on that here.)
Knowing where to tap = Experience + Skills + Time
Knowing where to tap is the sum of all your experience, skills, and the time invested in obtaining that experience and skills.
The Double Factor of Time
Time is the funny one in this formula because we basically have to factor it in twice. Time invested in gaining skills and experience, but also time in figuring out where to tap with each brand partner. What's the perfect recipe? What photo will be the best? What series of posts or videos will help the brand move the needle? And how long will it take me to do each of those?
Time, in this case is really very personal. We each value time differently. How much time you spend doing recipe development, or photo editing, or writing, can take away from time spent in the garden, or with family, or eating in bed with Netflix.
Defining Your Value As a Blogger
You must define your value in two ways:
- First, your ROI — what's the return on the investment for you? What do you get out it? (Payment, exposure, new skills, product you needed/wanted, experience …)
- Second, the ROI you deliver — the proof you know where to tap
Knowing both of these will help you negotiate a fair rate for yourself. This is also why I think rate cards are totally hooey and should be removed from your sites altogether. I'll just lob that out there right now and say, hold on for more on that one.
The Key: Communicating Your Value To Brand Partners
It isn't the brand's fault if you can't negotiate your worth …
You all know where to tap your unique audiences (no matter how big or small). What you need to get better at is communicating this value to your brand partners. That’s how you'll consistently determine your worth. I’ve said it before here, but it's worth saying again: it isn’t the brand’s fault if you can’t negotiate your worth and you find out someone else got paid double; it’s yours. Your lesson for the future is to get better at expressing this.
If you can clearly articulate the rationale for why and show solid proof (results), you can charge anything you want.
You and only you can determine what you feel your services are worth. If you can clearly articulate the rationale for why and show solid proof (results), you can charge anything you want. When PRs sit around a table talking about ideal partners for projects your name will start to come up, because you’ll be known as the person who "delivers."
And payment is always upon delivery.
- A Blogger's Guide To Understanding Brand Marketing Budgets
- PR Desk: 5 Tips for Following Up After Networking
- PR Desk: The Value of Going "Down-Periscope";
Heather Travis is a PR professional and lover of all things creative. She has extensive experience developing and implementing integrated public relations and marketing programs for agricultural brands, producers and processors, as well as high end sporting goods. She’s a DIY junkie with a mean power tool addiction, and can often be found painting, refinishing, and scouring both junk yards and antique markets for her next fix … err, piece of content for her blog heatherinheels.com. Find Heather on Twitter @heathertravis and Instagram @heathertravis.