Welcome to our monthly feature The PR Desk! Written by PR professional Heather Travis, it guides food bloggers on the ins and outs of navigating the world of PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather talks about an often taboo issue: money, and more specifically, defining your value, negotiating your worth and understanding how blogger compensation works.
Let’s talk about money.
Money: we all need it, we all use it if we have it, and we all work hard to make it. And yet, very rarely is it discussed. You don’t talk salaries with friends, or even family. Household budgets are so rarely discussed in our own homes that countless marriage counsellors have profited from it. Money is that awkward and hard to discuss.
But we’re ripping the Band-Aid off here, kids. We’re getting down and dirty. We’re rolling around in dolla’ dolla’ bills y’all.
First things first. You and only you can determine what you feel you are worth. It's up to you to either accept or deny opportunities, projects and products based on what you feel is worth your time and effort. Just like any job, it's up to you to put your best foot forward, be professional, and negotiate your salary, vacation, benefits, et cetera. And just like any job, you could have a friend doing "the same thing" (in the same role) at another company making more or less than you.
Why is this? Companies and industries operate differently and have different budgets, making the salary offered higher or lower compared to others. Your friend may also feel for the time and effort they invest in this job, a lower salary is worth it for them.
It's up to you to either accept or deny opportunities, projects and products based on what you feel is worth your time and effort
As an entrepreneur, I work twice as hard as I ever did at my "desk job" for half the pay. But for me, this is worth it. The benefits of being my own boss, working from home and other perks are worth it for me. They might not be worth it to you. You might like your dental benefits, or massage plan, or company car, or the simple reality of a steady paycheque (no matter how small). We each determine our worth based on any number of factors unique to each of us.
Where I see danger in building the credibility of blogging is when there is a blanket statement that “we should get paid for this.” Period. Full stop. The royal we. When in fact, no, you should not all be getting paid.
… in fact, no, you should not all be getting paid
There I said it.
Let’s hop into the Delorian together for a second here and travel back to 2001.
I had just graduated and was looking for a job. I had two degrees, lots of drive and rent to pay. I got a job doing great things for a great company, and got paid for it. But I got paid entry level salary. Peanuts in fact. But that was my worth then, and it paid the rent.
As my experience and time invested grew, so did my salary. When I left that company seven years later my salary had tripled and my vacation time had quadrupled (something I value greatly). That pay raise was not "because I was owed it," or "because that's industry average," it was because I earned it with hard work.
I had proven myself and I had also effectively communicated this value during my performance reviews.
So, back the future we go.
Where Do You Fit?
Back to blogging and budgets and determining where you fit into all of this.
When PR and marketing teams develop their budgets they assign a lump sum to projects put into their business plans as “Strategic Influencer Outreach” or something similarly named. Then they go out and try and secure those influencers.
In some cases all participants are offered the same products, services and monetary compensation for the project (with all participants having the same deliverables).
In some cases you may have an opportunity to re-negotiate with the brand, but you will need to clearly spell out the value you bring and why it's worth the extra budget dollars.
In either case, it's up to you to determine if this is worth it for you and either accept or pass and move on. (And when I say move on, I don’t mean slam that brand in private forums for "not paying enough." I mean it: move on and be professional about it.)
In other cases the outreach is more selective and those chosen influencers have the opportunity right from the get-go to express their value and see if that aligns with what the brand is looking for, based on their needs, budgets and expected deliverables.
In cases like this, you may have multiple influencers working on the same campaign with different budgets and different deliverables. Each is unique, based on the value they offer (services, reach, etc.) and have negotiated.
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. (This video might help!)
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're an entry level blogger/influencer, expect your compensation to match this. You won’t get paid, but you might get product or a unique experience. It also gives you the experience of working with a brand (invaluable as you move forward). It gives you all the goo-goo juice to justify higher value for your services as each new "entry level" opportunity goes on. You build your reputation, you build your value, and you will build the budgets assigned to you.
Walking in demanding a senior level salary without any experience or justifying it is the quickest way to NOT get a job.
Just like the "desk jobs" blogging allows us to avoid, you still must be professional, act like a grown-up, and pay your dues.
Defining your value is more than just saying it out loud. Actions speak louder than words, so show me you're worth my budget and you’ll start to reap the rewards.
- PR Desk: Blog for Hobby or Work — Is There a Difference?
- PR Desk: Branding in Uncertain Times
- PR Desk: Establishing a Relationship with PR Agencies
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.