Will Blog For Gas (Or Toilet Paper)

2011 May 13

Time = Money

No one knows this better than a blogger in the poor economy year of 2011.

If you are a blogger who has been writing on your own website for more than 6 months you’ve probably been contacted by a brand or PR agent. And at first you were all, surprised, ME? Really, they LIKE my site, they want to work with me?! You were impressed  they found your blog at all.

In fact the brand was one you’ve gushed about with girlfriends at bookclub! When they asked you to write about a new product release or a service campaign they were involved in, you said heck yes! And told yourself it’s enough that it’s ‘just for the exposure’.

Soon after another company offered to send you a bottle of their newest product in exchange for a giveaway of the same product or for a review & write up on your site. You were still willing, after all, you received something for your time, right?

No Thanks I’d Rather Get Paid In Toilet Paper

What if I really don’t need the widget/gadget (or heaven forbid) another bottle of lotion? I can’t really feed my kids with that. I certainly can’t fill up my gas tank with it. IF they want to send me something practical like toilet paper, wonderful! I ALWAYS need toilet paper. Week after week after WEEK.  But lotion? Yeah, there’s only so much lotion I can use (even if I love it!).

I understand they need to get the word out about their product. But a product that has little practical value or worth less than $25-50 isn’t worth a BLOGGER’s TIME. You can’t buy my space for a bottle of lotion. Toilet paper?

Yes, feel free to send it my way.

The Blogger Unpaid Bell Curve

Most new bloggers go through a cycle like I’ve just described. At first they have little traffic and no brand association. But slowly they increase traffic and jump on the Twitter stream, maybe attend a blog conference and quickly PR agents follow. That same blogger might write and work with several brands for a few months, only to realize hey? I’m getting paid NOTHING and often giving out a lot of creative ideas and content, not to mention press for a brand or company.

Soon they slide back down the curve and decide their own content is more important than simply writing a press release for a company. And they also realize free product isn’t worth their writing time and influence.

It’s Time For Bloggers To Get Paid

Determine what your time is worth.
Ask around, find out what types of paying gigs other bloggers are getting:

  • Sponsored Posts
  • Guest Writing on Company Blogs
  • Advertorials
  • Press Junkets (not usually paid but expenses often are)
  • Joining a Blog Tour
  • Paneling a Twitter Party

Anecdotally, I have been told that bloggers charge between $25 and $500 for a one time sponsored writing gig depending on their overall traffic and social media influence (this may or may not include a product sample). Blog tours usually include a more well rounded campaign, including: blog posts and/or giveaway posts as well as time spent on a Twitter party or other Social Media outlet.  Also be sure to calculate the time you spend running a really great giveaway. Ask for hourly compensation for the time spent.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned finding an ad network, or selling your own sidebar ad space. That’s because the amount of work you need to put into finding your own sponsors tends to outweigh the price you’re able to charge. Some bloggers make this work, but they are far and few between. And your traffic must be HUGE to get involved with a trusted ad network.

I’m also not a big fan of spending time writing or working with the current blogger intermediaries where your only income option comes in the form of a ‘chance to win a $50 gift card’. I don’t have time for sweepstakes.

I’d rather get paid in toilet paper than in lottery entries.

What types of paid gigs are working for you?

All thoughts on this post are my own.

And who knew there are websites that only sell Toilet Paper? (There are). And ToiletPaperWorld.com contacted me after this post and freaking PAID me in TP to write for them. Yes. I’m serious.

Toilet Paper Mom Types: What Type Are You?

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12 Responses
  1. May 13, 2011

    I love it!! My favorite part is your bell-curve, that’s so true!!! I’m more on the side of great content over giveaways and LOVE my ambassadorship, even though it’s one I love the company and we have a great working relationship! Great post overall!!!
    Twitter: mommybknowsbest

    • May 13, 2011

      Hey Thanks Jennifer!

      If you don’t mind me asking what ambassadorship are you talking about?
      That’s one I left off my bullet list, and I’m curious how people run those and how they like it?
      Paid or unpaid that sort of thing? Because I think they can be very confusing.

      • May 13, 2011

        I work with Juice in the City and Belle Baby Carriers, one is paid and one has perks. One I write posts for and talk about and the other I can talk about but not required, I can give discount codes to readers.

        I really like it because it helps me build stronger relationships with the companies I already work with and show my readers it’s a brand I really trust and stand by.
        Twitter: mommybknowsbest

        • May 13, 2011

          Ahhh and the one with ‘perks’ you feel you get enough out of the deal to be worth the time commitment?
          Thanks for this info!

          I know the women involved with Nintendo are more than thrilled, but do not get paid. HOWEVER. They are also NOT required to DO anything.
          I find that all very intriguing ya know?

  2. May 13, 2011

    Amen! It’s tough out here for bloggers. Publishing a book for Kindle is simple and could also be a money-making opportunity. Amazon lets you keep about 70% of the profits. I was published as a traditional author and released a book that pretty much bombed. (I guess it was ahead of its time!) My publisher put out a Kindle version and it did fairly well, with much better profit margins. If that fails, enjoy the other blogger perks–free admission to film fests, parties, etc.

    • May 13, 2011

      I totally wouldn’t be brave enough to jump into the publishing world!
      But you are right (write? :0) Bloggers are moving to the book/ebook publishing world more and more.

      And oddly enough I’m meeting people who are writing a book and have been told they must go ‘get a platform’ first.
      So there they are on Twitter, and figuring out the blogging world. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not!

  3. May 20, 2011

    We are willing to offer you toilet paper for a guest post! 🙂 Please let me know if you are interested. (Not kidding!) Check out our blog and contact me to discuss ideas!
    Twitter: toiletpaperking

    • May 20, 2011

      Would a blog post filled with rear-end puns and double entendres be acceptable? We’re down to our last few rolls. No one ever remembers to tell me when we are running low.
      Twitter: mamikaze

      • May 20, 2011

        How funny Astacia! I’m what my husband refers to as the TP snob. It’s the one thing we NEVER run out of!! 🙂

        Molly, I’d love to talk! What a fun surprise to wake up to today!

  4. May 21, 2011

    I recently was sent a whole box of Magic Erasers to test out…they are a generic alternative to the Mr. Clean ones. I have to say with three small boys, this is the most useful product I’ve ever received to review 🙂 To answer your question about monetizing your site, if you have the traffic, Google Adsense is currently the way to make the most money, and having direct advertisers is second. Kontera is also a lower paying alternative. I quit my full time job in 2005 and haven’t looked back! Good luck!

  5. June 2, 2011

    Great commentary! I’m actually a molecular biologist. I’m also finishing med school over the next year. I never really tried to make money from my blog… it all seemed like too much effort. I got all excited when my blog started to get more followers & spent a good amount of effort figuring out how to get more traffic etc. You could say it was a mini traffic/follower bell curve. That took too much time, and I quickly remembered why I started my blog: as an escape from science & medicine, and to have a quality written record of my craft adventures.

    • June 3, 2011

      It’s so true I think most of us go through this.
      And have to find a happy medium of why we started blogging in the first place and whether we want to work with brands etc..
      One way I’ve done that is to work on freelance posts placed elsewhere.
      You’d be surprised how many other sites love getting guest posts (however most cannot pay) but it will get your name out there! 🙂
      Good luck!

      A rock on… molecular biologists unite!

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