Should you really accept an unpaid job?


That is the question that every blogger, sooner or later, needs to answer.  Whether it’s before you open your blog of after, is there ever a right time to accept unpaid work?

Let’s start with what travel bloggers do and how can they work with brands and companies.

WHAT DOES A TRAVEL BLOGGER ACTUALLY DO?

Travel bloggers, whether amateurs or pros, share their travels on their blog. They must do it in a serious, professional manner and with the ultimate goal of providing a service to the readers, giving them useful information for their travels.

If you want to learn more, I suggest you read my article ‘How to become a travel blogger’ – where you will find many answers to your questions.

WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO BE A TRAVEL BLOGGER

There are two aspects related to the management of a blog:

  • a direct involvement, when you take part in events and press trips;
  • and producing content independently, which, in turn, can lead to working with brands whose strategy align with your style.

Now let’s get to the point. When is an unpaid collaboration offered? And when is it right to accept it and when not?

I won’t tell you what to do. What I will share with you in this article is what I learned over the years and the criteria that help me make that decision.  

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WHY DOES A BRAND WANT TO WORK WITH A BLOGGER?

The more the years go by, the more technology advances and the more companies realize that online visibility is more important than its offline counterpart, that advertising on social media has much more resonance than leaflets, that investing online can bring incredible results.

This is why bloggers are contacted to promote a brand through their online channels.

HOW ARE BLOGGERS SELECTED FOR CAMPAIGNS?

Long before I was a blogger, I was on the other side. Yes, you read correctly, I was in charge of picking the right bloggers for brand’s campaigns. If you have not yet read my story, you should know that before I left the corporate world behind, I worked as a Communication Manager for various companies. So I’m well aware of the parameters that the companies (not all of them, of course) set for the selection of collaborators:

  • The numbers: I put them in the first place because – when they are real – they carry some weight. Personally, I have never considered the numbers alone without taking into account the engagement;
  • Engagement: this should be the only parameter to consider because it shows, truthfully and without any subterfuge, the interest rate that readers have towards blogger;
  • Style: it is fundamental to understand their approach and how effective their communication is;
  • The novelty factor: a blogger who’s original stands out immediately. In my opinion, this is an essential prerequisite for producing out-of-the-box campaigns;
  • Quality of graphics and photos: a perfect text is nice to read but it’s really the photos that make an article.

WHEN DOES A COMPANY OFFER A FEE? AND WHEN DOES IT NOT?

Based on my business experience I can say with certainty that if a company intends to run a campaign, it will allocate some budget to it. Whether the budget is big or not, it depends on how much the company believes in the final result.

Before getting in touch with bloggers – or influencers in general – clear rules are established.

Usually, when it comes to emerging bloggers, those with great content but without a large following and therefore not established yet, an unpaid collaboration is more commonly proposed. Should the blogger refuse to collaborate for free, brands can raise their offer, but only if they really want to work with them.  

If a brand wants to work with an established blogger instead, they will propose a fee right away and it’s not rare for the blogger to ask for more. As I wrote in my article ‘How much does a travel blogger earn?’, one article usually ranges between €20 to €500 and taking part in a press trip €50 to €300 per day.

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SHOULD YOU REALLY ACCEPT AN UNPAID JOB?

Let’s get back to the original question, shall we?

There are many bloggers who, honored by the fact that the company has contacted them, start a collaboration free of charge in exchange for visibility. Visibility, you know, the currency which allows us every month to pay rent and bills. We know all about it, don’t we? The promise of a mention or link which never happens, in exchange for hours and hours of work.

I realize that I can no longer be objective when tackling this issue because if all the bloggers, established or not, valued their work – because it is work, not a hobby – there would be no need for articles like this. I ask you a question: if tomorrow you were contacted by a middle school boy for tutoring lessons, or you wanted to work at that shop just around the corner, or if a mother who needs a babysitter contacted you, would you ever think of doing it for free? Why on earth would you do it for free?

YOU SHOULD ALWAYS GET PAID

I understand the need to build a client portfolio or a media kit, to become more established and to able to demonstrate you can do a good job  … but I do not understand why people keep working for free. If you just launched your blog and don’t feel like asking for money, think about the following:  

  • if they contacted you, it’s because your blog has been identified as a potential ad channel;
  • if you keep working for free, you will devalue your work and that of your colleagues, who are perhaps asking for a higher fee;
  • you could invest the first months/years in creating a beautiful, engaging and well-ranking blog and then start collaborating with companies who pay you for real.

I’m not without fault. I, too, accepted unpaid work but only when it allowed me to live incredible experiences I would have never got access to otherwise. However, I realize more and more that if the mindset towards influencers changes, then the work of bloggers has the potential to get finally recognized as a real profession.  

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Share your opinion with me!

Valentina

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