May 3, 2016

Should bloggers be paid?

Laptop

Yes, it can be as glamorous as this!

Pardon me if this post reads like I am high up on my hobby horse, giddyupping into the distance, but I write this post really for my fellow bloggers and those brands, destinations and publications that seek to work with us.

Should bloggers be paid?

Ahem. The fat lady is clearing her throat…

I have been a “journalist” since my first story was published in 1999 while I was still studying my Diploma in Freelance Journalism. It was huge buzz to be featured in two of New Zealand’s loftiest nationwide newspapers before I even graduated. The New Zealand Herald ran my story they called “A Night on the Tiles” which was my tour of what was then the brand newly opened Auckland Viaduct restaurants and bars and my review of said establishment’s toilets. (So long ago the NZ Herald site doesn’t have online stories until 2000!) Then that same year I wrote a story about a friend who had met a woman online through a Star Trek website and moved to America and married her. (Yes, they’re still married today!)

Scroll down a few years and by now I was making my niche in travel, writing freelance stories for newspapers, magazines and travel agencies. In 2006 I was invited by House of Travel to blog for them twice a day, five days a week. I was probably the only paid travel blogger in NZ, nay the world, back then! I did that for three years and learned a lot about online content writing – without the benefit of social media to help promote any posts!

In 2009, just as the Global Financial Crisis was stretching its tentacles out and beginning to strangle advertising budgets, I launched this blog. I realised I quickly needed to build up my content – and it had to be good otherwise no one would bother reading it, and I also needed to grow my traffic to position myself as a credible blogger and to begin to offer something of value to brands and get paid to work.

I can’t tell you how much money or how many hours I have invested since 2009, but I can tell you that I would have earned pots more money if I had a full time 9 to 5. But I’m passionate about what I do. I love travel and think it’s actually a really important thing for people to do to expand their horizons, challenge their perceptions, and alter their world view.

I also believe very strongly that online content is the place to invest my time and money. It’s getting easier and easier and brands are leaping into this space, sometimes with half-cocked ideas as to how to do it, but they’re doing it!

SO, do I think bloggers should be paid?

Unequivocally YES!!

  1. As editor/founder of my own site, I am a publisher. Brands wouldn’t ask a magazine or newspaper to carry stories for free.
  2. As owner of a platform that already has over 800 pieces of content, this site (and those of my fellow bloggers) attract search engines that your brand can take advantage of.
  3. As an established blogger and blog, my followers and fans are critical to my success. I don’t take them for granted, seeking to provide top quality content and practical take aways from every post to assist people with their own travel plans.
  4. Having spent the last seven years investing into this site, I have the audience that brands want to reach. That isn’t built on love alone.
  5. To continue to “disrupt” my industry I am pursuing new ideas and projects every day with the overall aim to benefit my readers and the brands I work with. I can’t do that if I am broke.
  6. As a professional blogger, I like to work WITH brands. We can plan out the themes for each post, the timing of when they will be published, how they will be shared socially, where a call-to-action link needs to go and I will report back on the campaign. I will also let my readers know that we are working together, but that my views and experiences are my own and I am free to write what I like.
  7. Oh and not only all of the above, but bloggers have to have some pretty sassy business skills to be successful. Creating the content is one thing, promoting it, marketing to brands, designing the site, understanding some (at least basic) html coding, hustling for new business (sales manager!), running the books (accountant!) are some of the other skills needed to be a professional blogger.

*Takes a sip*

Phew! I really hope that the emails I receive on an almost daily basis to provide my content for free, or visit a destination and write about it in return for a flight and accommodation, or to take other people’s guest posts who don’t have their own audience but want a free pass to you, my readers, might now be written with a little more thought and understanding of what it took to get here.

Exception to the above:

  1. If a blogger has not put in the effort above, then the above does not apply. A free junket is probably all they hope for, and hey, if you want to work with them and they don’t require payment, fill yer boots! But I do believe as bloggers become more savvy and begin to request fair payment for a fair amount of work, contras will be less acceptable.
  2. If the blogger wants to visit a particular destination and is prepared to take “leave without pay” as it were. I also have been known to do this. But not very often. I have learned in seven years, that unpaid work doesn’t pay the bills.

There, rant over. I’ll have a lie down now and wait for your responses 😉

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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