Dear Brands,

I’m always thrilled when an email from you lands in my inbox. It’s great to hear that you like my blog. It’s even more exciting to hear that you want to work with me. I love it when I can get paid to do the things ย I love! Oh… What’s that? I’m not being paid? Oh I am? But with exposure. Right…

stop asking bloggers to work for free

See, here’s the thing…

You wouldn’t expect your marketing team to work for free – or for exposure

And that’s basically what we are, isn’t it? We put together an advert for you, and market it to people. Try telling your marketing team that you won’t pay them, but you’ll tell all the other businesses about them and give them a glowing recommendation when they leave. See how quickly the office clears out?

The fact that a job is a once-off doesn’t make it any less of a job. And jobs warrant payment.

You’re being paid; why shouldn’t I?

This is probably the thing I find most unbelievable, not to mention disrespectful. If it’s your job to promote a business and you choose to do that by delegating the work to bloggers, that’s great. Smart, even. But when you don’t want to pay those bloggers, you’re basically asking them to do your job for you, but do it for free. In this situation, the blogger is really the one doing all the work, but at the end of the day you’re getting paid for it? That’s not okay.

You have an advertising budget – use it wisely

In comparison to the work we do, bloggers really only ask for a nominal fee. You’re happy to pay for a magazine ad, where you’re paying models, stylists, makeup and hair artists, and photographers. After that, you still have to pay each magazine to feature it. Bloggers do all of that themselves, and ask for a fraction of the fee. For the same price as a magazine ad, you can afford to pay a dozen bloggers. Your content will end up being far more varied, and reaching a more diverse market. If you think influencer marketing is important enough to utilise it, treat it with the same respect you would any other form of marketing.

stop asking bloggers to work for free

Working with bloggers is a long-term investment

I mentioned on Instagram that I’d be writing this post, and Sarah from Space, Place & Southern Grace made an excellent point:

Often times, brands don’t value influencer contributions highly enough because they usually are not tangible products. Digital content creation is often more valuable today because of its longevity.

if you’re advertising in a magazine, for example, once that issue leaves the shelves, your advert leaves with it. By contrast, when bloggers do an ad for you, it exists on our websites until the websites themselves cease to exist (more on that in the next point). Only people who bought that issue of that magazine in that year can find that advert. But anyone with internet access could stumble onto a blog ad fromย years ago, and it’ll introduce them to your brand. I still get traffic on posts from the beginning of 2016, when my blog started. When you pay for a blog ad, you’re not just paying for the people who will read it now. You’re paying for the potentially infinite number of people who’ll read it in the future.

stop asking bloggers to work for free

If I’m not worth paying, I’m not worth your time

A common excuse for non-payment is “Your reach isn’t big enough”. Fair enough. Maybe the number of sales you’ll generate from my ad won’t make it worth your while to pay me to write a post. But if no one reads my blog, there’s really no point in you working with me at all, is there?

We have expenses too

You want to work with me because you love the quality of my blog? That’s great to hear! But quality costs money. I pay for blog hosting every month, so I can have a domain that looks professional. I pay for themes so that my blog looks good from the second people land on it. Those pictures you like so much cost me about R8000 in camera equipment. After that, there’s still the cost of internet each month to actually get posts up. If you don’t pay me, I can’t keep that quality up. I can’t pay for hosting every month; I can’t improve my camera setup; and I can’t update the layout of my blog and keep it looking fresh.

You might think you’re saving money now by not paying me, but if my blog looks outdated because I can’t afford to keep it looking good, people will stop reading it. And your advert will reach no one. Worse, if I can’t afford my blog hosting or internet connection, my blog will vanish off the face of the internet, taking your advert with it.

And it’s not just the blogging costs. Time really is money, and I can’t afford to put that much time into writing a post I won’t be compensated for. It’s time that I could use to pick up an extra shift at work or make stock forย my own business. I still need to survive, so if I’m taking time away from work to work for you, it’s important that you treat it as a job too.

stop asking bloggers to work for free

I’m not the first blogger to write a post like this, and I won’t be the last. Maybe in some points I’ve been a little harsh. But things need to change. We deserve to be paid if we put hard work into something that’s going to benefit your business.

Sorry, but exposure doesn’t sweeten our tea.




  1. August 14, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    This is a good read. I make it a point to send my standard rate card or if the brand has a collab in mind I’m also open with that. What I don’t do (at least not anymore) is blog a press release sent to me without any compensation. When I was just starting, it felt okay. But then I’ve had experiences when I’d blog for a brand then noticed that they send stuff to other bloggers so they’d blog but not me. I agree if they think my blog does not have enough reach, they should just not work with me.

    So far, I’m getting the compensation I deserve. I still do reviews of products I buy on my own but when a brand requests for a post, I now get properly compensated whether it’s monetary or an x-deal.

    To Bloggers, know your worth. ๐Ÿ˜Š


    • Kelly Hoggons
      September 5, 2017 / 8:42 am

      I think sending my rate card is a practice I need to get into – much less awkward than asking if they have a budget for the post ๐Ÿ˜› I recently had an experience where a brand sent me a product to review and do a giveaway. Then I saw that another blogger (with a smaller reach than me), had got the same products sent to her, but was also being paid for the collaboration! So now I’m much less afraid to remind brands that bloggers deserve to be compensated. That was part of the inspiration for this post – we shouldn’t have to ask to be paid; blogging should just be respected enough that brands believe we deserve payment off the bat!

      I’m glad to hear things are going well for you!

    • Kelly Hoggons
      September 5, 2017 / 8:42 am

      It’s a big problem in South Africa too!

  2. August 15, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    Yes yes, a thousand times yes! People need to hear this. it needs to be screamed to the rooftops! I don’t mind working with you with it comes to pricing, but I am worth more than nothing. I work my ass off on my posts. Regardless of what it is about, I bare my heart and soul to make sure it comes out the way I want it to. Sometimes my posts have loads of pictures. Sometimes, it has lots of words. They both take a lot of planning. That doesn’t even include all the extra costs that go into blogging! People need to hear this. Great post love xxx

    Melina |

    • Kelly Hoggons
      September 5, 2017 / 8:46 am

      Yes! If you have a very small budget, I’m happy to negotiate my prices, but at least pay me a nominal fee. Maybe more bloggers need to do “follow me around” sort of posts, or posts where we show the process of putting a post together, so people can see how much work we actually put into each post? Glad you liked the post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Karen at MomAgain@40
    August 16, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Good points!

    • Kelly Hoggons
      September 5, 2017 / 8:46 am


  4. August 20, 2017 / 5:08 am

    I can’t stress this enough and your post made every point, on point! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for writing this! It inspired me to be better and to be worth every penny. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kelly Hoggons
      September 5, 2017 / 8:47 am

      Really glad you liked the post! And yes – you deserve to be compensated!

  5. August 21, 2017 / 6:42 pm

    Great post! You make complete sense in this. I often have brands email me for blog posts promoting their brand I think most of them are just after backlinks to their site – so they have a better chance of ranking higher in Google- very annoying.

    • Kelly Hoggons
      September 5, 2017 / 8:48 am

      Definitely! The only thing more annoying than blogs refusing to pay for a post because they just want backlinks is brands refusing to pay if you won’t include do-follow links, which you’re not allowed to be paid for anyway! So frustrating!

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