Blogging 101: How to Have the Compensation Conversation
posted on January 19, 2016 | by Amanda Holstein
Talking about money has never been an easy subject, but as bloggers and business owners, it’s something we need to get comfortable with. Asking for compensation, let alone a favor, has definitely been a personal struggle of mine in the past. But I’ve learned a few things from working in this business that have taught my why it’s so important to handle the compensation conversation thoughtfully. So here’s what you need to know:
Know Your Rates
Before you discuss compensation with anyone, it’s extremely important that you make an executive decision about your rates. I highly recommend creating a rate card for yourself (no one needs to see it) that lists your offerings and what you’d ideally like to charge. I like to create a range for each offering and set a minimum. Deciding on a minimum amount you’d be willing to work for is SO important. That way when you’re in negotiations, you’ve set some boundaries for yourself to stick to.
Deciding what to charge is a whole other topic. Generally, I recommend thinking about it in terms of an hourly rate. If you start with an hourly rate, then figure out how many hours you think each project would take you. You can come up with a price for each offering based on that. If you have still have no idea what to charge, please feel free to email me and I’ll help you come up with a fair number!
How to Bring Up the Topic
When it comes to actually bringing up the topic of compensation, it’s important that you do so early on in the conversation. You don’t want to have a handful of back-and-forth emails only to discover that they don’t have budget. It’s also courtesy to be up front so that you don’t waste their time either. Here are some options for phrasing:
- If you are emailing a brand directly, I would include a phrase like, “Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further and I can provide you with my rates and some more info.” Then in another email, you can provide actual numbers.
- If you are responding to an email from a brand, I would respond with gratitude, some content ideas, and then include a phrase like, “My typical rate for something like this is [$], is that doable for you?” or “Do you have budget for something like this?”.
It’s important to remember that brands are working with budgets. Smaller brands and startups are going to have smaller budgets, and that is something you can account for in your rates if you’d like. Know that what they offer you is not a reflection on you, but merely a number they worked through to account for their budget and their needs. Thinking this way helps avoid taking things personally and bringing your emotions into it.
Present Your Influence in Numbers
As bloggers with loyal followings, it’s important to remember what you’re truly selling when working with brands. And that is your influence. In order to justify your rates, you need to be able to show that you have a strong reach. Brands like numbers, so look through your analytics, both on your blog and social accounts, and find a story worth telling. Typically brands want to know your: monthly pageviews, monthly unique visitors, and social followings (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest). If these individual numbers don’t look strong on their own, there is plenty you can do:
- Has your audience grown by a large percentage in the past 6 months? Year? This is a great way to show growth, even if your actual pageviews are on the lower side.
- If your individual social followings don’t stand out, group them together and present the number as your total social reach.
- Focusing on engagement is helpful as well. You may not have 10,000 Instagram followers, but if you’re getting hundreds of likes and dozens of comments, that is worth a lot!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for More
If you feel that a project is going to take more time or you’ve noticed some major growth in your following, don’t be afraid to increase your rates. I know a lot of people who get nervous about asking for a higher rate than they usually do, but the truth is, you won’t know unless you ask. The worst thing that could happen is they say they can’t afford that. In my experience, I’ve never had a client respond negatively. If that number doesn’t work for them, you can always negotiate and bring it down.
Have any other questions about compensation?
Let me know in your comments or feel free to email me directly!