Should You Work for Products, or for Money?

A pen company recently reached out to me about reviewing their products in one of my YouTube videos. They said they would send the pens for free, all I had to do was mention them and show them in a video.

First off, yay! Random acknowledgement for my YouTube channel! And second, they want to send me pens, which means they know about my planner! Faceless internet validation!

I said, sure, I’d love to try out their products. And they said great, we’ve sent your pens, now we only require you to add the name of our pens to the title of your video.

Whoa there horsey. Mentioning pens, and trying them out in a video is way different than mentioning the brand name in the title! I responded that if they wanted me to list the name of the brand in the title, they were going to have to compensate me for it. My brand means a lot to me, and I am not in the business of creating that much free advertising, in exchange for a few gel pens.

I mean, if it was Tombow, and they wanted to give me free brush pens for a mention, I’d be writing a very different blog post.

When Should you Work for Products

I know a lot of people who will not work in exchange for products. You can’t pay your bills with products. And I get that. This blogging gig is hard work, and YouTube is even harder. The content we create is something that a lot of us already give away for free, and when you do it for an advertiser you are not only giving them your content for free, you are giving them advertising for free. And if you are a content creator, you know that advertising is not cheap.

I am not someone who will never write for products, however there are stipulations.

  1. I have to actually want to try your product – I’m not going to try some random nonsense that I have no interest in just so you can boost your brand.
  2. Your product needs to fit my genre and brand – I’m not going to review random nonsense that will stick out like a sore thumb with the rest of my content, and make my readers/viewers think that I am writing some disingenuous shit just to potentially get extra exposure for myself.
  3. I am not going to create a ton of links, and use your pics, or your content in my post/video – remember what I said about advertising being expensive? I can’t afford to advertise for myself, and I’m not just going to be a platform for you to have free advertising. And I will never use someone else’s content, as an advertisement or otherwise.
  4. I am going to give an honest review, good or bad, so your stuff better be good – If your product is garbage, I’m not going to say it’s great for fear that you won’t want to work with me again. Because chances are, I’m not going to want to work with you again if I don’t like your product.

When Should you Charge For Content?

Again, some people will never not charge for content.

I’m still new, so I like the opportunity to get my blog out there, even if it’s just for products. With the caveats above, of course. That is not to say that I won’t draw the line though.

  1. When a company wants me to display their name in the title of my post or video – Adding the name of a company to a post/video title, is like putting a sign on your blog that you work with that company. I am not going to do that for free. My word means a lot, and if I’m vouching for you, I need compensation.
  2. When a brand wants more than one post – If you are looking for a series from me, you’re going to need to pay me. It takes a lot of work to put 300-1,000 words on the page, and I’m not just going to pull that out for you over and over again for product. I mean, unless that product is a car or a cruise.
  3. When a company asks for more in return than they are giving – As mentioned above, if you want me to write a five blog post series about the cruise you are going to send me on, you don’t have to pay me. If you want me to write a 500 page blog post about a set of pens that cost $4.95, it’s not going to happen. However, if you want me to try them and mention them, we’re good. If you want me to dedicate an entire video to your product, you’re going to have to pay me.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

I know this may come off as greedy, or selling out, but blogging has changed a lot over the years. When I was a younger blogger, I had no issue doing work for products. I would literally review anything that anyone wanted to send me. A book to help children learn Spanish? Yup. A set of baby bottles for my two month old? Heck yes. A wooden watch, that doesn’t hold up to water exposure, but looks amazing? You know it! I still have the pics from that one:

Should You Work for Products, or for Money?
I was pretty proud of this one.

There was also another time, when I got to meet Jessica Alba when she was honored at the Mount Sinai Champion for Children Award Ceremony in Greenwich, CT in 2013. I didn’t get paid for it, and it was totally worth my time and effort.

The Bottom Line

As with everything else, do what is right for you. Some people work for products, because they love free things. Others won’t work for less than $500 a post. I used to work for an online parenting magazine, for $20 a post. And even though I knew I wasn’t getting paid enough for my content, I did it because I wanted to be a paid writer. That was enough for me.

I can’t tell you what’s right for you. I can say that if you are feeling stressed or unsure about your compensation, ask for more. The worst they can say is no. For example, the pen company that reached out to me, said no to my ask for compensation. And in return I will not mention their name in the title of my video. Believe me, it’s empowering to name a price for your content, even if it doesn’t get accepted. You are showing yourself, and others, that your word has monetary value, and it’s a great feeling!

Will you work for products? Will you only take money? Are you up for either?

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  1. Reply

    OMG I have a post sitting in my post place (WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT CALLED) waiting to be published and I haven’t had the nerve.
    The title? Bloggers Stop Writing Crap For Free.
    I swear we are on the same wavelength.

    I agree with all of your points but I have been contacted by people who want me to write, share, blah blah blah, and don’t want to pay me at all. It irritates me because no one is asking them to work for free.

    It’s a fine line for sure but the more I write about nonsensical crap on my blog, the more I am chasing paid opp’s away. Which might be a good thing as I really have no business being paid to blog in the first place LOL.

    1. Reply

      This comment literally made me laugh out loud in the middle of the airport. You should be paid MORE for blogging! Funny story, I’ve made about $2.50 from Amazon Affiliates since starting blogging back in 2012, so I’m doing something right!

      Do you mean your draft folder? Do you have a ton of posts sitting there waiting to be posted? I’m so curious about your process. And post that shit! You’re not here to make friends! I mean, you probably are. Aren’t we all? But post it! Cause it sounds great!

  2. Reply

    There’s been a HUGE movement lately among artists on Instagram. But I want to guess which pen it was. Was it one that’s erasable and start with a P? Regardless, I had a company do the same thing to me and didn’t realize they wanted the name of the pen in the video, just like your saying until after I made the video. I was just super excited to be noticed. But it was fleeting and I felt gross afterward. I’m super proud of you for standing up from the start. There has to be some limit. I agree with the cruise. I’d do stuff for a cruise. Pretty much if I have to write it off for taxes, I’m pretty sure that’s something I should consider. Otherwise, I’m on your boat.
    Tricia Murdock recently posted…April Mid-Month Habit Check: Humility & ProgressMy Profile

    1. Reply

      Ha! Yes, they do indeed start with a P! Tell me more about the movement, I’m so out of the loop! And yes, for sure if I get on a cruise, I’ll sneak you in. Or better yet, I’ll say that we are a blogging team!

  3. Reply

    Oh, we are SO on a blogging team. I’ll sneak you on too if I ever get a cruise gig. And the movement — there have been SO many posts lately – don’t work for products or promos! I’ve seen it across the art accounts and the bullet journal accounts! They are also telling people to ask their worth not under!
    Tricia Murdock recently posted…April Mid-Month Habit Check: Humility & ProgressMy Profile

    • Mother of 3
    • April 16, 2019

    I think it is a growth process thing; in the beginning I was so flattered to be asked to review anything that I pretty much automatically said yes but I hardly do at all anymore. I often quote a pretty high price back because I do spend lots and lots of time on my blog and I genuine love it. I don’t need to pimp myself out for a free product I’d probably never use anyway. I have waaay to many ideas to clutter up my drafts folder with “fluff”.

    1. Reply

      I totally get that. And yes! Between the amount of time we put into blogging, and the love we have for it, the price tag for content should be reflected. I was super excited to get noticed on my YouTube account, since I just started it in January, and I only have 38 subscribers. But then I reminded myself that folks are paid to find people to send product to for free advertising!

  4. Reply

    Those are great guidelines!
    Akaleistar recently posted…Weekend Ramblings… Vol. 2My Profile

      • Ani
      • May 15, 2019

      Thank you! <3

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