As a blogger, I often find it hard to price my services. I find it easier when it comes to marketing and PR, but harder when it comes to giving out quotes for social media and blogging. Although it might not seem like it, the days of working as a full time social media person or blogger are still relatively quite new. There are as many variables as there are people looking for work - engagement rates, social media following numbers, conversion numbers, reach, what topics you write about with authority, what brands you have worked with - the list is almost never ending.
|Dinner in Exchange for Work?
I also find that because so many people see this as a way to be "livin' the life," i.e. working from home, seeming to set your own hours, looking at it as getting to be your own boss - prices fluctuate all over the board. Add to the equation, not everyone writes or creates content as their full time job. Bloggers and people that work as social media community managers and consultants rarely discuss their pricing with others - perhaps this is to remain competitive, or maybe it's to avoid competition and bidding wars altogether.
Outside of blogging and social media, there are not many other industries where people would see no problem with asking someone to work for free, guest blogging, or helping with marketing plan writing or design...I had a handyman come over today to hang some pictures, install a couple locks and make a plan to put a fence in my backyard, and it would never occur to me to say to him, "Thanks for spending two hours here. I've got a soda to offer you, cool?" It would never cross my mind that he wouldn't expect to be paid, so why do we, as bloggers and community managers?
I'm not sure I've got the right answer to this. I do, however, have a ton of questions that come to mind when I think about it. I'll be asking you these questions during this Monday's #contentchat (June 22nd, 2pm CST). I'd like to get YOUR thoughts on things like:
Is low self-esteem an inherent trait in bloggers? Those that work in social media? Why else wouldn't we feel strong enough to demand we're paid what we're worth?
Is there ever a time it's okay NOT to be paid?
Is there any truth to the statement, "I am not yet expecting to be paid while I'm growing my readership" ?
Why do friends think it's ok to ask us to write for them for free? My friend is a lawyer, should I ask him to take on whatever case I might one day have, and represent me for free? Maybe for a free lunch, in exchange for all the hours he will spend on my case? (not to mention the cost that he incurred while attending law school, in order to put himself into a position TO help me)
Does it make you feel good if people ask you to do blogging or consulting for them, but don't offer to pay you? Does it make you feel like a 'thought leader?'
Is it just too hard to say "NO?"
I feel that as bloggers, and people that are regularly engaged on social media, we are already sharing a lot of our knowledge or "secret sauce" items that we've learned along the way, and picked up via experience working in the field. Why, then, do people still want to "go to lunch and pick your brain?" If they find what you have to offer so valuable, why would they expect us to simply give away what we do for a living?
On the flipside, how would our paying clients feel, after finding out we're doing work for 'friends' for free? Wouldn't that jeopardize all our other business relationships?
My biggest "problem" is that I love to help people. I love the moment of discovery when you realize that something you've said or shared gives them their lightbulb moment. So I can, at times, find myself in a position of sitting at "lunch" with people and freely sharing, only to feel later on down the road that perhaps I'd been taken advantage of.