Don’t complain about not making money when you give away services for free.  Here’s a tidbit I want all women out there to know:  We work?  We get paid.  There is no such thing as a free service.  Nothing is free, it all comes at a price! 

Today’s rant is courtesy of Social Dialect:  Helping You Speak Our Language with the article:  Just Say NO to Blogging Contests (and other rules about compensation for blogging)

I will preface this by saying:

  1. This article mainly speaks to bloggers, however it applies to any business owner.
  2. I don’t like blogging contests, paid reviews or giveaways where I have to physically receive and mail stuff.  While I’ve received great stuff in the past, I really don’t see the inherent value in engaging in these contests.  My readers don’t need more stuff and I’ve never been a fan of them.  As such, regular readers here know that I’ve done a handful of them over the last 5 years.
  3. If I am engaging in a review of a product per request of the brand, I am being paid for it and it is noted as such in my disclosure.  I am a business, not a hobby.

Back to my rant.  While I think Fadra @ Social Dialect means well, I totally disagree with the statements:

“Don’t ask for compensation for a review”
“Be willing to work without compensation if it helps you build a relationship for future business.”

My response:

All around great advice but I disagree with :

“Don’t ask for compensation for a review”
“Be willing to work without compensation if it helps you build a relationship for future business.”

This is perhaps because I am a personal finance blogger (Girls Just Wanna Have Funds) and we NEVER advocate working for free in any capacity if we can help it.  The only exception is if we are reviewing the product/site/company on our own time.   We just had our conference over the weekend and one brand tried to recruit us to review their product without compensation and as a group we advised him that it was not cool to expect us to work without compensation.  Reviews bring value to the company soliciting them and they receive the benefit long after we’ve provided that free service.   As you mentioned, this is a business and most of us are building empires. Once we start treating it like a hobby, then others will too and devalue our work which helps their brand. 

Brands shouldn’t ask you to work for free. You should expect to be compensated for your time even if you are a new blogger. If you don’t have social proof then work out some other form of compensation. Why? The very fact that you’re being asked to review a product shows therein lies some inherent value. Don’t let anyone play Jedi mind tricks with you about the value of your work.

If you’re blog is more of a hobby, that’s cool. If you’re building a business, totally not cool.

If there’s a concern about objectivity then of course the FTC helps out with that by mandating that we add a disclaimer stating that you were paid for the review. That said, if your readers still don’t “believe” that you’re being objective then that is an issue with your ability to garner trust for your readers. Readers should know who you are and what you’re about enough that if you give a review then they know it’s genuine.

Here’s what I want you to understand.  When you treat your business like a hobby, then others will too. Whether you are a blogger, shop owner, or sell lemonade on a 100 degree day outside on the sidewalk.  There is no such thing as free.  Everything comes at a cost.  There is no shame in requiring that you be paid for the awesome service that you provide.  Men don’t do this so why do we?

What’s interesting to me is that when I talk to established male business owners/bloggers the concept of a free service is foreign to them.  Customer wants service?  They get paid.  This is understood.  But with women there seems to be this need to be liked and we become irresponsible with the power of our brand which inherently devalues our service.  Positioning yourself as desperate for the gig in order to be liked in hopes that the customer/brand returns puts you in a position to get low-balled or not paid at all. You’ll hate yourself for it when you see your first check.

What do you say to someone who asks that you work for free? Negotiate, don’t apologize and walk away if necessary.  Here’s what happened to me recently when a company wanted me to provide them content for $FREE.99 outside of a standard syndication agreement.

Freeloader:  I’m sorry but we don’t pay for XYZ service.  We believe the benefit you receive is the SEO blah blah blah….

GingerI’ll have to decline being unpaid for this service.  I do value my time and it is my hope that you’d value it as well.

Then you walk away.  Trust me, they will love you for it.

Guess who replied with a rate once I declined working for free?  They did.   I was content to skip my happy @$$ on to the next one whilst keeping my dignity and value intact.  Every legitimate company has a marketing budget because they understand how important it is to get the word out about their product.  They also decide who is worth being paid.  Working without compensation tells them you’re OK with being devalued while they reap the benefit.  How’s nice working out for ya?

Screw being nice.  Do you think the local prostitute gives free blow jobs because she wants to be liked?  No, she wants to be paid!  This is no different than any other bonafide business owner out there!  Yes, that was a crass example, but you understand my point!

Fadra gives the following rationale for working without compensation.  *face palm*  I can’t stress how much it pains me to see women give each other this ratchet advice.

Working without compensation:  if it helps you build a relationship for future business. Many big firms want to work with the same bloggers over and over again because they know they are honest and reliable and will do a good job.

Don’t ask for compensation for a review. It not only taints your view of the product in the eyes of your readers, but it probably taints your own opinion as well. While some bloggers charge an “administrative fee” for their time for a review or for giveaways, this is not a policy I subscribe to.

Her comments speak exactly to my article on why women don’t ask for raises or the salary upfront in a job interview.  Women don’t ask to be paid or for raises because we are more concerned about being liked than we are about being paid fairly.

Men ask for what they want twice as often as women do and initiate negotiation four times more.  Men, socialized in a “scrappier paradigm,” learn to pursue and energize their goals at work and home. The two key elements are control and recognizing opportunity. – “Women Don’t Ask

Recognize your opportunity when it knocks on your door! 

The very fact that you are being asked to provide a service indicates inherent value.  Stop devaluing who you are and the service you provide because you hope the customer will come back.  If they got it for free the first time, why would they pay full price when they come back?  Everyone loves a deal.  Are you a coupon?  No?  Then stop giving discounts.

These are the only reasons why you’d not agree to receive greenbacks for your service:

  • In lieu of payment, you arrange for something tangible value to you.  This does not include a steep discount on their product or service
  • You give the service in exchange for feedback which helps to build your business while helping you gain insight into needed changes

Otherwise, you’re slaving away, giving away your stuff for free.  That is a hobby, not a business.  Don’t expect to be paid.

Tis all.