I'm an ethical fashion & conscious life style blogger and I'm incredibly underpaid for the time and effort I put into The Honest Consumer. I think many bloggers can relate. It's a full time job and there are a lot of brands that want free promotion. I've worked hard building an organically grown community of conscious consumers and that is valuable.
The Value Bloggers Bring to Brands
If I believe in your mission and product, I can put your brand in front of an incredible community with thousands of consumers who take pride in what they purchase. That is worth something. The work that goes into one blog post for a single brand is a lot. I speak with founders of brands to verify their ethics and then I write an average of 500 words per post. A good write-up has the potential to boost a brand's SEO, especially if it's coming from a larger community like a blog. SEO is huge in online business. Then I style and photograph the product which gives brands photographs for their social media accounts. For brands getting styled photography is huge. Styled photographs help consumers relate to the product and draw in followers, growing the brands community.
It's Unethical to Ask Bloggers to Do All This Without Compensation
A lot of brands want free promotion...and I do free blog posts sometimes because I'm passionate about social impact and I want to spread the word. I'm not just in it for the money (if I was I wouldn't have lasted this long). But blogs are businesses too and I have to keep my business afloat. In a sense, I feel that it can be unethical for companies to ask for all these values bloggers bring, for free. While I do understand that social enterprises and ethical fashion brands typically work on a small budget, if we're advocating for fair wages for those behind the products and positive social impact, I think the ones putting effort into raising awareness of the products should be fairly paid too. Call me vain, but I think ethical bloggers bring some very valuable assets to the table and deserve to be compensated fairly.
Bloggers have an open portfolio with all their previous work on their blog. Typically brands can tell if their writing, photography, style, and audience is worth paying for because it's all online. If a brand is approaching a blogger typically that means they've checked out their previous work and see value in it. So I think the brand should be willing to provide fair compensation for that value.
Some brands inquire about immediate sales as a response to a bloggers post. Sales are a process. Especially in the conscious and ethical community, I don't think immediate sales are always the result of blog posts. As a blogger I can't promise you sales. And I can't promise you that your product will resonate with everyone in my community. But I can tell you that brand awareness is incredibly valuable in business. This can help build your brands community and eventually lead to dedicated customers and repeated sales down the line.
But Bloggers Get Paid In Product
Now that's just silly. Product doesn't pay the bills. Product is what essentially creates the bulk of the work. "Product payment" doesn't account for the time I spend on the phone, writing, styling, reviewing, & photographing. I spend a minimum of three hours per post and that doesn't include general website upkeep. And I post new content pretty much EVERYDAY.
So what can we do??
As consumers just value the blog posts. Know that a lot of time went into putting the post together and try not to hate on people's work. As brands reflect on if you think it's ethical to ask for a blogger to provide styling, photography, & a written piece for free and keep that in mind as you go forward in your business.