The blogging community has been sizzling with controversy over the payment (or not) of Mommy Bloggers. The arguments range from one extreme to the next; from those who accept payment or compensation being considered sell-outs to those who feel you should not lend even an unsolicited opinion without compensation. While the battle rages on, I thought I’d take a moment to dust off my gloves and step into the ring.
Admittedly, I am a noob. I have been blogging for just over a year and have only a handful of reviews to my name. I don’t have any conglomerate connections. I’ve not yet been invited to any corporate headquarters, but I still feel I have something important to say. Why? Well, it could be an overinflated ego, but I prefer to think that my voice has value because I’m human. I’m a mom. I’m a consumer. And I’m honest. Honesty is paramount, the recent Twitter firestorms have taught us that.
I’ve read two great posts about this controversy from Kelby Carr and Ray Young (husband of Christine Young). Both bring up great points. The general theme being: we provide a valuable service, and that service is worth something.
As such, we cannot sell ourselves short for for the hope of getting our foot in the proverbial door. As I tell my children, everything we do has a consequence. It can be a negative consequence or a positive one. Or, more perplexing, it can be a positive consequence for us (getting a foot in the door) and a negative consequence for others (lowering the bar). We need to weigh the long term consequences of the whole. If we, in an effort to get to the top, are willing to review, consult, brand or lend our voice for free even once…why would a company ever want to pay? If they can get 10 lesser-known bloggers to tout their product for free, why would they want to pay the better-known blogger, who has spent a great deal of time and energy building her network, a fee to reach the same amount of people? Short answer: they won’t. Ever. So while we may get to the top faster…will it be worth it? I don’t think so. There will always be someone else willing to do it for free.
Now that doesn’t mean we can all make it big right here and now. We can’t all charge $2000.00 a month for an ad if we don’t have the audience to deliver the desired results. But we all have to start somewhere. If you’re like me and a low woman on the totem pole, that means starting small. Small is fine, small is good, small is better than free. It tells companies that while we realize we don’t have a sweeping reach, we will one day, and our voice is still worth something now!
That something will be different for each of us. I wish I could share some magic formula to help us all calculate our worth…but I can’t. It’s frustrating I know. I recently read an article that said we should double or triple our hourly rate to establish a reasonable consulting fee. Well, I don’t know about you, but I could multiply my rate by the power of 10 and it would still be zero. But there is hope. At the time of this writing, Kelby is running some polls to help establish some fee norms based on blog outreach and experience. I can hardly wait to see the results, because I’m honestly clueless about where to begin and this will be a much needed resource. I will link to her findings once they are up.
But remember that whatever the findings, these will be guidelines. Charge what you feel you are worth. Something Ray Young stated that really resonated with me was
“In my way of thinking, the mom’s are, if anything, more credible than the celebrities. Does Tiger really drive a Buick? Does Kelly Ripa really cook her own meals? Does Oprah really love Butt Paste?“
No, no, a thousand times no! I’m quite certain Tiger doesn’t drive a Buick. I’d imagine Oprah has never tried Butt Paste. As for Kelly, I like to think she cooks at least some of her own meals (love you Kelly! *mwah*). But what this tells me is that our voice is more powerful than we think! Who told Oprah about Butt Paste? Her viewers! And who are her viewers? Mainly women! Mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts…women!
So I have to ask…do we need Oprah to tell us what what we already told her we like? Nope, I’d rather see more celebrity interviews. Do we need Tiger to tell us how great a Buick is? Nope, chances are we’ve already driven one.
We have a voice, and it’s worth something. But we’ve allowed ourselves to be silenced. We’ve relegated ourselves to standing in the shadows. We’re holding the teleprompter so celebrities can read what we’ve written, what we feel. It’s time for us to realize our strength, our power as Mommy Bloggers and ask others not to demean us by offering us less than we’re worth.