Will Blog For Anything But Money

This past weekend I attended Blog World in Las Vegas. There was a lot of discussion about monetization. How, as a blogger, do you make money from your website.  It’s a common source of dialogue between and among ‘mommy bloggers’. How does the mommy blogger make money?

Well, here’s the deal. Very few jobs in this world pay with product. Utilities and credit cards can not be paid with stuff. But, for some reason, it became the norm to offer payment to women in the form of products or sometimes just a pat on the back with the hope of getting something in the future.

I went to law school. At no time was there ever a discussion about how I would be paid. When I went to business school I was never taken aside and told that instead of being paid in dollars I would be getting whatever product my employer sold. I’ve worked for myself and have never issued an invoice for anything other than cold hard cash.

So when I started to blog and learned about monetization, I was somewhat surprised to learn that the mommy blogger is often paid in stuff. Random randomness. Whatever the business sells, it gives to the mommy blogger as payment for a blog post. Some of this random randomness is pretty sweet. Who wouldn’t want to be a Frigidaire Mom? I’d like these cool appliances, I’m not going to lie. But FTC disclosures would require you, the reader, to be told if they received compensation. Did you notice there was none of that. No mention of compensation other than use of the product. Even then it appears that the products were not given to the blogger but rather only loaned for a 3-month test period.

This is more the norm. I’m cool that these women are testing these products and sharing their real in-home experiences. Knowing how products or services really work can be exceptionally helpful. But why is it the norm that mommy bloggers are not paid with cold hard cash? Why is money so taboo?

Talking about income and salary is often taboo and I respect the need for confidentiality. But I also respect the desire of women to earn an income. But, its a model we as mommy bloggers have established. Several years ago we were afraid to ask for money. It seemed easier to say, ‘Oh, just give me one of those cool widgets.’ instead of ‘That will be [insert appropriate dollar amount].’ I’m not sure why, though.

I don’t know why we, as women, felt that our time, knowledge and influence was not worthy of cold hard cash. I don’t know why we, as mommy bloggers, became the equivalent of the internet’s country doctor, taking payment in everything from chickens to cinnamon rolls and hard cider.

The problem is, now we’re trying to right the Titanic. We’ve decided now that we don’t like this ‘pay me with stuff instead of money’ model. Except that the brands and PR folks have become used to our demands for stuff. We’ve told them that we’d be happy with an invite and reception and maybe a gift bag, or a product or two. And we want to not only change the rules but also the entire game.

It’s not easy. And it’s more challenging when we’re not all in this together. As long as women are willing to operate their business of blogging as the equivalent of the country doctor, we’re not going to make the strides necessary to begin receiving payment in the form of cash.

This past weekend I met Lisa McKenzie, one of the founders of Social Media Academy For Women.  We spent quite some time talking about this topic because it’s something her organization is working to change. She is brilliant and has worked with brands and women, yet still feels the frustration in trying to get them to buy in to their worth. But she’s on a mission to change the current model.

There is more to monetization than being paid to do posts and reviews. But those are a big part of how women communicate to other women. Our opinions are valuable but we don’t see that.

We shouldn’t be afraid to ask that we get paid a fair wage. Women should not feel that they are unworthy of being treated equitably. But so long as we continue to say it’s OK, then brands and PR agencies will continue with the current paradigm. It’s no different than what happened in the workplace in the 1970s an 80s. This time, though, it shouldn’t take us a decade to effect change. If we all get on the same page it will be easy.

Will we band together for progress? I’m not sure. I would hope so, but women are not always supportive of one another. There is a lot of competition and, well, if you’re still willing to work for random randomness the brands will never accept the change to a new system.

As women we deserve to be compensated for our time. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what we are worth. Most of us have worked outside the home and have been paid in legal tender. We weren’t asked to barter. Sure, there are times we’re willing to barter. But keep in mind, you can’t pay for your child to go to college with a pantry full of cereal or a really nice fridge.

Are you ready to change how business is done?

Sara