So someone has asked you to blog, act as consultant, or create some sort of social media campaign for them. That’s terrific! Hopefully you’re receiving fair compensation and you’re not offering your services for free. Hopefully the work you’re doing is equal to the payment you receive.

You see, there are tactics used by some agencies and individuals that sort of look like you’re receiving payment, but you’re actually not. Or what is offered as compensation doesn’t quite match the work you’re putting into gig.

Don’t fall for cheapskate tactics.

What follows are some things that folks are offering in return for a job, but kind of miss the mark:

  1. Links: Links are not payment. If a brand offers to link to your blog in exchange for your blogging, tweeting and promoting their product, ask yourself who is getting the better end of the deal. People don’t visit a major brand to follow links back to bloggers and those links don’t necessarily send traffic your way. They certainly don’t send any money your way, so why blog for a link?
  2. Gift cards: Three hours of work and you receive a gift card for a cup of coffee or some fast food? Something is kind of wrong with this picture, don’t you think? When it comes to payment, I like to look at it this way – if my bank will take it in exchange for the mortgage, it’s payment. Last I checked, my bank doesn’t take gift cards. Also, if someone is getting paid cash money for a campaign, good cash money, and that person is hiring you for a cheapo gift card, there’s something wrong there.
  3. Products: Products are cool for a product review, as one can’t do the other without, right?  And brand ambassadors should be able to speak about products with confidence, right? These are scenarios where it’s understandable you’ll receive some product if you’re to talk about it. However, your time is worth more than spaghetti. Your bank doesn’t take spaghetti. A box of spaghetti doesn’t equal several hours worth of work. Therefore, spaghetti isn’t a payment. Even beyond pasta, if you’re being promised high end products in exchange for your services, do a little math. Maybe you’re being offered a product that costs $1,000. However, if you’re spending a year working for a brand, you’re getting the crappy end of the stick. One year doesn’t equal $1,000. Be smart about what you accept for payment.
  4. Contest entries: Lordy, where do I start with this one?  So you write up a post, give a tweet, share on Facebook and get all your friends to do the same. Let’s say this is two hours worth of work, and the client wants to offer you as compensation entry into a contest – a contest you, in all probability, may not win. This makes no sense. It’s like me saying, “Please rake my leaves. When you’re done, I’ll put your name in a hat and if I pull it out, I’ll pay you.” Contests are contests, they’re not compensation.
  5. A mention: Someone will type your name on a random website somewhere? How exactly is this going to put food on your table? How is it going to drive traffic to you? How is this going to help you in any way? You get more exposure writing your own blog post – and it’s more rewarding.
  6. A tweet: See: “A mention” above.
  7. Promises: Does this sound familiar? “If you blog for us now, we’ll pay you when we have a budget.” I have news for you, if someone paid the party who is hiring you, they have a budget – they’re just not choosing to share it with you. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but most people who promise payment at a later date, won’t ever have that budget for you. Also, once you’re branded as someone who will work for little or nothing, it’ll be hard to receive decent payment.
  8. Good juju: Guest posts for fellow bloggers are one thing. They offer something of value. For example, links back and community awareness. You don’t get the same thing when you work out of the goodness of your heart for a client. Working for the vibe is an excellent way to give back to a charity or support a fellow blogger. However, brands can afford to pay bloggers. The only one feeling good is them.
  9. Lunch: “Hey, if you do this for me, I’ll buy you lunch at the next conference.” Um, no thanks.  I just asked my banker, and he said I can’t pay him in sammiches. Your time is worth way more than a McPayment.
  10. Exposure: You can get exposure by guest posting, tweeting, and hanging out at conferences. You’re not going to get it by pimping spaghetti. Brands won’t be publicly singing your praises after you Tweet for them.

Here’s a bonus tip: Giveaway products for your own contests aren’t compensation either. Giveaway traffic is short-lived, plus contests take a lot of time and effort to coordinate. The only ones receiving a benefit from contests are the brand and the winner.

I know there are cases where bloggers work in exchange for very little. For example, helping out friends. However, if you’re going to spend hours working as a consultant or to help a brand or client, you deserve a fair wage. You don’t deserve gift cards or contest entries. You deserve to be able to pay your mortgage.

Can you pay your mortgage?

Photo copyright Katia Gelman