When I started blogging in 2014, I never dreamed it would be an actual job that would earn me actual money. I didn’t know people made money with blogs, I had no clue about ad revenue, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing or any of the other things that were possible in the online space. I saw my blog as a “serious-ish” creative outlet that could help earn me some visibility in the publishing and freelance writing space – which it has – but I didn’t know that there was actual money to be made on the blog itself.
Should bloggers and influencers charge a day rate or event fee?
Fast forward five years (eek, it’s been almost five years) and my blog has jumped past what we can call a side hustle. It’s not the main source of income for my family but it is a source we count on that makes our tax return just a little more complicated. Our family looks at my blog as a real job, and I'm super thankful I have that support.
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For clarity's sake, I'm talking about local press events and openings. Structured press junkets or familiarization trips fall into a separate category…at least they do for me.
Every year, I officially evaluate my business and make goals. I’m continuously evaluating through the year, but I give myself an official sit down every new year to make new goals, look at my expenses and earnings, and take a hard look at what is and is not working.
One of the things I’ve given particular scrutiny to this year is my time and smaller expenses I wasn’t tracking as business expenses. I started looking at the things that don’t benefit me – and by benefit me, I mean earn me income, advance me in some other way, or give me joy – and worked to eliminate them or change them to turn them into a benefit versus a time suck.
So back to the question…should bloggers charge a day rate or an event attendance fee?
I get invited to a lot of events. These might be openings of a restaurant, store, or gallery. Sometimes they can be family fun type of events, such as zoos, theme parks, aquariums or other activities. They typically involve some sort of entertainment and some sort of honorarium, such as free food, sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes access, and perhaps a goody bag.
To charge or not to charge for event attendance is a personal business choice. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide:
1. Are you being asked or required to create specific content stemming from the event?
If your invite is contingent on writing a blog post, promoting something on social or live-sharing during the event, asking for compensation may be in order.
2. Is the content you could create from the event in your niche?
Do you write about food? Then a restaurant opening is on brand for you and your audience expects you to write and share about food. This is a good reason to consider charging. You have value to the brand as an advertiser.
You could also look at this another way: If your audience expects you to write and share about food and they respond favorably to food-related content, you might be able to make that content work for you, regardless of whether you’re compensated for attending the event or not. If your blog is monetized – and if it isn’t, why isn’t it? – then you’ll make passive ad revenue on whatever content you create.
I always vote for getting paid for your work, especially when it involves promoting a business or brand but you know best on what kind of content performs well for you and I’m also a big believer in writing the kind of content you know will perform well.
3. Will you incur costs to attend the event?
If you’re going to use more gas than normal, pay to park your car, pay for childcare or shell out any money to attend an event where you’re being asked to promote something that you’re not getting compensated for, then consider charging an event fee, a day rate, or asking for money for your expenses. Otherwise, you’re going in the hole to promote someone who isn’t paying you.
I live 25 miles outside the city limits, so most events are going to cause me to use gas outside of what I’d normally use. Does that break me? Probably not, but if gas prices suddenly spiked, I might look at things a little differently. If I have to pay for parking and/or get a babysitter, that can potentially put my cost to attend in the $50 range, and unless there’s some really strong motivator to attend, I’m probably going to say “not worth it” unless I'm being paid in cash money.
4. So, let’s talk about that. What would be a strong motivator to attend?
A strong motivator to me is making connections I want to make. Do I want to attend an opening of a store because I hope to gain sponsored work (or even just gratis products) from that store at a later time? Are there going to be people there I want to connect with? Are there photo or interview opportunities that are exclusive to that event?
Behind-the-scenes and VIP experiences are usually attractive to me. Luxury content performs well on my blog and social channels and sometimes, getting a sneak peek or a peek behind the curtain is worth it to me in terms of exclusive content I can create or just because I’d enjoy the experience.
5. What about family experiences?
We’re often offered meals, theme park admission, museum admission, or other experiences that fall under family recreation and entertainment. If it’s an activity my entire family would like, I’ll consider attending without asking for compensation.
But, here’s the rub: If we’re offered movie tickets x4 plus some free popcorn and soda, that runs about $75…yikes, movies are getting expensive, right?
We don’t go to the movies as a family that often because of that expense. A movie is a splurge for us and we usually limit our movie going to Marvel Cinematic Universe new releases (because who can stand the suspense) and special occasions.
So, you think I’d jump at a chance to go to the movies for free…but if the “for free” included social media promotion and a blog post, my fees are more than $75.
If you're buying your movie tickets through Fandango (we do) please use my affiliate link.
Did you know it takes me 6-8 hours total to write a blog post? This includes writing the copy, taking and editing the photos, keyword research, posting on Facebook, crafting tweets (succinct and witty thoughts in 280 characters), making a Pinterest image size de jour, writing a 500 character description for Pinterest, pinning to umpteen million Tailwind tribes, inserting a blurb in my newsletter, writing THE perfect Instagram caption…are ya tired yet?
If I charged $10 per hour for my work, a blog post would be in the neighborhood of $600-$800. If I applied this logic, why would I spend that kind of time writing a blog post about going to the movies when I could be doing something that could be doing something that earned me money…and just fork over the $75 to take my family to the movies and call it a treat.
See the logic here?
There are certain brands I’m loyal to that I’ll create content for in exchange for experiences. I’m a solo business practitioner and I get to decide when I bend my rules.
6. Do you genuinely want to go to the event?
For whatever reason, if you’re excited about the prospect of attending an event, then that's a sign to go.
7. When should I charge a day rate?
I recommend charging a day rate when you’re away from your business for half a day or a full day and being at that event will prevent you from doing things you need to do to earn money. How much to charge depends on how much you make or what your reach is. An easy way is to calculate what you make in a day. The obvious place to find this would be your tax return…divide your gross income by 365.
If your blog makes $10K a year, you make an average of $27 per day. Is asking for $27 or $13 plus a transportation stipend when you’re going to be spending a full day or a half day away from your regularly scheduled programming – regularly scheduled programming that earns money – out of line? I say it isn’t.
PR agencies and local businesses have started recognizing bloggers and social media influencers as an essential part of their marketing plans and also as members of the media and press corps. Advertising and press have traditionally been two different entities but the digital age is marrying those things up…sort of.
I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of who/what is an advertiser versus who/what is media…at least not today…but the lines are blurry and the rules not always clearly defined. I like to joke that we’re in the wild west of social media and that we’re in sort of an “anything goes” kind of era where there aren’t always clear-cut rules and the rules are constantly changing.
I used to go to almost everything I was invited to. I was afraid to decline an invitation because I was afraid to “fall off someone’s radar” in my pursuit of the elusive “getting my self out there.” I would go to just about anything someone invited me to because I felt it was imprudent to say no (as in “If I don’t say yes, they’re never going to invite me to anything else and I’ll die of FOMO.”
While I’ve been to events that weren’t really of interest to me or that didn’t fit my brand, most of the events I’ve been to have been fun. I’ve gotten to see fun things, do fun things, and hang out with fun people. In four years of blogging, I've only left two local press events that I regretted going to.
But, here’s the thing.
As a blogger, influencer, freelance writer, whatever you want to call me, I’m invited to these events because whoever is doing the organizing wants me to promote their thing. They want me to write about it on my blog or promote it to my social media followers. I'm different from traditional media. Even though my content might be as valuable or reach as many people as someone who is employed by a magazine or a newspaper, no one is paying me to keep the lights on like someone who is employed by a magazine or newspaper. And yes, I know traditional journalists don't typically make a ton of money but someone is paying their salary whether they sit at at desk or go to a restaurant opening. It's not the same thing for me.
No one is inviting me anywhere because I’m a cool person to hang out with or because they know I really like cheese and tiny desserts and goody bags. I’m invited because I have influence and someone wants their product, their service, their event, their whatever…to be talked about. I’m invited to create social buzz or content touting their product, their service or their event. People who are opening stores and restaurants want people to know about their stores and restaurants. Since more and more people are getting their news, info, and entertainment online, more and more businesses are wanting to work with bloggers. I get the benefit of networking with people and getting content and information my readers might find useful.
But here’s another thing.
Attending these events takes me away from my business or away from my family. In some cases, I may even incur costs to attend these events. In my locale, paying a blogger or influencer for event attendance isn't commonplace so I don't go to many events that aren't tied to a sponsored post I'm contracted to write. Unless I'm going for sheer fun or to get my social fix (which is important when you work at home and don't see other people day in and day out) I'm usually not willing to spend a day or half a day doing something that's ultimately using the time I've set aside to do work work I get paid to do.
You ultimately have to decide what's best for you, your business and your valuable time. And, the beauty of being a my own boss is that board meetings and business decisions are pretty streamlined. If I want to make an exception, switch gears, or do something different, no red tape or memos are needed.
SOME OF MY BLOGGING FAVES:
Convert Kit – I use this for email marketing
Tailwind – I use this for Pinterest scheduling. Tailwind also has a robust Instagram scheduling arm. I haven't tapped into it yet but I think they definitely know what they're talking about.
Pinning Perfect – This is an amazing course that has really elevated my blogging game.
I'm old school…I use Tweetdeck to schedule my tweets. It's free!
Conference anyone? I love Flock Presents. They offer small scale topical business conferences. I'm definitely a believer. I saw my Pinterest reach go from 750K to 1.2M by applying their principles.
Pinning Perfect also offers the following products:
About my photography
I am an amateur (ish) photographer. I like to say I dabble just because I like taking pictures of my kids but I have done a few photography jobs here and there. My first love is wandering and writing about wandering but photography is right there at the top of the list…because you gotta capture it all, right?
Here's a little bit about my equipment used here:
I used a Canon Rebel T6 which is not the newest thing out there (and not my newest camera but what I took to San Angelo with me.) Here's a bundle on Amazon that has a good compliment of lenses and other stuff:
You can tell from the price that it's not the fanciest, latest and greatest that's out there but I just started using the Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless like this one:
and I have to say…I like my trusty Rebel a lot better.
I edit with Adobe Lightroom and I use presets from Aggie Lal. You can check out her selection here.
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