No, It is Not Okay to be Paid in Tampons
I went into this whole bloggy world with rose colored glasses on (ok actually I wear Ed Hardy glasses) but I digress. Perhaps because I came into it, as a newspaper columnist and didn’t really understand the unwritten rules and because it was such a new medium I earnestly believed, or wanted to, that it afforded me an opportunity to network with a sisterhood of other women writers and find rich, unique ways to write up the same tired old material.
And so, after coming back from BlogHer 2009 and feeling this sense of excitement about the possibilities blogging afforded me outside of straight journalism, I approached Company X in NYC, and asked if they’d be interested in having me blog for them. I had a really great conversation with the managing editor and he said, “While we have no budget for the website” (famous last words) I would love to have you come one board, blog as often as you like and AS SOON as a paying gig becomes available it is yours.
Saying YES to this type of arrangement, and the aftermath which ensued, quite possibly changed the trajectory of my blogging career. In a nutshell I wrote 49 blog posts for Company X for free. That’s right ladies – I wrote all of that stuff for NOTHING. NADA. ZERO. ZILCH. Only the promise and tantalizing carrot dangled in front of my salivating self that one day in the possible future Company X might actually pay me. And that was my first mistake. Taking a job (and ladies it is a job – and don’t let ANYONE tell you that writing a blog post is not work!) for no compensation. And by the way- TAMPONS are NOT considered compensation, and I say that because I have, in my blogging career accepted tampons in lieu of cold hard cash, and the kicker- I don’t use TAMPONS!
What I did, which unfortunately is a situation most newbie bloggers fall prey to, is agree to this experience, and so many others – whether it was being paid in tampons, or in “promises” of payment in the near future. The consequences of agreeing to essentially work for free is that ultimately I devalued the worth of my words and in doing so, I devalued myself and allowed others, namely the bosses at Company X and other brands which chose to pay me in products, to devalue me too.
Believe me I get it—as a new blogger, you need to get exposure. You want to create relationships with brands, pr firms and companies. Unfortunately, while a link or getting a box of cereal might seem seductive, in hindsight agreeing to terms in which you are not being paid, you are doing more harm than good not only to your brand and reputation as a working blogger, but to so many others who will come behind you and, because of decisions you’ve made, will agree to those terms too.
Honestly, I’m not really sure if there is a one-size fits all solution to the dilemma. All I know for sure is this; at the end of the day you need to ask for what you’re worth. You need to demand it—because if you don’t as a blogger- no one will.