When and What Should a Blogger Charge for Their Services?

Perhaps the hottest topic in the blogosphere the last couple years — bloggers and compensation.

Experienced bloggers are powerful influencers, rich with talents and social media knowledge. We are extremely valuable to companies, helping them share their message, build relationships and trust with consumers, and navigate the waters of New Media.

Many of us work full time in the social media space and, as professional bloggers, need to be compensated for our time.

But then the questions loom: When, how, and for what should a blogger be compensated?


It all comes down to ROI — Return On Investment.

Companies should not be the only ones evaluating ROI. Everything we do as bloggers should be based on our Return On Investment.

Are we investing our time, assets and blog content wisely? Are our decisions adding to the value of our blog/brand/business? Does the investment require compensation to warrant our time, influence, or blog real estate?

But therein lays the reason for the confusion.

ROI can be relative — even subjective.

What is valuable to one blogger may not have the same value to another.

Different Goals

Everyone’s goals are not the same.

Some bloggers are hobbyists, enjoying the blogosphere as a part time passion. They are not trying to provide for their families through their time online.

Others of us are working hard online, not only because we love the art and community of social media, but because we are choosing to invest our time as a means to earn a living. It is our passion, but it is also our job.

We are business owners, making decisions that contribute to our product and our bottom line.

Some blogs benefit from giveaways, coupons, and product reviews. Their readers come for that content.

Whereas on other blogs, hearing about products weakens the blog and frustrates readers who do not come for that content.

For each of us, the key is to understand what benefits our blogs and our readers. We have nothing if we don’t have a good product.

Therefore taking our goals into consideration is key in evaluating our ROI.

Different Value

Every blog and blogger has different value/worth.

A blog with 50,000 page views has less influence and reach then a blog with 500,000 page views. A blogger with 5,000 Twitter followers has less influence and reach than a blogger with 50,000 followers.

Not only is compensation going to vary for different bloggers, but decisions will vary.

A very well established blog does not need the traffic boost of a giveaway or the keyword searches of celebrity or product focused content the same as the newer or smaller site might.

And again, because of the different nature of blogging content and goals, hosting a giveaway may “cost” or “benefit” one blogger more than another.

So WHEN Should a Blogger Charge for their Services?

After evaluating the ROI for a post, project, campaign, etc., and determining whether we require compensation, when is it appropriate to charge for services?

In general, a blogger should receive compensation when we are working to promote and build a company: lending our likeness or brand, representing as a spokesperson, writing for their website, building their community, consulting, etc. And most often, that compensation should be financial, not merely exchange for exposure, traffic, or products.

But, of course there are exceptions and negotiations will vary depending on bloggers.

Reviews = Earned Media

Most of us agree that a typical “review” should not be paid. A “review” is an objective, un-biased report on a product that a blogger determine adds value to our readers and our blog.

Therefore, for example, I will review an iPhone app for toddlers because I decided that information added value to my readers and my blog.

I will not review an item if the cost of writing and publishing that review does not add value to my readers or blog or fall in line with my goals — or if I simply don’t have enough time!

We rarely run “reviews” because our audience prefers giveaways, along with our personal opinions on the product. (More on giveaways below.)

May I emphasize here that there is nothing wrong with a blogger enjoying the chance to receive a product, test it out, report it on their blog, and disclose that they received the product sample. They are not doing anything wrong. That decision worked with their own ROI.

In the same way, blogger outreach programs which offer products to bloggers can be a good thing for many bloggers. Receiving a certain product that interested them and posting about it may be fun and worth it for them and their readers.

BUT at a certain level of traffic and workload, most established bloggers with blogs that are not specifically based on product reviews will not do product reviews.

Note: Bloggers rarely return product samples. We are independent writers, with no shipping departments! We cannot afford the time and cost of shipping products. However, we DO disclose on review posts that we received product samples.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content can include sponsored posts, sponsored videos, sponsored series, sponsored pages, etc.

Sponsored content is not a bad thing!

There are two critical factors to GOOD sponsored content.

First, it needs to be authentic, honest and in your own voice. It should add value to your site and benefit your reader.

Second, it must be clearly disclosed to the reader, (and the earlier on in the material the better,) that it is indeed sponsored.

Most bloggers, (at least everyone I know and respect!) would never allow anything to be published on our sites that was dishonest or misleading to our readers. Our integrity and the relationship we have with our readers cannot be bought!

Giveaways and Contests

As it has been well documented, giveaways and contests require work from a blogger! They are time consuming and take us away from producing content for our sites.

But they also can add value to a blog, IF giveaways or contests are what our audience wants.

At 5 Minutes for Mom, we ask for a giveaway administration fee to help cover the costs of running our giveaways. We have paid staff and appreciate it when companies recognize that we are conducting a service for them and help cover the associated costs.

However, we also sometimes waive that fee if we determine that the ROI is enough to justify the time and costs for running that giveaway. How much will our readers enjoy the giveaway? Will it bring in significant traffic? Will it add value to our site? Do we have the time or staff to write and run the review? After considering questions like these, we will determine whether or not to run that giveaway.

When we run our giveaways, we, (this included our writers,) always write them from a personal perspective, with our mom blogging voice. All of our content must be in line with our blogging goals.

Content, Consulting, and Community Building

When we are “working” for a company, explicitly benefiting their business and not ours, we must be compensated.

If the ROI does not fall in our favor, we must be compensated accordingly or pass on the “opportunity.”

For example, writing content for a company’s site should be paid work! I write for Cascadian Farm and they pay me well for the content I provide for them.

Sometimes bloggers are approached to write for company sites (brand new sites at that!) and to help build that community in exchange for “exposure and traffic.” This is ironic since the reason they are coming to bloggers is usually that they do not yet have an established site! That link from a new site most often does not add up to the value of a blogger taking time away from their own blog (and family!) to create content and build community for a company’s site.

For more on bloggers writing for free, read Melanie‘s discerning post Why Do Bloggers Continue to Work for Free? and Kelby Carr‘s post Mom Bloggers Deserve to Get Paid.

NOW, if The Pioneer Woman offered me a chance to write on her site I would jump to my computer and start typing! The exposure and credibility of writing for The Pioneer Woman screams ROI!

Guest posting and contributing on group blogs, fellow blogger’s sites, etc. is an important way to establish your name, get experience, and drive traffic to your site. But developing regular content and building community for a company’s site should usually be paid work.

Brand Ambassadorships, Spokesperson Work, Conference Sponsorships, Integrated Campaigns, Contests, Promotions, and More!

There are endless options of how companies can partner with bloggers to spread their message with unique and effective campaigns.

Having bloggers represent brands, similar to athletes and celebrities representing brands, is one of the best ways companies can build their presence online and bloggers can earn a living.

At 5 Minutes for Mom, we prefer to work with companies on customized, integrated campaigns that include all different kinds of promotion. We partner with companies in which we believe and align ourselves and 5 Minutes for Mom with their brand.

These partnerships are ideal for bloggers. They are based on cost per influence, not just cost per impression. A blogger’s value is generally found in more than just the page impressions on our blogs.

Customized partnerships can take all a blogger can offer into account — their talents, creativity, content, experience, social media footprint and reach, and more — and give a company a comprehensive, authentic platform. Aligning brand and blogger, not cost per impression campaigns, is the future of blogger compensation.

Advertising and Media Buys

Whether you are using Ad Banners with Pay Per Click (PPC) through a provider such as Google AdWords, Cost Per Impression (CPM) through an ad network such as BlogHer, selling your ad space directly yourself, or using your ad space to promote your customized campaigns, sponsorships, ambassadorships, etc., your advertising real estate on your blog is one of your most valuable assets.

While banner ads are not usually the most effective way to influence your readers, they are still incredibly significant. Bloggers know this from firsthand experience. We regularly and successfully use “badges” to spread our brand, our events, our conferences, etc.

At 5 Minutes for Mom, we choose to not be a part of an ad network so that we can personally determine how to use our advertising space, reserving our most prominent ad spots for companies for whom we are working as spokespeople or to promote our sponsored campaigns, etc.

How Much Should a Blogger Charge?

Since blogs and bloggers have different goals and value, ROI will vary accordingly. As well, there are other factors such as supply and demand that come into effect. Therefore, since fees that bloggers charge depend on multiple factors, rates will fluctuate.

Determining what the market will hold and what is a fair amount for your services is an ongoing effort that will continue to evolve as your experience, influence and numbers grow.

Publishing how much one blogger is paid is not appropriate and can actually hurt the business of blogging.

Each blogger has to evaluate their values and goals individually, and often that fluctuates on a project by project basis.

Jennifer James, one of the wisest voices in the mom blogging space, just published an insightful post, Money Talk: Should Mom Bloggers Discuss What They Earn?.

Remember, some campaigns benefit a blog and some are costing a blog, so compensation may reflect that value.

I do have some private and confidential conversations with fellow bloggers about ballpark compensation figures, but we don’t discuss actual figures for specific campaigns. In fact, sometimes disclosing those figures would be breeching a contract.

The keys to blogger compensation are for companies to respect professional bloggers’ work and value, and for bloggers to understand our goals, know our value, and recognize when it is fair and appropriate to be paid for our work. Then, let the negotiations begin!

P.S. For more fantastic information about blogging as a business and how to earn an income online, read Esther Crawford and Jennifer James’ free e-book, From Blog to Business.

Written by Janice Croze, Mom Blogger and co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.
Tweet with us @5MinutesForMom


  1. says

    this is so interesting. I don’t have the stats to get paid a lot. Blogging is more like a hobby, earning money would help my family tremendously. I don’t have the time to turn it into a business. My hands are full with 3 kids under age 6, and I always try to put that first.

  2. says

    This is a fantastic post, Janice. I have to decide on almost a daily basis whether or not a campaign is right for one of my blogs. Even as an established blogger (Table for Five is 5 years old this month!), I still have to work to convince PR people that their client should do more than send me a product worth $6.00 and expect a lengthy post about it.

    When I did my first product review in 2006, it was unheard of for bloggers to be sent something for free just for writing what they thought about it on their blog. By the time BlogHer 06 rolled around, it was already a topic of debate – was it “selling out” to accept a free Swiffer sweeper or a package of paper towels or whatever and therefore “compromise” the trust of the blog’s readers?

    I LIKE telling people what I think about products, but the product review atmosphere has changed drastically since 2006. It’s no longer just a fun way for a company to spread the word about something new, it’s a business. When I know that Company X is paying PR firm Y to market a product, it bothers me that the PR firm then expects bloggers to do that work FOR FREE. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to pay a blogger $30, $50, $100 or whatever to write a post that reaches 1,000 people than it is to advertise on TV!

    I do disagree with you about giveaways though. I still do giveaways on Table for Five, not because I need the traffic but because people love winning! I get excited when I have a giveaway running, knowing that someone who reads my blog is going to win a really cool prize pack or whatever the giveaway is for. I do it because I love it, not to get traffic :)

    Sorry this is so long, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I want every blogger to love what they publish on their blog, and if they love publishing reviews and giveaways, then they should do it. And companies should understand that blogs are a media outlet just like any other, and should be paid for the audience they reach.

    • says

      Yes – I do love to do giveaways because our readers enjoy them! I love to give products and gifts to people!!! Sometimes though, too many can clutter my site, so I have to be careful about what adds value and what takes away.

      THANKS so much for you reply – great thoughts! I appreciate it!

  3. says

    Janice, awesome post! You, Melanie, Jennifer, and other bloggers who are talking about this topic are spreading awareness to both bloggers and brands. Thanks

  4. says

    Outstanding info on how to monetize one’s blog. While I’ve learned a ton about writing from copyblogger, and problogger, I had to search out info on what to charge. I did find a few formulas based on page views, unique visitors, etc. The info is out there, it just has to be dug for.

    • says

      Yes for sure – if you dig you can come up with it. But I think it is so important to look past views and visitors to the full social media footprint, the engagement and trust with the audience, etc.

      • says

        That’s a very good point about the social media footprint. When you take into account those that also see mentions on Twitter, Facebook, etc., that has to play into the equation.

  5. says

    Very thoughtful and you broke it out well. Understanding what you are worth is such an important topic, even for the bloggers that consider themsevles hobby bloggers. Their time is still worth something, and it is all about ROI and understanding what your ROI is.

    Great Article

  6. says

    This is exactly what I’ve learned. Sometimes it’s the money, but more often it’s whether or not what they are offering me (be it original interesting content or a product to review or an experience) is worth my time and effort.

    I always consider the audience as well. If it’s not 100% of interest to me, but I think it will interest my readers, then I think more about possibly featuring it.

    Great post!

  7. says

    I use blogger affiliates in my business of market research recruiting in a way that I believe benefits that blogger in 2 ways – we pay the blogger for quality referrals that are driven through our site, plus we are offering an opportunity for their readers to participate in a study that they will be paid for with a generous incentive (usually $100+ depending on the time involved). We’ve received great feedback from our blogger affiliates that their readers appreciated the opportunity. Win/win! I’m always interested in hearing from interested bloggers as well – michael@findthegems.com.

    • says

      Yes – affiliate marketing is a win win. I missed referring to it in this post as I was focused on the “charging” aspect of blogging/company relations. So thanks for mentioning affiliates!

  8. says

    That’s so much information and somewhat overwhelming. I think for newcomers to the blogosphere ads and such, it is hard to figure out your “worth” and what your ROI is. I feel like I need to go to a class to learn more! LOL

    • says

      Yes, Mimi, it is a lot. But don’t get overwhelmed, just take in as you go, and soon you will be an expert! Read Esther and Jennifer’s ebook too – it is free and SO helpful!

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the business of blogging, Janice. I especially liked your emphasis on ROI and how that plays into what individual bloggers charge for different services.

    One thought I did disagree with was this: “A blogger with 5,000 Twitter followers has less influence and reach than a blogger with 50,000 followers.” I don’t think that number of followers is synonymous with influence on Twitter, especially since so many people operate using the “I’ll-follow-you, you-follow-me” system.

    Example: @babysteph (4,800 followers) has more influence in her pinky finger than many of the Twitter people I have seen who have 50,000+ followers. A tell-tale sign of influence is if the Tweeter has a significant number of followers, but they themselves only follow a few. If someone has 50,000 followers and they are ALSO following 50,000 people – I don’t bat an eyelash. The truth is most anyone could get thousands of Twitter followers in a matter of days, regardless of status in the blogosphere or elsewhere. (The same thing cannot be said about page views).

  10. says

    Wonderfully said! I have started a Mom/Dad Blogger Compensation Survey. It’s very basic but once the results are in I am hoping that it is also something that the companies/brands look at and consider when putting together campaigns. I’d love to include the link but wanted to ask your permission first. Thanks!

  11. says

    I love this post. It’s so valuable. Thank you, Janice!

    I did want to add one thing, though. You touched on it briefly, but I think that sometimes companies overlook engagement. For example, there are people who have 10 times the Twitter followers that I do, who got those followers by ‘gaming the system’. They’re not on Twitter lists, they don’t have actual Twitter friends, and they don’t have real engagement from their followers. Numbers are important, but they don’t necessarily represent the true influence that a blogger has. And people who don’t have a huge numbers should not sell themselves short – they matter, too!

  12. says

    Great post Janice – and yes, it is sadly something we still have to discuss, discuss, discuss and continue discussing. It will be nice when this field is a little more settled. But until then, it’s good that some of the savvier folks are writing about it frequently and candidly!

    I only have one thing I utterly disagree with you on. So much so that I can’t just not comment and walk away.
    You said:
    “A blog with 50,000 page views has less influence and reach then a blog with 500,000 page views. A blogger with 5,000 Twitter followers has less influence and reach than a blogger with 50,000 followers.”

    Reach and influence are not the same thing. Twitter followers is a useless metric. Influence is the ability to sway someone’s thinking or to get them to take an action. Greater influence means greater numbers of people, yes. But I absolutely hate the concept that clicking “follow” one time constitutes an action, or influence other than self-promotion.
    Give me someone with 1000 highly engaged followers who click on links and @ someone to have conversations with them and that person is much more influential than someone who was ‘flavor of the week’ for awhile or learned to scam the system (yes, it’s easy to do if that’s what you’re trying to do – we exposed that last year at BWE) who has 100,000+ ‘followers’ with less than 1% who have ever read any of that person’s tweets past the initial ‘follow’ click or autofollow and who would certainly not engage or be engaged by them. That person isn’t influential at all.

    From a marketing stand point – you might get 50k hits a day, but if you’re a coupon site? That won’t mean much to me if I’m trying to sell high end appliances. You might get 500 hits a week, but if those are people coming to your site because you have all of the top SEO rankings for high end appliance reviews and those people are going there to decide just prior to buying? You are influential… to my potential market.

    Metrics are only good if there’s something behind them. Just numbers in & of themselves aren’t worth much.

    So before someone reads that and thinks “oh, well, I don’t have the right numbers” or “that blogger doesn’t have sufficiently high numbers of twitter followers to work with” – I thought it was worth bringing up.

    Other than that? I love every thing you’ve said here! :)

  13. says

    You can only charge what people are expected to pay. Just because you have lots of followers does not make it neccessarily worth more. quality is as important as quantity. I suggest you ask what you think it worth to you. Dont settle for less, and dont ever think you could have asked for more. Be happy if thats what you think is fair

  14. says

    It’s tricky stuff. I don’t charge as a blogger. I charge an advertising rate if someone wants to advertise on my site. Otherwise, I have affiliate relationships for products and services that I review. That way, if someone buys something, then my efforts were well spent, and the company knows that I was effective.

    The advertising rate is simpler, but it’s harder to show them the ROI. The affiliate effort is more, but I get a very definite understanding of what I get.

    We don’t do paid reviews at dadomatic.com, but we will do sponsored posts. The difference, in our parlance, is that we control the content and that we decide how we’ll cover the story.

    What do bloggers charge? It’s more a question of what your business can yield.


    • says

      Fabulous answer – “What do bloggers charge? It’s more a question of what your business can yield.”

      THANKS so much for your input Chris — an absolute honor to have you comment on my post.

  15. says

    Excellent summary of issues around Mommy bloggers and how to balance our integrity with the business side of working with companies.

    Although many PR people approach me, I’ve stopped doing giveaways for now, because it’s just too much work for me. I’m trying to think of a win-win approach to this, and your post has given me some good ideas. For example, the administration fee is something to try.

    Thanks again and keep publishing these thoughtful posts!


  16. says

    This is a great post! I would like to hear your thoughts more on the blog ambassador programs. So many offer “badges” and giveaways for readers, but what do you think the blogger should get for promoting these companies? What if nothing is offered in return, except for a giveaway (say $100 prize)? Is it worthwhile to do these campaigns?

  17. says

    I love this post. Janice you have put some great information in this. I would love to post this on Mom-Stuff.com. May I have your permission to share this. I will retain all of your bylines, links and copyrights. Thanks for the consideration.

  18. says

    Excellent breakdown.

    But I am going to chime in with Lucretia here – number of followers isn’t necessarily equal to influence. It’s a more complicated package and you need to be able to measure what kind of response and action the blogger inspires.

  19. says

    Very thorough synopsis. What also should be pointed out is that newbie bloggers should understand that Brand Ambassadorships don’t happen overnight, sometimes it takes years. While there may be the occasional newbie who turns out to be a rising star (yay for them!) the majority of bloggers have been burning the midnight oil for the rare opportunity to come along.

    I applaud the companies and brands who seek out new bloggers rather than targeting the same crowd all the time.

  20. says

    I have a different perspective on this. I participated in “Wordless Wednesday” this week, which I haven’t done in quite some time. As I clicked on link after link, advertisements were everywhere. On many pages, I couldn’t even find the “Wordless Wednesday” post. I do know how to navigate blogs and I just couldn’t find a reason why they linked up to “Wordless Wednesday”. I don’t enjoy going to a blog and being constantly asked to buy this or that or try this or that.

    I have an affiliate area on my blog….in the sidebar. It’s for graphics and a couple homeschool resource sites. I do this because I create educational and Christian printables that I freely share with others. My tiny affiliate funds are circulated right back into buying more graphics to keep creating my printables. I don’t even consider it making money….for a couple of reasons. I basically don’t use it for myself. I use it for what I can do for others. Also, I’ve made a very minimal amount….and I do mean minimal.

    Is there anything wrong with making money off your blog?? NO!! But my personal opinion is that it’s starting to get out of control. It’s taking the pleasure out of reading blogs because you have to sort through the ads just to find a meaningful post. I enjoy finding out if certain products are good or not, but that’s not all that I want to read about. Blogs that are personal, no longer are. They’re basically store fronts and it’s totally changed blogging. This whole thing can be a GREAT thing if done right, but let’s not also forget about just good old joyful blogging!!

    I guess the one thing that I ask if you do marketing on your blog is….

    Do NOT link up to ANY meme if you’re only trying to get me there to check out your latest product, review, or what have you!!

  21. says

    I’m just a “small potatoes” blogger, but I consider my blog more of a visiting over the fence with neighbors and sharing what the Lord has taught me than a business.Having ads and such strikes me as a neighbor who suddenly starts selling Amway or Avon and then tries to turn regular conversations into a sale (have you ever had a friend like that? May be be good for her business but it doesn’t help the friendship.) Blogs do seem to take on a less personal tone when they start having sponsored posts and such, in my experience.

    On the other hand, many of us do get inundated with pleas for free publicity, and the authors of these pleas do need to understand that a blogger’s time and space is valuable and needs to be compensated. I am bookmarking this post for when and if I ever do have a more business-related blog.

  22. Betty says

    Very interesting post.
    I would like to see more transparancy about payment and value of products provided to bloggers. The majority of fans and followers really can’t tell which blogs are successful businesses with paid staff and which are dedicated hobbyists who simply receive a product and write about their experiences.
    All bloggers seem to use a similar blanket disclosure statement to the effect that they received a product and sometimes payment, but the post reflects their honest opinion. At some point, maybe there should be a distinction between reviewing a product and being a paid spokesman for a company.

  23. says

    While bloggers can determine what is a fair amount not just for their services as their influence and numbers grow, it is also important to consider what is a fair amount for their TIME. Thanks for writing a very thorough post!

  24. says

    This is a great article I found it very informatiive. I am always looking for new opportunities to be paid for a campaign on my blog. Sure sometimes it’s ok to do a free giveaway and I love doing product reviews with products as my payment,I’m just saying it would be great to get into some paid blogging opps too.

  25. says

    I really enjoyed reading this post of yours Janice. I am just starting out and it was encouraging to hear you weigh in on what most bloggers think about. It is very time consuming but I do enjoy writing and giving any information that I can to make our lives a little easier. Any other comments or tips you can add for someone just starting out is greatly appreciated.

    Great post :)

  26. says

    Great article! There is a wealth of information on mommy blogging that I had never considered. As a mother with an active mom blog, I’ll be sure to take much of the advice found throughout this article.


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