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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bloggers: how to get appropriate pay for your work.

I've had my own business for a long time. 
Fortunately, my previous (and only) professional work experience was with IBM. They convinced me that I was worth a lot of money. And, since I started to work for them straight out of grad school, I believed everything they said and taught me. Brainwashed by IBM? Probably. But it was a good thing. My biggest take-away was something I still believe and practice: everything in life is a sale.

So now I have made a few friends in the Mom Blogger world - some are very influential and well-known. They tell me that most Moms will do reviews for $25 or $50 (or little more) - or even nothing.

Can this be? Sadly, yes. But it doesn't have to be so. If you "pull up your socks" and resolve to get what you're worth, you'll gain the self-confidence to grow your business.

"Starter" tips for getting paid.

  • Question yourself. Are you really a good reviewer, copywriter and producer? Seriously?
  • Establish an hourly dollar value on your time. How long does it take to write a post or review? Does it cost you anything to work on it (e.g., babysitting, transportation, etc.)? With or without direct costs, set your hourly billable at somewhere between $25 and $50 if you have minimal experience...more if you have a track record. Don't quote the hourly wage...just the lump sum.
  • Make up a professional-looking Quotation document. We can address a 1-page template in another blog. The point is that a formal write-up of your work adds stature to your request and shows professionalism. Most large brands will refer to an "RFQ" - Request for Quotation. Make it look good!
  • Write a brief cover letter. Tell the prospect why you're good at what you do. Try to limit your claims to about 3 bullets. Remember: nobody wants to know features (facts of what you do). They want to know benefits (what they'll get and why it's good for them).
  • Be prepared to negotiate your total quote. Everyone wants something for less. However, if you've quoted fairly, you need to have a "real" reason to lower your price. I suggest that you give a 10% discount for prepayment. Believe me, they'll do it if you've sold them on the benefits you bring them.
This is a slim brief of what it took me years to learn. If you don't value yourself, nobody will value you. You don't need seminars or teachers to learn this skill. There are lots of articles on "pricing," "hourly fees," and "negotiating skills" on Google.

You're afraid to ask for money, right?
We all are...and I still am. But I'm more afraid of not paying my bills. I'm more afraid of not respecting myself or my work. I'm more afraid of losing respect from others (family included). So I ask for money like I mean it - and I do! I'll negotiate a little bit - maybe. I really love a paycheck.

Which points interest you?
I don't have much experience in blogging. But I DO have experience in the topics above. So what should we discuss next? What examples would you like to see? What's next?

Information: the basis for successful selling.
I will give you my best advice - the advice that IBM gave me in training. The wisdom of the world is at your finger tips. If you don't know how to do something, Google it. Want to know about Quotations? Google "Quotation form examples." Negotiation? That's right - Google it!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How do you measure success?

Who is so think-skinned that they can listen to bone-cutting insults (in the guide of "helpful advice") for over 30 minutes?

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast. The famous Penelope Trunk was giving advice to an ordinary blogger. Within about 10 minutes, she was meanly tearing into him for "limited ambition." Her point was that you have to have goals, to know where you're going to get there. And that if you're a real writer, you can't be a people person. Here it is: Podcast.

One thing she said really resonated with me: to be successful, you have to take "insane risks." Yes, I agree with that. And that you have to focus and work...hard with the wind at your back.

So here's where she and I diverge: she worked for 7 years blogging for free. I've never - ever - worked for free or even cheaply. Insane risks are one thing; starving is another - never an option. Besides, I believe that you devalue yourself in your own eyes when your work is worth nothing, zero, nada. For most of civilized society, "success" in work or business - unless you're working for a higher cause - is measured by income.

I'd love to hear takeaways from this Podcast. It was (and continues to be) unsettling for me.