Boss babes, I get it. You’ve been blogging for a year or two years and you finally received an email from a company asking you to promote their product on your blog and social media. They are going to send you this cool item FOR FREE and all you have to do is post on your blog, post on your social media, like four times, AND let them use your pictures. Seems like a great deal, right? WRONG! We all need to quit posting branded content for free. I’ve been blogging for almost four years and I finally came to the realization this year that I need to stop posting content for free. For the first three years, I accepted free products in exchange for posts, I got excited every time I received some more swag in the mail. I mean, it’s hard to say no to free stuff! And its SO fun to receive free stuff. But slowly, I realized that accepting free stuff in exchange for blog posts or social post was actually undermining my brand, my business, and my future opportunities for revenue. The 5 Reasons I Quit Posting Branded Content for Free 1. My Audience is Valuable Even if you’re a fairly new blogger, your audience is worth money. Even if you only have 1000 views a month on your blog, or 500 Instagram followers, every one of those people or views translates into an audience that a company can benefit from. As I’ve grown my blog and social media (ever so slowly), I’ve come to realize just how valuable my audience is to other businesses. Brands are constantly looking to reach new audiences, and influences are an authentic way to do that. 2. Blogging is a Legitimate Business I recently realized that every single time I post content for free, I’m undercutting the value of blogging as a legitimate business and marketing tool. This is a job. Sure, it might have started out as a fun hobby, but blogging CAN be a legitimate business venture, so I’m treating it as such. I know it’s hard to say no, especially when a company is dangling something pretty in front of you. But stay strong! Ask them for what you think you’re worth, and I bet you they will pay it. 3. I’m Worth More than I Thought Just this month, I realized I’ve been undervaluing my content. How do I know this? When I tell companies my rates and they don’t flinch a single bit, that’s a bad sign. If you do ask for money and you don’t get any pushback, you’re probably not charging enough. Not sure what to charge? I’d suggest talking with other blogger friends who have similar followings or similar website views. I know talking about money can be awkward, but if we can come up with a range based on our stats, we can professionalize the field. 4. Companies Should Value Bloggers Influencers are the hot thing. Authenticity in marketing is where it’s at. I bring value to these companies simply because I am relatable, a real person with real experiences that my audience cares about. I also spend a heck of a lot of time creating beautiful and original content for them, so they need to know just how valuable my content is. If a company doesn’t think you’re worth payment, then they aren’t worth working with. I really do understand you’re excited to have companies calling on you, but if they won’t even pay you a little bit, they actually don’t value you, your time, or your effort. Blogging is a lot of work! Do you go to your full-time or part-time job and work for free? Heck no! You are doing work, so you should get paid for it. 5. I Respect Myself My husband always tells me, “you don’t need to say yes to every guy who asks you out”. By this analogy, he simply means that I don’t have to accept every single job that comes before me. My sponsored content needs to be more finesse. It drives me absolutely crazy when I see content with a baby sitting next to a box of diapers, or a cleaning solution is sitting next to a bathroom sink. No one cares. Sure, the company will love this content. They will be so happy with me and they will likely want to work with me again, but my audience will hate it! My audience absolutely doesn’t want to see a box of diapers or me holding a product I don’t even care about. They want to see beautiful photos of interesting things, not just blatant product placement. When I create content, I work really hard to be sure it is unique, beautiful, interesting, and tells a story. I'd rather people be so interested in the story I'm telling or advice I'm sharing that the fact that it's an ad isn't important. Although I’ve gotten some push-back from companies because I didn’t create an overt ad with their product, in the long-run, I continue to get branded posts because my content isn't about trying to sell something. Ultimately, my content feels more authentic and seamless because I write for you, my audience. If you don't care, brands won't care. It’s easy for me to say now that I finally make some money blogging. Believe me, I HAVE been there and done that. I DID work for free, and now I regret it. I didn’t realize just how valuable blogging content can be to brands. I’ve seen the error of my ways and I’m not turning back now. Since taking a stronger stance on not posting sponsored content for free, I’ve actually had more companies reach out to me. It seems like the more I say no, the better opportunities are coming before me. If you believe you are worth it, you will get paid for your efforts. I have no doubt. If you don’t think your content is worth payment, then maybe it isn’t. But if you work hard on your blog, to create relevant and authentic content and you have an audience that appreciates what you do, then you absolutely SHOULD get paid for it. Don’t let any company or their free products sway you. If you don’t believe you’re worth it, who will?