This is one of those questions that comes up time and time again mostly because there isn't a straight answer (sorry guys!). There are lots of factors that go in to setting your rate but ultimately you will have to decide how much financial value to place on your work.
Are you ready for sponsored posts?
There is a common misconception that you set up a blog, do a couple of posts, sit back and wait for the sponsorship requests to come flooding in. This couldn't be further from the truth. Before setting your mind to sponsored content, you need to have:
- A sizeable marketable audience whose needs you understand and habits you can predict.
- A nice selection of exemplar content that showcases your skills.
- Time and energy to chase and manage campaigns.
What do you have to offer?
Brands primarily want two things, brand awareness (more eyes on their brand) and/or conversion (people actually buying their products). These are the key things they consider when looking for a return on investment. You need a large following to deliver brand awareness but not necessarily for conversion. Take a critical look at your platform and the engagement you have with your audience. Can you deliver either or both?
If you have a large following (10K+ on at least one social media platform) plus above average views per post, then you know brand awareness is your thing. Figuring out if you influence sales is a little trickier but it is possible to test this with affiliate links. How many clicks do you average a month from your posts? How many of those lead to orders? Use this data to determine the likelihood of you delivering sales for a client. Keep this information in mind when setting your rates.
Beyond your audience, part of your value also comes from the quality of content you produce and the level of expertise you will bring to a project. If your content is niche or you have access to a hard to reach demographic (i.e Black Brits), there is added value in that.
Setting a base rate
If experience has taught me anything, it's you can't have blanket rates for everyone and it is best to tailor your rates to each client. That being said, having a rate sheet with base rates that you can refer to or produce if requested is always helpful.
Your base rate should reflect what you have to offer but also be in line with the living wage. The living wage as set by the Living Wage Foundation is £9.75 per hour in London and £8.45 for the rest of the UK. The rate you set should account for the time it takes to research, write, edit, take photos and promote on social media.
If you have been blogging for less than a year and/or bring in on average 1000 views a month or less, you are going to have to start off small. Charge for your time and add tax. As your audience builds you can increase your rates. Experienced bloggers who have hit that 10K+ a month in views - charge for your expertise, time and add tax. Your rates should start in the hundreds.
What do they have to offer?
Not all businesses are the same and they shouldn't be treated the same. What I charge a start up is significantly going to differ from that of a more established business. Whatever the size of the business, think about what you stand to gain beyond what is going in your wallet. Does this brand match with my ethos? What is the added value for my audience? Will this be an asset for my personal brand? Also think about the long term relationship you could develop. Establishing a relationship now at a reduced rate could potentially be more financially fruitful in the future.
No post about rates would be complete without mentioning that old chestnut 'working for exposure'. This is usually not worth it as 9 times out 10 the brand doesn't have the exposure to give. If a brand is not able to compensate you financially they need to make it worth your while beyond a couple of retweets. This can be in the form of a chance to experience their service at no cost, a gift voucher to use in their store, discount codes that you can share with your audience etc.
The reality of blogging is that a lot of the opportunities are unpaid and because of the lack of transparency in blogging, there is no industry standard. Well paid sponsored posts are few and far between for the average blogger which is why it's important to diversify your income beyond sponsored posts. However much you do decide to charge for sponsored posts, be resolute in that decision. Not every brand is going to appreciate the value in what you do and that is fine. There will be others that do.