Note: PR Reps Do Not Determine Your Value
I get questions from bloggers all the time about how much they should be charging for posts or campaigns. Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries about blogging is how to price your services.
There’s two inherit problems with this question:
- Bloggers are notoriously secretive about their numbers and at times feel they need to inflate them when talking to others, so it is hard to get a feel for where you fall on the blogging spectrum.
- Many PR and brand reps aren’t really sure how to value bloggers either.
So keeping these two points in mind, here’s a look at 5 different things we should be considering when determining our worth.
1) The Problem with Looking Only at Website Visitors
The most common way a PR or brand measures a blogger’s value is by the number of people reading their blog posts. They want to know how many unique viewers read your blog each month.
Pro Tip: Page views is NOT unique viewers. If the same person (think your mom) visits your blog every day, then she counts as 30 page views that month. Unique Viewers mean individual IP addresses (which means your mom would only count as 1 unique viewer that month). FYI: Google shows these as “users.”
While a huge number of unique viewers is great, most bloggers don’t know how to filter out search engine “bots” from being counted, plus your blog is not the only place your content is being seen, so it is hardly a good representation of your worth.
I had a blogger reach out to me this morning with this message:
While there are certainly many bloggers that average 20k unique monthly views, our experience shows that the vast majority of bloggers have 5,000 or less unique readers monthly.
What the agency should have asked about was the bounce rate (anything under under 40% is “excellent”) and how much time readers spent on the blog (over 2 minutes is considered “good”).
To help my blogging friend out I took a quick screenshot of Florida Swim Network‘s Google Analytics for the month and walked her through it:
As you can see, our traffic comes in spurts, whenever we’re covering a swim meet. But keep in mind it’s the overall snapshot of your website that is important, not just unique readers, and sometimes a PR rep just doesn’t know any better so it might be your job to *politely* educate them.
Unfortunately my blogging friend took this particular agency’s word that they were “being nice” by stooping to work with her modest numbers. (It almost feels like a tactic to humiliate her in order get her to blog at a lower fee, doesn’t it?)
Lesson Learned: If an agency treats you like this, move along quickly to the next agency that wants to work with you.
2) Engagement is More Important than the Size of Your Audience
As I reminded my blogging friend, she runs a very specific niche blog so she shouldn’t have the same views as maybe a mainstream food, travel, or mommy blogger. And oftentimes, these “bigger” blogs with all their traffic may not have the personal connection with their readers that a “smaller” blogger does.
So how do you know the audience connection? By evaluating a blogger’s engagement across her social media channels. Truthfully, some bloggers have been guilty of buying “likes” from “click farms” which are really just autobots and not real people at all. (Don’t believe me? Go check it out on Fiverr.com but don’t you dare do it!) This deceptive technique makes a blogger seem really popular with tons of fans, when in reality they aren’t and the lack of engagement will show this.
Pro Tip: If you see a blogger who has 35,000 Facebook fans but only one or two likes per post, those may not all be legitimate likes, or that blogger could do a heck of a lot better on engaging with their fans.
The current formula being used to gauge engagement is to take the number of fans who interact with your post (by either commenting, clicking, or sharing) and divide it by the total number of fans Facebook showed that post to (the reach).
As a good rule of thumb to determine your current engagement, take the last 5 posts and run them through the formula to see the engagement per post and then average the 5 posts together.
For example, I did this formula for the last 5 Facebook posts for Florida Swim Network:
According to Fanbridge.com, the industry average is around 0.5% – 1% engagement on reach for Facebook and 3%-6% for Instagram. (Ideally, you should be able to reach these numbers without boosting or paying for it, even with Facebook and Instagram changing around feeds and depressing organic reach.)
As you keep track of this over time, you will discover which types of posts get more engagement than others and therefore be able to increase your engagement even further.
Lesson Learned: Instead of worrying about the total number of fans that follow you, worry about how to engage better with your current audience — what will motivate them to like, comment or share?
3) Show Your Insights on Your Media Kit
Besides listing your average engagement on your Media Kit, you might consider using screen shots of your analytics. For example, Florida Swim Network often posts videos right on Facebook, so these numbers would not show on our website’s Google Analytics.
So, we make sure to show screenshots of our numbers on those videos:
By showing this information, we’re educating those brand reps who may not even know this information exists (yes, lesser informed reps are out there!) and we’re also showing that our presence is valuable both on our blog and on Facebook.
While Florida Swim Network’s website views may only be 23,873 unique monthly viewers, if that was all you looked at you would be missing the 28,558 additional unique viewers who watched this one video!
Lesson Learned: Your blog is not the only place where you reach your audience, so be sure to include this information when dealing with agencies.
4) If You Have a Specialty, Let Them Know It
My blogger friend makes amazing podcast and video content. She was a professional actor and so she produces true quality pieces, which should be compensated at a higher rate than less polished bloggers.
For Florida Swim Network, we excel at live stream broadcasts. In fact, we kill it but you would never know by just our unique monthly viewers on our blog. Why not? Because we live stream on a different platform, Livestream.com, which has its own insights. So, we have to take time to educate the brands we work with that they also need to take this into consideration. Here is a screenshot of our views from the month of March:
So clearly a PR person who only took our website’s unique monthly viewers into consideration would be missing out on over 200k unique viewers!
Lesson Learned: If you have diversified your content, be sure to relate this to the perspective agency.
5) Don’t be Afraid to Say No
The last bit of advice I gave my blogging friend today was not to feel pressured to take a job they didn’t feel valued their blogging worth. If a PR or brand rep doesn’t see your value, then move on.
I loved the response from a dear blogging friend Brittany of Clumps of Mascara, who definitely knew how to say no and hopefully taught a lesson to a naive (and rude) brand rep. Read Dave’s response to Brittany and then check out her final response below that.
FYI: Brittany has over 30,000 Facebook fans, 11,000 Twitter followers, 11,000 YouTube subscribers, and 13,000 Pinterest followers.