Alice Sebaby Alice Seba
Marketing Manager, AllCustomContent.com

I’ve been having an interesting discussion on a Facebook Group of local bloggers. It started out as a question from a publicist who was surprised that bloggers automatically expected payment to try out a product…a product they could choose to blog about or not. The publicist was simply furnishing them with a product and they could do what they wanted from there.

Of course, the discussion began with many people saying a blogger’s time is valuable and they should get paid for their time. Others suggested that the integrity of a blogger comes into question if they are writing about things only because they’re being paid to do so. It was a typical back and forth that had little interest to me because sponsored posts have never been a part of any of my profit models and I can’t see how they ever will be. To me, they’re a shortsighted way to turn blogging into profits and keep you from truly serving your audience and growing an actual business over the long term.

But then something happened in the discussion that recaptured my interest. Someone suggested that someone who avoided sponsored posts probably wasn’t earning a full-time income from their efforts. This had me scratching my head, so I responded:

There are plenty of people who earn a living without having to accept payment for posts. There are many different models for earning from a blog and from my experience over more than a decade, the model that relies the least on getting sponsors often provides more sustainability and those are the independent bloggers that tend to stick around the longest.

When you determine what you sell and how you sell it, you serve your audience better. And when you focus on your audience, rather than sponsors, you’re growing a real business.

And this is absolutely true. When I look at all the people I have taught and all my content marketing peers over the years, the ones that are still around are the ones that made their own products, worked as affiliates and kept full control over what they published and promoted.

You see, I absolutely agree that bloggers should get paid for their work, but getting paid is fully within their own control. The same person who implied you can’t make a full time income without sponsored content, also suggested that tech companies are getting rich of the backs of writers and that writers deserve some of their riches. So we’re talking Facebook, Blogger, WordPress and the like. People who get all this content for free and get rich from it.

Here are a couple of problems with this idea:

  • If you’re putting your best content into other people’s websites, you have made a very poor choice. Those companies are providing a service and you can take it or leave it. If you take it and suddenly realize that you aren’t getting paid, that is your own problem.
  • Blogging, by its nature, is free writing. Most of us set up our own blogs of own free will and we start writing. If we want that to turn into cash, we have to make it turn into cash. Simply being a talented writer doesn’t mean we’ll be a paid writer.

The discussion continued and this video was posted as support for the argument that writers should get paid for their work. WARNING: There is strong language in this video, so if that’s not your thing, skip it.

Basically, writer Harlan Ellison tells a story where a group wanted his writing for free and he said no way, I get paid for my writing. He also says he gets aid for all the writing he does.

But here’s the thing, Mr. Ellison actively ensures he gets paid. He doesn’t have a blog on WordPress.com (that I’m aware of) and I’m sure where he provides content for free, he ensures that the exchange provides value back to him. That is HIS responsibility and he takes it seriously.

If you’re a writer who wants to get paid, it’s a responsibility you have to take on for yourself. And if you’re a blogger who wants to earn a living, you can publish sponsored posts if you want. You can also accept advertisers. You can even become a contracted writer for pay. But if you want full control over the content you publish and your earnings, other things you probably want to try are:

  • Creating and selling your own information and digital products.
  • Selling your own tangible products, whether you create them yourself or sell them wholesale.
  • Promoting the products you select through affiliate links.

You see, everyone wants a blog to be a magical thing that turns into money, but for most of us, it doesn’t work that way. We have to treat it like a business and sell stuff, just like most real world businesses out there.

Ball’s in your court. You can get paid for your writing if you want.