Blogger Outreach: EARNED Versus Paid Media ~ Should Bloggers Work For Free?

Working for Free? Photo Closeup of a hand pulling out the lining of an empty pocket

Image Credit: Ella Media. Click image to read Bloggers Should Be Compensated for Work

Chris Abraham argued in a post on that bloggers should not be paid because the brands they promote “earned” the right to get their PR agency to get you to work for free.

Although traditional PR agencies contacting Journalists who are paid salaries CAN be compared to bloggers for major blogs that are also paid, that is a totally different business model than a small blog.

Then or now, though, only the very naive can truly believe advertising dollars do not determine media coverage – not only amount but what is – and more importantly – IS NOT – written about a brand.

I elaborated on that topic in Ethical Blogging: Bloggers
Is YOUR Opinion for Sale? Is Traditional Media Unbiased?

You are arguing that YOU should be paid for your work coordinating blog outreach, but that bloggers should want to work for you for free for what? The prestige? Because they love the big brand that is rolling in profit who would prefer not to pay anyone fairly – not their employees nor their suppliers?

These companies want to argue they deserve “earned” media coverage when what they are really doing is BUYING that awareness by paying PR agencies to go out and sell it for them. They aren’t earning it by some good deed or being awesome – they are spending money to get a PR agency to talk bloggers into working for free on their behalf.

In my experience there are NOT thousands of exceptional blogs in ANY niche. The few bloggers who have high integrity, write well, have something worth reading to say, who have the audience you wish to reach, and know how to use social media DESERVE to be compensated for their time.

Yes, they need to produce quality content but it doesn’t have to be about what YOU want so if you want them to dedicate their time to really understanding a company’s products and services that company should be willing to compensate those bloggers who have great interest in you.


What small businesses need to be focusing on instead is hiring select brand advocates / brand evangelists to consistently use and recommend their products and services. These posts elaborate on how to do that:



NOTE: This post was originally published June 28, 2012.

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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.


  1. Another brilliant article, Gail. This topic is so important and I am glad that you covered it.

    I just had a conversation with a CEO/brand this past week (intentionally remaining nameless). He wanted 100% earned media. No fault in that.

    He wanted me to function in the capacity of PR (for free) doing the blogger outreach for him to find major blogs to cover his brand. Ok, no problem there if I am willing to work for free.

    The only problem is, he wanted an article published in less than a week. I explained to him that those types of goals require either time or money. If he removes the money, it is a case where I need time.

    Since the goal was Forbes, Reuters, etc., I would need time (and money) to attend the “cocktail parties” in Bev Hills to rub shoulders and “suggest” that this particular brand should get some coverage.

    At the end of the day, I am out time (a lot of it); money (a lot of it) for a free article. And, the writer hasn’t been paid for his or her time, either.

    I share this to say that I understand the role of the PR a little better now. They need to pay bills and cannot work for free, but neither can the writer!

    This is not bribery. It is a case of time is money and people should be compensated for their time.

    Every moment they are doing something for free, they are potentially taking it away from something that would pay the bills and feed their kids. It would be helpful if Brands understood this.
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  2. Promotion involves informing, reminding, or persuading buyers or potential buyers about a particular product or service. To do this, a company invests in advertising, sales representatives, sales promotions and pr campaigns. In the past, others have argued that it isn’t right to use promotion to persuade others to make a purchase. However, most people would agree that some level promotion is necessary or else people wouldn’t know where to make a purchase, what forms of payments the seller accepts and when they are open. Most bloggers are ethical people and write responsibiliy. If they are getting paid, then it is usually obvious or stated. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous bloggers who do not follow the rules. As is normally the case, the few who willingly provide misleading and deceptive information claims get the most attention. When done resposnsibly, paid blogging helps satisfy the needs of buyers.

  3. Blogger have to earn money as most of blogger depends on it for their livehood. I don’t seem any blogger charging directly users so its fine they are earning by adv or affiliates. I believe that a blogging without money makes no sense. As I was a blogger first not earning money my friends use ti laugh at me saying why you doing this all but after making money vie blogging they started taking me seriously and now they are taking advice from me.
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  4. Of course not. Every single person deserve to earn money if they put efforts on what they do. That’s why we call it something we do for living. Bloggers are not the exception. They need to be paid for what they do.

  5. Good article with some thoughtful information and it’s really true that blogger do more hard work to research and for write so it should be paid.

  6. Blogging for free? Nice question.. and it depends. Bloggers who write exceptionally well or not should be compensated for their effort..thanks
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  7. Time equals money right? A blog can take time to write and helps create traffic that is desired back to the main url. This should be done for free? So the $30,000 that I’ve made the company I work for should not give me a dime for my blogs? That’s tough I read some relevant points but none that are valid enough to not pay us blog writers.
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  8. Hi Gail,
    Yet another useful article, But I don’t agree with Chris Abraham that bloggers should not be paid. Because it takes so much effort to research and write an article on it and therefore bloggers should paid for their hard work.
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  9. @Gail Gardener

    The more troublesome inquiry is: Do bloggers expect installment for publication positions by PR – known as earned media?


  10. Awesome collection,Absolutely masterpiece article.Looking forward to see more useful and informative post in future. Thanks for giving knowledge about this post. keep sharing.
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  11. Great article. I also think that blogger should get paid for every precious effort he or she put in the blog. Well actually Time is Money. If he give time to their blog then he should get paid.Thanks

  12. Doing any kind of work for free sets a bad precedent. A brand pays a PR company to do their advertising, so why should a blogger not be allowed to claim a share of that income? Chances are that by advertising for a brand (for free), all you really do is make your blog look less authentic, and therefore inherently less trustworthy.

    Blogger beware.
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  13. Blogging for free? Nice question.. and it depends. Bloggers who write exceptionally well or not should be compensated for their effort..

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  14. I don\’t agree that bloggers should work for free, they can write about news for free but advertising must be paid

  15. Hello Gail great article, I think Bloggers should be paid because they invest their time researching their market on the information they write about, or they have in depth knowledge about the subject.

    I write my own blog as I run a small air conditioning company in Australia and it helps the consumer get great advice for free. If they take the time and read the articles it gives them a better understanding about the product they are going to buy. In turn I receive a phone call to my bricks and mortar business that is how I get paid.

    But for me to find the time to write I need to stop doing something else that could generate money so there is a true cost. In the last few years the web has doubled my turnover so for me it is worth my time.
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