Fashion Blogging & Compensation: Don't Be a Chump
March 20th, 2011
Earlier today I was checking in on my IFB profile, accepting friend requests, reading and sending off messages, when I opened this:
Hello ‘Relatively Chic’,
I am currently the Editor of Fashion Blog ________ – We’re currently looking for Mens & Women’s Fashion Writers/Contributors for the site. As you are a fashion blogger yourself, i assumed this may be something you would be interested in. We would require you to write one short article per day/every-other day (see site for average article length)on a fashion trend, model, designer, upcoming designer or catwalk collection of your choice. All subjects are entirely up to you as to what you write about, keeping in mind they must be related to fashion. The position is unpaid yet we offer promotion as i would personally sign all of your articles with your name, enabling my readers to search for you if they like your articles. This is also a great way to gain some experience in the fashion industry and get your voice and opinion as-well as your style heard! I hope this is something you would be interested in as i can see you are a talented fashion blogger with style. If you want more details/want to get involved, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you, Thank you.
I practically blew my top… for a few reasons: 1. This was clearly copy/pasted to me and who knows how many others, 2. This person expects me to write for free every day.
So, before I got too upset about it, I checked out their blog. It’s only about 3 months old, but packed with contributions from around 20+ different people (I didn’t feel like counting beyond that). Looking further into what was there, I saw that these contributors spend a decent amount of time on their posts, adding photo montages and such. But where’s the by-line? Barely visible at the very bottom of each post, quite a few without even a link for the author.
Writing for Free
I have a dual-sided view of this, as I’ve, yes, written for free before. When I say free though, I don’t mean for nothing, I mean for no money — I love writing, but I will at least get a link back to my site, always. The point to take home is to know when to write for free and when to stop. Compensation can be different things in different situations, whether you’re getting a check in the mail, a store credit, or a link back to your own site.
In order to really get your work out there, especially when starting out, you often have to write for “free,” but you need to be smart about building your writing portfolio. You should ask yourself a few questions:
- Is it worth putting your work on that site or would the piece be better suited on your own site? It’s your reputation on the line.
- What are you getting in return? Money, product, a link?
- When is enough, enough? When will you move on?
- Will this help you to achieve your goals?
- Will your own blog/personal brand benefit?
There are wonderful websites out there that are labors of love, with few or no writers being paid, but I’m not talking about them. When you write at these types sites, your resume benefits. I’m talking about websites that don’t give two shits about you or the content that goes up on their site. They just want stuff filling their feed.
If it’s a continually revolving door of free writers, there won’t be much quality control. Without quality control, well, you know where that leads. Take pride in your writing — you’re talented. Don’t sell yourself short. Before you write anything for another website, you should look at how they run things and ask yourself the questions above.
Contributing to places like IFB is awesome because you’re getting your name out there, you’re providing the community with great content, and the community is supportive. Win all around.
It’s About the Relationship
When you write for free, often times it’s with the intention of building a relationship in some way with whom you’re writing for. If it’s a well-known profitable publication, it’d be reasonable to expect some kind of monetary or product compensation down the road — they’re making money, so they should compensate you for work once you’ve earned your way.
What really fires me up is when someone like this guy is going around spamming people to write for him every day with no intention of building any kind of relationship. Sure, there’s a weak promise of your name being at the end of a post, but really? Don’t be taken advantage of.
I did some sleuthing, and this person pastes the same block of text outside of IFB on other forums, in fashion groups, in comments — everywhere he can. I can only imagine how many people on IFB he’s sent it to.
In the fashion blogging community there are so many opportunities to guest post — this is one of the friendliest blogging communities online, in my opinion. Working with another blogger, no matter what size audience they have, will benefit the both of you!
Writing for a site that doesn’t care about its content or contributor’s rights is so not worth it.
Know Your Rights
We’ve seen it before in the fashion blogging world — anyone remember the incident with Chictopia and Payless Shoes? Payless was using Chictopia photos without letting bloggers know, and without even linking to their sites. Turns out that in the Chictopia ToS (Terms of Service), it’s completely in their right to do so.
Although it’s tiring, reading through a site’s ToS is vital especially if you’re putting your content out there. Some sites allow you to maintain full ownership of your content, some will require you to basically hand over the rights to them to use your stuff however they please. It’s just the way things are on the web today. Be proactive!
Would you ever write for absolutely no link or other compensation? What are your thoughts on your rights on the web?
[Image via Tumblr, edited by me.]