The world and the way we absorb information is changing. Years ago, if I had said to my parents I wanted to be a YouTube Star or an Internet Influencer when I grew up they would have seen it as a simple pipe dream; a thought that they would put down to my wild imagination hoping that the idea would disappear as quickly as it appeared.
Firstly, these roles didn’t exist; in fact, at that time, the internet was still in its dial-up phase! Secondly, even if these jobs were available, they would not have been classed as ‘proper’ jobs. Now however, things have changed. The fact that my niece openly tells her parents she will be a social media influencer when she grows up is no longer taboo; instead it has become one of the fastest growing job sectors in recent years. So why is it that some influencers are paid for their art while others are still working full time jobs and doing this as a side line ‘hobby’?
At this stage, I think it is important to highlight that bloggers and influencers of any kind vary immensely – some in the beauty world for example can earn thousands of pounds simply for placing an ad on their Instagram account while other beauty bloggers will earn absolutely nothing. I understand that, as with every career choice, some people have it and others don’t. I am not about to challenge that.
What I am about to confront however, is the disparity between different blogging niches.
Of course, there are different types of bloggers, some blog for the fun of it while others genuinely wish to turn what they love into a full-time vocation. The problem, where payment is concerned at least, seems to lie in what a blogger writes about.
Problogger has completed many surveys about this over the years, highlighting that some bloggers can earn anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000 a year. Of course, to earn this kind of money you need to write about what people are willing to pay for and it seems that unless you are a travel blogger, lifestyle blogger or mummy blogger, you don’t stand a chance. That doesn’t mean that bloggers of other niches don’t work just as hard, it simply means that the PR agencies and companies feel that their time is not worth paying for.
But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. My personal annoyance sits with the fact that book bloggers are still very much overlooked when it comes to payment.
Book Bloggers: You’re Worth It!
The subject of payment is a contentious subject and one we have all been brought up not to discuss. We have all felt uncomfortable when someone innocently asks us how much we get paid. It is forbidden subject, one that should never be divulged because it’s emotive. No-one wants to know that someone else is getting paid more for a similar role.
I know that this article is going to annoy some, perhaps infuriating many I have worked with over the years. I want to highlight that this is not personal, but it is something that is beginning to weigh on the mind of many.
This is my own personal opinion and I don’t expect book bloggers the world over to necessarily openly stand up and agree with me, but I truly believe it is time that we started to get paid properly for our time and efforts.
Book Blogging is Hard Work!
I feel that there are many misconceptions attached to the life of a book blogger. Reality as we all know, if often far different from what people perceive it to be.
I get it. You see book bloggers posting about the wonderful books they have read, or gain inspiration from the beautiful and colourful Instagram accounts that display immense bookshelves, reading nooks. Don’t get me wrong we are a community who love reading; books are pretty much all we talk about both on and off of social media so it’s fair to say that it is a lifestyle choice. However, that lifestyle costs money.
The books and the accessories are not free! Wait, what? Yes, you heard me; we may get proofs to read, but now, as with many things the world of books has gone online. Whereas a few years ago, PR companies would contact us to ask whether we would like to receive a book and we would hand over our address only to receive a stunning advanced copy of the book a few days later through the post, this no longer happens. Instead, we are now asked for an email address or our Kindle ID so that the advanced copy can be sent electronically.
Let’s be realistic here for a moment.
Books vary in length but on average are between 250 and 500 pages. Let’s say that book takes me perhaps 2 days to read and make notes on. I then have to write an article that will be approved by all involved in the promotion of the book, add it to my WordPress platform, format it and publish it. This all takes a skill that has taken time to develop and is constantly in need of updating.
On top of that, I then receive an email to say the article is great but could I please promote it across all of my social media platforms in order to gain the most traction for the author.
This is something any book loving blogger simply does without question.
This content therefore doesn’t just appear, it takes hours to create. Hours of hard work goes into each and every article written, and for what? Realistically we are now doing all of this for the price of either an eBook which could start at 99p, or a physical copy which may cost in the region of £15.
Would you work for a monthly wage like that?
I just want to highlight that I am not ungrateful for these advanced reading copies, I am simply trying to stress that book blogging isn’t a job anymore that should be overlooked. PR companies are paid to promote these authors and their novels yet none of that is passed onto the people actually doing the work.
Add to this the fury we are often subjected to when an author, who has kindly sent us a book, doesn’t receive a review on the day that they specified or that it doesn’t meet with their expectations.
I understand that, to them, their book is the most important thing currently out there and that my review is needed at a specific time in order to help drive sales. I fully understand this, but what they fail to ask when they approach us is whether or not we can commit to reading and reviewing in the timeframe given.
I was recently part of a discussion on Facebook where an author lashed out, saying that book bloggers were basically useless and that no one read their reviews anyway. Ironic, since he then wanted people to read and review his own books. (I won’t go into the full details of the conversation here as it goes against the group policies but needless to say, many book bloggers become discouraged by what this individual had to say).
It was this backlash got me thinking, and is probably the reason for this article. Book bloggers are not always seen for their true worth and in a world where everyone is now seeking information and advice online, I have to question why we are being overlooked while bloggers in other niches can now afford to work full-time from their laptop.
How Can Book Bloggers Make Money?
Just like bloggers in other fields therefore book bloggers need to think about diversifying. If you want to turn your hobby into a full-time paid role you need to start thinking about alternative ways to bring money in.
Books are fantastic and we need them in order to write reviews, but what can we then do to make those reviews more profitable.
#1 Affiliate Programmes
I have spoken to some book bloggers who seem to feel that affiliate links are spammy and a sell out. Yes, they can be a nuisance and a turn off for readers if done in the wrong way, but if you are using these links to help provide a clear and simple link to the book you are reviewing I don’t see why this would offend the reader. You are simply offering a one-click option for that interested party to go on and purchase the book should they wish to.
The top affiliate programme for this has long been Amazon, although there are now many more options out there including my new personal favourite, Bookshop.org, which gives a percentage of sales back to independent bookshops.
#2 Sponsored Posts
I am not solely a book blogger, in fact I started this blog because of my love for travel but over the course of the last few years my passion for literature has taken over and it is now a literary lifestyle blog. It means that my blog covers several niches – Travel, Lifestyle and Books – and therefore the wider subject matter does mean that I receive more queries from people asking if I will produce sponsored content on my website.
Sponsored content comes in the form of payment usually, although some companies will offer large ticket-priced goods in exchange for promotion. I once worked with a glamping company in Thailand that offered us accommodation in exchange for an article. Ok, so it won’t pay the bills, but when we were considering visiting anyway and the price for two nights away exceeded £1000 we felt it was worth pursuing.
Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing companies, including Visit Lausanne, Visit York who asks us to cover the literature festival there a few years ago (travel and books), several accommodation providers that have a literary theme attached and different companies whose brand align with mine.
Not once however, have I been asked to complete a sponsored article for a book or author. Although I am hoping that this will change with the emergence of platforms like bookstagrammers.com who look to pair brands and bloggers to create new exciting content for the book loving world.
Advertising space on a website comes at premium and companies want to utilise this wherever possible. It is important to note that companies are only going to pay for this if your website is going to offer some sort of return on their investment and therefore may not be something you can offer straight away but, it could become a regular income for those that succeed in increasing the audience numbers.
How Else Could Book Bloggers be Paid?
From what I can see there is perhaps scope for book bloggers to get paid for completing a book review, I personally don’t see it as a sell out if you are honest, as you should be with anything you are asked to review. Many believe that by paying a blogger to review something is wrong because it will be bias. Well here are my thoughts:
- Firstly perhaps authors and PR companies would take longer to research book bloggers if they were paying for their time. Too often book bloggers are contacted about a book for review that does not fit their niche; for example, it is a genre they have never reviewed. It may also stop the blanket email approach that bloggers are so often criticised for but seems to be acceptable for those seeking free work to be undertaken.
- Other influencers are paid for their time, it’s only right that book bloggers finally get the same level of respect.
- It is wrong to suggest that a blogger is not authentic because they have been paid.
But why stop at book reviews, should we be given the option to get paid for cover reveals (in other niches this would be considered a product placement) and interviews or Q & A’s (Marketing of an individual or brand)?
We need companies to be honest with us. We can see that they are using their marketing budgets elsewhere. We know that while they feel that we are only deserving of a review copy, lifestyle bloggers for example are being paid to promote the exact same book and author. We just want fair treatment when we are being expected to complete the same level of work.
Book bloggers, this also means that we as a group need to start asking. As people have always told me, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get”, and it could well be that there is a budget available. If we don’t push for a change, nothing will alter. Remember if they have reached out to you, they must feel the content you create is worthwhile, so why do we still believe that our content is not deserving of payment?
When a prospective client starts to make demands on publishing schedule, social media coverage, hashtags to be used, and deadlines to be met, I consider this to be a business arrangement and as such, should receive remuneration for my time.
Is it not time that we collectively came together and ask for what is fair. No one should be exploited for work that goes unpaid.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over
and over again, but expecting different results.
I know my views are not going to be viewed by all in a positive way, and once again I want to stress that I mean no offence to the authors, PR companies and Publishers that I have long-standing relationships with. I simply believe that it is time that we are treated in the same way as other influencers and are paid accordingly for our time and effort.
I also want to make it clear that I do not feel that every book blogger out there should automatically expect payment. Blogging is a craft and as an influencer I honestly believe that you need to work at beginning successful. Certain criteria should have to be met, and perhaps an appropriate pay scale agreed. In other niches, bloggers just starting out do not get rewarded and compensation should only be given when certain standards have been met. I also don’t believe that payment should be compulsory for all work undertaken but that any reward needs to be considered worthwhile.
Are you a book blogger with a view on this? Do you feel that we should be paid for our time? Perhaps you disagree with me and would like to vocalise why.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission.
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