You Can’t Live Off Exposure

paid with exposure

I was called to fix a small leak at a house a couple of suburbs away from my home. The job was going to be easy enough and I was thankful for the call for help.
I greeted the client and they showed me where the leak was under the basin. A replacement flex hose was all that was needed to fix the issue. I checked over the rest of the plumbing under the vanity just to make sure there were no other problems I missed.

I headed out to my ute and wrote up the invoice. A call out fee was all that was needed as I hadn’t been at the job for too long. I headed inside to see the client to hand her the bill and tell her the leak had been fixed.

The client looked at me sheepishly and told me she couldn’t afford to pay my bill. She called me because she knew I was starting back up again and had hoped that I would do this job as a gift. But in payment for my time, she had the numbers of two friends who desperately needed a plumber. The referrals would make up for not being able to pay me.

Not one to cause a fuss, I smiled at the client and thanked her for the referrals. It was just a call out fee after all. Had the job incurred more cost, I would have been more concerned. But I took it on the back. I assured her I would call the referrals straight away.

As soon as I got back into my ute, I rang the two referrals. I was booked in to do both jobs and they were happy for me to see them that day.

I headed to referral customer number 1 who needed an inlet valve changed on their toilet cistern. A simple job, which but can be fiddly if you don’t know what you’re doing. I had changed them plenty of times before. After the cistern stopped leaking and filled easily with water, I headed back to my ute to write up the invoice. I headed straight in to see referral customer number 1, only to be told they couldn’t pay me either. There was no money in their budget to pay me this month, but for exchange of my good will and excellent work ethic for fitting their job in so soon, they could offer me three referrals – more clients = more work = more money.

I was a little annoyed. What was with these people today? No one wanted to pay! They just wanted to give me more work. I said thank you. I very much appreciated the referrals because I definitely needed the work. I ripped up the invoice and headed back to the ute. I rang the three referrals and all of them booked me in to fix their various plumbing issues over the next few days. It was turning out to be a busy week.

But what turned into busy week of ongoing work turned into a crappy week of doing jobs for free. No one wanted to pay for their bills. They only wanted to pay with referals, in hope that I’d get paid from those jobs and wasn’t it a great thing they were helping me build my business?

By the 6th referral I told them where they could shove it.

Sounds like a ridiculous tale doesn’t it? I mean who pays with referrals?

The blogging and content marketing industry does!

Blogging is the new marketing tool to bring traffic to a website which means those hits can turn into leads and possible customers. But where do companies and websites turn when they need consistent and quality content on their sites? Bloggers!

And in exchange for their hard work to keep the content consistently maintained on their website, the blogger is promised with back traffic to their blog which means a blogger’s site will get more readers which of course ups the fee of influence when getting brands to pay for advertising and sponsorship.

But here’s the sad fact.

In most cases, very little traffic – if not NONE, heads back to that blogger’s website. For all the big websites I’ve written for, it takes a quick scan in google analytics to see that my top ten traffic referrals for my site are NOT from sites that I have written consistently for, on very little pay or sometimes for free when I was a naïve and I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing blogger. (I still don’t know what I’m doing)

I was made aware this week of a real estate agency who wanted a weekly article submitted to their site in payment for… exposure.

Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

If we are going to talk about exposure, let’s talk about exposing companies and brands with incredibly low business ethic in expecting bloggers and freelance writers to work for free.

It’s time to expose these websites. Because this type of exposure means bloggers know not to waste their time when they’re approached. And if no one writes for these sites, the company is forced to find the dollars to pay someone to do it.

Which is how the company should have approached the blogger in the first place.

I’m sick of seeing bloggers being paid with ‘exposure’.

The exposure payment system sucks. The odd guest post is different. But when a company or brand requires consistent posts on their blog, this work needs to be paid for.

Being used and paid with exposure are pretty much the same thing.

exposure doesn't pay the bills

Do you agree? Has the exposure payment system ever worked for you and your blog? Am I the only one exasperated by this flaw in the blogging world?

I’m linking up with With Some Grace for Flog Yo Blog Friday.