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Craft Blog Tools: Fair Compensation Email Template

I’m a professional craft writer. And, because I generate all of my income through craft-related pursuits, fair compensation is a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart.

Every day, I receive emails from well-meaning companies who want to work with me on a giveaway, partner with me on a tutorial, or “pick my brain” about about a product/tool/book. The problem is, many of these companies aren’t prepared to compensate me for the work that they’re asking me to do, and are surprised when I broach the subject during our correspondence. This is bad for two reasons: 1. On a personal level, crafting is my day job, and I can’t afford to provide professional-quality work for free, and 2. It speaks to the steadily growing trend of companies asking bloggers to provide free publicity services while, at the same time, neglecting to place any value on the time and work that those bloggers are putting into producing the content. So, while I’m excited to see my favorite brands beginning to embrace more modern, web-based marketing plans, many companies still have a lot to learn when it comes to working with bloggers in a way that benefits both parties equally.

Wait. What is this “fair compensation” nonsense, anyway?
First off, “fair compensation” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. For some crafters, fair compensation means getting paid. For others, it means receiving product in exchange for a review or project. Some may even choose to barter content for things like ad space or access to an audience. So, for the purposes of this post, fair compensation means this: the blogger receives something in exchange for her work that—in her opinion—fairly matches the value of her efforts.

I understand why fair compensation is important, but how do I bring it up with a company?
This is where I can help! Below, I’ve included a simple fair compensation email template to get the conversation started. You can customize it to fit your needs—I bracketed off the sections that you’re most likely to change—and you can add or remove details as you see fit. This is the same letter that I use when I’m talking to companies, and I think it explains the need for fair compensation in a way that’s both firm and friendly.

Dear [contact from company],
Thanks for reaching out to me about [super-aweseome project]!

Per our earlier conversation, I would love to work with you on a [giveaway/tutorial/review]. But, before I take on the time commitment required for such a project, I would like to discuss the compensation that will be provided in exchange for my work.

As you know, [craft] blogs are a powerful way to spread the word about new and exciting products. And, when working with a blogger, companies expect access to the blogger’s audience (not only through the initial blog post, but also through outreach across social media platforms), high quality original content, and hours of promotional and administrative work both before and after the [post goes live/prize is awarded]. Unfortunately, for [professional] craft writers who regularly walk a fine line between profitability and loss on any given project, overseeing a [giveaway in a way that is engaging, fair, and legally above board] often requires significantly more time and money than the short-term bump in traffic might return in advertising revenues. Because of this, fair compensation—be it [monetarily or in product]—is absolutely essential for the sustainability of the kind of high quality content that both companies and readers have come to expect.

When I partner with companies like yours, I generally charge [$$] for [reviews/tutorials/giveaways], and I believe that [dollar amount, specific product, ad space, etc.] would be an appropriate level of compensation for this project. (If needed, we can discuss alternative methods of exchange.) If you would like to see a sample of my work, here is a link to my most recent [tutorial/review/giveaway] on [Craftzine.com].

I look forward to hearing from you soon, and hope that we can arrive at an agreement that meets both of our needs.

Thanks and best,
[Haley Pierson-Cox]

Please note: I have provided this email template as a public service. I make no guarantee that using it will yield a positive outcome.

If you’d like to read more about fair compensation and what it means for the crafting community, my friend Diane facilitated a valuable conversation on the subject over on CraftyPod: Should designers be paid for their services? (An interesting debate)

Edit: Jenny over at Craft Test Dummies has also contributed to the discussion here, with a focus on product reviews.

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19 comments

  1. Sister Diane says:

    This is a wonderful public service, Haley – thank you so much for sharing it with the community. The more we creatives are willing to stand right up and have these conversations early on, the more companies will come to expect them.

    I get requests to do things for free every single week, too, but like you, I have a business to run and a landlord to pay, so these opportunities are usually not in my best interest.

    The craft industry seems to innovate pretty slowly in the internet age. I really feel it’s up to craft bloggers to change the conversation, and your email is a great tool for doing this.

    • Thanks, Diane!

      I think you’re right–if craft bloggers don’t change the conversation, the current model stands little chance of being fixed. I’m hoping that, by making compensation a less stressful topic to bring up, both sides will feel more comfortable about moving in a fairer, more positive direction.

  2. buggalcrafts says:

    Totally understand where you are coming from. As a NOT A PROFESSIONAL CRAFTER but simply a person with an honest opionion I’d LOVE to be asked to do a product review just for the free product!!! Who knows – maybe one day!

  3. Great post! It drives me crazy that people (and companies) seem to think that just because we like what we do, we won’t mind doing it for free. Would they ask their plumber to unclog a pipe for free? :)

    In addition to making sure we’re all on the same page for compensation, I often spell out exactly what they’ll be getting. That way there’s no surprises for them, and I (hopefully) won’t be in the uncomfortable position of telling them that something goes beyond the scope of the original agreement.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. anne says:

    wow, this is so awesome, thank you, thank you! this is a topic we talk about a lot within our company; how to make the work we do on the behalf of others come back to us in a fruitful way. it’s a real challenge and not something that will happen without nudging on our part.
    i am grateful for the email template you put forth; i think it’s important for companies to see consistency between those of us who provide media coverage for them; if we all use a similar template, that will go a long way toward solidarity in out mission.

  5. Deirdre says:

    I think your letter is a great idea, but I’d go even farther and knock out the big paragraph explaining why I should be compensated. I’d shorten the letter down to something like this: “Yes! I’d love to partner with you! I cost $250 an article plus supplies. Thank you!”

    As a freelance writer / editor, I used to spend a lot of time in the yuk zone – wanting to be paid, being asked to do things without compensation, feeling embarrassed about asking for money, underselling myself — my attitude was that I needed to convince the potential employer that I deserved to be paid.

    Then I read an article in which Cindy Crawford told this story — her agent called her and asked if she wanted to do a commercial for some company. She remembered thinking it sounded like a hassle and she didn’t really want to do it, so she said, “Sure, for a million dollars.” Then the agent called back and said “Ok, it’s a deal.” She remembered realizing that she could ask whatever price she wanted — if the company wanted her, they’d pay.

    That story changed my whole attitude towards compensation. I realized if someone contacted me, it was because they saw value in me. Once I realized that, expecting fair compensation became as natural as breathing and the yuk zone disappeared.

    I think your letter is a great idea and I know a lot of people have so much trouble with asking for fair compensation. I hope the conversation you’ve opened helps!

    • I definitely think that shortening the letter would work for companies that already pay. Unfortunately, in the craft industry, there are so many companies that aren’t compensating, that a clear explanation of why payment is important can be necessary to get a productive conversation started. For me, this letter is a tool for introducing the subject in a way that gives both sides the opportunity to find a way forward that’s mutually beneficial. I definitely hope that people will edit it to meet their individual needs. :)

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