Thank you for your interest in advertising and running sponsored content on The Pin the Map Project. I have poured four years of my life, money, time and effort into building this blog from the ground up. I’ve flipped my life upside down in pursuit of this passion–have left relationships, careers, apartments—all in the name of this dream. I’ve spent countless nights updating the website, writing stories and brainstorming ways to take The Pin the Map Project to the next level. I’ve chased this opportunity around the world and have poured more passion into this work than some people do their entire careers, so I’m humbled that you’ve taken notice.
You say you would like to append your brand to my website? I am flattered; thank you for approaching me with the opportunity. What’s this now about budget? Your budget is limited? Well, that changes the conversation a bit. Perhaps, I can work with you? Let me adjust my rates, let me discount my usual packages for sponsored posts in good faith that we will form a long term partnership. You are now $200 less than my going rate, does that work? No? You want more discounts? You want it for free?! Now, I must put my foot down.
Here’s the thing you may not grasp when reaching out from behind the veil of an e-mail. I am a real person and this website is not a hobby nor a side project, it is my career. I imagine if someone came into your office and tried to negotiate your salary down to a fraction of what it is, you would have none of it. Now imagine if someone came into your office and tried to hand you a project that had zero compensation. You have bills to pay, mouths to feed, vacations to save for and all the other trappings of an working adult life. Why do you assume I am any different? I too have bills, student loans, medical expenses and–contrary to what you may think–even rent because, no, I am not writing this from a beach in Central America while sipping coconuts.
The world of travel writing—as most other artistic avenues–is saturated with talent. Some of my fellow writers are fantastic storytellers with a knack for photography and inspiring readers. Some of these writers have websites that have set the standard for blogging today, while others are struggling to make a name for themselves. What companies like yours do is swoop in and take advantage of a field where there is no set rate card for our work. You step in and offer us “exposure” in exchange for hours of work on behalf of your company.
I get it, it doesn’t seem like you’re the big, bad wolf when you send out a blanket of e-mails asking writers to work for free. Perhaps you even think you’re doing us a favor; that the hours of work we would pour into crafting your sponsored content and then promoting it would somehow be compensated by a tweet or gift card.
It all comes down to the golden rule then, doesn’t it? Please don’t treat me the way you wouldn’t want to be treated. Please don’t ask me to work for free when you expect a full salary and benefits for your work. Please don’t tell me to lower my rates to a fraction of what they are, so that you can then turn around, please your client and cash in a full paycheck with benefits.
You’ve reached out for a reason. Perhaps you read a story I wrote that inspired you, maybe you saw an opportunity to align you brand with my website. Whatever inspired you to reach out to me in the first place, I ask that you remember that when trying to negotiate my rates down to nothing; because if you saw enough worth in my work to reach out, then why is it worth paying zero?