Yes, we all have to start out somewhere, but when posting for other brands and businesses, never do so for free. This not only devalues yourself and your blog, but also means sponsors and businesses will expect other bloggers to post for free, too. It's a lose-lose because you are setting up your future as a blogger. Post for free once and they will expect it again and again.
It's time businesses value us as bloggers and, for us to get the respect we deserve, we need to value ourselves first! I admit that when I was new, I was much more likely to post for free, maybe for the possibility of winning a prize or gift card, but it seems like this action has backfired since I often receive more emails wanting the same.
Here are some helpful hints for getting paid the money you deserve:
1. Set a minimum value for review items. If you don't want review items under a certain amount, don't be afraid to say so. Set your standards for businesses.
2. Include a Policies page on your blog. Make a policy page with your disclosure, as well as your review/giveaway policies. This way you can always have it there for reference if a company asks.
3. Watch how many do-follow links you use. Many companies will ask for do-follow links, but keep in mind that you can be penalized for this. Many bloggers are hesitant to use do-follow links for other companies because of this possibility. In fact, many businesses and blogs have already been penalized for purchasing these links.
4. Remember that time = money. You should be paid by your time. For reviews, you are paid by receiving the product. For sponsored posts you should be paid an amount based on your stats, followers and Page Rank. If you are writing or advertising for someone else, you are working for them and should be compensated!
5. Stand your ground! If you charge XXX amount or a a certain minimum amount for review items, don't accept less. Some will inevitably not respond or comply, so don't get discouraged. I've had companies say no only to contact me a week or so later to say they changed their mind. They want to see if they can bargain with you and will shop around to find lower prices. Don't compromise your standards.
Do you value yourself as a blogger? I know starting out can be frustrating, believe me! I have been there and never thought I would get bigger reviews, but be confident, stand firm. In time your blog will grow and your house will be full of goodies to review... maybe even too many.