If you’re an influencer, you know the drill: put your best gallery foot forward on Instagram and sign off your bio with “Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.” That pretty much signals companies that you’re game for playing in the sponsorships and ads sandbox. You want their business (blog or Instagram sponsorship), and they want your promotional skills and creativity. It’s a win-win situation.
Except (DUN, DUN, DUN) you start getting requests to do free s*&t all the time for yet another $5 [insert random item here] made by children somewhere in a distant corner of the universe. So, say you, “Nataliya, they’re sending you a free fin-thing so you could look like an effing dolphin as you swim in the kiddie-pool! That’s compensation! All you have to do is post 500 photos for them and tag their account!”
Well, I say, dear madam (or sir), that’s rubbish! Enough is enough. I’m all up for editorial inclusion and brands reaching out with a very reasonable: “Hey we’ll send you this thing, no pressure to post anything. If you like it, feel free to share, if you don’t, well, I guess it’s best you don’t share?” They’re hoping I curate it within a post somewhere because they believe in their product and want me to love it as much as they love it. In turn, they want my love of the product to carry over to my readership.
This is different. This is editorial content, no strings attached and completely at my discretion. A brand reaching out and telling you they’ll send you something only if you post about it a bazillion times is called ADVERTISING. They are essentially saying their flip-flop, or whatever the “F” they’re offering you at the moment, is your compensation. So, you’ll be working for 4-5 hours creating content for a flip-flop.
How amazing. This is exactly what I was looking for when I wanted to blog full time. Next time, I’ll go to McDonalds and ask to pay for my fries with a flip-flop because that now seems to be a form of currency. Or did I miss the part where we suddenly reverted a few hundred years and are now doing a barter economic system?
My dears, I invite you to comb through every brand e-mail with a fine toothed comb and give the words a reality check. Keep in mind, the people reaching out to you are most likely in the marketing department (as a fun experiment, I invite you to start looking them up on LinkedIn and checking their job descriptions). When you position it as a business proposition, it becomes much easier to see the reality of the offer.
That first paragraph that usually starts with “I saw your profile on Instagram, and I think it’s sooo great! Your blog is fantastic!” is a straight up mass copy-paste send for the most part. I’m sorry to have to be the harsh bearer of bad news.
This isn’t always the case, and there are certainly brands that do personalized reach-out. They’re smaller, more aware, and usually have smaller budgets. I happily work with them on a sliding scale, and they’re happy to discuss fair compensation! You have to be fair to the brand AND to yourself, otherwise, only one of the parties is running a business. The other one is just working for free.
And with that, I’m actually curious about your stance on the “getting paid” question. Is there a particular reason you won’t ask to be compensated when a free offer rolls through the inbox?