Before I start let me state this: the fact that I’m bringing this topic to my ‘fashion and style blog, my creative space, my evolving craft, my dream CAREER’ platform is just…well, let’s just go with: I’m really passionate about this topic. Here it is:
Should influencers/bloggers be creating content and marketing on behalf of your brand for free?
So why are we doing it? I say ‘we’ because I, just as much as the blogger next to me, are SO guilty of this. I think it’s absolutely beautiful that we get to be creative and make content for our platforms, for our readers, for brands, for companies, and actually enjoy doing it…because it is our passion. I just see something missing. Step back and think about this: if you had a ‘corporate’ job would you get to the office every day and forget to clock in? Probably not and if you are like me, who sometimes does forget to clock in, I’m 100% sure before your shift is done you tell someone ‘hey can you clock me in please?!’
I’ve read so many articles and listened to fellow bloggers on both sides of this spectrum. That you should do it free if the brand is small, that you should wait until you’re ‘big’ and that you should do it for ‘exposure’…I know. I fall into that mentality too but really what a minuscule way of thinking about your craft? Fellow blogger (and Kat, you too girl) do NOT work for free, even if all you charge is $5. I’ll get to the $5 in a second but, fellow blogger, creating content is your craft; it’s your passion…why not value that? I’m telling you from my personal experience because I’m keeping it real…I’m that ‘fellow blogger’ so I’m honestly preaching to myself (but hopefully you too). I’m so sick and tired of getting this e-mail:
We found you on instagram and think you are perfect for this campaign. We’d like to send you XXXXXX in exchange for a social media share. We really do not have the budget for influencers at the moment, so if you are interested please send us your address.
so and so.
*side note: I literally got an e-mail today saying ‘we have a sponsored opportunity for you…but also we don’t have budget!’ WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Please come back to me when you are clear on what you have planned and need for this project. I’ll tell you right now if I love the brand anyway, pay is negotiable but respect and value are not. I will deliver a great campaign but I need your help for that.*
OK. Let me tell you what’s wrong with that e-mail. EVERYTHING. Let me ask you this…if when you pitch a brand people advice you to refer to their marketing contact by name and let it show that you have done a little research…why can’t bloggers get that same respect? These companies need YOU not the other way around, so please at least look at the bio one step above my email to read my name. (My name is also in my e-mail..so like…email@example.com) I’m Kat, not ‘themodelsmarket’. Second, what’s up with this ‘we don’t have a budget’ lie? What kind of business are you running that you think you could ever market your business on TV or Radio or Newspaper or anywhere…for zero dollars?
I feel myself getting a bit heated and now I’m thinking ‘should I even post this on the internet?’ but guys, really, until WE decide to stand up and say ‘no, this is what my content is worth and this is how much I need to give your brand ‘access’ to my loyal readers who I’ve spent 1-3 years building a relationship first. I literally value everyone who believes in this blog, I know your names, I see who leaves comments, and messages me, and I think about you!!! SO if you believe in me and take time out of your day to see what I create with you in mind…why wouldn’t I value and treat this as my career? If I don’t believe in myself enough to say ‘my time and effort is worth XXX’ then how can I expect you to believe in what I’m doing? If you are a brand reading this please don’t take offense to this, I hope you are able to see how passionate I really am for my platform. Your girl will deliver!
Speaking of brands, I’m being so transparent by saying this but…I’ve been ignored by about 3-4 brands AFTER they reach out and say how perfect I am for their project, we begin to talk and when compensation is brought up, then all of a sudden there’s no more communication. What just happened? This is my desired job, my craft, what I spend days and nights trying to perfect. You just wanted me to take my fiancé/photographer away from his (actual money making) job to pick a location, shoot these photos, choose the best ones, edit them, strategically post them with YOUR company and MY readers in mind…for free? That alone took about 4-5 hours. If you guys didn’t know (though I’m sure you do!) my blog would be nothing without Nick (and Anthony too – he makes tons of those amazing videos you guys love). Nick is literally my right hand, my partner…we’re a team. So, I’m not sure how you expect me to pay my bills (and my photographer) with your product?
Every time I see #ad or #sponsored on my newsfeed I applaud that blogger. ESPECIALLY if I’m able to connect with what they’re saying before I even realize it’s sponsored. Like you go glen coco! High-five for knowing your worth and letting brands and companies know that ‘yes I love this product, your brand, the vision, the project, but I love my craft more, and this deserves compensation’. Also, I just remembered I didn’t talk about the $5 charge…simple. Don’t be known as “that blogger who does it for free…charge something”. Those words, though simple, are not mine, (It kind of ticks me off when I see someone spit some fire about something and not say it was someone else’s fire…like is that considered verbal plagiarism?) ANYWAY I heard a photographer (I want to say it was between Gabe and Christine) say that AND I agree. I agree because it’s hard to leave that ‘well she always does it for free’ image, TRUST ME. Just don’t belittle yourself like that…like I’ve done in the past. Nothing will change until we change how we view our platform and our craft. Not too many people know how much hard work goes into blogging. So for those of us that do know, you know it’s passion driven not money driven…but when you are trying so hard to make your passion a reality; and you need to be paid in order to continue growing your brand; that free hat (purse, shirt, shoes, hair product, whatever) doesn’t seem so “this is literally my favorite thing ever guys, omg” anymore.
To brands: please understand that while this world of “influencer marketing” is still finding its place to earn respect as a job…it’s here and I’m sure it’s here to stay. If you want us to ‘work’ and ‘create’ for you then please treat it as work. Since you know, it is. We pay to run our sites, we pay for camera equipment, (and if we use our phones sometimes…well heck, we pay a phone bill too!) and we make sure we’re posting and doing these things to represent your company and our personal brand as authentic as possible.
To bloggers: understand (as much as I’m trying to) that if this is the world we want to be respected in, then we have to respect our work. I’m not saying to do every single post sponsored, but when you are working with a brand, do yourself a favor, make sure its MUTUALLY benefitting. In whatever way that makes sense for you. I know I’m 2,000 words in so I’m DONE haha.
Check out these resources that have helped me with creating a brand pitch and figuring out how much to charge for creating content:
If you have been internally fighting with this topic, please please share this! We should all be here to push each other up, If I succeed, so do you. There is room for all of us to carry out our calling on this earth! Feel free to message me, text me, whatever. I’d love to chat more and help one another.
P.S. – today is my dads birthday! HEY DAD! I love you!