A few days ago on Twitter I shared an email response I gave to a brand that was offering exposure as a form of payment, no money, no product. I was expecting a like or two on the tweet, maybe a hand clapping emoji comment, but I wasn’t expecting the amount of likes and comments from people feeling so like-minded about it.
You know when you have had an argument with someone, and within minutes you’re kicking yourself for things you wish you’d said, and in my case the missing words and angry typos I’d made having to justifying why exposure wasn’t a payment. So I thought I would put up my tweaked version of this now which I can point brands to in future, you can also share this link or use it as a starting template too should you wish (you can see my original tweet here if you’d like to see my reply of sleep deprived passion).
Most of the time I just ignored requests from brands when I could tell was a compensation free “collaboration” (although what the collab is when it’s so one sided I have no idea), but in this case they chased me for a response, and despite knowing what they we’re going to say, I played their game and enquired, and when they asked for feedback as to why exposure might not work for influencers I replied. In future I’ll be taking on a one woman mission (of course, you can join), to instead of ignoring I’ll now be trying to educate brands. As I said in my OG tweet, Stand up for yourself and know your worth.
Working for exposure is the type of collaboration simply doesn’t work for me.
Exposure is not something that’s guaranteed to make any difference to me as a blog owner, and in my experience it’s highly unlikely to either. As an example I’ve had photos shared with Boots on their Instagram this year several times, and despite the thousands of likes they got within the first hour or so, can you guess how many new followers I got directly around times on those days as a result?
Zero, Zilch, Not One.
A brand with over half a million followers provided exactly no uplift in terms of followers or even any noticeable change in likes on a post. There was no surge in page views as a result of their shares. Another example, Makeup Geek retweeted a blog post of mine which had impressions on over 16,000 people – 143 people looked at the image attached to the tweet and 9 people actually clicked on the post link – a brand with 250k twitter followers.
I could go on with more examples, The Body Shop, Kiehl’s, Rimmel, Soap & Glory, Origins and Pureology are just some of the brands which have shared my content on Instagram and Twitter this year, all providing little to no impact. I’m not a fan of brands taking photos of mine and sharing with their followers, but in some circumstances I’ve trialled it as an experiment, all it’s proved is that my Intellectual Property is not worth me giving away for free.
Without compensation or even product to work with influencers shouldn’t be expected to work for free, I have never considered this two months into blogging let alone close to four years. There are exceptional circumstances where it may be worth it, companies who could provide the power to make real changes to traffic/followers but said brands should also have a budget available. There are of course opportunities where something is mutually beneficial too like writing for a magazine or another online blog. I completely understand not every brand has budget available, and in those cases without even product ready to compensate with, it’s shouldn’t be worth wasting people’s time over, however big or small they may be.
As someone who works in the industry with a better-than-most knowledge of SEO, and who in the past worked in marketing and PR in the past it’s something I 100% do not agree with professionally or personally. When I go to my day job, I don’t work for free in the hope that I will get a retweet at the end of the day thanking me for doing a good job, and I know without you confirming that you don’t either. The same expectations should extend to Influencers you contact for the hours of work they’ll put into creating a post filled with passion for you.
An hour or so goes into the preparation of a post and then at least one to three writing it, another hour or two more will go into the setting up and taking photos and then editing. I’ve spent £1000 on a computer that can hack manage running all the programs required to do the job efficiently and well, £8 a month on photo editing software and over £800 on camera equipment to make all that happen which produces what I believe is good quality, insightful content.
Content that you’ve asked to be apart of.
Of course not all of my content is sponsored, and yes – this is predominately a hobby for me and could always be. But when promotion of a brand goes into it, even in terms of the backlink you’re hoping to get as a result can’t and shouldn’t be expected for free – whether that’s with product compensation or monetary.
I can only hope that any Influencers who take you up on the offer will be considered by you in future for with them in a better capacity where they are fairly compensated for their time and past efforts.
I hope that gives some more insight as to why this type of collaboration doesn’t work for me, and shouldn’t work for you as a company ethically either.
Shout out to my friend Molly who had the same request to participate from the brand and posted her reply on Twitter a few days before me, despite us responding on the same day, they took a lot longer to reply to me initially then they did to her. Our replies to them were virtually identical pointing out where exposure hadn’t worked for either of us in the past and it was only when I re-read hers yesterday I realised just how bang-on she was too, that’s why she’s one of my besties though!
Feel free to share with me some of the requests you’ve been sent with be in comments or in the email, I’ll be adding them below.
“The worst experience I’ve had with being “offered” exposure came from a small indie company who wanted me to publish a post on my site with a backlink, in exchange for sharing that post with “all of their audience” on Twitter. I didn’t even flirt with the idea, but I did take a look at their Twitter profile, out of curiosity; they had less than 20 followers. As I had just under 5,000 at the time, it was actually comical that they would consider this suitable compensation for my time in writing the post…” 16 Bit Dad Blog
I think it’s important to remember, no matter what your blog’s views or following to never be suckered in with a complimentary email, the one I had that caused me to respond could have suckered me in easily, lovely writing style, high quality, embodies what we are as an award winning brand. If all a brand has to offer you is compliments, or something feels unfair, you have every reason to politely decline, your time is worth something. If you love an idea and want to participate, you go ahead, do you, or completely nick their often antediluvian idea and run.