You have to be aware that companies do not want to collaborate with you because they are charitable – they want to benefit from your reach to promote their brand and to make money. This is generally not bad, as long as both parties benefit from the cooperation. In this blogpost, I want to share some negative experiences I made and talk about how you can avoid being exploited.
You might have noticed that you do not find an overwhelming number of collaborations on my social medias and my blog. This is not due to the fact that brands do not approach me or that I am in general not interested in collaborations, but rather a consequence of the way a good amount of companies act. Some of them are not only outrageous, they also want to exploit my reach as a blogger.
What happened to me?
In the following I want to elaborate on some examples of inappropriate behavior of companies that contacted me.
A few weeks ago, an apparel company approached me via Instagram and asked if I was interested in a collaboration. At first glance, their Instagram profile and their website seemed pretty nice, so I requested some details about how they want our cooperation to look like. Thereupon, the representative said that he wants me to buy one or two shirts (at full price) “to build a relationship first” and then post photos with the garments on my social medias. He added that he made the experience that people who are willing to buy shirts at the regular price are extremely “trustworthy”. When I asked how I would benefit from this deal, he repeated that he wants me to buy some shirts first because the company is not willing to send things for free. Wtf.
A second apparel company (that also approached me via Instagram) said that they want to send me some clothes for free, so I could wear them in a few posts on my social medias. About one week later they contacted me again and said that they have an extremely high demand at the moment and that other influencers would be willing to pay money to promote their apparel. This was followed by an invitation to buy some of their shirts at full price to promote them on my Instagram. Seriously wtf.
So, the main problem that I encountered several times now (these were just two examples) is that a considerable amount of small businesses seems to be interested in boosting their sales by inviting influencers to buy their products. However, they are not interested in mutual benefits by (for example) giving remarkable discounts or offering the opportunity to join affiliate programs. The point is not that I want stuff for free, but that both parties should benefit somehow from a collaboration.
What can you do to avoid being exploited?
The most important advice every influencer should heed is: Do NOT agree to these offers. As long as there are people that fall for these tricks, companies will always try to exploit bloggers for their own benefit only. When you recognize that a brand tries to trick you, either ask for better terms or cancel the collaboration completely (I know this might be tough, especially when it is the first time a company contacted you).
In case you are not sure if the conditions a company suggested are acceptable (because this is your first collaboration for example) make sure to ask other influencers for help. There are a lot of different Facebook groups for bloggers that you can use or you can simply ask me.
What does a legit collaboration look like?
There are many ways a trustworthy company can collaborate with influencers. The point that I want to emphasize here is that both parties have to benefit. The company will of course take advantage of the blogger’s reach and the potential customers it can target. The influencer can for example join the company’s affiliate program, enjoy free products or get paid for uploading some photos. Even when you get a discount, there should ideally be some other benefit for you (like a discount combined with an affiliate link). Especially small businesses try to fool bloggers with these little tricks, so when you are new to the blogging world (and you are the target of these firms) you have to be particularly careful. Of course, there are also thousands of reliable firms out there, but I think it is important to highlight also the negative experiences you can make as a blogger.
I hope that this blogpost was helpful and that you are now (more) aware of how some brands try to exploit your online business. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Don't forget to share this article with someone for whom these tips might be useful!