Free Product: Friend or Frenemy?

July 21, 2022
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4 Min Read

If your bestie is money, does that make product your frenemy? The creator world is fueled by product for posting and plenty of accounts out there blast brands for using "exposure" and "free product" as payment for your posts, so is product your friend or frenemy? Today we're going to walk through whether posting for product is a good or a bad thing. *spoiler alert, it's not a bad thing when done this way.

Princess Diana looking chic in a Fly Atlantic Sweater

Is posting for product bad?

First you have to realize the difference between gifted product and accepting free product for posting.

Gifted product is when a brand gives a product to you with no strings attached and allows you, the creator, to do or not do with it as you please. It's a no obligation freebie.

Example: Brand- here is a camera we think you may like to create content with. We'd love to send it your way, feel free to let us know if you like it or not.

Product for posting is when a brand sends you a "gift" with talking points and posting requirements.

Example: Brand- here is a camera we want to send you in exchange for 1 in feed post, a tiktok, a youtube review and 24 stories.

The difference is one you have complete discretion to accept with no obligation to return anything in favor, and the other comes with strings attached.

Next, you as the influencer have to determine if it's worth it. If calculating your base rate has shown you anything, it's that your time, experience, and skill is valuable. Does the product the brand is sending you cover that value you provide? 

Only you can determine if the product is worth it to you. To do this, you can ask yourself questions related to the below diagram: 

1) How much do I want the product? 

2) What is the cash value of the product? 

2.1) Is this value worth my time to produce content for this product?

3) Will my audience like the product?

4) Will my audience find the product valuable for their needs? 

5) Will this help me create content related to my audience's interest? 

In the graph, $value represents "high monetary value" of item and "want" represents how much YOU want/ would get use out of the item. The dollar amount is an obvious gauge of value. The want end could be a lot of factors to include industry hype around the product, how much you want the item to produce content, and other ways you can define how desirable the product is to you.

Because your answer for these questions will be different than what we would answer, it's impossible to say if the product a brand is offering you is a "bad exchange" for posting. But this graph should help you gauge where the product stands for you. And at the end of the day, you gotta trust your gut on some things.

If it feels inauthentic and a stretch for you to put into your content calendar, then maybe it's not a fit right now.

At Hashtag Pay Me, we firmly believe that gifts should be gifts, but as soon as a gift comes with "suggested talking points" that turns into an obligation and work. Charge for that.

Only you can decide if posting for product is worth it.

When is posting for product good? 

We're so glad you asked! Posting for product has plenty of upsides, and we firmly believe that when used properly, helps you increase your credibility as a creator, and opens new opportunities to make money as a creator.

But again, you gotta be smart about what (and who) you take on.

Positing for product is good when:

You want to build your portfolio

You want to track clicks/ sales/ interest in an specific product niche

You want to reduce costs of producing content you have scheduled

You want to explore a new niche to post in

You want to showcase working with brands

You want to "join the hype" of a certain brand

You want to build credibility in your niche

Things we've learned about brands is that they get FOMO when they see a creator working with brands that are similar to them in some way. Meaning, you're likely to attract more brand opportunities when you're posting about other brands.

Why? 

Because it shows you're integrated into the community, you have connections, you produce content, you're actively engaged with your audience to showcase products, it's the signaling that says "I'm open for business."

We like to recommend that if you do take on product to post, you do everything you can to track how that product performs with your audience to leverage this for future brand deals.

Track clicks. Track conversions. Track dollar sales. Track views. Track shares. Track the metrics that allow you to be a credible authority for this niche.

Brands pay influencers for their audience trust (clicks/sales), authority (dms, comments, engagement) in a niche and content production quality.

Before you take product for posting ask yourself "how am I going to use this product to convey my authority?"

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