How to Turn Gifted into Paid Collaborations

May 28, 2023
5 min read

So you've gotten some brand gifts now that you're an influencer, FUN! But what happens when those brand gifts come with talking points and it turns into real WORK to work it into your content calendar? 

We've all been there- that moment where the free pair of shorts is no longer worth the 1+ production time to create content for a brand that you haven't shopped from before.

Free for them doesn't mean free for you. Wondering how to turn gifted into paid collaborations? Keep reading as we answer all your questions on the topic! 

Should you start with gifted campaigns?

Here’s our motto: if it aligns with your channel, the content you’re currently producing, helps cut down on operational costs, and is a good fit, gifted campaigns are great. Read about whether posting for product is good or bad here.

Gifted campaigns are a great place to start to understand what your audience is receptive to, how to track clicks and report on campaign metrics if you’re brand new to the influencer space.

There comes a time when every creator wants to get paid, so this blog post will answer that for you.

How do you know when you should start charging for collaborations?

Start charging brands when content creation feels more like work than a hobby, and when you have valuable skills that match brands' needs. If a brand presents a contract, always seek payment as it indicates a formal business relationship. Lastly, establish boundaries, like not allowing your likeness to be used without compensation. Recognize your worth and monetize your platform and skills accordingly.

How do I word being paid for my work in an email to a brand when they haven’t mentioned it yet?

To ask for payment, convey your enthusiasm, highlight your value, and propose a paid partnership. If declined, suggest potential future collaborations. Establish clear boundaries if you're constantly gifted without being paid. Use your sales contribution data to support your case. If your follower count is small, focus on presenting compelling pitches backed by conversion data. After a successful campaign, promptly propose new ideas based on your research and their past campaigns to secure more paid partnerships.

How to respond when a brand says “we have no budget”

When a brand says "they have no budget", consider two things: your interest in the product and potential for future partnerships. If you're enthusiastic about the product and see future growth with the brand, propose a content collaboration plan and provide relevant metrics to showcase your potential impact on their product's presence- think LONG TERM not one off. Keep in mind that product gifts are considered taxable income if you post about it.

Will asking to be paid ruin my opportunity to work with a brand?

Likely no. You have work to do, and you should get paid for it. If a plumber asks for payment after he unclogs your drain, do you feel offended he asked? If he told you a rate and then the rate was exceedingly different once he did the job, then you should be offended.

This isn’t 2010 anymore, brands are well aware of influencers wanting to be compensated for their time. The way you let a brand know you want to be paid for work is more important than asking to be paid.

Be direct, straightforward, and honest about your expectations. If you get catty or use “gotcha” language like “well I saw you paid XYZ influencer, so I demand to be paid too”, then that would likely ruin the relationship more.

How do you respond to a brand that says they only pay influencers who have a certain number of followers?

Personally, we believe solely relying on influencers with a certain amount of followers is a lazy marketing tactic (but don’t tell the brands we said that- shhh!). However, it is a common practice that brands look for influencers who are likely of “a certain size” to pay so you have two options:

Ask more questions to get clarity on what that threshold is and recognize that maybe this isn’t the opportunity for you and use that “not right now” answer to go find someone who would be a better partner.

Your very last ditch effort could be to use this sponsored collab pitch to create a super collab opportunity where you pull in another brand that is of the “same level” of that brand to entice them to work together on a larger brand collab. Maybe you want to work with Sezane and you have an upcoming comped stay at the St. Regis that they’ll be whitelisting for a certain amount of months. You could pitch to Sezane that you’d wear their clothes for the campaign and the ad dollars St. Regis is paying to whitelist your content would help super promote their brand.

Now that IS intriguing.

How do I negotiate my rate with brands?

Negotiation is a skill developed over time. Brands are often time-constrained, impacting their budget and campaign ROI. When negotiating, don't start with your bare minimum offer; brands will still try to lower it. The Hashtag Pay Me platform's calculator is beneficial in live negotiations. It allows you to adjust features like whitelisting, content ownership, or production quality to match both parties' desired price point. Remember, payment timeframe, method, and campaign deliverables are all negotiable; if you don't ask, the answer will always be 'no'.

So, how do you turn gifted into paid collaborations?

Turning gifted collaborations into paid opportunities requires a proactive approach! After you've shined in a gifted collaboration, it's time to level up. Lead the conversation with confidence, proposing a paid collaboration for the future. Highlight the success of your previous work together, like the engagement and interest you sparked in their brand.

With Hashtag Pay Me, you've got a solid sidekick. This platform helps you determine a fair rate for your work, capturing the value you bring. Remember, you've got talent that brands want - be excited about it, and don't be afraid to own it. It's your time to shine!

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