This is something that comes up even in our relationships with our clients where they say, "Okay, we want to work with 50 influencers for this campaign. These 10 influencers that we want to work with, we already have a relationship with and we don't pay them, or we pay them a reduced fee. Can we honor the pre-existing relationship that we have with that influencer?"
It is hard to transition something from free to paid. Once you give something away for free, it can be difficult to move that to paid. We've talked a lot before about being strategic in the free work that you do for brands to leverage that into paid work with other brands, and that is certainly a good strategy. If you're working with a brand, and let's say you've worked with them for a year, and you've always worked with them for free, I think that you could be very-- I think in most cases, just pure honesty is the best way to go.
I think if you wrote that brand and you said, "Hey, I really love working with you all. I really appreciate the support that you've given me and the fact that you were there before other brands were. As you know, my account has more than doubled over the last year. That means that my ability to make money off this has grown quite a bit, and so those posts that I'm giving away have become quite a bit more valuable.
I'm also you know trying to support myself and do this full-time as a job, and it's getting harder and harder to do that if I'm not getting paid for the post that I do. Now I know that we have an existing relationship, I know that that relationship is based on working for product. I would love to know if there's a way for me to transition that into making money off of this.
I want to be fair to you, I want to be fair to the support that you've given over the last year or so, but I also need to start prioritizing partnerships with brands that are paying me. I would love to talk about this on the phone or meet up in person, whatever it might be. Let me know if you're free." If you're very honest there-- Laying something out like that, what are they going to say? They can say, "No, there's no budget," or, "We can talk about paying you."
You've made it very clear that what you want us- I think get across is like, one, thank you for supporting me. Thank you for the last year of partnerships. While it's easy to be like, "I did this big favor." In some ways, you did. You gave them free posts, but that was an agreement that you all entered into. You felt good about it, brand felt good about it, so I think always nice to start with gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Gratitude will get you a long way.
Just to say, "Thank you. I appreciate it. As you know, things have changed," and then you speak to them about facts that nobody can deny. "I was here, now I'm here. I was at 20,000. Now I'm at 100,000. Again, I so appreciate you working with me when I was at 20,000 followers when nobody else would. That's something I won't forget. Now I'm at 100,000 followers, and you know my situation is different. Thus, I'm wondering if we can change this relationship as well."
Another thing is, I wouldn't necessarily jump them up to the same price that you are charging new brands that are coming in for the first time. Reward their loyalty with a little bit lower price. First, you can just say, "I really would like to try and move this into a paid relationship. Can we talk about the feasibility of that?" It's a conversation. You have a relationship. What you absolutely cannot do, the worst thing you can do is email and say, "Hey, thanks so much for reaching out about your new line.
It looks great. I now don't work for free. Thank you," like absolutely fucking worst thing you can do. You need to re-frame. If that brand reached out to you and says-- Let's say you've worked with them for five times for free and they reach out the sixth time, "Hey, I want to send you something. What's your size? How are you doing? Your trip to Positano looked great," that's when you need to re-frame that conversation and say, "Oh my gosh, this looks amazing, blah blah blah." Explain yourself. Gratitude, explanation, ask.
"Thank you so much. Here's the new situation we're in. Can we talk about changing our relationship?" Don't just say, "I don't work for free anymore." I had an influencer recently- I'm very good friends with turned down speaking at the conference because they just needed to make money and they did it in a way that was super gracious, 100% made sense. She was just like, "Listen, I am so taxed with all of the requests coming in and all of the work that I'm doing that I really-- I love you, you know that. I can't work for free.
I hope you understand that. If you had any budget, you know I would be there." I 100% understood, and was like, "Totally hear you. I don't have budget now. You've explained yourself, I understand it. You've explained it in a way that makes sense. You've expressed gratitude. We're totally good." Just be a normal human, be kind, and don't throw it back in people's face. I do think you can transition that relationship, but it starts with you being candid and honest.
When do you have that conversation? You have that conversation when it doesn't feel fun anymore to be working for the brand for free, when you feel like, "This isn't worth my time. This doesn't feel right. I don't feel like this is a balanced relationship anymore." That is when you have the conversation. Also, it is totally fine to continue to work for brands for free in perpetuity.
If you love that brand and they don't have budget, which most luxury brands don't and you want to work for them or keep working with them, keep working with them. There is no problem in that. I think that honestly, I went through again the other day and I was doing some calculations. More and more, I'm seeing 40%, 50% of the feed sponsored that is way too much.
You cannot have 50% of your fucking feed sponsored. Imagine if you watched a 30-minute show and it was 15 minutes of commercials. There's no fucking way you get through it, no way. Or more apt, imagine a show that was eight episodes long, and four of them were sponsored by a brand and about a brand. Would you watch that season? No. No fucking way, you would. It's too much.
- Reaching a Larger Audience, Transitioning to Getting Paid, Hashtags