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How to Negotiate with Brands As An Influencer (When They Don’t Want to Pay)

Annoyed of lowball offers for sponsored posts? This post tells you how to negotiate with brands as an influencer when they don’t want to pay.

Learning how to negotiate with brands as an influencer is a skill, especially when those brands don’t even want to pay you.

Brands’ products and services don’t pay the costs of running your influencer business and the bills to keep the roof over your head. For that, of course you need cash.

As a result, whenever brands reach out to you looking to trade, follow these exact steps below to either (1) say goodbye to them, which is more likely to happen or (2) get ready to grab your media kit and pitch your fresh ideas to the brand!

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Understanding Your Value

Before we get started on how to respond to brands word-by-word, you need to know how valuable your time and social media channel are.

A lot of influencers think that they’re getting a “free” product or service from a brand but that’s not true.

You are paying with your time~ talking with the brand, taking photos, crafting your message, posting and engaging.

This doesn’t even include the time you spent building up your account to the point where brands felt like they could reach out to you (congrats on getting this far by the way).

There is a huge opportunity cost here. The time you spend on doing work for a brand is time you’re missing out on building up your own brand in the most authentic way possible.

Not that doing work with a brand is not genuine, but when you’re in the early stages of being an influencer, creating a trusting relationship with your audience is everything.

If you take something for “free” just because you’re excited but it doesn’t align with your brand or your audience, you risk putting a dent in your relationship with your followers.

That being said, if that trade collaboration is really worth it for you because you would’ve spent money on that anyways, then by all means go for it!

There is a stigma that influencers should ONLY do paid collaborations and “bring the industry down” by taking non-paid collaborations, but I don’t agree with that. It’s all about value.

Your time and social media channel are valuable so don’t forget that whether you want a paid or non-paid collaboration.

Considering Non-Paid or Trade Collaborations

There are a ton of brands looking for influencers who don’t want to pay cash but are willing to offer their product or service in exchange for social posts.

Because your time is valuable, ask yourself the following before considering a non-paid or a trade collaboration:

  • Is this something I really want and would pay money for myself, or is it just going to go in a pile of junk I don’t need around my house and clutter up my feed?
  • Will taking this non-paid collaboration benefit my audience, or would it be better for them if I showcased something I already own and love?
  • If I take this collaboration, what will it take away time from? Does whatever it take away time from benefit my growth more, or does this non-paid collaboration help me more?

When I first started out on Instagram, I took the worst trade collaborations. I thought I needed to work with brands to put on my media kit as part of my portfolio.

I wish someone told me this~ you can build a portfolio to show to brands with stuff you already own and love. Your content and statistics, whether you worked for a brand or not, should speak for itself.

Make a free media kit on Canva or check out media kit templates here.

How to Negotiate With Brands as an Influencer (Template to Copy for When They Don’t Want to Pay)

9 out of 10 times when a brand sends me a lowball offer, it’s usually through an Instagram DM, which should be your first warning sign. Serious brands looking for Instagram influencers tend to send e-mails as it’s more professional.

However, there usually is a gem or two in your DMs who actually want to work with you for real aka by signing a contract and making a deal that benefits both parties. Because of this, it’s worth responding to everyone just in case.

Here’s how to negotiate with brands as an influencer when all they’ve offered is a “free” product or service.

✎ copy and paste below ✎

Hi [Person or Brand}

Thanks for thinking of me! I love [insert product, service or brand here] because of [add a reason why you personally resonate with it, why your followers would like or even say you already talk about it on your feed].

Because of limited bandwidth, I am only prioritizing paid collaborations at the moment. Do you have a budget for this project?

If so, I’d love to send you my media kit, samples of past work and creative ideas to showcase your [insert product or service here].

What’s the best email to reach you at?

[Your Name]

✎ copy and paste above ✎

Tip: In Instagram, you can save this template as a quick reply. In gmail, you can save this as a template.

Most of the time, if they’re coming from Instagram or even via e-mail, they’ll say no, or worse, they’ll ignore you after you spent time to talk to them.

At the very least, if they respond with a no saying they don’t have a budget, be professional, say “Thank You” and move on!

If they say yes, then hooray!

Wait for their email and proceed the negotiations from there.

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Negotiating with a Brand via Email

Once you get an email from a brand who’s serious about creating quality content with influencers, send them your media kit, ideas and samples of past work. Show them why you and your audience would be a great fit for their brand.

Try your hardest to not put a number out there. Let them give you their rate first.

If they seem adamant about you giving them a rate first, use a site like InfluentGen to see if they’ve paid other brands or what similar brands pay content creators like you.

Once they give you their rate, then you can tell them what deliverables you can provide for that amount.

But don’t stop there!

In addition to giving them your deliverables for the rate they set, offer another, more expensive package that is packed full of deliverables that’ll help their brand.

Once you reach an agreed-upon fee, do NOT forget to tweak your influencer contract template and include at the very least:

  • date of delivery,
  • deliverables,
  • rate of project (including any bank or PayPal fees),
  • payment method
  • and date of payment.

To build your confidence in negotiating, you may want to read this book, which is in my “Must Read Books for Influencers and Bloggers” blog post.

Was this post helpful about how to negotiate with brands as an influencer? Need more tips? Check out this post on how to become an influencer on Instagram that makes money full-time.

Want to learn more? You can find more helpful blog posts here, get consistent page views to your blog with my SEO course, or follow me on social media to get daily tips:

Until next time,
Sarah Chetrit

Grow your blog the smart way with my SEO course here.

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How to Negotiate With Brands as an Influencer

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