From what I’ve observed, accounts with something like 3k have already experienced multiple brand collaborations and a couple paid gigs. And that’s great – my friends who struggle with growth find that those partnerships give them a little boost of confidence when Instagram seems impossible. However, I didn’t really get approached for anything outside of Takumi until I was about 10k. There could have been multiple reasons – it had only been a few months since I moved back to London and I was travelling every month, so it wasn’t immediately obvious where I was based. I also didn’t know any bloggers here so I didn’t have any idea what events were going on or what options were available.
Why bloggers should be exclusive
For the longest time I was a brand virgin. (And before anyone gets super upset, the vocabulary I’m using is not meant to reinforce any aspect of the patriarchy and it has nothing to do with actual slut shaming associated with sexuality. I’m just repurposing terminology, which is arguably liberating words from its former meaning.) Disclaimer out of the way, this post is to prove that holding off on brand sponsorships at whatever size you are, truly benefits you. The following examples will illustrate my point and for those of you who were wondering which brands I was ranting on about on my Instagram stories, here’s the big reveal:
Rosefield approached me for a collaboration a few months ago to which I responded that I was
interested but I have a fee for posts, especially as they were asking for multiple. A really great blogger that I’ve admired since I started was posted beautiful images for them, so they already had a good brand reputation in my mind.
However, their representative told me that they do have a budget but my following and engagement was too low and I don’t qualify to be paid but they love my work. Their representative was so rude and condescending. And in case you were wondering, I was at about 14k and had an average of 500 likes and about 90 comments a photo. As those of you that watch my Instagram Stories know, I rejected the offer of a second watch as compensation.
The outcome: a month or so after this mini drama, I was approached by an accessories brand that love my work and showed that they believed in my content through remuneration and ongoing gifting. They also asked that I didn’t post any competitors for a certain period of time, one of which you may have guessed, includes Rosefield.
That’s proof you shouldn’t sell out for product, even if a great influencer has endorsed them – because if they don’t treat everyone well, they’re not worth putting your name to. Close one door and another opens…
So it’s pretty obvious that if anyone hates Uber it’s me. I have a post on what happens if your account gets hacked (nothing, they literally don’t care) and because of this incident, I unconsciously dedicated a week to complaining about them on Instagram. Three months later, their regional partnership manager emailed me about a potential collaboration. I didn’t even bother to ask if this was a paid project because there was no way that in the company’s current state I’d ever work with them. So that’s exactly what I explained in the correspondence. In case you were wondering, there was no reply on their end.
The outcome: I was concerned that being so
obvious about who this brand was would land me in trouble but I also knew I was telling the truth about their unscrupulous practices. The messages I got in support from you guys were beyond anything I anticipated. I am so grateful that I have such a strong network of people whom I haven’t even met before and that actually remember and care about this. Furthermore, an influencer whom I have followed for ages messaged me out of the blue to tell me how much she appreciated the authenticity. Totally floored.
Even big brands have bad reputations and being exclusive and putting your principles first will mean that people will continue to trust you.
3. Missy Empire
I know a lot of you bloggers reading this have or will be working with them at some point. They are giving out clothes like black rats passing around the plague. Okay, some of their stuff is cute and that’s why I did consider working with them but nice stock doesn’t compensate for a gross lack of professionalism.
- Upon the first encounter, they ignored my email once I told them my rates. Normal practice in our industry but still not cool.
- Second encounter, a really lovely and friendly representative convinced me to try with Missy again and was so sweet I actually agreed to waive my fee based on an agreement: I had selected five items and expected all of them to be sent in lieu of payment. I also sent a disclaimer that if something didn’t fit or didn’t live up to what was on the website either in appearance or quality I wasn’t going to post it. In fact, I wasn’t obliged to post anything with any kind of deadline, and Missy would have to repost the images that I did decide to feature, as they would with any of their influencers. About a week had passed and I was waiting for the package.
- Third encounter: another representative emailed me whilst I was expecting the parcel. She told me she had read through my email chain with the other girl and said she didn’t want to send me all five items and that I should start with two as per their policy. She also wrote in the most unprofessional way ever, like in random capital letters and I can tell you that whether you work for the most illiterate sorority in the world or you’re not even a native English speaker, you shouldn’t do that. Especially when you’re telling someone that you’ve breached their privacy, made your colleague look like she wasn’t doing her job properly and then backed out of a done deal.
- Fourth encounter: their PR contacted me to work with them, obviously I was like, no.
- Fifth encounter: their PR contacted me again but this time it was a girl I’d met before. I explained the situation to her and she was so
shocked at Missy Empire’s in-house marketing team’s behaviour and apologised.
- Sixth encounter (lol yeah really, like can you believe): the in-house team said they wanted to work with me… Do these girls not talk to each other in the office?!
The outcome: while the case is different for luxury beauty, a few luxury fashion PR girls told me in confidence that working with mass brands like Missy Empire can sometimes affect whether or not high-end labels approach you. To me this is not snobbery but exclusivity. Why work with someone who’d take on anyone if you could have the pick of the crop?
Moral of the story: don’t be a brand whore. Don’t beat yourself up because you don’t think you’re doing as much as others. Keeping your feed as ‘you’ as possible is the best position to be in.
I know some of us feel like we don’t have many options but ask yourself: where does this need for brand validation come from? You are your own authority and that’s how you managed to grow to whatever following you have, whether that’s 1k, 5k or 200k. When it comes to why bloggers should be exclusive it’s not just about avoiding weird and out-of-place product placement or ‘saving yourself’ for the brand collaborations you really want, it’s also about minimising the stress that comes with juggling clients that don’t always have your best interest at heart.
Nasty Gal sunglasses
Fashion Union skirt
Joseph glitter boots via Net-A-Porter