Turn Gifted Collaborations Into Paid Jobs in 3 Easy Steps

How to turn a gift collaboration into a paid job

May 11, 2022

I’m Tara.
 I'm an influencer strategy expert, the host of Project Influence the Podcast, and the founder of Creator Cube™, a co-creating space for content creators. 
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Gimme that

In this post, I am going to teach you how to turn gifted collaborations into paid jobs! Start making money now by turning the gifted offers you’re already receiving into paid jobs! And trust me… if a brand tells you they don’t have a budget… chances are that’s not the whole truth! Let’s make you some money! 

So, your inbox is overflowing with collaboration requests but in lieu of payment, they want to send you free product… ugh! First off, know that you’re not alone. We all get these requests. But, did you know that, with the right script, you can turn these gifted collaboration offers into paid jobs?

As a full-time Influencer, I get a lot of requests asking me to essentially work for free. Now, the majority of these requests go unanswered, but… there are a select few that pass the sniff test and these emails get sifted into a folder labeled “Need to Negotiate”.

So how do you know which requests are worth your time to negotiate? Grab the deets to my process below!

Tweet image graphic that says: Not all collaboration requests are worth your time to negotiate with. Just say NO to things that don't align with your audience

Turn a gifted collaboration into a paid collaboration in 3 easy steps

1. Negotiate the offer

First off, know that not all requests are worth your time to negotiate. If the brand doesn’t feel like a good fit… it’s probably not.

How to know if a brand is worth negotiating with

  1. Do your research on the brand. How does their social look? Does their website checkout? Do their branding, tone of voice, and user experience feel like something your audience would relate to? Do their brand and audience mesh with yours?
  2. Ask yourself if you would take the time to pitch them on your own. If they hadn’t reached out to you would you have reached out to them?

Some things to consider here would be:

  1. would you actually use the product?
  2. would your audience use it?
  3. do the brand values align with yours? 
  4. Is the price point in line with what your audience spends on products like this?

If those things are a yes, it’s time to negotiate for a paid collaboration! 

Once you’re ready to negotiate with the brand, you simply need to respond to their email with a counter offer. They’ve likely emailed you with this offer, but if they’ve reached out via Instagram, make sure to ask them for an email you can send more info to. You don’t want to be negotiating brand deals in Instagram DMs!

3 Sample Email Responses to turn gifted Influencer Collaborations into Paid Jobs

2. Send Creative Concepts

Once you’ve sent your counteroffer to the brand, they may respond with a request for one or more of the following:

  1. Your rates
  2. Analytics (media kit!) 
  3. Ideas that you have for an activation/promotion

Once you receive their request, It’s your time to shine! This is when you’ll want to respond to their email with your media kit. Make sure that you have up-to-date stats and you should also add three creative concepts (ideas) of what you’d like to create for the brand.

Usually, at this stage, I give the brand three different ideas within a ‘rate range’.

For example:

  1. Story promotion only (The smallest investment)
  2. Stories + Static Posts (A medium size investment)
  3. IG Post or Reel + Stories + Blog Post with Pinterest Activation (My highest investment – but still a great deal because they get a “package rate”)

Make sure to include specific examples of what each option will look like! Really go all out, and walk them through what your content will look like, sound like, and what it will convey to your audience! 

More on how to set your rates as an influencer here!

3. Send a Pitch Deck

Once the brand shows interest in one of your concepts you can showcase the whole idea with a pitch deck.

A pitch deck is a creative presentation (in PDF format) that includes:

Next Steps | Download my FREE Pitch Deck Template 

But wait… not all gifted collaborations are bad!

When to say yes to a Gifted Collaboration

There is a time and a place to say yes to a gifted collaboration.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are thinking about saying yes to a gifted offer:

  • Would you spend your money on this anyway?
  • Is it genuinely going to save you money to accept it?

For example: if you’ve been shopping around for a Peleton for months, and Peleton reaches out to offer you one of their bikes in exchange for a promotion, this might be something to consider when you take into account the cost. 

Don’t forget to calculate the cost of your time to create the content, before deciding if it’s going to be worth it.

A free Peleton might be worth it, but a pair of free sunglasses from an inexpensive brand, in exchange for hours of your time, is probably not going to be worth it. 

The other time you should think about accepting a gifted collaboration offer is if you’re looking to build a relationship with the brand for future paid collaborations. If they’re a brand you’ve been dying to work with, and this gifted collaboration could be a stepping stone towards a paid job, then it might be worth saying yes to. 

Remember though, a gifted collaboration should have no strings attached.

You create the content because you want to, not because you are obligated to. There is a general understanding in the industry that if you receive a product as a “gift” and you genuinely like and would use it yourself, you should give the brand a mention (in your story is totally fine and more than acceptable). But, again, this should not be mandatory and at your discretion only.

Have you ever turned a gifted collaboration into a paid job? Or has this post inspired you to turn more gifted collaborations into paid jobs? I’d love to hear about it! Comment on this post on Instagram where I’m talking more about getting PAID for your work! 

And don’t forget to download my FREE Pitch Deck Template to help you STAND OUT when you’re pitching and negotiating with brands.

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