How to Turn a Gifted Collaboration into a Paid Partnership


Are you tired of being offered products by brands in exchange for your very valuable services? Well today we’re talking about how to start turning those gifted collaboration offers into paid partnerships.

It’s time to start getting paid for your content, your labour, and your influence.

If you want the video format of this post, check out the video below! Don’t forget to like and subscribe to stay up to date with content creator tips! 😊

Transform Gifted Partnerships into Paid Collaborations

In my opinion, brands should financially compensate influencers for their labor. Period.

When we create content for them, we are rendering a service that they expect to make a profit from. They shouldn’t be capitalizing off of content creators’ time, efforts, skills, and audience without providing monetary compensation in return.

However, we don’t live in my ideal world and therefore… sometimes… we can make a case for accepting gifted (or “in kind”) partnerships, where a brand offers you a product or service of theirs in exchange for a review, a social media post, or shout out.

Why Gifted Partnerships Aren’t Always a Bad Thing

Before we dive into how you can turn those gifted collaboration requests in your inbox into paid ones, let’s talk about why gifted opportunities can actually be a good (or at least a beneficial) thing for content creators.

In many fields, not just creative ones, people often have to go through a stage of unpaid or poorly paid work in order to build up a portfolio or gain experience. We see this show up as internships and other forms of free labor.

In other words, influencers aren’t the only ones being exploited, there is a precedent and a reason for it across industries. (Not saying it’s right, but it is a common practice in society, and creators shouldn’t feel especially wronged).

So if you’re a new creator in the process of building up a solid portfolio–instead of spending your own money to buy and test out products (something I did at the start of my own journey) it can be worth it accept gifted partnerships to practice your craft, show off your skills and attract paid partnerships down the line.

But if you are a content creator who has been at this awhile, you might feel you’ve already paid your dues and are ready to turn those gifted partnerships into paid collaborations.

So, how do you do it?!

The Power of Saying “No”

A red prohibition sign indicating "No" - A way to turn a gifted partnership into a paid collaboration is saying no.

The first step in turning gifted partnerships into paid collaborations is learning to say “no” to offers or freebies.

It may sound risky, but saying “no” to a gifted partnership doesn’t mean you’ll lose the relationship with that brand.

Instead, use “no” as an opportunity to start a conversation about paid collaborations.

For example, if a brand reaches out to you with to offer an in-kind partnership, respond with something like this:

Thank you for reaching out. I love the sound of your product and I think it would resonate well with my audience who is looking for solutions to ABC. At this time, however, I am not able to take on gifted partnerships. My rate for a post and a few stories would be X. Is that something you have a budget for?

By responding this way, you leave the door open for further communication with the brand instead of shutting down the relationship completely.

I personally always love to respond with some additional information about myself, my audience, my reach, or my skillset, so they understand that they are making an investment into a professional service.

And if you’re wondering how to set your rates as a content creator, read this!

How to Handle a Brand’s Response

A woman - Kaya Marriott - typing on a laptop, writing a response to a brand to get a paid collaboration.

There are a few different ways that brands may respond to your request to get paid.

1. “Sorry, we don’t have a budget for anything but a gifted campaign. Are you still interested?”

In this case, I encourage you to respond by saying:

Due to the time it takes to create quality content, I’ll have to pass on the opportunity for now. I’d love to stay in touch if something comes up in the future.

In my experience, many brands will actually come back to you in the future when they have a budget!

You can of course accept the offer, but I find that it sets a precedent of receiving product as compensation that is hard to break later.

OR the brand may respond with:

2. “Yes we do have a budget. Could you do XYZ for this rate or this is our budget cap, what can you do within that range?”

This is the negotiation stage, and you’ll go back and forth until you’re happy with the outcome!

I do find that most brands do have budget, but will try to get content creators to do a gifted campaign, because it is free for them!

Or the best scenario is when a brand accepts your quote right away, saying…

3. “Let’s draft up a contract!”

And while this doesn’t happen often, it’s a sign that they see the value in your content and are willing to pay for it!

Although it’s important to note that not every gifted partnership will turn into a paid collaboration…

Don’t be discouraged! Remember that consistency is key!

How to Handle Negative Brand Responses

You may run into some brands that are disrespectful or tell you other influencers have accepted their offer for free.

Don’t let this dishearten you!

If another creator has accepted a gifted partnership, that could simply be because they don’t know the value they bring to the table, or offer the same quality content that you might have.

Further, If a brand is responding this way, it is a red flag and you should take that as a blessing in disguise.

Related Post: Don’t fall for these red flags in brand deal requests. 🚩

Final Thoughts on Turning Gifted Partnerships into Paid Collaborations

Although there are times when a gifted partnership makes sense for a content creator, in order to level up your influencer game, transforming those “gifts” into paid collaborations is key!

Saying no doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds, and the more you do it the easier it becomes.

If you are wanting to make your content creation a business, then you need to start taking ownership of your brand’s worth.

If you feel like you are losing an “opportunity” by saying no to someone who only wants to gift you products instead of paying you for your efforts, then it really isn’t a lost opportunity to begin with!

Until next time!

x Kaya

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