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How To Respond To Unpaid Brand Partnerships

How To Respond To Unpaid Brand Partnerships

The number one frustration and question we hear when it comes to being an influencer is how to respond to the unpaid brand partnerships via email. Negotiating is already a complicated process and can be a challenge.

We’ve all been there. We’ve gotten the whole “sorry, we don’t have a budget” response. Yet we know they likely do. So what are you supposed to do?

Showcasing your worth, narrowing down the scope of work, and so on. No other industry is working for free, so you shouldn’t be either! So we’re here to help you navigate those difficult conversations that come through via email requesting to work together for free.

Because guess what? Your platform – no matter the size – and your time, are valuable!

And the industry will not change for the better until we ALL collectively demand to be properly compensated and stop working for free.

What We Say Back To Emails That Ask Us To Work For Free

Brand Pitch Email: We want to send you a product to feature on your blog or Instagram!

Blogger: Thank you for reaching out and I appreciate you thinking of me and my blog for a partnership. I’d be happy to find a way to work together with BRAND NAME. I’ve attached my media kit with my blog stats for you to review.

I’d love to learn more about your goals, scope of work, and budget for this campaign so I can better provide a partnership proposal.

Brand Reply: Unfortunately, this is an unpaid project and we do not have a budget, but we can send you a product and have you part of our affiliate program, and provide a discount code. INSERT ANY CRAZY REQUESTS THEY ASK OF YOU FOR FREE.

Blogger Response: Thanks for the offer but at this time I do not provide promotional work for brands on an unpaid basis. However, I do love to try products and share organically if it’s something I truly love and wear.

So if you want to send gifted product for potential consideration I’m happy to provide my mailing address. Again, please note that I am unable to guarantee any coverage of gifted items without the purchase of a sponsorship. If that’s of interest to you, below is my mailing address.


I look forward to possibly getting to try this product and share an honest review organically.

The Result

By controlling the situation here and changing the ask from a ridiculous affiliate program and discount code, to gifted product for consideration, you will almost ALWAYS get a positive response. As influencers, it is our job to try new products and share what we truly love.

And that shouldn’t be forced unless it’s properly compensated. So if you’re open to trying this product, ask to do just that. And be very clear on the expectations. Lay it out for them.

And if you get the product, love it, share it here or there, reach out to the brand and let them know that you’re loving it. And let them know you are interested to find a way to work together on something more dedicated and ask if they have a budget for something like that.

Then You Can Negotiate

This is when the negotiating can begin. Pitch them a great idea with an angle that would appeal to them and the season to really show that you’re interested and that it’s a good investment for them.

If they still say they do not have a budget, fine. Circle back in a few weeks or the following season with a new pitch and try again if you really love it.

Be sure to share any highlights if you’ve organically shared them on your channels to show that you’re a solid partner for them.

what to say when a brand doesn't way to pay you as an influencer

What To Say When The Brand Can’t Send Product Without Coverage

Brand Reply: Thank you for the update, but we are unable to send product without guaranteed coverage.

Blogger Response: Thank you for this update. Can you confirm that you are requesting me to create content, utilize my platform and promote the product so you can generate revenue in exchange for gifted product?

I just want to be clear, as a content creator, I am unable to work for free in exchange for product. As I am sure you do not work for product, I am also unable to do so at this time. I would love to find a mutually beneficial way to work together that doesn’t undermine the industry as a whole.

Why You Should Say This

This is 100% an acceptable response to send. And honestly, if we aren’t all sending this to more brands who are taking advantage of the industry, we will not see change.

Because guess what? The person on the other end of the email is 100% being paid and not working for product. This goes for the brand directly emailing you or their PR agency.

No PR agency is working for free either. So while they are being paid to send you this email, they are asking you to do work and NOT be paid. And sorry, but that is not okay in our book.

The Result

When you respond with this you’ll get a few types of responses as a result. Often we hear thanks but no thanks. And if that’s the case, so be it. They’re not the right partner. Circle back a month or two later if you want. But we wouldn’t waste our time.

Sometimes, they’ll write back saying, totally understand and that they’ll touch base when they have a budget. And if you really want to work with them, put it on your calendar to circle back in a few weeks. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! And if you’re top of mind once a budget finally opens up, you’ll be the first one selected.

And lastly, they may actually write back and magically have a budget. This happens often! Why? Well, the brands are just trying to save as much money as possible. Since so many people do work for free sadly, they know this tactic can work. But if you stand up for yourself and your business, it may turn into a paid partnership.

pitching templates for influencers and content creators

But what if you really want to try the product or build a relationship?

You can do both of these things without undermining the industry or yourself. Respond with clear expectations that you’re very interested in trying the product and would love to accept gifted items for potential consideration.

This allows you to receive products without the expectation of posting. Post organically if you want. That’s great! That’s how many of our relationships got started.

And honestly, that’s how our readers trust us. When we share organically on things we love and use. And then use that coverage for leverage when you go back to the brand and pitch a great idea with PROPER compensation.

Take control of the conversation and the partnership. It’s your business and you’re the one accepting the product. Make your expectations clear and have a paper trail.

And always always always follow up for potential partnerships if this is a brand you’re really eager to work with. Eventually, a partnership will come. And if not, move on to the next brand!

Working on pitching brands? Here are 10 subject lines to get your emails read by brands! Plus, become a member of The Blog Societies today and gain access to The Library where we have pitch templates!

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