As an influencer or creator, of course you are looking to get paid for the content you create. But a paid partnership isn’t actually the most common type of influencer collaboration you’ll come across. More often than not, you’ll likely encounter gifted offers (also known as “in-kind offers”) from brands FIRST before brands will offer to pay you for your content.
There are a bunch of mixed opinions on whether gifted offers are “good” or “bad” for influencers and creators. Some think that it’s a rite of passage that every influencer must do before moving onto paid partnerships. Others think they can’t land paid influencer collaborations without having done any type of partnerships, so they’ll accept gifted offers instead.
There’s also a big discussion around these types of offers making it easier for brands to say “no” to paid collaborations as influencers and creators continue to accept gifted offers without question. Before you decide on whether they’re “good” or “bad” for your own personal influencer journey, let me give you an overview of each these popular offers that every influencer and creator receives.
Product seeding, commonly known as PR gifting, is a type of influencer collaboration where brands send free products to influencers and creators that are relevant to their industry or market without any obligation or ask. Brands will periodically send their best-sellers or newly-launched products, or ask the influencers and creators to pick products from a list or on their website.
PR gifting is a widely used marketing strategy because it’s one of the most cost-effective ways for brands to create organic brand awareness. It’s not a formal partnership with the influencer or creator so there’s no additional spend on influencer marketing, but anything that is shared about the gift is always authentic because there’s no pressure to post.
Essentially, there aren’t really any expectations when it comes to PR gifting. However, brands will typically entice influencers or creators to document the experience (or do an unboxing) and share it with their audience by being very generous with products or sending the products in elaborate packaging.
A gifted partnership is a type of influencer collaboration where brands offer gifted products, services, or experiences to influencers and creators in exchange for exposure or promotion on the influencers’ or creators’ social media platforms.
Just like PR gifting, brands often use gifted partnerships as a low-cost marketing strategy to promote their products, services, or experiences because there is no monetary exchange.
When an influencer or creator accepts a gifted partnership, there is an expectation that content will be created in exchange for the gift. The type of content that will be created should be discussed beforehand so that the brand can’t take advantage of you after the exchange by asking for more than what was agreed on.
Affiliate or commission-based partnerships are a type of influencer collaboration where brands offer gifted items to influencers and creators in exchange for social media exposure or promotion along with the opportunity to monetize by getting a portion of the sale they have generated. These are the types of collaborations where you will ask your audience to use a customized link to purchase a product or service.
Sometimes brands will propose affiliate or commission-based partnerships as a “paid opportunity”, but you’ll only get paid if you convert a sale. This is why I still consider this an in-kind influencer collaboration. Additionally, some affiliate partnerships will ask you to purchase the product with your own money and only offer the product for free if you are able to make sales. WALK AWAY IF THIS IS THE CASE.
If your intention with the affiliate partnership is to make money, it will take more than one post for you to generate an income equivalent to what you should be paid for one post. If selling isn’t your strong suit, this puts unnecessary pressure on you to produce sales, when IT’S NOT YOUR JOB.
Remember this: as an influencer or creator, when you are promoting or endorsing a brand, you are a marketer. It’s not up to you to close the sale once your followers leave your platform.
I’m a huge advocate for getting paid what you’re worth, but I won’t give you a hard “yes” or “no” if you should be accepting product seedings, gifted partnerships, or affiliate partnerships. Ultimately, that’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of each specific collaboration offer, but here are a few things that you should keep in mind when it comes to these types of partnerships:
Creating branded content with free products can help you build a portfolio. This doesn’t just include the list of brands you’ve previously worked with. Making content with these kinds of offers allows you to create case studies to present in your media kit to show metrics and results.
These types of influencer collaborations are an opportunity to build relationships with the brands you want to work with long term. If you genuinely believe in a company, product, service, or experience and endorse them authentically when you receive a PR gifting, brands will notice. They’ll know you’re worth investing in and will have you top of mind for further partnerships. All of this is helpful especially when you’re trying to attract your dream brand collaboration.
If you are posting content about the products, services, or experiences you received for free, you have to disclose that it was gifted. Whether it’s from a PR gifting that has no obligation to post, a gifted partnership, or it’s an affiliate link, you have to properly mention it per the FTC guidelines. Usually brands will offer some kind of guidance on hashtags they want you to use for these purposes.
Always consider the value of your time, your endorsement, your experience and your expertise. The more you accept in-kind influencer collaborations, the more you realize how much time and energy it takes to create content. No matter how many (or few) paid partnerships you’ve had in the past, your work is always worth something.
Short answer: YES! Though in-kind offers may be the most common and cost-effective types of collaborations, brands know that they need to invest in paid influencer collaborations if they want to succeed in influencer marketing. There are different ways to leverage gifted offers into paid partnerships and more even if a brand tells you that they don’t have the budget for it.
And guess what? I’m going to teach you FOR FREE how you can do this in…
If you’re tired of gifted offers for the hard work you put in to create content and grow an engaged audience, and you want to start securing high paid brand collaborations, you won’t want to miss this!
I will show you exactly how to leverage gifted offers and turn them into paid partnerships, so you can see your dream brands coming back over and over again, flooding your inbox, eager to collaborate with you.
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