As most of you might know, I often work with companies. I’ve had some wonderful collaborations so far, but sometimes companies do me an offer that I just can’t accept. In this article, I will tell you why.
Nowadays, all people want, is being sponsored, getting free products or being an ambassador but what does that even mean? Does it make them feel better about themselves just because they have the title ‘ambassador’? Do they feel worthier because they are called an ‘ambassador’? I think they do, why else would everyone want to be one? That is exactly why some companies are abusing influencers.
Companies know that everyone wants to be an ambassador, so they don’t need to offer much. A small discount or a free bracelet and people already accept. Some companies are pretending that you are ‘the chosen one’ but they are having hundreds of ambassadors. Actually, they are just clients. Companies set their price high, so they can give all their ‘ambassadors’ a ‘discount’ but actually, the ‘ambassadors’ are paying the real price. Everyone gets accepted as an ‘ambassador’, so everyone gets the discount and all ambassadors are just clients. Often, the ‘ambassadors’ don’t even like the products. This is exactly what is happening with a company called ‘Just Strong’.
That’s another question I have: why would you want to be an ambassador and promote products to your followers, you don’t even like yourself? It will only come back to you. You will feel disappointed and you will disappoint your followers too because when they buy the product, they will know you were lying. They won’t trust you anymore. If the products are so bad, isn’t it better not to be an ambassador at all? Suppose you already are an ambassador, isn’t it better to just stop promoting the products and tell your followers about your bad experience? This way, they will trust you way more.
What I think is so sad, is that nobody is talking about their bad experiences with brands. I think it’s because they are ashamed. Maybe it’s easier said than done but I don’t think you need to be ashamed. Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve never had such a bad experience yet (I think it’s because I study economics and I just know how things like that work) but if I would have had it, I would want my followers to know. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through the same bad experience as me. If you start telling your story, you can prevent people from making the same mistake. They will love you for that!
Think about this: if you are promoting a company’s product, you are giving them free advertising. You are taking some pictures, writing a caption, making some Instagram stories and maybe even a blogpost or a YouTube video. You are putting in all this work and what do you get in return? A discount? A free bracelet? That’s not equally beneficial to both you and the company at all. Think about this: would you have spent that money on the same product if they didn’t reach out to you? If the answer is no, then don’t do it. I will give you some examples.
Let’s say a company offers you a pair of leggings with a discount of 20%. The leggings are 100 euros but discounted, they are ‘only’ 80 euros. Suppose the company didn’t reach out to you, would you have bought the leggings for 80 euros? Probably not, because you didn’t really plan on buying new leggings. Another example: suppose that the company offers you a free shirt but you need to pay the shipping costs. Suppose you already have enough shirts, then the shirt isn’t even worth the shipping costs. You don’t need it and you wouldn’t have spent that money if the company hadn’t reached out to you. This is one of the rules I am using.
Another rule I use is that. I do reviews in return for products and in the reviews, I give my honest opinion. If the company wants me to advertise the product, they will have to pay me. Yes, you’ve read that right. The company pays me and not the other way around. Even then, I would only advertise the product if I really like it, I believe in it and it aligns with my values. If I don’t really like it that way, I would just reject the collaboration. I will show you some examples of ‘bad’ collaborations.
I asked my followers on Instagram to tell me about their collaborations that went wrong so I can show you all what to look out for. I also added some of the offers I got that were not beneficial enough to me in comparison to the free content I am making for the company. I will also explain to you why.
Apexathletica offered me a 50% discount. I love their leggings, but I didn’t really need one. I am not going to spend extra money when they are getting free advertisement.
Skyawear Threads offered me a 15% discount and 10% commission, but you are never certain that you will earn your money back with the commission. That’s a no for me.
Barbellsandpeaches offered me a 20% discount. I also had to put their link in my bio. That’s a lot of things I need to do without getting a lot in return.
Envyfitness reached out to me and they were giving me a bra for free but I had to buy the matching leggings (way more expensive than the bra of course). I asked them if I could just have the bra but that wasn’t an option. They wanted to put my logo on the clothes I ordered. They also promised they would post me on their page. I talked to some other Envyfitness ambassadors and one of them wasn’t happy at all. She never got reposted. She loved the clothes, but the brand wasn’t supporting her at all. Another follower said that she only gets paid the commission if she has earned more than 50 euros in commission. That means that even if you get them sales, you don’t get anything in return. You even paid them. I turned down the offer.
Hot Miami Shades contacted me several times. I got a 50% discount but I didn’t really need the product so it’s still way too much money to spend when they get free advertising.
Fresh Frenzy has an ambassador program, but you need to purchase something before becoming an ambassador. If you have made 5 sales, you get a gift card of $100 to spend in their shop. Sounds good but I think I already made clear that it’s never ok to have to pay in order to become an ambassador. They are 100% sure that they are receiving their money because if you don’t make sales, you still bought something. The only thing you did, is losing money if you’re not able to sell 5 times.
In all these examples, I had to spend money before even having a chance to get a return on my invested work and time. You will see that my followers had similar experiences.
One of my followers said a company offered her a 40% discount and her followers would get a 20% discount. I don’t think that’s a good offer because you know, all you do is paying.
Someone else collaborated with Chickaberryboutique. She first had to buy something, and she got a 50% discount. Her followers got a 10% discount. She bought a dress that was 90 euros but with the discount code, it was 45 euros. She waited for 3 weeks for the dress to arrive. The company said they were based in Australia but the package said it came from China. Later she saw exactly the same dress on Wish for 5 euros. She would earn commission and they would transfer the money to her PayPal account, but she never heard anything back.
One of my followers was an ambassador for Yellowstone supplements. She had to purchase some products and she thought they were ok but not great. They were in contact for the first week, but after that, the company never replied. They were always out of stock of their one product she actually wanted. She told them it wasn’t working for her but they never responded.
Womens Best is a very popular brand so when I heard one of my followers had a bad experience with them, I was very surprised. She said she had to buy a package of 200 euros before being an ambassador. That is just insane! Luckily, she didn’t take the offer.
One of my real-life friends was an ambassador for TC Nutrition. The shipping of the products was held up by customs. TC Nutrition said they wanted to fix the problem but after around five months of constantly e-mailing back and forth, there still wasn’t any solution. She had the feeling they weren’t trying and they were just using people.
I didn’t write this blogpost because I hate brands or because I don’t think you should ever collaborate. I created it to make people aware of what is acceptable and what is not. There are a lot of good brands out there, but some brands just like to abuse the fact that influencer marketing is a new thing. There aren’t many rules yet and a lot of influencers don’t know their worth. Like I said, I already had a lot of wonderful collaborations. I just want to make clear that you shouldn’t collaborate if the company isn’t giving you the same value as you are providing to them.
I know small companies can’t always afford to give products away for free, but I think you can find other ways to collaborate in a way that is beneficial to both of you. For example, I collaborated with a start-up (Booty Tools). They wanted some content with me using their products. I love helping companies I like and I love this one. They came by and took some pictures and videos. The benefit for them was that they had new content to post on their social media and to promote the products. The benefit for me was that I also had some content to post and I got exposure on their Instagram page.
My advice: use a healthy dose of common sense. If you are putting work into your content, the company should give you something in return. You should never have to pay for something, not even for shipping costs. Know your worth, it’s probably more than you think. If you are hesitating, don’t do it. Better things will come around.