It’s Ok To (Occasionally) Work With Brands For Free

But Robyn, we’ve spent YEARS finally getting brands to understand how important bloggers and influencers are in this world?!

Yes, I know. Hear me out.

I’ve been blogging for over two years, and in turn have come across a lot of opportunities whether it be gifting collaborations with brands, reviews of products, event invites, sponsored content or social media content. Sponsored content (where a brand pays an influencer/blogger for sharing their views/wearing their clothes on their blog, in my case) have been subject to many a discussion recently, especially when it comes to bloggers knowing their worth (and some not disclosing it, naughty celebs).

But is it ok to work without payment? And at what point should we be asking brands for fees to work with them? I’m giving you my unpopular opinion on why it’s definitely ok to work for free with a brand to begin with, and why you shouldn’t be ashamed to.

P.s. by free, I mean with something included, like a gifted product, but no monetary compensation.


So you get an email from a brand to collaborate on a gifting basis because they don’t have the funds for sponsored content. They’ve (hopefully) looked at your blog and social media pages and decided they love your content and want you to be part of a new campaign.

The brand looks good, but they’re not paying you… so it’s a bit shit, right?

However, from a brands perspective, they’ve never worked with you before, and although they like the content you could produce, how do they know it won’t take you 3 months to complete with emails that took you 18 days to reply to? How do they know you’re not actually a massive pain in the arse? Can they really trust a person they’ve never met?


Your gifting opportunity comes in and you take it because the content works really well with something you have coming up. You also take it because HELLO this is WHY YOU BLOG – BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT! Getting money (in my case) is part of my job, but having my blog is also just as much my passion.

You reply to the gifting opportunity, you respond quickly and give them all the info you need, you keep the brand updated on when you can post, and you post the FAB photos that you always try and post. Then of course you send them the link and tell them how much you loved working with them (because you did!).

YOU gave the brand the easiest and most rewarding collaboration possible.

Who are they going to go to for their sponsored opportunities I wonder…


If you asked me what the most important thing is about blogger and brand collaborations, I would 100% say relationships with the brand. It’s great having one off collaborations and whatnot, but those relationships between brands that you work with often are what make you that blogger that you aspire to be. Relationships with brands are what take you from one-off gifting collaborations to ongoing sponsored opportunities, because you’ve proved how organised and damn sassy you are.

As a blogger you’ve made life easy for the brand, and as a brand you’ve made a fab relationship with a blogger. As soon as those campaigns come in you’ll be their first port of call, all because you took that first unpaid collaboration. Especially from that small start-up brand who you supported when they had no budget… look at them now!

Top – c/o Just Fab

Skirt – c/o Just Fab

Bag – c/o Just Fab

Shoes – c/o Just Fab

Doing things for free is given such a negative name. Sure, doing ongoing free collaborations is taking the piss, but do we not think it’s fair for brands to want bloggers to almost prove themselves before they take them on? You wouldn’t start a new job without an interview, would you? We need to stop looking at ‘free collaborations’ in the light that they are bad for bloggers, and remember that actually those free collaborations can sometimes lead to those paid opportunities that’ll make you successful.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this *waits for the blogging world to slate me*. Let me know in the comments!

R x


** c/o shows items gifted to me for the purpose of the post, but all items are chosen and styled by me! **


  1. 18th July 2017 / 7:37 pm

    I think you’re so right Robyn! For me, blogging isn’t acting as an income and doesn’t seem like a lot of work for me, so free collaborations works great for me. xx

    Lucy |

    • 20th July 2017 / 8:30 pm

      I think blogging can be a way of earning money, but it’s one of those things you have to build from somewhere and I genuinely think starting with free collaborations (which build to sponsorship relationships!) is the way to do it!

      R xoxo

  2. 18th July 2017 / 8:08 pm

    I totally agree with you! I think especially if you’re a smaller blogger, there’s nothing wrong whatsoever with having something gifted and writing about it for free, especially if like you say, they’re quite a new company or you haven’t worked with them before – you might build a great relationship with them x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

    • 20th July 2017 / 8:30 pm

      Agreed! There’s no better feeling than actually having a relationship with a brand and knowing they actually read the posts you write for them etc!

      R xoxo

  3. 19th July 2017 / 12:08 am

    I’ve never thought of it like this, but that makes so much sense! It’s sensible on their part to learn to trust you as a partner before payment. I always try to work on a case by case basis. I’ve collaborated with one skin care company numerous times now over the past year or two, and always without payment. BUT, I firmly believe in their ethos, we have a fab relationship and they always hit me up with their new releases, so I’m okay with it

    Steph –

    • 20th July 2017 / 8:32 pm

      Yeah if I was a brand you could never be sure how easy a blogger was to work with until you did, then you’d be able to charge afterwards knowing they’d be efficient and whatnot! I work with certain brands for free for the same reasons that you’ve mentioned, but everything is usually case by case depending on what they’re asking for I guess!

      R xoxo

  4. Laura
    19th July 2017 / 3:45 pm

    Fully agree with this. I might be different because I have quite ‘niche’ content, but it’s often expected that you will work for a gifted item (namely gig tickets, which are not cheap) or for a small amount of money. But I’m OK with that because as you say it’s about the relationship building and gaining trust, and once you have that people will come to you more often – certainly that’s been my experience and has enabled me to develop my career in this area more.

    I think there’s also a point to be made about the size of the brand as well; one of the magazines I write for is a really small, shoestring budget, one guy in his kitchen putting it together-type job, and I recognise that he can’t afford to pay me triple figure sums. But again it’s getting me exposure to the community and practice in writing for this audience, so I’ll happily take it for now.

    • 20th July 2017 / 8:33 pm

      I think the idea that brands come back to you once you have a relationship is way more precious than lots of one-off collaborations! It’s helps the development of your career/blog, as you say, and it works for both parties! Also yes, some brands are so small and can’t afford it but if they have amazing stuff that you’d happily write about then why not?!

      R xoxo

  5. 20th July 2017 / 5:08 pm

    I completely agree, I’m fortunate enough to have a full time job as well as my blog so I will sometimes work for free. I think sometimes it’s important to understand that some brands just don’t have a budget, and if you are passionate you should just go for it and support them, it can definitely lead to good things!

    • 20th July 2017 / 8:36 pm

      Me too Jodie! I don’t have a full time job but I have a part-time one that keeps the bills topped up, which means I can use my blog for passion as well as income!

      R xoxo

  6. Eleanor Austin
    23rd July 2017 / 11:47 am

    Couldn’t agree more!

    For me, blogging is a hobby, I have a job that provides me with the income I need and I don’t look at blogging as a way of making money, so free collaborations are ideal for me xx

    • 25th July 2017 / 2:45 pm

      Agreed! So much is stressed about income and blogging and sometimes it’s ok to just do your own thing and build your relationships with brands your own way!

      R xoxo

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