Last summer I negotiated my first paid brand collaboration.
The brand initially asked for my Instagram analytics on how my last few photos performed and came back with an invitation to collaborate. At first, the brand offered products as compensation. But after learning about the brand’s goals, the scope of the campaign, and how the images were going to be used, the brand offered my first $200 on top of the gifted product. I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe that I asked for my value and the brand agreed.
It’s been a whole year since my paid collaboration.
My passion for my blog and Instagram have remained steady and my digital/social channels have continued to grow – even with graduate school and a full time job. I can’t believe the incredible brands Emma’s Edition has collaborated with this year. I also can’t believe how some of these collaborations were also paid opportunities. Even with these increased opportunities, I wish I could tell you that I always recognize and ask for my value as a blogger and a working professional.
But the truth is, asking for my value is something I work on every single day.
Today I’m opening up about the struggles and lessons I’ve learned asking for my value.
I was inspired to write this blog post because whether you’re a blogger, a working professional, or a creative, asking for your value is something we all face. Additionally, during my Gender Pay Gap Campaign and Research Project last fall, I learned that women struggle to believe and communicate their value for a variety of reasons (Day 2 of Closing the Gap). And I knew I was one of those women.
So in an effort to encourage you and other women out there to ask for their value, I’ll be sharing the lessons I’ve learned this year about asking for your value. This is the first year in my blogging journey that I’ve been paid for a majority of my campaigns.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing resources to help you price your brand/services as a blogger and negotiation strategies from my friend Tori from VictoriMedia.com. Tori coaches millennial women on negotiations, knowing your worth, and other financial/career challenges!
Asking for My Value Lesson #1:
YOU have to believe in YOUR VALUE and know your worth
The first step to asking for your value is believing in your value. If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?
Personally, this is something I’ve struggled with and continue to work through. I always questioned my worth with the number of followers, blog readers, and my quality of work. After taking blogging seriously for over two years (I started over four years ago though), I realized that I was the person blocking myself from realizing my value.
Here’s how I broke my cycle of doubt and encouraged myself to start asking for my value :
I watched Casey Brown’s TED Talk: “Know Your Worth and then Ask for It” and did the exercise she shared.
1. What is my unique skill set that makes me better qualified to serve my clients?
– For blogging, I rewrote this sentence to:
What is my unique skillset that makes me better qualified to serve my audience and my brand partners?
Answer: My business background, my love for fashion, and my ability to write allows me to create meaningful content (both in images and copy) for my brand partners and audience.
2. What do I do that no one else does?
Answer: I’m able to bridge lessons from the corporate world into the creative world and vice versa. I’m able to share the perspective of the millennial woman – as a graduate student, career woman, and a blogger.
3. What problems do I solve for clients?
Answer: For my brand partners, I bring their campaigns to life by sharing how it fits with my unique lifestyle. For my audience, the millennial women, I give advice on how to make those career transitions, what trends to look out for this season, and other life tips I’ve picked up along the way.
4. What value do I add?
Answer: For my brand partners, I bring my total audience reach of over 25,000 followers (blog + social media channels combined). I also bring an amazing audience of millennial women ranging from 18-30years old.
For my audience, I bring my authentic self, the lessons I’ve learned in my career, blog, fashion, and life, and perspective as a woman of color. I aim to inspire the modern woman in whatever endeavors she faces in her personal life as well as her creative or corporate career.
If you’re struggling to determine your value, do this exercise for yourself then talk about it with yourself, a friend or your significant other. You have to learn how to recognize your value and believe in it.
Asking for My Value Lesson #2:
The hardest part is asking
When you aren’t sure of the value you bring to your audience and your brand partners, it can definitely be challenging to ask to be paid for campaigns. I used to fear the rejection and even thought the brands would take back their offers from campaigns. But I’ve learned you can’t let your fear of failure or rejection keep you from asking.
So here is how I navigate asking for my value/asking to be paid:
First I ask the brand what they’re goals are in the collaboration, their specific deliverables, and the timeline. I’ve broken out and explained what to ask here in: What to do when a brand reaches out to you.
Then I simply ask the brand what their budget is to produce the content for their campaign. Here are two ways I ask the question:
“Aside from the gifted products or gift card, may you please let me know what the brand’s budget is to produce the X-number of deliverables for this campaign?”
“May you please let me know what the budget is to produce content for this campaign?’
Advice: If you’re a blogger who hasn’t asked brands yet to be compensated, my advice to you would be to start asking. Remember the answer is always NO if you don’t ask. The brands could say yes.
Asking for My Value Lesson #3:
Asking for your value gets easier with practice
After a whole year of consistently asking brands for my value, I can finally say I’m comfortable at least asking the question of compensation. Honestly, just asking was an incredible challenge for me this past year. But once I realized the service and value I provided with my brand partners, I became more confident to ask.
Advice: I recommend ALWAYS ASKING to be paid – no matter how small or big the brand is. I advise you to always ask so you get comfortable with asking. Even if the companies come back and say they can only gift you products, at least you asked!
Asking for My Value Lesson #4:
Brands see your value
After a few years with working with brands and a year actually being paid for campaigns, I can promise you that these brands see your value. If they brand is reaching out to you, the brand sees something in you and your content.
Aside from the personal aspects of recognizing your value, the influencer industry projected to be a $5-10 billion market these next few years. Companies are seeing a return on their marketing dollars when they invests in influencers.
Companies are seeing the value of influencers in general and influencer marketing is side stepping and reaching audiences that television commercials and other traditional forms of media are failing to do. You can read more about the Influencer Marketing Industry Explosion in my Business of Blogging Series.
Now you know that brands value influencer marketing. It isn’t a guess anymore whether or not brands value micro and macro influencers. So remember if a brand reaches out to you, they see value in your partnership. It’s up to you to believe, articulate, and ask for your value.
There you have it friends! These are the lessons I’ve learned this year asking for my value and making money from brand campaigns.
What lessons have you learned asking for your value?
Stay tuned for tomorrow… my friend Tori and I are teaming up to share how to price yourself + tips for negotiations!
And shout to my new friend Patty from @scrubsandstripes for meeting me a few weeks ago! We had so much fun hanging out and talking about asking for your value as a blogger.
Photos: Holly Phan Photography