Recently I’ve seen an influx of bloggers and instagrammers blatantly requesting free products. Which brings up the question: when should you give up the goods?
Alright. The first time a blogger asked to feature my Etsy shop I nearly shit myself. I was so freakin’ excited I think I called everyone in my phone. Then I danced around my hotel room like a drunken idiot. (At the time, I was at the world’s most miserable business conference).
It can be CRAZY exciting when someone wants to feature one of your products. You feel like it will finally bring you some mind-blowing exposure…and the world is about to be your diamond encrusted oyster!
If you’re about to get featured, I’m really excited for you. This is a big deal.
But you need to know something: most blog articles don’t bring huge success. Most Instagram posts get the average 50-100 likes and the world moves on. Most tweets get retweeted once or twice if you’re lucky.
Now there are always exceptions to the rule.
But BIG life-changing bloggers or instagrammers have the money to buy your product outright.
And they usually will. Sometimes they’ll just grab an image off your shop instead. They might not even tell you you’re being featured (see my experience with Buzzfeed, here).
Here’s an example: one of my favorite instagrammers bought a product of mine because we were working together. Then one day she just up and featured it, and I got more organic follows from that single post than any of my previous attempts. She never told me about the feature, and I never asked her to post my product. It just kind of happened.
One of the things about small-time bloggers and instagrammers is that they have no idea how much work goes into a handmade product. They don’t know how much it costs you to make and ship that item. They don’t understand that you’ve taken valuable time out of your disgustingly busy day to cater especially to them.
And most of them just want free stuff.
I’ve had people request freebies that never posted them. More frequently than I care to admit.
This article was inspired by a request I recently received. I’m not going to name names. But I’ve had a lot of requests from people who think they’re insta-famous. They have a couple thousand IG followers, and maybe a blog with a few posts.
I can tell you as a blogger myself, that you need to be a serious business before I will collaborate with you. If your blog and Instagram aren’t seriously beating my own, I’m not going to be in any mood to send you freebies. Especially considering half the freebies I send out never get posted.
So how do you know when a freebie is worth your time? Here’s my criteria:
I’ve got an online freebie form available here. If you’re not willing or capable of filling it out, then we’ll be parting ways. (For all my business lovelies out there: please feel free to copy this form for yourself. I use it all the time, and it’s much easier than messaging back and forth).
Your minimum follower requirement (twitter, IG, etc) for free products should be at least 10K. I prefer more like 30k. Any less than that, and it’s very unlikely you’ll get any return on investment.
Make sure you check to see how engaged this person’s followers are. Are they liking and commenting on posts? Have they featured products before? What was the result? Don’t forget to have a look around the blog and make sure they’re posting regular, high-quality posts. (Remember: anyone can buy followers. Don’t be star-struck by an account with lots of followers until you see how active those followers are).
The idea of a feature is for you to:
- Make back the money you spent sending out a free product
- Find new followers that are your target audience
This means that your product needs to make sense on their blog or IG feed. Identify what your readers and customers are into before sending out products. Make sure it’s a good match!
If you’re still on the fence, ask that person for their traffic and blog audience details (this is an easy screenshot that can be taken in Google Analytics). Ask them to send you the URLs of features they’ve done before. Do your homework. If this person doesn’t know what you’re talking about or “has no numbers”, run the opposite direction.
But Rejecting People Makes my Business Look Bad
When you’re in business for yourself, the nicer you are the better you tend to do. I’ve noticed a significant increase in raving reviews and engaged customers when I improved my customer service.
So how do you reject someone when you want to foster relationships?
Here’s a (super happy-faced) rejection template to help you along. In fact, this letter is so awesome that I’ve had a few people actually thank me for it, even though they were rejected!
Subject Line: Your Application to Collaborate with [company name]
Thank you so much for applying to collaborate with [company name here]! We love your blog and Instagram feed and can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
Currently, we are inundated with requests for free products and unfortunately cannot accommodate everyone. Please feel free to apply again when your blog has grown and your followers have increased to at least 10k.
So sorry we couldn’t get to you this time around! In the meantime, we’d love to offer you a discount code since we think you’re so awesome! Please feel free to use code ‘[code here]’ for 10% off anything in the shop [URL here].
Thanks so much and have an awesome day!
[Your business name]
What to do When You Do Send Freebies
Don’t forget: when in doubt, charge a deposit.
If you really want to protect yourself from moochers, the best way to weed them out is with a freebie deposit system. Here’s how mine works:
If my potential influencer doesn’t agree to these terms, it’s pretty clear they never had good intentions to begin with.
As for making them pay the fee? I just create a custom listing on Etsy. Once they’ve emailed me their feature, I refund their order in full.
Get the Traffic Your Shop Deserves
Hey Guess What? Before I quit my job to sell on Etsy, I was an SEO Consultant for a Fortune 500 Company. I used Etsy tags to get my first 500 sales in less than 6 months. Wanna steal my tricks? Try SEO Bootcamp:
Thanks for Reading!
Hi there, my name is Jenni. You’re reading about the Etsy shop that freed me from the worst job I’ve ever had (and a lifetime of working for somebody else).
Find out what went down here.
Hey guess what? The exact tricks that got me 6-figures sales are waiting for you in the Ultimate Guide to Etsy. This is a 40-page, step-by-step MEGA tutorial that will help you strategize your way to more sales.