It happened again. You open up your email to find a pitch from an incredible brand. They want to collaborate. You get excited. Really excited. This brand reached out to YOU!
Then you keep scrolling down and notice that they want you to blog, or post, or attend an event and “cover it” for free. No compensation. Zero.
You work, but don’t get paid for it.
Sure, you may get a free ham sandwich or lunch box or gift bag. But what is that gift bag worth?
The answer is: your time, your energy, your focus and attention, and lost opportunity cost.
Anything that takes time out of your day costs you something. Time, your energy, your focus. Time away from your child, away from your garden or blog or soup you were going to make for dinner.
It may have cost you gas, wear and tear on your car, stress of driving and parking in traffic. Or it may have been that because you were doing this opportunity (for no money), you were not available for something bigger. Something that would fairly compensate you for your time.
When you are just starting out, free collaborations are incredible. They help you build your brand. They give you credibility, build your reputation, and allow you to start creating content.
But how many people work for free? Does your gardener cut your grass for free because he is new at it? Do young attorneys not charge you because they have only been practicing for a few months? Does your dry cleaning give you free washes, or does your local restaurant give you free food?
The answer is, NO. In very few businesses do people work for free.
Only YOU know your worth. Sometimes saying yes is incredible, and opens up other doors. And sometimes, it closes future opportunities, because you are too busy to even see them.
So go ahead. Respond back to them email and counter them. Their email to you is a pitch, and OFFER. Negotiate and show your worth, in a nice and friendly matter. See what happens.
Or you can keep working for free, and see how long that is sustainable.