5 Ways to Properly Barter or Collaborate

Feb 6

It’s NYFW, warm weather will soon be upon us and soon everyone will traveling. If you are in the photo or content creation industry those are all great opportunities for work. For me personally, those are all times where I get the most requests for collaborations.

Here is my issue with collaborations or the request for barters: They don’t usually involve an even exchange. A heavily followed influencer will message someone and say “Hey I’ll be in town. I love your photos and would love it if you could capture my outfits during NYFW.” You see that and you’re like YAS, business! You, in turn, send them your rates or they just hit you with the “I don’t really have a budget for this (because I spent all my coins on weird looking shoes that I want to make sure everyone sees). But I’ll tag you on the photo and if we get published I’ll be sure to share your name.” 

That’s a lot of vague ass deliveries, and that shit doesn’t fly here. A tag on the photo usually means you’re not getting caption credit. Most of the time the audience will still ask influencers who they’re wearing when the tags are clearly in the photo. No one is going to see you tag your photographer in the top right-hand corner of the photo. Miss me with all. of. that. Another thing is that followers don’t matter for a person like me. If I gain 10,000 followers from shooting you a few times or a couple hundred followers, that does not equate to a profitable ROI (return on investment) for me. 

I still do some collaborative work here and there and I’ve even reached out to people myself. So there are 5 ways you can collaborate with someone without making them feel like you just traded used gym shorts for their brand new Chanel bag. 

 @heygorjess by Denisse Benitez

@heygorjess by Denisse Benitez

Make sure that what you are offering in exchange for their goods and/or services is of equal or greater value.

While your social influence may give you a sense of entitlement, remember that no one wants to feel used or taken advantage of. Also, remember that it’s just a number and not everyone will care or appreciate that like you do. If you are wanting photos of some outfits you can offer things like a blog post and caption mentions. If it’s not completely out of your budget you can even ask for a media discount and still offer to do those things to make sure that the person feels that they are actually getting maximum exposure. 

Make sure that the person you are requesting said task from is in a position to accept exposure as a form of payment. 

It is quite insulting that after being in this industry for about 5+ years, over 50 on stand magazine publications and agency representation, people still find it appropriate to ask for collaborations. You need to recognize the level where this person abides and then bring something that will give you access to that level. Otherwise please shoot your shot elsewhere. You ain’t Pippen. 

I know it sounds a bit harsh, but to bring it to an eye to eye perspective check this out. A well-known brand reaches out to you. They ask you for 4 blog posts, 7 Instagram posts and an insta story per day for you to wear their $800 slip on shoes. It gets better. You have to return them when you’re done. Their budget is $0.00. You have a following of 50k+. How you feelin’ right now? $800 of cheap leather and a name does not equate to the hours you have to put in to deliver the content they are asking for. Get it? Good.

 @cocobassey by Denisse Benitez

@cocobassey by Denisse Benitez

Ask the person what you can do for them

I totally get that sometimes with travel, taking off work, hotel stays and expenses it’s really hard to have a budget for something like professional video and photo. If you really want to work with this person why not ask them what you can do for them?

Hey Maggie! 

I’m a huge fan of your work. I’ve seen it everywhere and I have heard so many wonderful things from people who have worked with you. I will be in town from February 10-14th. This trip was a bit costly for me so unfortunately, I don’t have the appropriate space in my budget for your services, but I was wondering if you were open to a collaboration. If so, what do you require as deliverables for a partnership and what do you feel comfortable delivering on your end? 

I look forward to hearing from you.

This both recognizes that you are reaching and also gives the person control of their services. When you slide into someones DM talking about “can you follow me around for fashion week with your camera? I’ll buy you coffee.” You deserve shit like lost luggage and a crying baby next to you. Because you are wilding. 

Ask your audience for help

You’ve got this huge audience. Post a photo and in the caption say what your needs are. I need an MUA for these dates or a photographer. I need a personal assistant. Please tag someone you think would be down for this. Their friends will tag them. They’ll either delete the comment with their name or hit you up. 

There are SO MANY creatives out there who are looking for the opportunity to practice and create content for their portfolios. Open your network to those people who feel that at their level it is an even and fair exchange. If you want professional and experienced quality work then understand that such work requires professional and experienced walks to the ATM. 

Remember other people have living,
breathing and surviving expenses. 

To wrap it all up, remember these people have bills and responsibilities. Makeup kits need to be replenished. Software needs to be paid for and equipment needs to be maintained. I can’t go to t-mobile and offer to pay this months bill in exposure just like you can’t fly your avocado toast ass on a plane in exchange for an aisle photo all of the time.

In all seriousness, when you are intentional and considerate of other peoples time and money it comes back to you. I’ve done things for free that have really benefited me in the end because I saw it as a good investment of my time. I’ve done things for free years ago that I’m still cashing in today. Collaborations and even bartering are both beautiful things when done respectfully, fairly and honestly. 

Budget adequately and write out your expenses. Cut out the nine $14 matcha lattes on your trip. That’s $126 dollars you can put towards investing into the things you’re trying to get for free. There is always a way if you really want something. 

Happy Fashion week everyone!


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  1. Nat says:

    Lol… Love it!

  2. Jaleesa says:

    Amazing!!!! Great advice!!

  3. Roketa Dumas says:

    Love it! It’s true, the same people who spend frivolously on Starbucks every morning and can’t live without their avocado toast have zero budget for any blog expenses and simply want to “collab” on every.damn.thing. Too many times, when people want to collaborate or barter, they place themselves first in the equation and forget it’s supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Such a great read!

  4. Mary G says:

    Thanks for this post… speaking from the “blogger” perspective it can be easy to get a big head and basically be rude when “asking” for things… I feel “edjumacated” lol on how and when to approach for collabs , and to be honest I will probably just prioritize right so that I don’t have to “ask” folks to discount themselves…. I’d never want someone dismissing my worth and I don’t want to dismiss the worth of others ….XO,Mary

  5. Ralizabeth says:

    You have such a fantastic way of putting it all down so people can really understand! Really, really enjoyed this post! Great insight to both sides of the blogging spectrum. I have to agree wholeheartedly with you. Thanks for this!!

  6. Ariel says:

    I’m not in this industry in the way you think. I am a consumer and a follower that is trying to consume responsibly, which I have grown to understand that it’s not just about buying "sustainable" because that usually means skinny white exclusive, but also products directly from people (like Kyrzayda’s closet).
    I think this article still adds value regardless of your industry. As we move more and more to a gig economy, it’s a real thing that we have to learn how to negotiate. Unfortunately, emerging names in the fashion world are often devalued by larger companies (or followers) because of their womenly association with leisure (i.e. "but if you already like fashion why should I pay you for your services").
    People aren’t used to the product being so close to the person that created it so they treat those people disrespectfully (not all the time guys but if you don’t know then you’ve probably insulted someone). They are used to not seeing the consequences of their ask because we usually go into a store and have no idea where the product came from, with gigs and services we do!

  7. Shayla says:

    This is a great post! Very helpful!

  8. As Nola Darling would say, “Get ALL THE WAY THE F*CK OUTTA HERE” . Re: “collaborations”
    Totally agree with everything, and as an emerging content creator (that’s not 20 Years old, has two (adorable) kids, a husband, and a mortgage ) I always say that these content creators are selling themselves short by taking these unpaid and unfulfilling collaborations just to say they have one. I know my value because I took the time to understand my analytics from the start. And while I don’t have a lineup of paid sponsorships (yet), the ones I have partnered with, have met every single one of my criteria for what I define as value. And for that I’m forever grateful and confident that more will come.
    Great perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Tiana says:

    Your blog post are always so informative I always look forward to reading them thank you for this great read.

  10. WendMarc says:

    I dont usually comment on blog post but I loved reading this!!