The short answer is yes, but just because you haven’t paid for something, doesn’t mean it is necessarily free.
When a brand gives you free stuff, it is very rare that it doesn’t come without the expectation that you will post about it in return.
Brands generally gift influencer's products for free as they are hoping that you will either post about the brand on your Instagram, TikTok, or include them as part of your YouTube GRWM routine going forward.
Gifting product to creators is much cheaper than paying them for content, so a brand will keep sending products as long as creators keep posting.
I'm an Influencer, Should I Accept Freebies?
There is nothing wrong with accepting freebies if you want, however you need to be clear with the brand that you will not necessarily post about the product for free. If the brand will only give you the freebie on the condition that you post, you need to be happy with doing the work essentially for free. If you are not happy with posting in return for gifting, rather than a fee, tell the brand that you are happy to accept the product, but you are under no obligation to post about it.
Something to think about: If you keep posting content for brands in exchange for free gifts, the brand is less likely to pay you a fee for your content, as they are already getting it in exchange for gifting you product as this is much cheaper for them.
I love the brand, but I want to be paid for promoting them
Brands love to work with creators who are an authentic fit for their target market, so will often seek to work with creators who would love to feature their product in their content. Even if you are a big fan of a brand, you shouldn’t feel that you have to post about them in return for freebies. Space on your page (your real estate), creating your content and your audience all have a value of their own.
Be clear with the brand the value you bring, and why your content and the audience you bring is valuable to them. By giving the brand a clear reason why they should invest money in your content, you are helping to make your case.
There is nothing wrong with being upfront, and telling them that you love their products and brand and are happy to continue receiving gifting, however in order to feature them in your content, you need a fee.
Does going on a brand trip count too?
Yes! Some brands do the most amazing trips where they bring a group of creators to create content, or PR events to launch their new collections. These can be really fun, and are great opportunities to meet other creators and build a relationship with the people working at the brands themselves. (Also worth meeting people at agencies as they will work with multiple brands). When starting out, it is always worth going to these events if invited to get a feel for them and to network. However, it’s always worth asking if there is a fee attached, particularly if a brand is inviting you on the condition that you post content.
If the trip or event involves travelling, go to our creator questions to get more specific advice.
The bottom line
Accept gifting, but be clear that unless there is a fee attached, you can’t guarantee that you will post content. (although, if it’s a high value item, like a Chanel handbag, make the call whether getting a £2K+ bag is worth a post or two…)
If you want to work with a brand that is gifting you lots of products, be clear with them that you are happy to accept their gifting, but you won’t post if there isn’t a fee attached.
Remember, your content is valuable, that is why brands want to give you freebies in the first place.
If you do post content that includes gifted products, you still have to declare it with #AD and the paid partnership tag.