You should never work for free. That's something a lot of bloggers tell you, but Kami Kilgore is here to give you a different point of view.
In my recent podcast interview with Kami Kilgore, one of the things we talked about was whether or not you should ever do work for free, especially with brands.
It's something that's very controversial in food blogging. Some people feel very strongly about it, and Kami has a slightly different point of view than a lot of bloggers, so I thought it'd be worth sharing in this special video.
Kami Kilgore: Can I say something that's going to be really controversial? I know we should absolutely be paid for our work. Absolutely. But some of my biggest, biggest partnerships have come where I actually worked for free. My eye has been on the long-term relationship, and so my philosophy is, I want to get in the door and then make them realize I bring so much value that they cannot help but work with me.
And I did that from the very beginning. I had to prove to attendees and sponsors because I had not done an event yet. There was a lot of skepticism, but I knew in my heart I was going to create something so awesomely full of value they would become dependent on me. And that has been the case.
I didn't have paying sponsors, so I don't want to negate that, but I think sometimes we tie so much of our value into money in our pocket, and I think we should do a little bit of separation. Our value is completely independent of some price tag that comes with it. And sometimes the long-term play means right now you provide value for no cash reward.
I know that's not the popular opinion. It's just a different viewpoint when you have confidence in yourself. The price tag on your work does not diminish your value at all. The money and the value are two very, very different things. And you make the brand so dependent on your value that in a year from now, they're going to be paying you 10 times, 20 times more than you would have pitched for this initial foot in the door campaign.
Jason Logsdon: And I actually agree a lot with you. I feel there are some brands out there who take advantage of food bloggers as a whole by always wanting free stuff. And I understand certain bloggers not wanting to work with them, especially after a certain point. But there's a lot of stuff you can do with low effort to get in the door with places, like you're saying, to either pitch them or earlier you were talking about going to these people and saying, okay, with these stats or this campaign that I ran in the past, here's how it fits with your goals.
But like you said, some people don't have those stats. Well, you can work with one of these places for free. You treat it like it was a paying job and blow it out of the water. Then go to a brand who you want to work with and say, "Oh, well, I ran this campaign with so-and-so and here's the results I had. I could do it with you because you're an even better fit than they are, imagine what I can do with your goals".
Kami: 100%. This is when I have done it, and this is what I've learned with sales and doing sponsorships and with the event. I am now solidifying the sponsorships 20 to 30 times more than I did my first and second year, like drastically way more.
You need to prove out a model and once it's proven out that you have value, it's such an easier sell. And they love what you just said. Yes.
Jason: And from a selfish standpoint, you always want to do good work for your clients who are bringing you on. But if you want to try experimenting with how to promote something or try a new type of post and what may or may not work, you don't want to do it when you finally get Bob's Red Mill to give you 10 grand to do the campaign.
Take one of these free ones. See, what you can do, compare the results to what you normally do and hopefully it works out well. But they're not paying you so if it backslides a little bit, it's not the end of the world. It's not this huge contract that you just got, and now Bob's isn't going to work with you anymore.
Kami: You know what? That's so funny that you brought that up because I actually had the thought not too long ago. Now the brands are coming on and the amount of money that I'm charging them, I 100% feel confident in what I'm doing because not only do I give them what they want, but then I want to over exceed expectations and so, I provide even more value than I promised. So now the price tag I charge, I do not even bat an eye and I feel completely confident.
Jason: Yeah, you know what you're doing a lot more and you're offering them a lot more and meeting their goals a lot better. So it keeps getting better and better.
Kami: Yes. And then they ended up thanking me. This is like, it's so rewarding because they're paying me for a service, but at the end they will come and say, "Oh my goodness, thank you for this opportunity. This was amazing. Let's talk about next year". I would not be discouraged about those partnerships who are low paying or products because when it comes to brands you need to have clarity on what brands are going to be the ones long-term. It has to be worth the investment now for the long-term pay.
Jason: On the flip side of this, I think taking the same concept and looking at the deals and the offerings that are out there and see whether they meet your goals. Like we're saying, a free one can very well meet the goals of what you're trying to do for this.
And on the other side of the point, there might be a brand out there who's willing to pay you 10 grand or 20 grand to do work for them but you're not personally aligned or your blog is not aligned with the brand. And taking on that deal, despite it being a lot of money, might not be what's best for you or for your blog.
Like you said, your value and the money are very different things and looking at it and saying, is this what I want and is this getting me and my blog to the point where I want to go long-term, regardless of the pay?
Kami: Yes. I've had some opportunities come my way that would have been a decent payout at the moment, but my gut would not let me make the decision. It was not the right thing for my community and the people who I serve. And everything on paper looked great, but the only thing telling me it wasn't was my gut. And that's where as entrepreneurs, you have to trust because we are forging something, we are creating something that does not exist in this world.
There's really no game plan for what we're creating. And that's where you've got to really zone in on the mission and the focus you have and trust yourself. Trust yourself.
If you want to read some more about this, here are a few helpful links.