Posted on May 25, 2016

How to ask for payment without feeling guilty

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Ever got an e-mail like this?

Hi Corinne,

This is PR from Brand Name. We’re looking to partner with influencers for an upcoming campaign we’re launching.

Here is more about the campaign we’d like you to help with:
We’re currently looking for beauty influencers to talk about our brand with original blog posts! We love informative, high-quality content and we’re looking for enthusiastic bloggers to help us build buzz and drive traffic to our amazing product!

We’ll be sharing selected posts across social media!

Let me know if you want to get involved!


I get e-mails like this all the time, with no hint of what they can offer me in return, other than a bit of exposure on social media. And I’m sure you’ve learnt by now that unless a brand has hundreds of thousands of followers, a Tweet to your post will be lucky to get you even 10 clicks. So that’s a load of bullshit right there.

What the e-mail doesn’t mention is how they’re going to compensate you for your time, for the advertising, for you giving them exposure to your audience, your audience that you’ve grown yourself over time.

Oh yikes, it can be awkward asking for stuff, can’t it? But you need to remember something here: THEY CONTACTED YOU FIRST.

So no need to be all awksy pants. Just be upfront and honest.

If you’re not offering free exposure at the moment (or ever), then ask for how they can compensate you.

There are many times that I’ve gone back and forth with a PR for a dozen e-mails, before getting to the nitty gritty and finding out they weren’t going to give me anything for promoting their brand.

You know what that did? It wasted my time. It wasted their time.

It also made me feel a bit of a dick when I was like, oh yes, if you’re not going to pay me then I’m not going to promote this even though we’ve spent the last couple of hours becoming BFFs.

This is why now I’m dead upfront about it and have no shame in asking the question.

And remember – just because you ask the question, doesn’t mean that if they say they have zero budget, you have to tell them to eff off. You could still work with them if you like the brand or need content – or maybe give a bit of social media promotion to them instead.

S’uupta you, innit?

So here’s how I approach it.

how to ask for pagement

If it’s about a product, I simply ask if they have any samples to send out for review. If not, I ask them if they have a budget for this campaign.

I don’t make the e-mail too long, I say something like:

Good afternoon,

Thanks for getting in contact, it looks like a great campaign/brand/product/idea and I’d love to get involved. What’s the budget on this please?/Do you have any samples you can send out that I can review?


There. Send. Done.

Some don’t reply, some do reply. Some have samples and a budget, some don’t.

If they don’t have a budget, I just simply reply that I’m not currently offering free advertising of this type.

Dead quick, simple, polite and wasting as little time as possible for both parties.


But where’s that gonna get you? Nowhere. Apart from removed from their databased with no hope for future collaboration if they do ever have an opportunity that pays or offers samples.

And remember, as Dorkface says in her fabulous bullet journal: being nice is cool.


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  • Reply Deborah McFadyen-Graham May 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

    absolutely loved this article – thanks south for the advice!
    Deborah x

  • Reply Jackie Harrison May 25, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I do not feel guilty asking to get pay lately their been to many email asking for post first and then they send the items, I reject them I consider that a scam.
    Jackie Harrison recently posted…FROM DAY TO NIGHTMy Profile

  • Reply Kel May 25, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Haha I’m way too soft and normally end up agreeing to anything that’s asked of me – – which is thankfully not too often! I’ll try to be firmer 😀
    Kel recently posted…24 hours (ish) with Gourmet SocietyMy Profile

  • Reply Ela May 25, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I received some emails like that, in the emails they don’t say anything like they would pay or whatsoever and tbh I feel awkward asking something like that but in the end it would be wasting my time and these companies advertising themselves for free. Some of them are nice and some are really annoying like they make you feel guilty for asking a question like that. x
    Ela recently posted…Let’s Talk Volumising and Lengthening MascarasMy Profile

  • Reply Matea May 25, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I don’t know why I’ve always felt so weird about asking about the payment but it’s definitely something I’ve been working on lately. We spend way too much energy and time on creating new content and when I’m being asked to work with a brand I’d really want to be payed for my efforts. But sometimes I’m fine with just reviewing certain items, it all depends on the type of collab 🙂
    Matea recently posted…How focusing on niche almost killed my desire to blog?My Profile

  • Reply Amy May 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I definitely need to start being more upfront – I do find it so awkward and try to hint at it by asking other questions or a general ‘I’d love to hear more’ haha when as you say I’m just wasting mine and their time!
    Amy xx

  • Reply Anca May 25, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    It happens so many times. It’s just annoying. I wrote about blogging for free recently as I was so annoyed with lots of similar requests. The thing that annoys me the most is that we chat over 10 emails before they say there isn’t a budget (or a product to review or anything).
    Anca recently posted…Holy Island, AngleseyMy Profile

  • Reply Darina May 25, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I will remember this helpful post when I need it!
    Darina recently posted…My Blog and Writing Goals for 2016: how are things now?My Profile

  • Reply Mili May 25, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I’m terrible at responding to PR emails so thanks for this!

    Mili | Sharmtoaster
    Mili recently posted…white after Memorial DayMy Profile

  • Reply Sam May 25, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    This is such a good post! I usually have no idea when it comes to asking for payment, and shyly ask – sometimes even still doing the post after they’ve said their isn’t any! xx

    Sam // What I Know Now

  • Reply Aimee May 25, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    LOVE this. Especially ‘awksy pants.’ Haha! Seriously, though. Great advice, very needed. The amount of emails I get like this a day, that I have had no idea what to do with/about until now. Life saver! xx
    Aimee recently posted…Gemporia Wishlist*My Profile

  • Reply Shireen L. Platt May 25, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Yep! That’s how I have been replying those emails recently. In the past I used to ignore them but these days I do reply because I received a few high end products for review after replying. Another great post, Corinne.
    Shireen L. Platt recently posted…Drugstore vs High End ~ NYX Angel Veil Primer vs Hourglass Veil Mineral PrimerMy Profile

  • Reply Akaleistar May 26, 2016 at 1:27 am

    I really like how you deal with this! I usually just ignore unsolicited emails that don’t mention everything upfront, but sometimes there’s a campaign that sounds interesting…
    Akaleistar recently posted…5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Sandal SeasonMy Profile

  • Reply Rai May 26, 2016 at 4:41 am

    I wish this was around a year ago when I got my first email haha
    I fell for this once thinking they’d give the promotion but they didn’t and I was too scared to do anything about it! Now I just tell everyone I’m not free for PR at the moment. But this really helps! A lot!

    Rai |

  • Reply Oksana Zolotukhina May 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I will keep this in mind. Thanks for the good advice!

  • Reply Anett May 26, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I have always found it weird that they just assume we have nothing better to do with our time than promote their products for free. I more often than not just respond with a “What’s your budget?” and, surprise surprise, there usually is none…

    Bella Pummarola
    Anett recently posted…Little Green RadicalsMy Profile

  • Reply Seaside Belle May 28, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Brilliant. I’ve just had my first PR approach and did the whole to-ing and fro-ing shizzle before declining. I wish I’d been brave enough to be up front straight away. I definitely will next time it will make life much easier for everyone.

  • Reply Rea May 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

    I am in this kind of situation a lot. And just recently too. Ugh. I agree. Being upfront and politely honest is the way to go.
    Rea recently posted…Goin’ Outdoors at Eden Nature Park & ResortMy Profile

  • Reply Gillie Blogs May 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Your entire blog is so, so useful to relative newbies like me!
    Lots of more experienced bloggers seem to forget that they weren’t born into it and ridicule whilst you spend all of your time and effort really sharing the ins and outs so thank you <3
    Gillie Blogs recently posted…DIY Rainbow HighlighterMy Profile

  • Reply Petra / Be Healthy Now May 29, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Great post! It’s only recently that I started replying to brands saying that I can no longer provide free advertising, this includes product reviews as well. It seems that everybody wants to send me something to review but they don’t realise that testing products and writing reviews takes time which I don’t get back. Do you actually review products and get nothing in return (apart from the product)? I decided that if I don’t get anything in return, I won’t do it. My time is too valuable, especially when reviewing items worth less than £10. Maybe if they were worth more I would go ahead.
    Petra / Be Healthy Now recently posted…High-protein, low-carb breakfast in a jarMy Profile

  • Reply Viv June 2, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I really needed this. I constantly get emails where brands/pr reps ask me for promos and nowhere is there a mention of anything I would get in return. Apart from “exposure”, where I have a higher follower count then they do. It’s frustrating, and I’m also soooo awkward when it comes to requiring payment for my work. I mean how does that sound? You wouldn’t go to a job interview and refrain from talking about payment right? Ugh. Well, I really REALLY appreciate you writing this piece, if you don’t mind I’m copying & pasting the reply template 😀 Love , Viv x

  • Reply Lucy June 5, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Ah this is a good way to respond, some emails are really frustrating and to be honest an insult. Can you do this and this and this, oh and we want it for free. Most of the companies previously spent hundreds if not thousands on advertising and now they use bloggers. Use being the operative word! Lucy x
    Lucy recently posted…How to make a cake fit for a QueenMy Profile

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