The tricky side of Instagram Collaborations

My friends were asking me how do I collaborate with brands on Instagram. I told them I don’t. They were surprised and asked me why. The whole world knows that everyone seeks to collaborate on Instagram. I didn’t know how to them the whole drama. So I decided wrote this post.
Less than a year ago, when I started a fashion blog, I opened my Instagram to the public (I had a private account before where I would strictly accept only my friends). I still wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. And honestly, I had no strategy, but all I wanted is to share my passion. A couple of weeks after, when I published my first outfit photos online, I started to receive strange comments. The typical ones – "We want to collaborate with you!".

"Become our brand ambassador"

Interesting, I thought. I’m not that silly to believe that there is a fashion brand who wants to "collaborate" with a starting blogger with less than 300 followers. There must be some fraud behind it. And it was, of course. So-called "brand-ambassadors" were asked to buy affordable items from small online shops with a discount of 20-50%. I swear, most of these things you can find on Ali Express with an even smaller price that you get after applying the discount code.
And I was absolutely right. At the beginning I was doing a small research on these brands and discovered some pretty sad stories. Like the one in this video. All these comments and direct messages were automated and there were rarely a real person behind it, but rather a bot. There are more videos on if you search for it.
Once I got an invitation to collaborate with a lingerie brand and I kindly replied that this is out of my comfort zone – I’m not willing to post photos in lingerie on my feed. They answered: "Awesome! When do you want to start?".

Why does this happen?

When the whole Instagram marketing bubble reached its peak, everyone tried to take an opportunity from it. People tried different methods for both sides – influencers and brands. From offering Instagram growth services, so-called "power likes", influencer-calculators and more. One day I came across the service who "Will find a perfect influencer for your brand. For a monthly subscription of 700$". I mean…

"We want to send you free stuff!"

I ignored all these comments and all these "opportunities". But then another thing kicked in. I started to receive emails and messages from people offering me free things or asking me to write about them. My friend Monica recently posted an amazing article based on that! It’s in Italian, but you can use Google Translator to read it.
I’ve been working in the advertising business and I know very well how much does it cost to create an editorial. You have to pay art director, model agency, photographer, stylist, make-up artist, location (sometimes), post-production, copywriter, social media manager, even catering (you don’t want to keep people hungry during the shoots). Sometimes it’s a sh*t load of money just to create one single image. And guess what – influencers and bloggers do it all for free.
That’s right, they take a product, they make beautiful editorial images, and not only that! They probably even have a community that will see and will it. But it doesn’t even matter how many followers you have. The work of it – creating, shooting, editing – is already worth something. Never underestimate yourself and your work.
I really don’t want to sound arrogant when I say I decline the offers. But I’m simply a minimalist and I appreciate the quality. I don’t need things at home I will never use, or things that are not my style. Of course, if you truly like the product and the offer, that’s another story! With genuine offers, you feel it (and they will probably drop you an email instead of an automated comment with 10 emojis). I use my intuition so much. I feel it never disappointed me so far.

A story that happened to me and Monica

I won’t mention the names here (also because honestly, I don’t remember the name of a place), but I wanted to share an example story. We made this simple video a few months ago in Milan. We both love filming and we love Lubar. So we did it just for fun.
Someone from a quite fancy restaurant in Milan saw the video and loved it. They contacted Monica asking if we can come to their place and shoot the similar video we did at the Lubar. When Monica told me that, I thought, they are not willing to spend any money on that. I just had this feeling. We thought this offer will be probably limited to a free dinner in the restaurant.
You wish. When Monica asked about the free dinner (which honestly, to my humble opinion makes sense), they disappeared. Yup, you got it right. They wanted us to come to their place, pay for our dinner, make a video for them, share it on our social media and let them use it too for free. So it’s not they didn’t want us to pay for the work, they also wanted us to pay for our dinner!

The conclusion

I’m sorry if this post was a bit "negative". I don’t want to sound that I’m complaining. I absolutely appreciate and support small brands and their work (especially hand-made, authentic) or people/brands who are genuine and honest. And I’m definitely not saying that it’s all about the money. Absolutely not. Honestly, I’m probably the last person to care about it (if you know me, you already know this). But these dark-marketing tricks are sad and unfair.
I’m also not saying all offers are a scam or not noteworthy. But you should be careful. No matter what, know your worth. Don’t jump into the collaboration if something feels wrong. Do your research. Never trust companies that are trying to push you or pay them, or have weird rules.
Please share any similar stories that happened to you! I’d love to read about them. Thank you for reading, kisses!