Yet another blog I wrote months ago, but this has been something bothering me for some time now. And I’m sure anyone who works within a creative space has many a story to tell when it comes to the topic!
I won’t beat around the bush, I’m sick of people misusing the term “collaboration” and using it to hid their real motive of “I want you to do shit for free!”
Now, let me just clear a few things up.
Firstly, the world collaboration implies that working together on a particular project has a shared vision by the parties involved or that each are in some way benefitting, that be financially or otherwise.
Now in some cases, this might be for someone the “exposure” or the experience. But that is their decision to make. And should they not feel this is the case, then it is not for anyone else to expect or demand.
The expectation that people will work for free is simply put – fucking ridiculous!
For some reason people think that ‘free goods’ and ‘exposure’ are worth their weight in gold? But since when did my bank accept either of these things to pay my mortgage?
Sure, I have worked on many collaborative projects, both for other people and organised by myself! I think this is a fabulous way to bring big projects to fruition, it’s been a fun and enjoyable experience with people who share a common vision or passion and each person involved has felt that they have gotten out of it what they wanted.
We do these things because we see the value for us and everyone else involved, we don’t set out to use and abuse, build ourselves up on the back of false promises and “favours” we cannot return! But sadly, there is a small minority who are ruining it for the rest of us!
Every week I am hearing stories about people, writers, small business owners, influencers, bloggers, models etc who are constantly propositioned by people (usually these people are repeat offenders) to work FOR FREE.
If you have a product to sell, and you ask an influencer if you can send it to them to wear in a photo so they can promote your brand – do not get on your high horse when they tell you they have a monetary fee for that service. Don’t tell them your payment is free clothing and that they should “supporting a small business” or rattle off your sob story. Just accept that that is their preference, and should you not want to pay then that’s that! Nothing more…
Same goes if you are an influencer, and you ask someone for free product because your going on holidays and want their bikini. If the brand says no, then don’t go trying to convince them they should do it because #exposure. They’ve likely had 100 people before you ask and found that it isn’t worth their time or product!
Collaboration needs to be mutually beneficial, so really if one party doesn’t feel it is – then really your just using people!
One thing I have learnt is that if anyone expects me to do something for free and tries to leverage “exposure” or free product, then I’d never be able to have a successful relationship with them regardless as they don’t see the value in me or what I do to begin with!
So please, stop using the word ‘collaboration’ as a facade for just wanting people to work for free.
That being said, I should clarify that I believe this isn’t the majority – and I believe most people are genuine in their approach when it comes to working collaboratively and what each person is to gain!
I want anyone out there who feels that they’ve been on the other end of this, to have faith in themselves, know their worth and their value and not be afraid to say “I’m worth it”. Don’t be defined by the number of followers you have, how new you are to something, what anyone else is doing or what someone else thinks your worth is. Your time is precious and sadly you can pay your bills with free beauty products or vacuum cleaners!
I’ll also take this as an opportunity to encourage those working in media or entertainment (this includes you influencers) to join their union *oh shit she’s going preachy on us*. I know as a generation, us millennial’s are resilient to such concepts but honestly what will you do when some serious actually happens? At least you have piece of mind with your membership you have access to expert advice and basic coverage through insurances should you need it!! You can read more here.