top of page
  • simonellifabiely

Identify a Non-Real Brand Collaboration

We all have been through here!

If you're on Instagram or a blogger, you will get messages and emails from brands asking you to partner with them on a collaboration.

After many emails, it is now easy for me to identify the scam ones very quickly. It may be exciting, receiving an email from a brand wanting to collaborate with you, but before responding or opening any clicks, think if it is real.

So before you get your hopes up, remember a few key things.

1 . Brand Ambassador Messages

Please don't bother responding to them.

Just delete!

These include:

- Requests for you to purchase their product first for reimbursement later.

- Requires you to purchase at a discount.

- You have to cover the shipping fees and expenses.

- Leaving comments on your photos asking for YOU to dm THEM. Most of the time, this is a computer doing people to see who is going to bite. 

- Asks you to create content for their use on their Instagram/website, using their product but don't pay you. And say that in return, they will help promote your social media accounts.

2 . Discount for Followers and % of your Sales

- For this, it is best to use affiliate sales from Reward Style, and many others without purchasing anything. 

- You don't have to post anything if you don't want

- Only promote things you like and already use

- You don't have a specific timeline nor contract

3 . On Your Email

One of the ways I check the legitimacy of a brand offering sponsorships is by first checking their email address and the signature at the end.

It’s an immediate red flag for me when the person reaching out to me uses a free email account (aka Gmail, outlook, yahoo, etc.).

If a brand has a product to sell and a website to sell it on, they have an official email account.

- Sent from a "'" instead of a professional email like '" 

- Using language that isn't professional as sweetie, darling, honey.

- Do not start by your name; if they are not capable of knowing who are they sending the message it is not worth your time.

- A collaboration scam will always ask for extra work for you without really compensating you for it.

Note: Small businesses who have their business on Etsy or Amazon may be an exception, it’s still presents as a fishy offer.

4 . Read The Brief vs. What They Are Offering 

Just by the description, I knew that it was nothing more than free publicity for the brand. Here's how I knew:

 - The words they use, one of the most common, is that they need you to help "spread the word" or give "tips to your readership" about what they can do with said product.

 - They say they are new in the market or that they 'do not have a budget right now'. 

The first thing I ask is what the budget is for the project. When there isn't one, the email would say something like, "We don't have one; we simply wanted to generate some buzz."

Sorry, but that is not how it should work.

That's when you know this is for their benefit and not yours. 

- Flattering Words, the brand called me the perfect person to talk about a product not even related to my niche. Flattery will get you nowhere unless you plan on paying for what you want. 

5 . No Sponsorship Contract, No Partnership

- If you do get approached by a brand, and they're asking you to partner with them in a legitimate paid collaboration or sponsorship Always ask them to sign your contract.

- Any brand that's not willing to sign the sponsorship contract you send to them to ensure you are protected legally should be turned down. 

- In case you have to send your Contract, Amira at A Self Guru has an easy-to-customize Sponsored Posts Contract.

- She has a fantastic Legal Bundle that every site needs to be legally and financially protected.

6 . The Whole Brand Deal is on DMs

When a brand reaches out to me in the DMs.

I send them my email!

I ask them to give me the information through email and that way is more formal.

If a brand really wants to work with you, they will be happy to take the extra step.

Brand managers and PR professionals usually reach out via DM when you’ve interacted with them on social media or if they need your email address.

7 . How To Get REAL Brands 

I have said it before, and I still believe in it!

If you are a small blogger/ influencer, it is more accessible to work with brands through apps and websites in the middle of the collaborations.

There are many companies out there that work with Instagram influencers to connect them with brands. 

As I am still a small account on Instagram, these platforms' price range is always good for the engagement I offered in return. 

8 . How Do I Know When To Accept a Collaboration

Don't Sell Yourself Short.

Always know that your time, effort, and your profile or blog is worthy of a properly paid collaboration, where you get adequately compensated.

Your time can be better spent on new pitching opportunities with brands than responding to questionable brand collaboration inquiries.

Always charge for the post of your photo, for the stories, for the swipe up feature; if they want you to add the link to your profile, charge for that

- If a brand wants to use your image for ads, charge for it

- If a brand wants to use your content outside of the social media where your posts, charge for it

Most of these photo usage charges are more 'photographer' related costs per photo, per month of usage, and per place of use. 

So do you think you are ready to stop wasting time on scam brand deals and start spending time on creating content that attracts the right brands?

Enjoyed this? Pin it for later below! Follow me on Pinterest.

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page