Have you ever received a DM or email in your inbox about a collaboration opportunity? As you work towards building your influencer career, it can be very tempting to reply “yes” right away. After all, you’ve worked so hard on your content and it feels great to have a brand recognize your value. Unfortunately, not every collaboration opportunity you come across is legitimate.
To help protect your growing influencer career, I’m going over all the red flags you need to be on the lookout for. Here’s how you can avoid scam collabs as a blogger, content creator, and influencer.
How to Avoid Scams as a Blogger
You’ve most likely seen them before – a brand you’ve never heard of asking you to DM them for a collaboration. These messages often include excessive amounts of emojis while calling you “babe”. Or worse… the sneakier scammers are already waiting for you in your DMs or inbox.
These brands are here for one reason only: to take advantage of you.
8 Red Flags to Help Bloggers Avoid Scam Collabs
Here are some red flags to look out for that’ll help you decipher between a great brand partnership, and a bad deal. Starting with:
“DM to Collab” Comments
When you see this in the comments section of your post, the only thing to do is to respond with a “no”. If a brand is serious about collaborating, they’ll be more professional. They’ll either email you using the contact button or email provided in your bio. If you don’t have your email linked in your bio (which you should), the brand will likely send you a professional DM.
Ambassador or Affiliate Programs
From time to time, you’ll see an email or DM asking you to join a brand’s ambassador or affiliate program. In order to participate, the brand asks you to buy one of their products using a special discount code. And as an ambassador, you’ll only make money if you make a sale. Don’t fall for it! No matter how steep the discount is, you should never pay to promote a brand. Ever.
“Just Pay Shipping”
Promoting a brand in exchange for free products is a completely legitimate structure. But at the very least, the brand should handle all monetary aspects of the collaboration. Your time spent creating content for them is valuable. Accepting products for promotion campaigns is fine as long as you don’t have to spend a single cent.
How They Address You
One of the initial telltale signs of a scam is how they address you in their pitch. If they call you “babe”, “sweetie”, or by your username, it’s likely that message is a scam. Furthermore, there may be instances an email doesn’t acknowledge you at all. Brands that are interested in a legitimate collaboration will know enough about you to address you on a first-name basis.
If you receive an email for a collab written in broken English… run! Remember, a request to collaborate is a business and professional proposal. If the email you receive is poorly written, it’s likely a scam. Think about it – would you ever pitch a brand with an email filled with grammar and spelling issues? If you answered “no”, you should expect nothing less from a brand who wants to work with you.
They’re Using a Free Email Address
Brands with the budget for an influencer marketing campaign will not reach out from an @gmail.com address. It’s standard practice for businesses to have a professional email account that is specific to their brand.
Messages that Aren’t from the Brand’s Main Account
The Quality of the Brand’s Feed
You can tell a lot about a brand from their Instagram feed. Take note of the quality of their content. How often are they posting to their account? Are the images low quality? A brand that involves influencers in campaigns will have a social media strategy in place. Plain and simple.
6 Things Bloggers Could Do to Protect Themselves from Scams
Some scammers may be smarter than the usual run of the mill. And more sinister scammers with worse intentions may be showing up in your inbox. You’ve heard some horror stories about influencers getting their accounts stolen, and scam collab emails could be to blame. In any case, here are some things you can do to protect yourself from a bad situation.
Never Click on Links!
First and foremost, read through every email or DM you receive and do not click on any links! Especially if the email looks suspicious. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of the brand, a quick Google research might answer your question. Which brings me to my next point…
Vet the Brand
It’s important to vet a brand you’ve never heard of. Do your due diligence and turn to Google to determine the legitimacy of the brand and its intentions. If you receive a suspicious email from an individual on behalf of an agency or brand, search for the sender on LinkedIn to verify their information.
Get a Second Opinion
Your fellow influencers and content creators are great resources to turn to. Don’t be afraid to reach out to ask for their opinion.
Have a Contract or Written Agreement in Place
Having a contract or written agreement will protect you as well as a brand. A contract will outline what the expectations are for both parties involved. It will ensure that the brand gets exactly what it’s paying you for and that you’re getting paid for your work. If a brand refuses to get a contract or written agreement in place, they have no intention of upholding their end of the deal.
Trust Your Gut
If you have a bad feeling about a potential collaboration opportunity, trust it. You want to work with brands you feel great about.
Join an Influencer Marketing Platform
Joining an influencer marketing platform will ensure that your collaborations are legitimate. These platforms will vet every campaign and partnership before reaching out to you. This takes out all the guesswork and protects you from scammers. Here is a list of the best influencer marketing platforms to join.
Work With Brands that Value Your Time
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – your time and hard work is valuable. It doesn’t matter what size your following is, you should never pay to work for anyone. I understand how exciting it can be to receive an email about a potential collaboration. But brands that ask you to pay to work with them aren’t looking for influencers, they’re looking for customers. Don’t fall for these scams; no matter how tempting it can be.
PS: Sick and tired of these scammers? Join #ProjectNo on Instagram and don’t forget to tag me (@christinagalbato).