We are looking for some top Instgrammers to collaborate with Brand X for one of their Influencer Marketing campaigns.

You’ll be required to post about the brand from your Official Instagram Handle and answer a few of the fashion queries on the Platform.

We wanted to know if you’re interested in this campaign and if yes, please share your quotes with us ASAP because we are looking to close this by the end of this week.

 

It’s an epidemic.

I get it. Some brands have money to throw. Emails written by someone who is given a regular salary. They’ve been given a simple task : reach out to everyone on Indian Instagram, who has more than a certain number of “followers”.

I don’t know the brand. I’ve never been contacted by them previously. I’ve never attempted to establish a relationship with them previously. They certainly aren’t attempting to establish one now.

“…to post about the brand from your Insta handle…” is NOT a “campaign”.

When there is no campaign and I don’t even know the brand, how am I supposed to show my interest or declare my disinterest?

Asking for a “quote” is easy. When you don’t even have a campaign, asking for a quote is probably the easiest thing to do. Also, many “influencers” have a standard rate list per update on various social media networks. I did too at some point. Till I realized that I didn’t really want to be in the “post an ad” market. I prefer crafting *some* sort of story or narrative, which I can then tell on my blog comprehensively AND the photographs produced can then also work stand-alone on my social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. That’s what works for me – and I think it works better for most brands too. I do see the appeal for hiring hundreds of people to post the same update and hence the campaign hashtag “trends”, for example. But it is not a long term or even mid term strategy. It’s just a waste of money.

Without at least a bit of a brief about what my deliverables will involve, it’s impossible to give an sort of quote. I don’t know how much work I’ll have to do when you can’t even tell me what your own campaign is!

I generally respond to most such emails with, “Thank you for getting in touch. May I know more about the campaign please so that I may determine whether I’m interested and my rates for something like this?”

The short notice doesn’t help. Just give the whole low down in the first email itself. It makes everyone’s life so much easier. Tell me what the gig is, what the deliverables expected are, whether you want me to wear your products and pose, whether you want me to photograph your products, can I keep those products or are they returnable, what is the brand’s budget, exact dates ( “Oh these things come with deadline but they’re always flexible!” does NOT inspire confidence. ), etc.

I tend to respond with a long list of questions and guess what, I never hear from them again. The quickest way to get most people to stop emailing me is to either ask them for a brief or ask them more then 3 questions. Watch them run at top speed in the opposite direction.

Recently, I was stuck in an awkward situation. A friend’s friend, who works at a digital/PR agency, messaged me saying their client was looking for a photographer. I’ve been on a super tight deadline pretty much each day of March, so as a favour, I said I’d quickly establish the brief and requirements over a phone call with the client. Now, the client and I were complete strangers. They had never heard of me or seen my work and I had no idea about them either. After the first 8 minute phone conversation with this clients, it was clear to me that this wasn’t going to work out. I knew the client wasn’t going to give up but I also knew that if I said “yes” to this, I’d regret it.

They wanted to meet me in-person. Now while 2017’s goals for me is that I must meet people if they ask me to meet them, March just made this goal impossibly hard. Especially when someone says, “Meet me NOW!” Not possible. Have to schedule. So the friend’s friend called me up a couple of times and eventually I just came clean and told them that I wasn’t really interested in working with this client as I did not see it as a fit for my brand. They insisted that I should at the very least, meet the client. When I advised them that an in-person meeting would only be possible in the first week of April, which was 15 days after their project’s deadline, they told me to “push your self Naina”.

Not one to be cowed by pressure, and always striving to try and make it work, I asked them to send me the brief via email because that would be faster. Since I was traveling so much and even talking on the phone was usually a problem, the only reliable mode of communication that I used at least once each days, was email.

Guess what? No brief till date.

More anecdotes and stories in the #WTFNaina series. ( These are all inspired by true stories. Some written emails, some from face-to-face meetings. They have all been piling up for years now and I’ve decided to put them to use! )

 

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