Let’s talk about everybody’s least favourite word: Exposure.

If you’re a maker like myself, you might find you’ve come to detest the word exposure, because it seems to be a simile for “give me free stuff.”  After a certain point, being asked for goods and services in exchange for exposure becomes tiring – particularly when you are asked multiple times by the same person or company, or are asked for excessive amounts of products/services. Let’s talk about how to determine if what you’re being asked for is really a good opportunity for you.

When you’re approached by charities:

Chances are that a lot of requests you are going to get are going to come from charities. I know it’s difficult to turn down a charitable request – I would love to be able to support all the charities that ask for donations, but the hard truth is that I can’t. There is no way I can afford to give out that much product, and you can’t either. My recommendation is to pick one to three values or causes that you strongly align with, and stick to supporting those causes.  This is a common practice with larger companies.  For example, if cancer research is close to your heart, prioritize donations for those charities. I also recommend setting a “donation budget” for the year – this way, you can set a limit to what you’re able to donate.  Also, be sure to get a tax receipt for the value of your donation whenever possible.

When you’re approached by bloggers/influencers/events/etc:

1.) Ask for a media kit

This is a completely reasonable request. A media kit should provide you with information including how many followers they have on each platform, engagement statistics, publications, etc. Not everyone will have one (particularly start ups) but it’s nice when you do receive one. It shows professionalism, and dedication to what they are doing.  A media kit will basically tell you how much exposure your product will get on their platforms.

2.) Make sure it’s a good fit for your brand

Are their readers/attendees/etc your target audience? If you don’t know your target audience – get on that. You can get a rough idea from your analytics on your business instagram account, but my girlfriend Chantal has some awesome tips as well. For example, if you make jewelry, a home and garden show, or a mommy blog, might not be the best fit. See if you can find out who their readers/attendees are, and see if it aligns with your brand. The idea is that their customers would eventually become yours after being exposed to your product. If you don’t think they will, then it’s not worth it.

3.) Check out the quality of their content

This one is especially relevant for bloggers/influencers. Do they have their own domain name? (this is a big deal to me). How many followers do they have?* What is their engagement like? Do they take great photos? A lot of times bloggers/influencers want to trade product for photos and exposure on their account. If you do decide to go for it, make sure they have awesome photos and awesome content.

*While having a large following is definitely nice, it isn’t,the only factor when determining quality.  Someone with a lower following, but better engagement, might be better than someone with a higher following but poor engagement. High followings with poor engagement may be the result of the instagram algorithm, but it could also be the result of buying followers. So take a browse through their followers to see if they’re real. Quality over quantity, but if they have both, that’s awesome.

4.) Is there going to be any media coverage?

This one’s for the events: is there any actual media coverage, or advertising where you’ll be mentioned? I know a lot of events need items for swag bags, or door prizes, but if you aren’t actually going to be mentioned on any channels (TV, print, blog, social media, etc), is it really exposure? In theory, you might get some return customers from your swag bag contributions, but it’s not guaranteed. Determine whether or not this is a ‘risk’ you want to take.

5.) If you’re giving away product in exchange for “exposure services” (blog posts, photos, brand reps, etc) have an iron clad contract.

I know one too many makers who have been burned by their brand reps. If someone wants to work with you by promoting your product in exchange for freebies, make damn sure you have a contract. I would love to say that everyone is wonderful, and honest, and won’t screw you over, but unfortunately, that’s not true. Make sure you have an iron-clad contract explicitly listing what you expect in exchange for your product/services.

How do you decide whether or not to go for it?

That’s a tough call, honestly. It’s extremely hard to say whether or not trading services/products/etc will benefit your brand in the long run. This is a decision that only you can make. Trust your gut – if it feels right, go for it. If it doesn’t, maybe pass on that particular opportunity.  Sometimes it helps to look at “exposure” as something else –  Are you getting great photos of your products? Is this something you can share on your website/blog/social media? And if so, if that seems worth it to you, go for it!

Exposure probably won’t pay the bills, but you might get some more followers, some good photos, and a bit of publicity. Decide what your products and services are worth to you, and if the cost is worth it to your company. It is absolutely okay to say no to ‘exposure trades’ – this is your business, and nobody can determine what is best for it but you.

This post was originally published by Nicole Bracey on May 4, 2017. You can read the originally post here. It has been reposted with permission. Cover photo courtesy of Brook Lark via Unsplash. 

Nicole Bracey is the boss babe behind Salt Water Tea, Woolfield Studio, and one of two behind Greater Goods. She has recently launched a blog to assist other creative makers with their endeavors: www.nicolebracey.ca

You may also know her as the Vice President of YYC Girl Gang. In her spare time, she can be found knitting, drinking coffee, or watching netflix. Sometimes (usually) all three.

Follow along on instagram at:

@nicolebracey.ca | @saltwaterteajewelry | @woolfield.studio | @greatergoods.ca


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