Dear Brands, Exposure is Not a Real Form of Payment

All that glitters ain’t gold and a lot of bloggers have prestige without matching pockets. Many of us are fighting an uphill battle because we constantly have to prove that we’ve earned a seat at the table. And far too often, brands do not really value us like they should, like we’ve worked so hard for and like we deserve.

Dear Brands

That is why I’m writing this letter. This is to all the brands and companies who have and continue to ask us bloggers and digital influencers to work for free. No, wait. They want us to work for “exposure.” 

Dear Brands,

Every single day, you’re planning campaigns and projects and initiatives and “such great opportunities” that involve marketing budgets, staff salaries and logistical expenses. And every single day, you email a blogger and digital influencer asking them to work with you. Far too often, you follow it up with the fact that “We don’t have a budget for this campaign but we will promote you. This will be great exposure.”

Nope Space gif


What are you doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING??

You want us to work for free and our compensation is “exposure?” Listen. Exposure is not currency and we surely can’t take that to the bank to pay our bills. I can’t buy shoes with exposure. Shoot, exposure won’t pay my hosting fees. Unlike MasterCard, it is not accepted everywhere (or anywhere).

Are you going to make money off this campaign? Odds are, you are. You want us to work for free even though we’d be making you money, placing you in front of our audience and doing work that will take us hours (and sometimes days to complete) on your behalf. But you want to pay us with exposure.


Do you understand how insulting it is? Do you know how much it speaks to the fact that what we do is not really valued? Do you know how tiring it is to feel like you constantly have to prove that you’ve earned a seat at the table (that you’ve sat at for 11 years)?

Tina Fey Eye Roll gif

I’ve worked with some great brands and companies who recognized my value and we did mutually beneficial work. They recognized that even though I’m not a blogger who falls into the beauty, hair or fashion space, I am one who falls into most spaces I want because pop culture covers all that and more. Plus my audience is highly engaged, they trust me and they know I won’t work with just anyone who drops in my inbox.

But far too often, it’s the opposite. A big TV channel’s rep called me wanting me to work on a campaign for them for a show. I asked them what the budget is and they tell me “Oh we don’t have a budget. This is PR, not marketing.” Or the countless times when companies wanted to compensate me for a campaign by just giving me a phone or *insert product here*. How many gadgets does one person need and if I’m so pressed to get one, I’d rather buy one from the check you hand me for the work I just did for you. OOP.

It’s incredibly frustrating because a lot of these brands are big names, Fortune 500 companies, have huge budgets for seemingly everything else but anything they want to do through digital. Asking us to work for “exposure” is basically donating our time and unless it’s for charity, that is not worth it.

Exposure hustling is writing for one of the biggest news outlets on the web and not getting paid anything but four new clicks to your Twitter account.

Eyeroll kandi 1 gif

It ain’t worf it, Miss Celie.

There are some opportunities where we can choose to donate our time but those need to be few and far between. Many of us are doing work for companies where millions are being spent on campaigns but those companies just don’t want to spend thousands on US. THAT is a shame.

I know what I’m worth and I know what I bring to any partnership so it’s become very easy to say “NO.” That is not a bad word. I’ve said it many times because what I will not do is compromise myself. Like Nicki Minaj said “if I had accepted pickle juice, I’d still be getting pickle juice.”

I am also aware that when I say “NO” some other person will say “yes” but you came to me first for a reason, right? MMHMMM. In this blogging game (and in other creative professions), people work for free far too often! I implore my fellow digeratis to say “NO” more when asked to work for free because when you do not get compensated for what you do, you make it harder for those of us who ask to be paid to be taken seriously.

We’re so afraid of charging what we’re really worth because we fear that people will walk away. I say good riddance to bad things.

Girl BYE gif

Let them walk, because if you want people to respect the work you do, you do not base it on how “cheap” it is. Because when you’re good and you stand in that dopeness, folks will know you’re worth what you ask for even if they can’t afford it. Sometimes. Ideally. But even for those who want to price you down, be firm. Ask for what you want with a period, not a question mark.

But brands, STOP PRESENTING US WITH PICKLE JUICE COMPENSATION WHEN YOU WANT CHAMPAGNE WORK! Don’t come to collegiates with elementary expectations. Don’t come to this rice party with a kale dish.


I get that you might not have a large budget but you should scale your expectations and govern yourself accordingly. If you can’t come up with a budget, then maybe your campaign needs to not happen right now, BIG COMPANY THAT’S ON THE FORTUNE 500 LIST. Maybe you should sit this one out.

And these “diversity” budgets you all have that basically means “give the people of color less money” is completely ridiculous because WE have a $1 trillion spending power. So when you show up at our doorstep saying you only have a tiny amount of money to work with, you’re insulting me and my skinfolk. It is reductive and it is not ok.

not cool gif

Brands and PR companies, when you come to us with these offers, ask yourselves why we need you if you aren’t going to come with payment that is quantifiable. Some of us even have more followers and engagement than you. Why would we need your “exposure” in those cases? I get when the smaller brands who are just starting out do it but when the HUGE ones do it, it is inexcusable.

I’ve bent over backwards for the opportunity to work with some companies before. I’ve charged what I knew was less than my value just to “build relationships” and in the end, all I feel is cheated. And THAT is the greatest suck of all. When you realize that you were taken advantage of and you let it happen, that’s when you decide you don’t want it to happen again.

All my life I’ve had to fight to be taken seriously (like Miss Sofia). I still fight. People see the goofy but they don’t see the grind. I’ve been in this blogging game for over a decade. I’ve paid my dues so now pay me MY dues.

Boom Potter gif

I am not parched just to say I worked with SO and SO. You want me to work for free even though I have numbers, impact and proven influence? Why should I give access to my audience and to my name when you won’t access some money to compensate me? Chile… bye. In the words of Miss Jackson (if you nasty) what have you done for ME lately?

The next email I get that says “we don’t have a budget” might get an autoresponder email that says “LMAOOOOOOOOOO NO.” Or I might just send them a link to this post.

We can work together but you’ve got to be willing to compensate us fairly so we can ALL win.


I asked some of my fellow OGs and long-time bloggers/writers their thoughts on this and here are some:

“Link love is not a form of payment accepted by the mortgage company, and spending five hours writing, taking pictures, designing your posts and begging your Twitter and FaceBook friends to read them for the privilege of giving away a $25 basket of face wash is, in my Bernie Mac voice, some bull. Simply put: working for free is for suckers.

I do recognize the value of influence, networking and blogging for the greater good. But really, like the love between Nina and Darius in love jones, it’s become urgent like a m#th*f^ck@ for me to get paid for my work. Because my writers need to eat. My designer needs a check for her services. And I’m underpaid right now. Which just won’t work if the babies are going to Yale. I gotta save up for the tuition. Nothing personal.” Denene Millner of MyBrownBaby

“It takes money to make money. Coming to us for exposure is taking away time, energy, and resources from all the other things we could be doing with/for our audience. If an agency wouldn’t do their promo work for free, they should feel some kind of way asking US to do the same…” – Erika Kendall of A Black Girls’ Guide to Weight Loss

“My kid can’t eat exposure, it’s not one of the food groups.” – Britni Danielle

“I already have exposure. It’s how they FOUND me. I was exposing myself.” – Kelly Wickham of MochaMomma

THIS points Up gif

The Bloggess once put it in the best way:

“Please know that we agree with you completely and that we will be happy to accept a high-res picture of “Nathan Fillion holding some twine” in return for publicizing your product just as soon as that becomes an acceptable form of currency anywhere in the entire goddam world. Until then, please take us off the mailing list of bloggers-who-are-so-desperate-for-content-that-we-assume-they’ll-write-for-free-about-pretty-much-anything-we-hand-them. We would, however, be thrilled to be placed on your list of bloggers-whose-time-is-worth-real-compensation-and-whose-highly-reasonable-rate-sheets-are-available-upon-request.”

IMPORTANT: Note that I do NOT allow the republishing or reposting of my blog posts in full. I allow TWO PARAGRAPHS (maximum) and a link back to my site for people to read the rest. I repeat, DO NOT copy and paste my entire blog post to your site. This has happened TWICE with this one.

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  1. October 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

    PREACH! I’m a lurker, but I had to say SOMETHING on this one. I’m happy to read your take on this. Very well said.

  2. October 13, 2014 at 10:21 am

    “All the nopes that ever noted in nopeland!” Word for word my line…as a response to stupid emails, to my kids at night when they want to try me and to my husband when he comes to bed at 11pm asking if I am asleep. LMAO…word for word. I had to stop and reread because I was laughing so hard I cried. Either we are related or I read your blog too damn much! LMAO

    • October 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      You know what my vote is, right? 😉

      Yes to all of this. I may just throw a link to this post up on my PR page because, yes. I must’ve gotten on some mailing list lately and it is nothing but “let me tell you about this product”. I should write a post called “let me tell you about these billz”. You got me worked up all over again!

      Let me go breathe and burn some sage. Woosaah!

  3. TMH
    October 13, 2014 at 10:21 am

    A design professor used to tell a story of being asked to do pro bono work for ‘exposure’, then getting invited to a project kick off luncheon at a posh hotel that cost more than his fees would have been. Lesson learned and shared. I tell people all the time to work for money ’cause when they don’t, we ALL lose.

  4. October 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Yesssss, Luvbie, alladis! SunTrust don’t take ‘exposure’ as my mortgage payment. But I will admit, I’m a sucker for bartering, so if you can install some cabinets, I can hook you up with a photoshoot session.

  5. October 13, 2014 at 10:25 am


    This is my humble cry each and every day. That “Big Brand X” will hop all the way out of my inbox asking me to bring all of my resources, time, energy and readership to the forefront of their mediocre brand all for…exposure. Now let’s be clear, having more followers and more awareness is never a bad thing. But dangling that as payment for a project that will clearly take time, energy and effort is appalling. I won’t even offer other people who work for ME exposure in exchange for work. I always pay what little pennies I have to my fellow creatives. So WHY in the world does “Big Brand X” expect that we should work for one new follower on Instagram? Oh because “Other Blogger 123” already told them they’d do it.

    Stop the madness!

    • October 13, 2014 at 11:18 am

      GWIRRRLLLLLLLLLL. It makes no sense. and they don’t realize that we talk to each other too.

  6. October 13, 2014 at 10:33 am

    ALL of this and more, sis. Linda, honey, listen…ain’t nobody got tahm for that kind of foolishment. Thank you for writing this.

    • October 13, 2014 at 11:17 am

      It’s been sitting on my spirit for TOO long!

  7. October 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I’m in the creative field, so I understand COMPLETELY how insulting it is. People want $2,000-looking websites for $200.


    It’s sad!

    OAN: One of these days, I’m going to work with you. I’d love to hire you to blog for a brand that I’ve been working on. Let me get my money up first 😀

    • October 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

      I’m here when you’re ready, Melody!

  8. October 13, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Yes. Yep. Yup. Yessir. YAS. Speak this truth on this Monday morning Luvvie. Next time AT&T says my bill is due, I’ma ask them if I can pay them in some exposure that a company offered me. Or I’ma tell them “I don’t have a budget”, and I’m gonna count down how many days pass before they tell me girl bye and cut my line access. It’s just not acceptable. These brands have all types of nerve to approach bloggers like we’re the help, when they NEED us, not the other way around (especially if they don’t have coins for compensation). Truth is I’m tired. But please set that autoresponder. I need that in my life.

    • October 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

      I saw “Truth is I’m tired.” and started singing “options are few. I’m all churched out. Hurt and abused.” LMAOOOO.

      • February 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm

        Ha! Me too! Im going to have to link to this in my resources area for all the creative entrepreneurs on my membership site. Only 2 paragraphs! Truth is im tired!

    • October 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

      This is a very relevant post. Everyone has to eat. I don’t blog. I don’t think i’d be a very good blogger because I like reading too much. Admittedly, I only follow your blog. I don’t have time. If I sign up for something it has to be relevant, informative, interesting and entertaining. They want you to be all that for exposure? What that lady say:

      This post spoke to me. I’m a lawyer in the Caribbean and people keep wanting legal work done for next to nothing and they don’t understand (or care to understand) the work that goes into completing (effectively and timely) the task assigned. The American clients are sometimes THE WORST. Yea, about those Fortune 500 companies??? -_-

      What frustrates me the most is that I am virtually certain that they don’t fuss with their doctors about the costs of their surgeries etc. They find the money and they pay them. I am done with all of this fighting me down crap. I did 6 years in school to be hustled. I do take on genuine pro bono work but all the others have to pay me just like they pay the doctors. I am on a total pay first system here.

      The flip side is that I see the exposure value in my line of work and from time to time, I am tempted to do it for the street cred? But generally, I am like “I’m sorry, the Firm’s capacity to render services at this point in time is limited”.

      • Classy lady
        October 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm

        Actually, they don’t pay their doctors either. They expect the insurance company to. Calling up asking if we can change the diagnosis code so they don’t have to pay the copay. Or calling/messaging the office all day instead of scheduling a follow up visit. Chile, please. Everyone stays trying to get over. I’m sorry sir, I can’t stay calling you erryday, you are not my only patient. I actually have two patients waiting in the room right now. Gtg.

  9. Rebekah Sanderlin
    October 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    YES!!!! Also, I can’t afford to do free work because if I put my name on something, I’m going to make it tight, not sloppy. That’s my NAME. I’m not going to put my name on work I’ve done unless it’s work that I’m proud of. I put the same effort into free work that I put into paid work — and I may not be good at math, but even I can figure out that that means I can only afford to do a tiny amount of free work. If I’m donating my valuable time, it’s going to be to a valuable cause –not a corporation.

  10. October 13, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I’ve written a post like this before too and we’re gonna hafta keep writing them until brands get it through their thick skulls. Thank you for this, it’s fabulous!

  11. mzmiamiheat
    October 13, 2014 at 11:48 am

    “The next email I get that says “we don’t have a budget” might get an autoresponder email that says “LMAOOOOOOOOOO NO.” Or I might just send them a link to this post.”

    I vote for the second, link that ass right on over here, and see how Mz. Luvvie lay slaughterhouse to y’all ratchet fortune 500 ‘ers….

    Hell I know I don’t make what you make and they can’t get me to be in here for free for NUCHIN’!!!!

  12. October 13, 2014 at 11:50 am

    OMG this right here is the whole truth and nothing but the truth! I have said NO way more times this year than I can count. But guess what? I’m also signing more contracts with great brands and people that value my work. I can’t travel the world with my fam (big future goal) on exposure or do any of the other things already mentioned. I would love to share/link back to this post on my blog so that, I too, can send a link to it the next time I get an e-mail offering me free product and exposure. Thanks so much for sharing this great open letter! One of my favorite lines: “I already have exposure. It’s how they FOUND me. I was exposing myself.” LMBO

  13. October 13, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Good post! As a relatively new blogger I don’t get many big companies calling me but the one’s I do say it all the time. “Submit a post for exposure.” or “We want to get your voice heard” I refuse every time. I know it has probably hurt my ability to get noticed, when my small blog only gets in front of a few hundred eyes. But I just can’t work for free. If I don’t put a value on my work who will. Thanks for saying it for all of us big and small.

  14. October 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    If I get one more damb email begging me to write about a product I’ve never used or even heard of, because some brand will “share our favorite posts via our social channels,” I’m gonna scream. So…you want me to take my time and energy writing a post linking to you and your products that I never heard of before today for the slim chance that you MIGHT share my work? So not only are you insulting me by not offering compensation, you can’t even guarantee you’ll share it? That’s some boolsheet, and all ya’ll can kiss my…

    I wish I could like and share this post a thousand times.

  15. lamar
    October 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    So glad you set them straight as only you can Luvvie. If you dont know your own worth, everyone else will think you’re worthless or worth less.
    and thanks for the Jem and the Hologams gif. that slayed me and gave me life again. Lol

  16. October 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I’m a blogger and this annoys me too. But my “hobby-come-side-job” before I became a blogger was being a musician in a band. Do you know how many gigs we were offered and the payment was exposure?

    Just yesterday morning I heard a woman on the radio talking about the same thing. One of the largest retailers here in Australia in one of the largest shopping centres in Sydney put an advertisement in the employment section asking for a singer/pianist to work from the end of October up until Xmas Eve doing Christmas songs. The payment? Exposure.

    Exposure? Playing Christmas songs to a bunch of nobody shoppers? It’s not even playing your own songs. Pffft.

  17. Jamilah Barnes Creekmur
    October 13, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    This cycle stops with “No”. While we would LOVE to be a part of the campaign, Luvvie’s involvement has a MAJOR value. Luvvie understands her value. And so should her fellow bloggers. And its LUVVIE’s job (and mine-lol) to uphold her value and brand integrity by politely saying No. It’s not the brand/agencies job to do that. The longer she says yes to Free Participation (especially with Fortune 500 companies), the longer she goes without getting paid and growing her BUSINESS. The companies will continue to ask you to be involved for free. As long as you say yes, why should they ever pay you, if they know you will do it for free? Ask yourself: What is your participation worth? What is your audience worth? Nothing….ok, then do it for free. But if there is value, stand confidently in that value. This is not a hobby. This is a career and a business that she & other bloggers have chosen to launch. Respect their business enough to invest your advertising dollars. These agencies are NOT working with the brands for free. Why should we? It is up to the Bloggers to demand better and to get their brand MOVED from the free/promotions department, over to the advertising department and get on some RFPs. Its extremely uncomfortable during the process, because when the campaign launches, you feel like you lost money & promotion. BUT…then, the Yes comes. And you take THAT to the bank. It’s business. Not personal. When your site/blog actually has the real numbers, years of hard work and verified traffic to deserve being included on RFPs, it is your job as a business/blog owner, to stand firmly and ask for what you deserve. (sorry for my long rant. but you know how I feel about this Luvvie). Excellent excellent post.

  18. October 13, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Yes, yep, Si, Sim, Ja, Opo – I think you get it – no matter what language you speak – AMEN, sista. This is not just a blogger thing – it is also a creative writers, ideation leaders and intellectual property creators…. People say they value creativity and innovative thinking but NEVER want to pay for it and never want to pay the market value – why? Because of what you stated – there are so many of our peers out there hooking, shucking and jiving their brains for peanuts. Wake up. Stand up. Own and value your talent or no one will. You rock. Thanks for the added validation and link to send to the folks.

  19. Naomi
    October 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Can I just say I love the Jem gif!

  20. October 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    This right ain’t nothing but the truth!!!! As a brand I get emails from bloggers/vloggers who wants free products to review and they will give me exposure! But you found me though so ain’t I exposed? Anywhoo I also get requests from sample product box companies who wants 10k samples FOR FREE and in return I get “Exposure” chile bye and no thank you! I think it’s out right disrespectful! If I want to work with a blogger/vlogger I always ask for their rates…..they have to eat too and if I can’t afford them I ask for a payment plan…..I sure do!! All they can say is yes or no but I would never ever pull that exposer bs on folk!

  21. October 13, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I don’t even understand why a company would ask a large blogger to work for free anyway. They could turn around and jack your whole campaign up and there’s no liability. Just don’t show up and hit em with the “well you aint paying me so…”

  22. October 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Totally needed this read today, so thanks for being so brilliant 😉

    You know, I think the worst part (that they don’t realize) is that when they contact us wanting these “freebies”… they’re losing value. If I read an email from a brand and feel offended afterwards, it leaves a bad taste behind that lingers = Bad PR!

  23. October 13, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Well written and kudos! Keep teaching!

  24. October 13, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    My friend-in-my-head Luvvie… I want to just wave you with palm leaves and feed you grapes because of this. I find myself constantly angry and feeling trapped because of this. My numbers don’t compare to other blogs, but I have presence and I know this. Because I write about breast cancer, I think that everyone feels that working for free is just an honor for me. But the truth is, I have a lot of bills – really expensive medical bills in fact from my cancer experience – and working for free is useless. I get deeply annoyed sometimes by the requests. But I realize that nurturing those relationships often means that I have to remind people that this blogging thing that I do… is as much of a job as that marketing thing that they do, and they get a check every pay period.

    It makes my stomach ball up in knots to find myself sitting around tables talking about the work of breast cancer social media and realizing that I (and other bloggers) are the only ones in the room who have not collected a paycheck to be there. *sigh* I love what I do. I get better every day. But this free stuff is for the birds.

  25. October 13, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Wow — offering exposure to someone with exposure? Interesting! I definitely haven’t been a member of the blogosphere long enough to have these type of bogus offers blowing up my inbox (I ain’t got it like that), but I can understand your frustration. The nerve hunty! *clutches pearls*

    Keep shining. All the way to the bank. 😉


  26. October 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Kale to a rice party. Best one liner ever. Great read. So true!

  27. October 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Best article I’ve read on this big issue in blogging! Often brands think their doing US a favor. I am so often confused by these brands I don’t even respond to their nonsense. I figure they think I am invisible by wanting free labor so my response to them is blank.

  28. BeautifulGorgeous
    October 13, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    My daughter is a graphic designer and faces similar challenges. Folks wanting custom designed logos for $50. It takes her hours to days to complete those designs. I’m her agent now in those situations and mama don’t take no mess.

  29. October 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Girl yyyaaasss! All of this! We have sowed and the reaping is here!!!

  30. October 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Imagine me fist-bumping you, then doing a realistic exploding fireworksy sound of joy upon completion.
    I am so, so sick of companies I KNOW HAVE MONEY telling me they can’t pay me for something they want me to to which will earn them money. Or [takes deep breath] talk shows/websites/magazines I KNOW HAVE MONEY asking me to write in exchange for “exposure.”
    I relented one time, since this place (<–that's me being vague) had well over a million Facebook/Twitter followers, I was promised link-backs, etc and GUESS how many new followers I got? GOOSEFRICKINEGG. I tracked for 3 months after my post went live, and I had 2 click-throughs. No thank you, honey. I'm done with that shizzle. Never again.
    It is insulting, it makes them look like they are taking advantage of us (umm…which they are), and I hope your message gets through to them.

  31. […] You want us to work for free and our compensation is “exposure?” (Link Here) […]

  32. October 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    OMG! Girl….you just hit the nail on the head for REAL! I’m still a little new to the game but this is one thing that I have picked up on quite fast. It is a total shame. I’ve learned to say NOOO quite often with no hesitation. Great open letter. I’m all here for this! Let the church say Amen! xo

  33. October 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    thanks for the FYI! i’m a small time blogger and haven’t been approached yet… BUT, when you are in the legal profession, people ask you legal questions ALL the time and want you to give them legal advice, on the spot for FREE!!! huh? you asking me a question that will require me to spend 4-6 hours doing legal research at $200 per hour for FREE?

    I can’t.

    until student loans say they will take ‘exposure’ as payment, i cannot. exposure will not pay for my clothes addiction or my technology fetish. it just doesn’t. My leasing company doesn’t do ‘promise’ payments each month either.

    i have no damns to give. if you can’t afford to pay me, you can’t afford for me to read your email

  34. October 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Perfection!! So well-written, so spot-on, and SO motivating for all of us to confidently say NO to these “pitches”! And PS, love the closing paragraph from The Blogess in there! Thank you 🙂

  35. October 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm


  36. October 13, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Word! I’m a new-ish blogger trying to make this more than a hobby. Love the gifs!

  37. yvette
    October 13, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    In my experience as a brand, it is the complete opposite. We get hit up daily by bloggers asking for free stuff and they will do a post about it. (with their 3 followers) When did blogs turn into advertising space to be bought? I always thought it worked hand in hand. All those flashing ads that you place before our reading eyes, that is how a blog, a magazine a newspaper make money. Vogue/Cosmopolitan/Elle, they don’t get paid by Givenchy/Levis/Coach or even me for that matter when they pull our pieces for an editorial shoot. We loan the piece and in turn get exposure. Brands and blogs should work hand in hand. If you are wanting to get paid for your opinion, how are we to know what you are saying is truthful or if some brand has bought your praise. There are definitely 2 sides to this coin…

  38. October 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    YES! YES! YES!!!!!!!!! I have learned to say NO! NO! NO!!!!!!!!

  39. October 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Thank you.
    (Slow hand clap, and standing ovation.)

    Harlan Ellison has a sublime interview about “exposure.” (And this is a guy who’s been a pro for more than 40 years.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

    Since you brought up the phone issue, I have to share. A major carrier asked me to be an “Ambassador” — I thought “hell, yes, I’m in the Major Leagues now!” They sent me the new phone — the carrier wanted a monthly blog post and many social media mentions, conference calls and a monthly Twitter party. I priced it out — and it was $17,500 a year worth of my brand value that they were asking for. The kicker was that I had to purchase their cellular service — at the cost of $1,300 a year! “But we’ll be sending you three of the latest mobile devices a year.” Yes. They wanted me to PAY THEM for promoting their product. I’m still flabbergasted.

    Thanks again for taking a stance and speaking up.

    All the best,

    Nannette Eaton

  40. […] for anyone and everyone that contacted me to do so – I’m just going to link to this post and […]

  41. October 14, 2014 at 3:16 am

    I so love the last two opinions:

    One takeaway from this post is ‘don’t sell yourself short.’ Creative professions tend to get this very often, closely followed by the Medical field. But it applies to all areas of life.

    My final thoughts: Until blogging becomes a ‘formalized’ industry, we’ll still continue to have these recurrences.

  42. […] Because when you’re good and you stand in that dopeness, folks will know you’re worth what you ask for even if they can’t afford it. Sometimes. Ideally. But even for those who want to price you down, be firm. Ask for what you want with a period, not a question mark. – From Luvvie’s post Dear Brands Who Wan to Pay me (and Other Bloggers) in “Exposure.”  […]

  43. October 14, 2014 at 6:39 am

    A-to-the-MEN!!! The best article I’ve ever read in EVER! GIFs and all!

    “I already have exposure. It’s how they FOUND me. I was exposing myself.” SHE BETTER SAY THAT!

  44. October 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I agree with you and this past year I have changed my company policy and state that on my about page. I have turned down “free” wine glasses for a post because I’m worth more than $60. I have turned down “opportunities” to meet a food celebrity 6 hours away because they wouldn’t pay for my expenses. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I realize that women don’t stand up for their value the men do. When I was a professional faux artist, way too many woman would do a house for free or dirt cheap to get referrals that never happened. The men artists couldn’t afford to do that and charged top dollar. I made a decision then to charge my value, even for samples and my business increased. Brand will take advantage of us for two reasons. We let them or often the young PR staff doesn’t realize the value of a high traffic blog and they are just trying to shoot all over to get exposure. They don’t understand. If we as bloggers had a company policy and stuck to it, it would make a great difference. You are so right! Often we have better traffic than they do, but one thing is for sure. THEY NEED US. Bravo to your post. I hope other bloggers will read this and establish a professional policy.

  45. October 14, 2014 at 8:35 am

    So I had to log on just comment because two things hit close to home. I previously worked in the PR department for a major network/television shows. So, I definitely get the line of “this is PR not Marketing” as to why there’s no budget to pay you. Publicity is supposed to be garnered hits and traffic for free. If one was going to pay for it, that would be out of the marketing department’s budget, PR doesn’t really get one(or it’s rather paltry..I was a junior associate then so that was my understanding).
    HOWEVER me as a PR professional I wouldn’t even waste my breath or the keystroke to ask a blogger to do something for free because IM NOT TRYING TO WORK FOR FREE. My rule of thumb has always been, how can my offer benefit the person i’m calling. What can I do for THEM? They don’t have to run/report my story. So, why is it worth their time?!

    This also hit home because right after I graduated, I wrote for a blog/website for free for 6months. I wasn’t sure how their money worked but I figured if they’d had it, I’d get paid. Fast forward another writer being offered pay in my same market. Son their after I was offer pay too, but it dissipated after about 4 months. From that point forward, I vowed I REFUSE to write another character without being compensated unless it’s for my personal use/enjoyment…see my journal. I like to write, but not enough to do it for free everyday(which is why my personal blog goes ignored). I need all my coin. So if I feel that strongly after 6months of free writing I KNOW better than to insult a blogger putting up real numbers doing it for 10 years or better.

    Thank you for the insight. I will take this letter to heart for when I return to the Publicity department, knowing how to tailor a pitch that’s offering you something you could use. IF I don’t have money, Exposure damn sure ain’t it.

    • yvette
      October 14, 2014 at 11:13 am

      “Son their after I was offer pay too” ~ so I am sure the Son was a typo and you meant SoOn, but you were theRe after offerED pay too. Thinking I understand why it dissipated.

  46. October 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Girl you have hit the nail right on its head and drove it through the wood. I have been saying no a whole lot. I know my worth and what I bring to the table, I had to pay for my degree, classes and courses, not to mention the countless hours I continue to spend honing my skills.

    My 16 year old is going off to college in 2015 and I have a 20 month old, so exposure can’t pay college tuition or buy baby diapers.

  47. October 14, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Girrrl, I go through the same bull with my band. We do big corporate parties, charity events etc (some of the ticket prices are $3K each!) I am often asked to “donate” my ten piece orchestra’s night of entertainment because it will be “great exposure.” I want to say “expose this!” (while gesturing pointedly to my butt) Preach Girl! Preach!

  48. October 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Does church dance, you said that! Great post!

  49. October 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I love love love this post, Luvvie. I especially appreciated, “… if I’m so pressed to get one, I’d rather buy one from the check you hand me for the work I just did for you.”

    Here’s a virtual hug. But if I run up on you with a big bear hug the next time I see you, do not be alarmed.

  50. October 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I get the same kind of thing with my photography business. “Photograph X 3-4 hour event in exchange for exposure.” My favorite is when I send the proposal with my prices and I hear back “that’s too much, we’ll do it with our phones,” or “ooh, so and so will do it for a lot less,” like I’m supposed to feel badly about charging what the work is worth. My kid didn’t just call asking if I put exposure on her lunch account, she asked if I put money on her account.

  51. October 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    This one time a brand scraped my content, logo, and images, and after putting it in an e-book and doing the marketing and promoting of my content in this ebook, offered me exposure, once I checked them on it. Had to send a cease and desist & they couldn’t understand… In their eyes they were doing me a favor.

    You can’t be for real… You stole my sh___! I called you out on it and now you want to offer me ‘exposure’. Plus, I had a bigger audience than them…

  52. October 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I love this. It is everything I am thinking about when I open the pr emails I ignore daily.

  53. October 14, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    ESOOOOOO!!! X 1000000 !!! Matter of fact I just might put a link to this on my Media Kit. Gracias y BB2U.

  54. but i'm sleep tho
    October 15, 2014 at 7:54 am

    all of this. i think the movie goodfellas has the best response for big companies that want you to work for free…”fuck you, pay me” lol

  55. October 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this!

  56. LegalEagle
    October 15, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Someone told me when I started practicing that “there is no use trying to be the best hoe on the block if you’re gonna be the cheapest hoe on the block, make people pay you what you’re worth…cause you can’t be both!”

    I still don’t actually get that comment 100%..lol, but it seemed apropos here.

  57. October 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you for telling the truth. Your business can reflect your life. I appreciate your reminder not to settle.

  58. […] talking about adjusting your new budget so that you can get out of debt. Yesterday I read a post on awesomelyluvvie called Dear Brands Who Want to Pay Me (and Other Bloggers) in “Exposure”, I absolutely loved […]

  59. Wes
    October 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    “I’ve charged what I knew was less than my value just to ‘build relationships’ and in the end, all I feel is cheated.” Yes! I can relate to this so much with other types of web work too.

    The whole post is so spot-on. I hope more people will be inspired to demand better. I walked away from a client trying to get me to do free work recently, and lo and behold, suddenly they had the budget. Standing up for yourself, your work, and your ability to pay rent is the way to go.

    And if people are good enough to have been “exposed” to the companies doing this, clearly they aren’t thirsty.

  60. October 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    BWA HA HA “Don’t come to this rice party with a kale dish.” !!!!!!!!!

    Even funnier because I’m Asian, but basically, hell yes to all of above.

  61. Tiffany Anderson
    October 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Craps to all heckness! I just logged in to get a glimpse from the mistress of blogging on how to make decent money doing this, because clearly I’m doing something wrong. But no, I’m not. It’s the multitude of companies not wanting to pay that’s doing all the wrong. So, it’s time to pull out the business skillz, figure out the direct and indirect costs of blogging and charge accordingly. I’m gonna eat, dammette!

  62. October 17, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I’m brand new to your site but I just wanted to say, thanks for this post. I’m in the odd grey zone of being a newbie blogger (for about 12 months) and I feel my numbers are still very low so I’m often quite tempted to accept some pro bono work. Would you say that up until a certain point bloggers should do this work for free, to network (and if so, what is that point?) Or would you recommend that newbie bloggers start requesting payment from the get-go, even when their stats are still very very low?

    I’ve worked in creative fields before and I agree, when we accept lower payments for our work we injure every other person trying to make it in this game. I’m just not sure how tough I should be at this point in my blogging career. 🙂

  63. October 20, 2014 at 12:55 am

    So…I #died during this entire post! This totally boosted me for my week…I feel as though this can be part of a creative’s anthem as well! #byefelicia – if your doctor needs payment and your dentist needs payment why wouldn’t I?

  64. October 20, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I honestly have not thought about it this way and it’s interesting to have that different perspective! As a growing blogger I think exposure is important but right – my time is valuable, too! Thanks for the different outlook and I should be more conscious of what opportunities I encounter!

  65. […] I could go on and on but I won’t because you really need to read it yourself. Hop on over to Luvvie’s blog and read the entire post […]

  66. October 25, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Great speak! This stuff is happening all the time-magazines are the worst. I’m not looking for a byline or exposure; Been there-Done that:)

    Keep the fires of truth burning.

  67. October 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    So happy I found this because it is so true!! I have gotten so many emails from companies telling me, “we love your blog”, can you please create a post bah bah. Some are not even offering exposure, I almost want to say why the heck would I do that. After reading this article weeks ago, If I am going to do a sponsored blog, I need to get paid for my work. If I do a collaboration with no payment, it’s often with people I really admire, and want to work with or it’s a product I love and already use in exchange for the product ( very rare occasions). You are right we need to value ourselves as bloggers, and not to be taken advantage of.

  68. […] I stopped.Read.Read again.Tweeted.Retweeted, and here I am literally copy pasting Luvvie’s post.She aired EVERY SINGLE THING that we bloggers go through but don’t come out and say.If […]

  69. Jameelahtv
    October 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I sing in a local band and I can’t tell you how many times people call me to do exposure gigs… So let me get this straight, you want me to bring a full band to entertain you for 2 hours and you want to pay me in leftovers meatballs from the buffet?? Expose me to some light bill money or this conversation is over! Next time someone asks me about some exposure, I am going to send them the link to this post. Expose deez nuts!

  70. Gingersnap
    October 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    You expand my vocabulary every damb day! I will now be using “All the Nopes that ever noped in Nopeland” regularly!

  71. October 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    oh! I am learning

  72. November 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I’ve been through EVERYTHING that was mentioned in your article, and in a weird way it’s kind of comforting (although no less frustrating) to know that other people go through the same thing.

    Right now I’m working on ONE project for the “exposure”, but it’s being entered in the Star Wars Fan Film Festival and will be seen by potentially MILLIONS of people including Kathleen Kennedy.

    There’s an indeigogo campaign going for it though, and I’ll get an honorarium out of it at least.

    THAT is exposure.

    Asking me to spend a week shooting and editing a music video for your crappy band that nobody’s ever heard of, and thinking that because you have a concept and the costumes/locations for it means that I should get paid in “exposure” to the 17 fans on your facebook page ISN’T.

    (That actually happened to me.)


    I’ve turned down lots of people approaching me to build them custom websites because they think I’m too expensive.

    I actually recommend they just go and build themselves a “wix” page or whatever other free crappy website builder there happens to be, as long as they don’t mind a dull, obviously free (because it will say “built with such and such” on it), uninspired, uninteresting, “samey” kind of website.

    The fact is, was, and ever shall be, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    Screw it, I’m gonna go watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

  73. November 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I just had to send this to a company who wanted to have me create a post that they MAY post to their followers…. Child boo. Don’t give your gift away when you got bills to pay, honey!

  74. February 3, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Well said! I have my own blog (Adore Colour) and the struggle is very real. I do PR for my day job and the “diversity/multicultural” budgets these big brands have is a knee slapper.

  75. February 3, 2015 at 11:29 am

    OMG I can’t GBammm this post enough..People don’t want to pay or give any kind of reward to bloggers yet expect you to keep doing it. I am sharing this!!


  76. Lorna
    February 3, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    “When you realize that you were taken advantage of, and you let it happen, that’s when you decide you don’t want it to happen again.”

    Sentence, will you accept this rose?
    I hereby nominate this sentence for President of the United States.
    Sentence…I Do!! For better, or worse, in paragraphs or in comments, until death do us part!!!

    If you can’t tell, I am so here for this sentence!! I think I’m turned on by the truth and realness of it. *shivers*

  77. February 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    The “necessariness” of this post… I live–I LOVE! It needs to be put on t-shirts. On billboards. On bumper stickers. As a TV news crawler. As breaking news. As, as…

    I got “got”–for 3 straight years–I sho nuff woke up, though…

  78. February 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    As a professional artist I loved every word of this.

    “Exposure” is something people die of. Keep working for it, and they’ll write it on your toe tag.

  79. February 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Wow! I could not have said it better myself! (I especially love your Color Purple reference, one of my fave movies of all time!!) Thank you for sharing this, it helps to give those that don’t know the ropes, or that are afraid to say no some confidence and guidance!

  80. AuntHo
    February 24, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Love you Luvvie!!

    Sorry this is long — I have suggestions because I have been BOTH a creative freelancer and a F500 corporate marketer with pitiful budgets. (They get to the F500 because they GAHTDAMB WELL KNOW how to squeeze profit outta them budgets)

    Professionals who respect each other know that you just have to get creative with value when dollars are short. Any idiot who can’t or won’t FIND A WAY to reciprocate value for value SHOULD hear “no” — ALWAYS — but as a professional without a guaranteed paycheck, you should always be thinking of opportunities you could leverage with them, their audience or their company before passing. If audiences are not equitable, you can probably think of ways to expand the below.

    Here are some examples of valuable exchanges that don’t hit the budget. In some cases, cost can be significantly reduced and/or planned for a later project or P&L.

    Even suggesting scenarios like these should get you better results (relationships, referrals, future work) than just saying GIRL BYE because the budget is $0.

    1. I post to my followers for you, you send a dedicated email to your audience for me. If audiences are not equitable, ask for 2-3x hits + a digital ad in their newsletter, on their site for 30 days, a weekly social post (or whatever).

    2. Do a thought leadership piece, industry profile, or influencer interview together and mutually promote it. They may have industry contacts you don’t, and this is a great oppty to expand your personal reach. Promotion does not start until the piece is live on both sites.

    3. Webinar, event panel and/or speaking slots (expenses paid by whoever needs free work). Even better — have them commit to sponsor YOUR next webinar and schedule it for a time they can plan the budget.

    4. Access to labor or assets — like a few choices from their house photo/video DB (be sure to include postpro if you need it), a user license for project tools, files or high end systems, a web programmer for a day, or what have you — are all great no-dollar ways to make sure they understand the value of your “free” work AND snag a corporate-level asset for your own use.


  81. March 2, 2015 at 1:29 am


    I was wondering how you started working with brands? My blog is at a much earlier stage and at this point I actually wouldn’t even mind writing in exchange for the products (I know this is counterintuitive to your entire post). I feel like I have more views than some blogs which are even smaller, yet they seem to have already worked with previous brands and so I was just curious as to where to start.


    • April 26, 2015 at 8:59 am

      I asked myself the same question when I began blogging a little less than a year ago, and was told by several fellow bloggers that brands will start approaching you once you continuously product quality content.
      This is exactly what happened to me, and about 8 months into creating several blog posts per week, I started getting approached by pet companies!

  82. March 16, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Booyah! You’ve articulated exactly what I have been thinking for a long time. Great to see you’ve opened up this dialogue, it’s critical for people who do awesome work to be valued. Period.

  83. April 26, 2015 at 8:56 am

    What a wonderful post! I’ve been blogging for almost a year, and have been approached by more & more pet companies as of late, asking for product reviews ~ which leads me to believe that I must be doing something right.

    My social media platforms have been growing nicely, and I already turned down one company asking for a giveaway of a product I just didn’t believe in. It didn’t fit into my niche of responsible dog ownership & the importance of healthy nutrition, daily exercise & training.

    I will be working on a media kit soon, and will be very selective with whom I work with for what compensation. As you mentioned, I don’t just sit down at my desk & whip up a review within 30 minutes. I do thorough research on each product & the company behind it, take my time to produce quality pictures and content. I would like to indeed get compensated for the time I invest in each and every product review.

  84. June 18, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Absolutely BRILLIANT! Everything you said is how I have felt for so long but haven’t been able to write each and every brand a long email. I truly believe no matter our size all of us bloggers need to take a stand and NEVER work for free (well, like you mentioned sometimes when it’s charity). I remember something one brand told me recently when we chatted about this very thing they said, “You never know when that small blogger will turn into a big one and it’s important to build quality relationships with each and every one of them now.” It’s so TRUE! Just because some bloggers are small, doesn’t mean they aren’t worth anything AND those small bloggers will remember those awful brands that wouldn’t pay when they were small when they are much larger. I think bloggers in general have an audience that trusts them and that is why we are so sought after but we need to be compensated too. Great article and thank you so so much for coming out publicly and saying what so many of us want to say!

    p.s. would it be okay to share the link to this post in some of my email responses? 🙂

  85. […] say all of this to go back to a post by Awesomely Luvvie and her post regarding exposure. “Dear Brands, Exposure is Not a Real Form of Payment,” touches on the fact that a content creator should receive payment for their work and despite […]

  86. Jill
    August 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Awesome post! This same BS happens in the illustration field. People ask for free art or logo design for their start up or non profit. To which I say a big hell no. We also have the joy of “spec work” in which someone asks you to do an illustration for free so they can see what you can do. Um, that’s what my portfolio is for!

  87. Kathleen
    August 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm
  88. August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I’m a musician and a blogger so amen, sister.

    Recently I got a call from a local restaurant wanting me to play for free because, well, exposure. When I asked her if she had paid her contractor (she had recently remodeled) and the caterer for the party, she stuttered, “Well, they have materials.” I have a $2,000 guitar, a $500 amp, hours of practice … blah blah blah. At the end of the conversation, I still hadn’t convinced her. She asked for the names of musician friends. Like I’m going to turn in my friends for the same bad deal?

    The same is true for writing. After hundreds of hours and 400,000 hits, I should be paid.

  89. September 5, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Thanks for sticking up for us Bloggers who wish to be compensated for our long hours of work.

  90. October 13, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Let me be your pupil!
    I am over here like….free blender, what is this? Now what am I gonna put in it with no check for groceries.LOL

  91. October 14, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Thank you for writing this. You’re saying what we’re all thinking and inspiring us fellow bloggers!

  92. […] simply providing influencers with a free product is enough to get them talking about you. Many more are looking for financial compensation. This is perfectly understandable – do you work for free? No? Then why should you expect anyone […]

  93. […] raising money, finding work space, IP, going international and finding mentors. Basically the opposite of the below […]

  94. […] simply providing influencers with a free product is enough to get them talking about you. Many more are looking for financial compensation. This is perfectly understandable – do you work for free? No? Then why should you expect anyone […]