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Instagram and creative control

I hate Instagram. I’m just gonna come out and say it. I hate how all the money that is to be made through blogging is seemingly made through Instagram. I’ve always been more words than images, which is why I’d love my blog to be my money-making machine. But as it stands, there’s not a lot of money to be made via my blog.


That’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to talk about Instagram, and my most recent collaborative woes that have got me thinking about the way I collaborate with brands.

There’s been a few instances now where I, whilst collaborating with a brand, have not had as much creative control as I would like. It’s a fairly new issue, and so I’m still not entirely sure how to approach it or manage it. I’m a bit of a pushover and always have been – in life, not just in blogging. I find it hard to stand up for myself.

I don’t ever like to admit that because we see a lot of:

"Bloggers! Know your worth! You’re bringing the rest of us down! You ruin the industry for all of us if you charge £10 less than we do!"

Or something to that effect.

Point being; you can’t really show weakness in the blogging industry. If you want to succeed, you have to believe you’re the best and also act like it. Sometimes I’m really good at this and wonder why I haven’t been scouted by Gleam Futures yet, other times I think I’m literal garbage and don’t understand why I’m allowed on the internet.


I keep diverting away from my original point. Don’t tell me what content to create if you aren’t paying me!

The first time I got a bit upset about lack of creative control was a paid campaign. And it was totally my fault, and I was more than happy to follow the brief because I was getting dolla. I accept the campaign, signed the contract, and I had to go through with it. But I did make a vow to myself not to accept any collaborations, paid or otherwise, that stated I wouldn’t have creative control or defined what style of image they wanted me to create.

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And then I kinda did it again. This time it was a gifted campaign – they sent over links to past images I’d created, detailing what they liked. I figured since it was a gifting campaign, I had full creative control and could do what I liked. So, I did. And when I sent it over, they asked me to re-shoot. I didn’t have as much of a problem with them asking for a different location than I did with them asking me to change my outfit. That’s not on.

My view, ultimately, is that if you ask me to collaborate via a gifting campaign, you have no right to tell me what to do. My time is valuable and I don’t get a lot of it free to shoot outfits or photos for brands, so when you ask me to re-shoot something, I am not gonna be happy. When you pay me for a collaboration, I think you can absolutely share creative control. I’m there to craft your vision, so if you have an idea for what kind of image you want, we can work together so it stays true to me and fits what you want. But only if I’m paid.

I find it so difficult to actually enforce these views when working with brands. I know exactly how I feel in my head and I can chat about it with other bloggers, as I did last week, but when it comes down to defining my collaboration with brands, I get shy. I never want to feel like I’m being cheeky or asking for too much, even though I know I’m well within my rights to say no or ask for payment if I’ve been asked to re-shoot.

So, how do I be brave? How do I stand up for myself and maintain creative control? I’m not entirely sure, but this is a huge learning process for me and others dipping their toes in the waters of blogging. We all just want to be successful, enjoy what we do and represent the brands we love. I hate how it gets so blurred sometimes.

What's your stance on brands and their level of creative control?

View Comments (8)
  • I don’t really work with brands all that often, or at all. Not through choice, I just don’t have the following/consistency blah blah blah to get campaigns. But from experiences in the past when I have done gifted only work, there is usually not even the obligation to post at all. So hearing that a brand that has gifted something is telling you what to do is really frustrating!

    My personal view is that the best way to take control of these situations is getting better at saying “no” to things. No, I won’t be posting this without payment, and if the brand considers gifting as a payment, then they cannot demand creative control. Start questioning the contracts that pass hands when it’s a gifted only opp, or even better create your own contract that the brand has to sign as well, or create your own stipulations/question specifics with their contract. If they walk away, then they weren’t worth working with in the first place.

    • That’s my experience with gifted campaigns too! I’ve never had a brand be so specific with what they want on a gifted campaign and it’s driving me crazy. I definitely need to stand up for myself more, i’m always worried about offending them or whatever but in the process, i often offend myself! I did message them and say i wasn’t willing to relinquish creative control unless they wanted to sponsor the post, and i’m sticking by it for sure.

  • I feel what you say and I agree. Honestly, I haven’t done a lot of paid campaign but when I did, two years ago I just followed instructions not daring to say something about the way I had to do it, mistaaake. I was too excited to realize I should have control on what I write and as a result my post was…bad, too strict, it was not me as a blogger, just me as storefront for the brand. Now I know how to act and there’s no way I post something which not represent me ! Thank you for your post x

    ps : I’m french so some grammar mistakes are possible haha

    • That’s what i do! I get so excited about these campaigns that i just say yes to anything and then a little further down the line, i realise that i don’t actually like being so restricted. I have a better idea of what i do and don’t like now which i think is important, i just need to be strong enough to tell the brands!

  • I haven’t worked with brands too much, only dipped my toe into the gifting sea. But if they wanted control over my content I’d be charging hella coin, especially if it’s going to mess with your “look” and if they are going to be using it all over their website. I can’t imagine how annoyed you must have been when they told you to re-shoot. I’d feel so awkward! But be that blogging bad ass gal!

    • It makes me so mad!! The only person that should get to decide what i post is me. I’ve decided to just not re-shoot and post the shot i took first because i still love it. If they have an issue i’m more than happy to send the clothes back, i can’t be arsed with the hassle!

  • I definitely know what you mean. If its a gifted basis, I really do believe that you should have more creative stance because it’s not paid for. Even when being paid, I think there should be an agreement with the creative control, so both parties are happy!

    Lucy | Forever September

    • Definitely! I suppose they assume that smaller bloggers are happy to take direction and produce the content they want…WRONG!

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