Another day, yet another influencer scandal.

This time, it’s 174,000 followers strong ‘Dining With Skyler’ a self renounced foodie, who was looking for some help with her social media accounts. Posting out to her followers she shared, “Seeking social media intern! We need your help with all of our platforms.”

It sounded like a normal call out for a job listing, especially with her cult following. However, it was as you continued to scroll down you realise it wasn’t a usual job offer. The offer itself, was to work for free, gaining ‘college credit’. That’s it. No payment, no freelancer budget. Nothing. Just ‘credit’.

Justifiying herself in the comments, Skylar added: “I interned for credit all throughout college and it helped me graduate a year early in order to save a whole semester’s worth of money. I also learned so much in my internships which led me to start my own business when i graduated early.

Learning in the field is sometimes even more beneficial than a class. I wish we could pay but I’m a self run startup and this is all i can offer. I never would want to take advantage of anyone, and I always ask anyone who is interested in applying what I can teach them to make their time worth while.” But with a huge amount of sponsored adverts and promoted posts on her profile – surely this is a double standard?

Well yes it is. Work pays… and it should do. Your still has a price, and no one should be giving it away for free. Why? Because it sets a precedent that it’s okay to work for free.

Above is an example of a recent post by Skylar. Would she expect ‘Fab Fit Fun’ not to pay her, but to let her say she’s been gifted the box for free for the ‘exposure’. I doubt it. So why does this influencer feel when the shoe is on the other foot its valid?

It’s a dangerous trend I’m seeing more and more in the influencer world. Asking for fans to ‘work for free’, ‘gain exposure’ or even ‘meet me!’. None of this equated to payment.

Calling it a value exchange is a rationalisation at best, however it isn’t going to pay that aspiring social media star’s rent. This is a volunteer experience so lets call it that. It isn’t a job, it’s volunteering. If you just search online there’s thousands of entry level opportunities which come with a paycheck.

I know when I was starting up in the social media world I relied on being able to do what I love because I was being paid. Otherwise how do you pay for that coffee, that internet hosting… even transport to get you to that meeting. It all adds up, and influencers should know this better than anyone else.

Now, I’m not here to write off influencers, there are some fantastic paid opportunities out there to work with talented individuals. For example, YouTuber and presenter Riyadh Khalaf recently put out an opportunity for a new digital producer, and is offering a genuine paid opportunity.

But, we must ensure this isn’t a trend that increases. Influencers are in a position of power and they’ve built their castles based on the fact they can afford to do what they love. So why shouldn’t they give the same practice to another creative?

I’d love to know your thoughts below on influencer payments. Is the exposure worth the free work?