I think as creatives, writers, small business owners and bloggers we have all been in a position where we are offered the opportunity to work with a company or brand, but it just doesn’t feel like the right fit for your community of readers or audience. I know I’m raising my hand! It would be really easy to just pass right by the e-mail, voice message or DM, but ignoring the request also sends a message…one you might not want to be associated with quite honestly! How often have you been on the opposite side of a company not responding and you thought – What the heck?! Here’s a tip: Don’t be that person. Today I’m breaking down how to turn down a collaboration that isn’t a good fit, as well as providing tips for finding a good middle ground on partnerships.
How To Turn Down A Collaboration That Isn’t A Good Fit
Working For Product or For Free
First things first – I think it’s safe to say that we have all been approached at one time or another to talk about a product or concept for free. “Hi Kait! I hope you’re having a great day. I represent XYZ company and I would love for you to talk about our BRAND NEW PRODUCT. I have hi-res images and sample copy for you to browse and we would need the post to go live by LESS THAN ONE WEEK’S TIME. Let me know your thoughts!”
Let me get something out of the way – lipgloss, jeans and your brand new sulfate free shampoo aren’t going to pay my mortgage or my cell phone bill. It’s absolutely wonderful they think your platform meshes well with theirs, but ultimately, if you are doing work, you should be getting paid. When I first started my blog, I thought free product was awesome and I would take brands up on the offer 8/10 times. Call me young and stupid, but I did! Since this space and my freelance writing has become my career, I am much more picky about which brands I choose to collaborate with and utilize my rate sheets each and every time.
My go-to response for this type of e-mail is:
“Hi NAME, Thank you so much for thinking of me. Do you have a budget for this project? I’m happy to send along my rate sheet.”
I am typically met with something along the lines of “Hi Kait! I’m sorry but we don’t have a monetary budget for this project. We were hoping you would be able to promote this product for future consideration as an influencer.”
I’ll be honest – this response annoys me to no end. It’s basically saying – we want you to work for free to utilize your engaged audience to give us more money in our pocket. HARD PASS.
Though I am often feeling rather stabby, I always try to respond so they know where I stand on the matter.
“Hi NAME, Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly. Unfortunately, I’m unable to work for free. Thanks for thinking of me!” I don’t usually get a response from these e-mails, which is fine by me.
I wrote all about why I don’t work for free or allow people to pick my brain in this post.
It’s Not A Product Or Brand You Love
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of only working with brands you use and love. Talking about a product that you have never used or one that doesn’t reflect your business or brand is so easy to spot. I’m sure anyone reading is nodding their heads. It would be like a dog owner hawking cat treats…just plain odd! With that said, I’ve often been on the receiving end of an e-mail from a brand that is asking to partner. Some of them even offering top dollar for me to write or post about them. While the monetary tag can be enticing (just being honest!), I don’t want to be deceitful to the audience I have cultivated here and on my social channels. My typical response to this is:
“Thank you so much for reaching out to me. Unfortunately, BRAND OR PRODUCT doesn’t align with the content and editorial needs of my brand. GIVE AN EXAMPLE HERE. (Is it a meat brand and you don’t eat meat? A product for cats and you’re allergic? Let them know so they can better understand your why.)”
No Time In Editorial Calendar
We all get busy, especially during the holiday season. Unfortunately, holidays are typically when brands and companies are looking for influencers to collaborate. It makes sense! But sometimes you really just have no time to shoot, create and post within the given time constraints. Be honest with the representative who contacted you. Explain to them that your editorial calendar is completely booked and while you would love to work with them, you don’t think you would be able to put your best foot forward with a post. My go-to response for this scenario is this:
“Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I love BRAND/PRODUCT and use it for EXAMPLE. I would love to partner on this project, but I have to be honest – my editorial calendar is completely booked until FIRST AVAILABLE OPENING. Is there any way you would want to collaborate then? If not, I completely understand, but would love to be kept in mind for future partnerships.”
This response 1. doesn’t leave the PR contact hanging 2. let’s them know they’ve hit the influencer jackpot since you love their company, too and 3. they can eliminate you from their list of influencers they need to meet their quota for the project at hand. With a response like this, you also let the brand know that you would be willing to work together in the future and aren’t closing the door altogether. This is so important for maintaining relationships!
I hope these scenarios and examples have been helpful if you’ve ever been in a position to turn down a writing or posting collaboration with a brand or company. What are some of your tips and tricks for finding partnerships that work well?