The Essential Blogger’s Guide To Negotiating

You may have started blogging because you wanted a creative outlet, or you may have started blogging to have a more creative career. When it comes to growing your blog, working with brands or other bloggers, negotiating will play a role in helping you get to where you want.

There's a myth out there, that most creatives aren't good business people. When in fact the being creative and being business savvy are not mutually exclusive. Andy Warhol? The Olsen Twins? Madonna? Some people tell bloggers that it's best to leave the negotiating to agents or networks so bloggers can focus on what they do best, blogging. While that may sound nice, and comforting to not have to deal with money, all it does is mean the bloggers would have to negotiate with a third party. The truth is, negotiating isn't rocket science, we all do it every day, we negotiate in all of our relationships, it's just a matter of recognizing our skills and improving them.


Know What You Want

The Rolling Stones said, “You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” Always go into a negotiation thinking about the best case scenario. What do you want from this deal realistically? Do you want money? Do you want to build a relationship? Both?  You may not get a million dollars and first-class airfare for life but if you know what you want out of a deal, and what you absolutely need to make it happen, you'll be able to communicate that during the negotiating process.

Know Your Value

What are you worth? Ug, what a dreaded question, but it's essential. Bloggers have many different ways they can bring value to a brand, whether it be through traffic, influence, creative talent or all three, all you have to do is figure out where you're comfortable negotiating and start there. You'll learn to ask for more, or you'll find out if you're asking too much.

There are a few ways to gauge how much I was worth as a blogger. One was by asking my blog friends what they charged for a certain type of campaign, or by looking around at media kits. Another effective way for knowing value was after I did a certain type of campaign, I collected case studies to show potential partners what I could do. This helped in showing my value which made for an easier negotiation.


Focus on Solutions: Think of Win/Win Outcomes

Over the years, I have discovered that most of the time we all go into the negotiation wanting the same thing. In the case of brands and bloggers many times we both want money.  Bloggers want to make money for working with brands, and brands want to generate more sales from working with bloggers. One of the things you can do to make a productive negotiation is to think about what both parties want and see how you can help make that happen. This will help the other party in that you are thinking about what's best for them and this will help you get what you want in the process.


Communicate Clearly

Nothing makes a deal go south faster than asking for one thing and trying to get another. You don't have to always be transparent in your communications (there are reasons for this) but you do have to be straight about what you want if you're going to get it. If you find the person is asking for one thing and trying to get another, don't be afraid to ask them to be more clear about what they want. You can always position it positively by saying, “I noticed you are interested in this, let's talk about it so I can help you.”


Don't be Afraid to Make Mistakes

I love to make mistakes. Well, not really, but I make mistakes all the time. The truth is, never have I made a mistake so bad that it couldn't be learned from, and it couldn't be fixed. If a negotiation goes terribly. If a person walks all over you, you'll just learn to look out for certain behaviors. Everyone makes mistakes, even the pros. So don't sweat it you'll come out fine.


Learn from Your Mistakes

If you're not learning from your mistakes, then I'll just come and slap you. So learn from your mistakes!


Don't Take Things Personal

Most people are looking out for themselves, including you, especially in business. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don't. Most of the time it's not for personal reasons, and even if they were, that's just the way life is. The truth is, we have as many opportunities in life as we show up for, so don't worry, you're going to do great.


Trust Your Intuition

If something in the pit of your stomach doesn't like something, or if you know in your heart of hearts something is really going to be good. If you get a good feeling from someone or if you don't. Listen to it. Even if someone says all the right things and something tells you something's up. Listen to it. Whether a deal is good or bad, your intuition will know if it's good for you.


Practice, Practice, Practice

You won't get better if you don't practice. Take every opportunity to negotiate you can. Whether it be a small thing or a deal with a big brand every little time you negotiate will help you build more positive relationships with your business partners, with you friends and generally all through your life.


Negotiating is a life long process and can always be improved. Just start out anywhere and see where you end up, you could be pleasantly surprised.


Image by anna gutermuth



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15 Responses

  1. Disneyrollergirl

    Love this post Jenine. So well put. I always find it better to negotiate via email so they can’t put you on the spot plus everything is in writing. It’s a bit more longwinded sometimes but then you can go back and check who said what, rather than in a conversation where you can forget what was agreed.

    • Jennine Jacob

      Good point! Also, if you have a conversation, it’s good to follow up in email about your notes, that way you can verify and clairfy what was discussed.

      As long as we are on the topic of getting things in writing, when you reach your agreement, it’s always good to summarize what is agreed upon so both parties can be working off the same deliverables list, even better yet, a contract.

      • Daniel Dunt

        This is such a great point!

        I recently agreed to host a giveaway on my blog, yet once the giveaway had begun, the brand started chopping and changing what they wanted out of the giveaway. First it was traffic to their website, and then it was more followers on their Twitter page. It all got very confusing, and being able to check back to an email I had sent previously which outlined everything clearly was a huge bonus and worked in my favour entirely!

      • Jennine Jacob

        Oh my, that sounds like a crazy experience, I wish I could say I never had anything like that happen to me, but alas, it has. Having things in writing is so important for both parties! 🙂

  2. Joanne M

    Such great advice. I’m at the point where I need to reevaluate my worth and how I work with brands and shops. This info/advice came at the perfect time!!

  3. Nicole Feliciano

    I am a horrible negotiator (my husband mocks me for it–he’s awesome). It’s something I continue to work on. I do have a manager handle most things, but you are so right one often has to dig in and get one’s hands dirty.

    Thanks for these reminders.

  4. Cynthia

    Thanks for the tips. I haven’t really had to negotiate for anything yet – most of my reviews come from discovering products at stores and then contacting a company or its PR (or both) if they’re small enough for me to do so. I’m usually sent products to review shortly after. I haven’t had the guts to contact fashion companies yet, though. And as a Canadian, it’s harder due to costs of sending things up here and the fact that Canadian designers are less likely to send out samples to bloggers (but then again, I haven’t really asked).

  5. Emilee Jean

    Does anyone prefer working through a third party? I was recently contacted by a company called HelloSociety to work with on Pinterest. I can’t find any reviews on them but I haven’t been contacted by anyone else either. I don’t know whether to say yes so they will get me more opportunities or say no and hope more individual companies contact me.

    • Jennine Jacob

      Hey there, I know a lot of bloggers like to work through a third party, but a lot of bloggers don’t have much better luck unless they have a very good agent.

      My experience is that if you’re looking to grow your business, then it’s best to be in charge, that way you can go after the sponsors you want, instead of relying on someone to do it for you.

  6. Shermain

    I absolutely love this article! As a blogger sometimes it’s hard to gauge your value and sometimes I am intimidated by the idea of negotiating and whether I can do so effectively enough to bring some much needed cache to my site. This article puts me at ease though. I’m ready to go do my thing now! Thanks!

  7. Jessica Sanders

    Wow, love this article!! Great points and a great way to look at the task of negotiating. What once seemed daunting now seems a bit more stress free. Thanks!

  8. Monique

    Ahh! Thank you for this! I’ve been getting a couple emails about wanting to collaborate on my blog and I sit here on my desk going, “What should I do??!”. I’d love to understand more about knowing one’s value — I still consider myself fairly new to blogging so I’m unsure how to gauge that (value).

  9. Gaby

    Great article! It comes so handy… I thought it was just me!
    The negotiating tools are essentials! It is important to understand that we invest so much time (and dedication, love, thoughts) on our blogs… if people/brand/companies start noticing is the perfect situation, plus we get paid for doing what we love.
    Thanks for this post