In my post on blogging sins I've committed, I wrote under Wrath: I received more contact from press agencies and people looking for coverage. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve sent a nasty email or two that has likely burned a bridge I wish it hadn’t.
Recently an affiliate program reached out to me and invited me to join their network. I try to keep my network circle tight and full of stores I personally use and happily recommend. This is for a site I've never heard of, focusing on a type of jewelry I'd never wear.
I have visited your site at www.mischiefmydear.com/dramatispersonae and saw it is about fashion, life & style in New Orleans….
Your website would be a good fit for our products. I'm writing to invite you to join our partner program and earn 8% commission on sales by placing text, banner and product links on www.mischiefmydear.com/dramatispersonae.
Would you be the proper person to contact regarding a partnership with COMPANY?
I've been adopting a policy of “don't be rude, because you never know when you'll meet up with someone again.” So I sent back a quick reply of,
“Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing information about your affiliate program. I'll be sure to review the program to see if it is a good fit with my site. If I have any questions, I'll be sure to get in touch.“
(I like to call this a polite TNT- “Thanks, but No Thanks” email.)
It was when I received a reply saying, “Thank you for your email and interest in our affiliate programme,” and “Let me know if you have any problem registering” that I realized perhaps my intent wasn't quite clear enough.
The problem with interacting via email is simply our grasp of the written language: both in composing and comprehending what's in front of us. Nothing replaces in-person interaction, but in the world of digital publications, email is de rigueur.
So how can you make sure that you're communicating clearly with potential advertisers and companies?
- Have a published page of policies in place you can refer them to. It's (theoretically) easier if it's easy to find on your site, but having something you can point them to that answers their questions shortens the need for unnecessary conversations.
- Create response templates: create a standard letter you can send. Not interested in selling text links? Thank you for your interest in sponsored content on my site! Unfortunately I do not accept guest posts on my site, but if you're interested in advertising options, please see this page for my rates and policies. Copy. Paste. Add in a name. Hit send.
- Be direct about what you will and won't do. Don't waver back and force in your email: “Well, I don't typically accept sponsored posts, but maybe I could for this brand.” You either do or you don't. “Thanks for your interest in purchasing text links, but I don't sell those on my site,” or “Thanks for the invitation to join your affiliate program, but I don't run advertising on my site.” It's all simple, direct, and not wasting anyone's time.
- Be firm when necessary. I've had dozens of text link advertisers respond to my, “No thank you,” email with “Well I will give you this and you will accept.” And on hearing “no thank you” again? Still trying to push me! Sometimes your patience wears thin, but remember you can be firm, say “no,” and be polite at the same time. If that doesn't work, there's no harm in ignoring them.
- If you're not certain what they're asking for, say so. “Could you give me more details about the type of program you're interested in running?” is usually enough for them to clarify what their “advertising opportunity” really is.
Communication online will never be perfect or easy– we're missing out on some vital parts of interaction, after all! (Body language, voice, tone, expression, etc.) But by writing clearly, simply, and directly, you can clear up a lot of miscommunication early on.