Why Brands Don’t Want to Work With You – Part 2


Last month I covered a few of the reasons brands don't want to work with your blog when the issue is with them. What if the reason brands don't want to work with you is, well, you? It's rare that you'll get feedback from brands who decide not to do business with you. Many times, the blogger selection and rejection process happens before the first contact emails go out, so you never know that you were considered in the first place.

It's Not Them, It's You

It's impossible to know what goes on in every marketing meeting about a product launch, or particular campaign, but there are some common reasons why bloggers lose out on work with brands and potential advertisers.

1. You're Too Expensive

This is one of the hardest reasons to pin down without direct feedback. Some bloggers will have media kits that provide stats on traffic, ad rates and other things that can give you a better idea of what you should expect in terms of pricing. Even for A-list bloggers who seem to land a new brand campaign or partnership every week, getting anyone on record about how much they're earning, and how much traffic it took to get there is like pulling teeth though. So what most bloggers are left with are guesstimates about what a fair price is.

Add to that, even if you are at a reasonable price, there are other reasons (covered next) why brands don't want to work with you, and you may confuse that with a pricing issue.

The Fix: Whether you publish ad and partnership rates and requirements publicly, or require more direct contact, there are a few things you can do to determine if you're losing out on potential business because your rates are just too high. First, establish an entry level offering, and figure out the benefits from a data driven perspective.

For example, if you've run pay-per-click ads on your blog, and know that on average you make $0.50/click, double that amount and you're probably closer to what an advertiser actually paid. Then, figure out how many clicks the ads on your blog average on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. If you send an average of 50 clicks per week, and people are paying $1/click, ads at a rate of $50/week would be a reasonable starting rate, and you'll have the numbers to prove it.

Your entry level package is just that – an entry, not the end. Which means that you can and should test adding higher priced options on top of the basics, but you won't lose out on brands who aren't able to start at the top.

2. You're Too Complicated

This is a bit easier. Everyone wants to know that the brand they're considering working with has actually read the blog and put some though into who they're partnering with. Let's not make this rocket science though! If someone from a brand has to go through an agent for the gold level partnership, email a different person for silver level advertising, and contact yet another person for the entry level option, and read your 5000-word list of rules for potential partners, the problem is definitely you.

The Fix: Have a single point of contact who can send any requests along to the right person. Your list of requirements or restrictions should fit into a single paragraph of no more than 5 sentences. Something along the lines of “MyStyleBlog has a minimum advertising spend of $100 per month. All ads and partnerships are subject to approval before appearing on this site. We do not accept the following type of ads:…” That gives advertisers all the information they need so that they're not wasting their time or yours, and it gets to the point. If the list of advertising or partnership types that you do not accept is longer than those that you do, consider listing what is acceptable – whichever would be simplest for someone new to your site to understand.

3. You're Too Hard to Find

If a blog falls in the forest and no one is there to… maybe that's not how the saying goes, but you get the idea. If you're blogging in a vacuum hoping for advertisers and brands to discover you and throw product and money at you, you're probably going to be disappointed fairly often. For the last four years, I've worked on a project that's heavily focused on discovering up and coming fashion blogs. Filtering out the spam blogs, and the blogs that have fallen by the wayside, the most recent list that I compiled had more than 5000 active fashion and beauty blogs. The most common reason why brands don't want to work with you is probably because they don't know you exist.

The Fix: Be in as many places as you can. There's a new social network coming out every week. You were doing well on Instagram? Now you've got to think about Vine. In 6 months, you may have to think about something else. It's hard to maintain a presence and build up a community on so many different sites, but put a strong effort into at least one. Brands use lots of sites to learn more about your blog, and if you're not showing signs of growth on any of them, you're probably not going to be found.

Whether it's social networks, search engines or just a network of other blogs similar to yours, develop an audience on at least one platform that's not your blog for increased visibility. You may still have to nudge brands to get them to take notice, but the likelihood that they do notice is much higher when your community and influence is growing in a place where it's apparent to see (and easy to find).

4. Your Blog Is Ugly

Maybe it's not your blog, but your blurry pictures, or the awful font you use that's slightly harder on the eyes than Comic Sans. The internet is littered with ugly sites that are beloved and insanely successful. Craigslist, anyone?

So it's not that it's impossible to succeed with an ugly blog, but there is definitely a line where it limits your options. Like beauty, ugly is a relative term – unless you're Amanda Bynes, in which case it's your favorite cry for attention. If you've hit a wall though where your ad pricing is good, but you can't seem to go higher; your partnership options are simple and clearly defined; and you know that brands know who you are, it's time to consider the hard possibility that your blog is ugly, and it's holding you back.

The Fix: First, acknowledge the reality. If you don't have a friend who's good at photography, and can't figure out Photoshop to get your pictures looking good while still looking realistic, consider an option that's not so reliant on photos. If you know you're a terrible writer, focus on the visual aspects and find a fellow blogger who's amazing with words, but lacking in the image department to work with. Yes, there are blogs who succeed in spite of being ugly in some regard, and there are beautiful blogs that never come close.

What brands see in those sites though, are often uniquely beautiful aspects. Perhaps the layout is drab, but the writing is particularly strong, or the photos particularly well styled. And of course, the holy grail, a fiercely passionate audience that is so attached to the blogger or blog that any shortcomings become acceptable.

If you're honest with yourself, and you know that your blog is ugly, find the one aspect of it that's so amazing that your visitors ignore the warts, and you'll likely be on the way to brands doing the same.


[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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17 Responses

  1. Nadia Ros

    Thank you so much for this refreshingly honest article. My blog is 2 days old and I know I have to work my butt off before I can even consider having brands advertise on my site. But it’s all exciting and thrilling. Thanks for your tips and advice again.

  2. Carly {style snapshot}

    Sometimes I think the IFB writers are living in my mind, waiting to answer all the questions I have about blogging! The posts are always so timely! This article is so useful and covers some great points. I’m often confused by some of the blogs a brand chooses to work with. It’s nice to have your insight 🙂


  3. Nancy

    I think I might be one of those “ugly” blogs. I’m not so sure about my layout and font. If anyone wants to give me some feedback on my layout, I’d really appreciate it! 🙂

  4. Erica Laudon

    I completely agree with entry level rates. Many brands are hesitant to work with new bloggers in this tough economy. It takes a longer period of relationship building and entry level rates to work with prestige brands – and its ok!

    • YM Ousley

      Hi Erica,
      Thanks for commenting. That’s a great approach to have. I’ve seen quite a few cases where there’s one or two people on a brand’s team really pushing to do something with bloggers, but they’re given fairly limited budgets to do it. If you’re doing any kind of advertising that has specifications, then you are offering something of value so I don’t think it should be free. BUT, even for large brands an entry level offering can get them comfortable with the fact that you’re interested in a business (paid) relationship, but are willing to start small.

  5. Melissa

    I am really grateful for this post. It is very insightful and gives a lot of good tips. I know it’s a long way for me to be actively working with brands but this gives me a lot of things to keep in mind.

    • YM Ousley

      I have one good friend who’s on the more traditional side of fashion. I talk to him every year about something related to fashion blogs and he says “you know, I think fashion blogs are going out of style.” And every year you see someone breaking through and getting a crapload (scientific term) of partnerships, appearances and business deals as a result of… their blog.

  6. CynthiaCM

    I think I’m #3, though PR companies seem to know I exist. It’s just that the brands themselves don’t. Or maybe I don’t show enough of “me,” since brands seem to like blogs with lots of personal outfit pictures (mostly because I don’t want to be #4)!


  7. Ri

    this is so true especially on the ugly blog section. Raw and honest great!

  8. Matthew Pike

    This is some sound advice and lots of tips which I have been trying to focus on over the past few months. I’m slowly but surely seeing the difference though, being in the right places and stick to what you know.

    I’d also add regularity, to be active is key for me. Active and quality is a winning formula. Really helpful article.


  9. Matthew Pike

    Some really great points, advice everyone can take on board and help to grow with. I have been taking some great steps over the past couple of months with my blog, using some of these tips and a bit of help from some seo in the know friends. It’s all helping my reach brilliantly, I’m getting there.

    Really helpful article guys.


  10. Miss Jena

    Been blogging now for about a year or so, but just now starting to take it seriously now that I’m starting to get checks in the bank account. Never thought about half this stuff. Great info!!!

  11. Luz

    Thanks for the advice YM Ousley!!!
    Just a week ago I updated my blog, mainly to make the navigation quicker, and for the different sections to be found easier.
    I love the way it looks now, but it would be awesome to have more than a second opinion.
    So far none of my followers has made any comment about, and I would love to know if there is room for improvement, maybe is too much, or maybe is just a bit dull. I would LOVE if you guys had a look at it and LET ME KNOW YOUR OPINION!
    Thanks!!! 😀 😀 😀

  12. Eva Kold

    I find that I have too few readers, that was what I was told last time. They said I had enough consistency when posting, nice look and themes when writing, but too few readers. It makes sense, but I am not sure how to reach further and gain more readers. Maybe more SEO?