5 Reasons to Walk Away From a Blog Sponsorship

Getting a blog sponsorship is a BIG deal. But should you say yes to every sponsorship that comes your way? Here are 5 Reasons to Walk Away From a Blog Sponsorship…

5 Reasons to Walk Away From a Blog Sponsorship

Getting a blog sponsorship is a BIG deal. Especially in the beginning.  Truth be told, it's still a big deal even when you're experienced and making a steady income. There is nothing like landing a great brand sponsorship – I know I am always grateful when sponsorships come through. Whether you are looking to become a professional blogger or not, blog sponsorships are one of the best ways to keep your blogger adventures in the black. Wondering how to get sponsored as a blogger? We've got all the details HERE.

However, just because someone starts waving cash around doesn't mean that they would be a good fit for your blog. Even if you adore the brand, and if you would write about them anyway, sometimes a partnership isn't the right fit. Sometimes, it might be best to walk away. Just like the Blog Maven says, “Taking  on ‘vanity projects' that aren’t actually a good fit for your readers doesn’t help anyone.”

In the almost 7 years I've been blogging, I've never regretted walking away from a deal. There have been times (albeit rarely) I've regretted saying “yes” and trying to make something work that just wasn't a good fit.

Here are five reasons you should walk away from a blog sponsorship or collaboration…

5 Reasons to Walk Away From a Blog Sponsorship

The Brand Does Not or Will Not Understand Your Blog's Mission

What if a brand comes to you, wishing for you to create content that does not fit with your blog's mission? What if they do not understand what your blog is about? In this case, it's probably not going to be a good fit.

Brands who go after blogs, that are not a good fit for their brands, do not understand why they are working with bloggers. No matter what, they will be disappointed with the results. Your readers will see right away the collaboration is not a good fit and will not respond the way the brand is hoping. It's better just to nip it in the bud and walk away, if a brand keeps asking you to do things that do not fit into your mission.

The Brand Doesn't Know What They Want

When you are talking with a brand about working together, the VERY FIRST question you ask them, is “What are your goals for this project?” If they can't answer this question with clarity, then follow with them more questions to try to get to the root of what they want.

And don't just accept flattery. They may tell you, “We love your blog!” Reply with, “Thank you!” and ask them again what they want out of the partnership.

When you think you have their needs figured out, repeat it back to them and put it in writing. This way, if they come back to you and say they are unhappy, you can show them your discussion.

Chances are either they don't know what they want, or they don't want to tell you, i.e. “boosting sales” is a common expectation for blogger collaborations and it doesn't always translate in a direct way. If they can't tell you why they want to work with you, then it's not going to be a good fit.

The Brand Has Unrealistic Expectations

People have all kinds of wild expectations when they enter negotiations. If a brand has unrealistic expectations (ex. they want 20,000 entries to your contest or they want 10,000 users to sign up for their startup with a single post) then you should walk away. Unless you can do that, then take the deal. However, get as many case studies as you can to set realistic expectations, that way both of you enter into the deal having an idea of what to expect. Of course things can go either way, but at least the expectations are in the neighbourhood!

The Pay Is Not Enough

If your sponsored post rate is X,  you've been selling consistently at that rate, and the brand offers you 10% of that, just say no. They may even come back and offer to write for free, so you don't have to do any work. But you've already done the hard work of building an audience, and the brand is paying for that. If the payment is beyond what you would normally do, it's taking away from the time you can spend developing your own brand. Your time is valuable, don't say yes to a deal that doesn't work for you.

Note: If your rate is X, and you've never sold a service for that price, then maybe your rates are too high. Experiment to find a rate you are comfortable with that brands feel comfortable investing in as well. If your rate is X, and you are selling it more than you have time to do a great job on it, then your rate is too low, and you should raise it. There are no “set” rates for anything!

The Brand Does Not Respect Your Agreement

Let's say you and the brand come to a negotiation. The terms of the sponsorship have been put in writing. Then, the brand keeps pushing you to give them more services without paying for them. In this case, it's time to walk away.

Once I negotiated a sponsored workshop, then the brand wanted me to produce a fashion show and host a giveaway on top of the workshop without raising the price. It would have added at least 20 more hours to the job and there were hard costs involved (i.e. renting tables for hair and makeup, and giving them space that I had paid for). I told them no, but they kept pushing for it. So, I decided to cancel their sponsorship. This is an extreme example, but it happens on all levels. If the brand asks for something small that is not much more effort for you to throw in, go ahead. Do it in a gesture of good will. But if it's extensive, time consuming, costly, and the brand won't drop it, then walk away.

Bonus Tip: ALWAYS Trust Your Instincts

If you heart is telling you, “This is not a good fit” it's not a good fit. Your intuition is evidence enough. Sometimes even good deals can go south if you can't work well together. This includes anything that gives you a bad feeling about the person you are working with. When in doubt, just politely decline and move on.

Remember, this is a partnership. You want it to be beneficial for BOTH you AND the brand.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on May 14th, 2013 and was updated on September 29th, 2017.

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14 Responses

  1. Bianca

    This is great advice. Too many times I get PR people and marketing representatives that reach out to me regarding posts about clients and products that have nothing to do with my blog. At that point you have to realize for the legitimacy of your blog you should accept pay from a company that didn’t even bother to figure out what your blog is about.

    Reply
  2. Cora Harrington

    I love this! Blog sponsorships are such a tricky area to navigate, and it can feel both very intimidating and very flattering when a brand wants to partner with you. Your points about getting everything in writing and charging consistent rates are so spot-on, and I also like what you had to say about respect and trusting your gut.

    I would also say to remember that a brand isn’t doing you a favor when they want to partner with you. Unfortunately, some brands approach bloggers with that kind of “you owe us” relationship implied. If a brand wants to work with you, it’s because they think you can help make them money. And that not only means you deserve to be paid for that access to your audience, it also means the two of you are working together as peers and business associates, not as one entity doing a “favor” for another.

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      Exactly, it’s one of my pet peeves when “partners” begin to act like they are doing favors or worse, being altruistic. I feel like it’s manipulative, and don’t fall for it. A real partnership is where both parties benefit and that’s what I like to aim for in business relationships.
      🙂

      Reply
  3. Sarah G.

    This is a great blog post! I don’t really have any sponsors but I have gotten a few PR people asking me to write for them. I don’t really know what rate I should be charging since I only really just blog for myself and am still figuring out what kind of blogger I should be. But just in case, how do I know how much I should my rate be?

    xx
    Sarah
    sarahgolez.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Jennine Jacob

      I think first you need to decide if it’s editorial or advertising content. Usually PRs just get in touch with a press release to let you know about a new product. This is in hopes of getting editorial content. For advertising content, they will ask for specific links, specific posting dates, and any other deliverables (demands) they may have. In this case, you should charge for the partnership.

      Reply
  4. Pearl Westwood

    I hate it when a PR offers to write you a post for free, like they are doing you some kind of favour! Erm no, you want your post on my blog then it is advertising and you can pay for that. I’ve been blogging for years, I don’t NEED someone to write my content.

    Reply
  5. Rachel

    Such a great post and I will be sharing this with my readers, as I be so many questions about sponsorship. I think this applies to everything financial with your blog, big or small; I rejected a paid ad this morning because it did not fit in with the look and feel of my blog, and I don’t regret that choice one bit.

    Reply
  6. Pinksole

    I’m so happy you wrote about this Jennine, I’ve been so disappointed in some brands that I liked. They start by flattering you, try to make you feel like they are doing you a favor by contacting you, and that you should talk about them for free. My thing is if you do not respect my blog enough to have a good business relationship with me, why do you want to be featured in it? I don’t get, it’s so rude and disrespectful. A brand actually offered me to try a service they have, they wanted me to literally buy the product and then talk about it. All for free.

    Rachelle
    http://pinksole.com

    Reply
  7. Donna

    Great post. I have yet to have a brand offer me money for a post. Do they normally say up front that they’re willing to pay, or do they just request a collaboration and hope that you’ll do it for free? (which is what has happened with me.) If they don’t offer to pay and say that you can write whatever you want as long as it mentions their client, how do you respond?
    Also, in case it ever comes up, how would you cancel a sponsorship? Another post, please, Jeannine!
    Donna
    http://www.prettysparklythings.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. debi c

    this is good advice. i have worked with a brand which kept asking for more. the hardest is always refusing a brand. my blog is about fashion, personal style and lifestyle. but there are some aspects of lifestyle that i am not willing to cover as of yet.

    Reply
  9. Z

    Great advice.
    After various offers, including ones within my sphere of reference, I decided to call it quits completely on sponsoring, and just focus on the fun aspect of blogging. Since then, I have been approached by small brands who just want recognition and to boost their image and I’m happy to feature them, if I really like the brand, in the way that I would even if I hadn’t been asked. I don’t see any reason to request anything from them in return (except publicity for the post). If they offer free samples following the post, I will accept, but not if it gives me a sense of obligation as a result

    Z

    Reply
  10. jewel

    I have yet to work with brands, although I have been offered a few partnership opportunity that I felt did not appeal to me or the target audience of my blog so I passed. When I do work with a brand for the first time, I want it to be for the right reasons and because its a good fit and we mesh, not because I really want to partner up with brands.. I will say though, not every brand will email a blogger about an opportunity but the idea of putting myself out there is a bit scary. At least, it feels that way right now.. very informative article..

    Reply
  11. Stephanie

    Great post! Sponsorships can get tricky. Really tricky. And what is worse is when you are working with a brand and they mention nothing about compensation. When you and that’s when you a. Get ignored or b. They say well you will get a sort of acknowledgement. And that could benefit your blog. Ok so does that mean the next time I go to the Dr or to a place of business I should say well I might tell people about you. Hey at least you get acknowledgement. Yeah that will go far. You do the work you should be compensated. Especially if you are trying to make a career. Or not even. Bloggers work hard. Posts take time. It isn’t a 10 minute thing it can take all day or several days! And at that point of they still don’t agree walk alway no check that run. I have done that when first blogging for experience and the pr person said great thanks and I’ll present this to the marketing team. Basically I did this dude’s work. And never heard a peep again. Lesson learned.

    Reply