As a blogger, I'm sure you get a lot of emails from brands and PR reps asking to “work with you.” What happens when you get a request or inquiry from a brand that you don't want to work with? Or they're talking “partnership” without your getting anything out of it? How can you say no gracefully?
First, you need to know when to say no, and what you should get paid for. Take some time to work all this out before you either accept or deny ANY request – know what your time/blog is worth, and what you're willing to do for money.
Then, once you're sure you're ready to decline an offer, here are some ways to do it (some might burn some bridges, but that's a price you may have to pay…):
Sadly, I do this most often. I honestly don't have time to reply to all the emails asking to guest post on my blog(s), buy text links, or join this or that affiliate program. As soon as I see the subject line or a few sentences of an email of this nature, I hit “delete” and don't look back. After ten years doing this, I think I'm pretty good at identifying things I'd rather not be a part of, or that will just be a waste of my time even READING the email, but if you're just starting out, I'd recommend you at least look at emails before deleting or ignoring them. You could be missing out on an interesting opportunity.
Just say No
If you're really not interested – the brand just doesn't fit with your aesthetic and you don't want to work with them, just say no, I'm not interested and move on.
This goes a step further than just saying no, especially if the request is spammy, or it looks like someone put you on an email list without your permission. Write back and say you aren't interested and please “remove me from your mail list, I'm no longer in receiving this type of information.”
You may want to write back and say no, but…if you've received a request from a brand you're definitely interested in working with, but they've asked you to do something for free you know you should get paid for. Write back and send them a link to your media kit and mention the types of posts you do for free (review posts) and the types of post you charge for (sponsored posts) and why.
It's possible that some brands or marketing teams aren't aware of the differences between a review and a sponsored post (a review is when you're sent something to review, and no request is made of your time or that you post specific links – or even do a post AT ALL – and a sponsored post includes specific text and/or links the brand asks for. You should NOT GET PAID for a review and you SHOULD GET PAID for a sponsored post). In this case, it's helpful if you outline it for them – in a constructive way – and explain why you're declining their offer.
In cases like this, where you will say no, but explain why, you should also mention what your rate is for doing what they're asking of you. Perhaps they'll look it over and understand that you should be paid for that, and get back to you with an offer. As a worst case, they'll come back to you and say “well, we've worked with other bloggers who don't asked to be paid for this, so no, we won't pay you either,” and then you'll have to revert to example number 1: just say no.
This one is sort of tricky – but if you're interested in working with the company who contacted you, but under different circumstances than they're proposing, get back to them quickly with a “maybe,” and your requirements and/or that you need some more time to put a proposal together. This can be a good stalling tactic too, but generally I recommend you say “no” as quickly as possible…don't draw it out.
How and when do you say no to requests?
I had a big name home goods company reach out to me recently about promoting the opening of their store in my city. I responded by saying I would love to share the info with my readers and put together a sponsored post and outlined what that meant for them. I got a response back saying they don’t do sponsored posts with bloggers. However, I’ve seen the sponsored posts and know that they do. Then I start to see various posts from other local bloggers offering giveaways for said companies. I’m just a tad bit confused. If it’s a matter of my site stats being too low, why wouldn’t they just say that? I would love to chat via email (at [email protected]) if you have a minute!
I’ve had to do this quite a bit. For some reason, a lot of brand “Community Managers” are emailing me with very specific post requests and following it saying they’d be “sharing their favorites on social media.” If I’m going to spend 1-2 hours crafting a post, I need way more in return that the chance of it being shared on social media! PR reps can be quite silly sometimes.
Totally know what you’re talking about, and I usually leave these without reply as it is nothing but spam and it’s not acceptable to treat blogger’s original work like this. Work for a chance, what world do they live in?
totally agree! i’m always SO bewildered by those emails.
and this post was great! thanks for the advice, i feel like i can tackle my inbox a little better now!!
I think I received that exact same email, too… haha.
I get these kinds of emails a few times a week! As if! 🙂
I think most of these are great, but I take a bit of issue with just ignoring it. Yes, that is a fine tactic for most brands and PR agencies, who are big agencies and what I think most of this post is about. However, I think it is unfair that you would ignore with people asking to guest post. Yes it is your time, and none of us have time to reply to all of the emails we get, but most requests for guest posts are individuals who have put some time into emailing you, just like you and me. Take it from someone who has spend time pitching ideas for guest posts to site that look like they receive them (not individual author blogs to be fair) and never heard back, and even applied for so many jobs and never even heard back a ‘we’re received an application’ or ‘no thank you’ it can get frustrating and depressing, when really what you’re looking for is common courtesy.
Bedankt voor de tips! Ik merk zelf dat ik het best lastig vind om aan te geven dat een bedrag te laag is. Soms bieden bedrijven zo weinig, en echt ik ben de moeilijkste niet, of ze willen dat je en ver ervoor gaat reizen (ik heb geen OV) plus een artikel schrijft zonder enige vorm van compensatie… dan voel ik me bijna rot omdat ik nee zeg omdat ik er financieel teveel op achteruit ga..
I always feel a bit bad when I ignore those uninteresting mails. But sometimes the offers are really weird like offering menswear? Did they even checked my blog cause than they’d know that menswear doesn’t fit my blog.
And we’re not the only ones ignoring mails, they to the same sometimes. First asking if I’m interested in a collaboration and when I reply, they don’t answer anymore!
I have similar experience. Some dodgy community managers who want me to write posts to specific topics (like I haven’t got my own ideas for posts!) without any compensation. I usually do not cover campaigns, as my blog is personal but I made an exception to an American beauty brand. They reached out to me and though I’m not a beauty blogger, do not cover campaigns and the area (US) is not really my target (UK and GER), I made an exception (I liked the product). So I wrote a piece about it and didn’t even get a RT or any other promotion through their social media. That was very frustrating! I think it will be the first blog post to go if I ever need a clear out.
OMG, delete that post! They don’t deserve it!
I definitely agree with your points in this article. Especially your “no, but…” section.
I am always honest and flattered when someone reaches out to me for an opportunity. There are some emails where it is blatant they are trying to get free press and you can always refer those to a press kit/price list. Most of the time I don’t want to waste the other person’s time (OR mine) because, honestly, 99% of the time it’s a company that’s not within my demographic/audience.
So, I tell them that. Last email I got was from a company that wanted me to talk about their baseball caps…. I have never once mentioned baseball on my blog, nor could I tell you anything about the game. So I told them something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for your offer […] Although I appreciate you reaching out, I have to be honest, I don’t watch baseball and I don’t think talking about your product/event/thing would be authentic to my audience nor to myself at this time. I wish you all the best in your future social campaigns!” and the person responded with a big thank you! It shows you have concern for them as well as yourself. Just like they want to reach people that want to buy their product/attend their event/etc., you have to maintain that authenticity/balance your readers come to expect from your blog.
Working with social media influencers and bloggers myself as part of my full-time job, I KNOW that I’d rather have a person that will authentically share my campaign effort AND contact readers that would have the most amount of reach within my desired demographic.
All in all, it’s totally okay to say no! Not every opportunity is going to be a good one. The most important things are to be polite and be authentic to yourself.
OMG! I could relate to this article. I’ve received so many opportunities from companies. I just recently wrote a special post for a reality show, mind you my blog is mixed with fashion, entertainment and art. I sometimes said “no” because it did not fit to the audience or just don’t want to work for them. I always looking for something that would give me a big break as blogger.
Lol, my main trick is ignoring really. It really is a waste of time to check it out when I’m not interested. The worst is when people send press releases for things that are totally unrelated to what I write about. aaaarrrgghhh!
I say NO or simply ignore the offers often. Not because I a rude, but my work experience as a fashion editor also helps to sort out right away this kind of letters that ask a lot for free or offer almost no benefits for you. I’d better spend this time and effort in creating new content for the blog.
Thank you for the article.
I make it a point NEVER to ignore emails such as this. I will always respond with a “thanks, but no thanks.” I have found that networking in this world is incredibly important, and many folks find being ignored an unforgivable offense. Oftentimes, if the release has nothing to do with my blog, I will respond letting the sender know that and will recommend a related blog or blogs that may be a better match. I have received a LOT of “thank you’s” for this practice.