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?