If you’re just getting started, or even if you’ve been doing free partnerships for a while, you might be tempted to accept any partnership inquiry that comes your way. The rush of someone wanting you, free stuff, a name to put on your resume, “exposure.” It all sounds so alluring. Trust me. I get it. But did you know you can also say no to brand collaborations, respectfully of course. (This topic was chosen by one of my email subscribers so if you aren’t already subscribed in my email list, what are you waiting for? You can also help me choose the next blog post topic by replying to my emails, or commenting on this post!)
It might seem like there’s no downside to taking on any collab, but I’ll let you in on a secret– I know that’s what we do here every week, transparently talk about growing and finding collaborations, but
Saying no to brand collaborations is just as important as saying yes
And here’s why:
Your Audience Doesn’t Actually Want to See Ads
The people that follow you are there for you. Your pretty pictures, your funny reels, your relatable family. They put up with your ads, because they’ve gotten to know you and decided it was worth sticking around through the “spon con,” they trust your opinion on products and maybe, they wanna be a little more like you. That’s part of being an influencer. Steering the decisions others make both with sponsored posts and every day decisions. You won’t grow unless you learn to value that relationship with your audience. And they want to see you, not just the clothes you wear and the stuff you use.
Brands Don’t Want To Work With Someone That Works With Anyone
If your feed is #ad after #ad, there’s no substance in between. No diversity in content. The brands that you really want to work with, the ones that pay the big bucks, are less likely to take on someone that very clearly doesn’t care who they’re working with. Now, of course, some companies care more about vanity metrics and the numbers (followers, engagement, etc) than anything else, but some won’t take on partners with more than ⅓ sponsored of their first 12 post in their feed!
So When Do You Say No To Brand Collaborations?
When you would never actually use or buy the product
Why spend time trying to convince the thousands of people that follow you to buy edible dish soap if no one could ever convince you to do the same? If it’s not a practical or realistic product in your everyday life, then say no to the brand collaboration.
Say no to the brand collaboration if they won’t pay or negotiate
Now, I can’t tell you what’s a worthy gifted product or when to walk away, only you can determine your worth (though I will say your time and talent are valuable, and you should be charging your worth + tax). Some gifted products really can be worth it, maybe you really need a new couch or an updated fridge, but when the cost of product doesn’t match the required deliverables, I urge you to negotiate and reconsider those often steep demands. Do you really need another diaper bag? Do you need more toys for your kids? Will the gifted items actually be used or will it collect dust on your counter?
Did you try the brand’s product… and hated it?
There’s no shame in telling a brand you can’t stand by their product. You owe it to yourself and your audience to be as authentic as possible. Of course, be professional when you say no to the brand collaboration if this is your case. Simply say something along the lines of, “Unfortunately, your product does not align with my page because…” or “XYZ did not meet my expectations and I believe it wouldn’t be a great fit for me to share with my audience.”
When the pay is absolutely insulting… say no
I’m looking at you, rhymes with Dartbeat, and your $10 pay rate. How many hours do you spend getting the right shot, editing, and engaging? $10 is less than minimum wage is some states. Don’t let brands get away with that!
It’s okay to say no to brand collaborations if you’ve taken on too much already
You cannot pour from an empty cup. Remember that work life balance we talked about at the beginning of this year? This is your reminder. It’s okay to say no to a brand collaboration, or maybe tell them now is not a great time and you can say yes later. If your schedule is already full or perhaps you’re taking a break from social media, you have to learn when to say no so that you don’t get burnt out. This is a job. It may be work from home, and flexible, but you still need time off. Take it.
Now, I have to know… what was a collab experience you wish you had said NO to?
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