Brand Collaborations: When to Say No

Declining Blogger Collaborations

Whether they started blogging for the fun or for the money, every blogger is happy to get their first collaboration request. And seriously there is nothing bad about cooperating with brands, in fact it has even some benefits you might not have thought of. First of all you'll get something to write about. This doesn't only fill your blogging schedule, but also allows you to present new products and ideas to your readers. Then you will also get more known in the blogosphere, as the brands will be likely to share your posts, or you will attract new readers that are interested in the brand you worked with. One of the most important things however, is that cooperations will teach you how to treat your blog like a business. Most of us didn't learn at school how to contact a brand appropriately or how to deal with a  press office. Much less how to negotiate and set up a contract to our own benefits.
So I would definitely recommend every blogger to work with a brand once in their blogging career, not necessarily for the money, but for the experience that will take your blog to the next level. However there will be many not so serious cooperation requests coming your way, no matter the niche you're blogging in. Due to a recent occurrence in the Luxembourgish blogosphere, I have now often been asked by fellow bloggers when to actually accept a brand collaboration and how to negotiate with a brand with one-way conditions. Therefor I decided to list the tips I've been giving fellow bloggers these days, so you can benefit from them, too!

1. When they don't want to pay you 

The most common reason why bloggers don't ask money for collaborations, is that they think their work isn't worth to be paid. However this is bullshit. You may only have 100 readers but if 50 of those are willing to buy the product you've just written about, then the brand can be extremely happy! Even if none of your readers bought the product, the brand has gained yet another link to their shop, which will make it rank higher in search engines.
Another thing you should never forget: Even if you don't want to make money from blogging, there are some fellow bloggers out their who need to pay their rent from collaborations like these. If there are too many bloggers working for free, then blogging will never become an established job.
CONCLUSION: You should always ask for money when collaborating with a brand. They might say no, and you can still work with them anyway, but your post definitely is worth a payment!

2. When they aren't in your niche

Collaborating with bloggers has become extremely popular. Therefor even online casinos, car rentals and cufflink producers have joined the game. And don't ask me why but some of those think that the readers of fashion blogs are their ideal audience. If you've worked with many brands in your niche, it won't be hard to say no to such stray requests, but if they are willing to pay you a good amount of money, you might break down and write about them on your blog. However this is one of the worst things you can do as you will loose the credibility of your readers and they will immediately know that you just did it for the money.
CONCLUSION: Only work with brands that you love and would have purchased and introduced on your blog of your own accord.

3. When they don't care about you

When I get an email starting with "Hey you" or "Hello Clothesandcamera team", then it is pretty clear that no matter the offer I will not be taking it. The ideal way of collaborating with bloggers, is to choose those that represent the values of your brand. However if a PR person didn't even bother to find out my name, then I'm pretty sure they know nothing about my values. The same goes for the content of the email: If it doesn't say anything about how the brand found my blog or what they like about it, then I can be sure that I was not the only blogger getting this request. Don't you find it embarrassing to see the very same collaboration on 50% of the blogs you're following? The best collaborations are always those that have only been offered to a small amount of niche bloggers.
CONCLUSION: When you have the feeling that the brand didn't take the time to get to know you, or sent out their request to every single blogger in your niche, then chances are this collaboration will not feel genuine to you in the end. 

4. When they aren't reliable

I have been getting so many collaboration requests that never accomplished because the brand didn't get back to me at some point. Sometimes they didn't answer my first email, sometimes they never sent the product even though everything has been arranged. This can be extremely deceiving, especially if you've made space in your blogging schedule for that brand. Sometimes you can see from the beginning if a brand seriously wants to work with you or not. Besides that they care about you (as described in point 3), they should also answer your emails quickly, tell you what they want from you right from the beginning, and be clear about how your post should look like in the end (links, number of words, kind of photos,...).
CONCLUSION: When you didn't hear about the brand for one week or when they seem to hide some information from you, it is really likely that they will cancel the collaboration at some point. 

5. When you don't benefit from it

The first thing we talked about was money, but in the end I want to discuss some other benefits you can have from a collaboration. Sometimes a brand really can't pay you because they only just launched and don't have a budget for this yet. There is nothing bad about working with them anyway, if you like their products and want to support them. However it wouldn't be a cooperation, if you wouldn't benefit from it, too! There are many ways to pay off your work. The most obvious one is sending you a free product, but a 500-word post with 10 pictures is surely worth more than a 20€ bracelet. If you feel like the product-effort ratio isn't equal, you can always ask the brand for other services. Examples would be: Linking your post on their social media channels, offering you a second product for a giveaway, offering your readers a discount code, letting you guest post on their blog, letting you write an article for their magazine,... The possibilities are just endless and you should always ask for something more than just a product. 
CONCLUSION: Never ask what you can do for a brand, but ask what they can do for you.


When three or more of these points apply, you should say no to a brand collaboration immediately:

- They don't want to pay you at all
- They don't sell products you would usually blog about
- Their products are of poor quality
- They don't know your name
- They don't know where you live
- They don't know your niche
- They don't answer your questions/emails
- They take longer to ship their products than promised
- They don't send you the products you chose
- They don't let you choose the products you like
- Their product is worth less than the time and material you invest to write your post
- They aren't willing to share your post on social media (or have less followers than you do)
- They want to force you to use do-follow links
- They sent out their request to all the bloggers they could find
- They forgot that they already contacted you and send you another request

What are your experiences with brand collaborations? Do you still find it hard to tell if a cooperation is beneficial or not? 


  1. Excellent post. I do agree with you that we shouldn't collaborate with brands that don't appreciate us or even worse those that don't even know who we are.


    1. Yes, right? It's time to value our work!

  2. These are some really important issues you brought up. Unfortunately I had to learn from my own mistakes over the past few years of blogging :(
    I also feel that the bloggers + PR relationships in my country isn't perfect whatsoever, there's much room for improvement, since local blogging isn't appreciated as it is abroad. While taking that in mind, there aren't as many pr companies to work with either so about 70% of my pr content is something I see in just about every local blog, whether if it's a poor blog or a great one.
    That being said, I had to learn to say "No Thanks" to offers which didn't suit me or just wasn't something I'd enjoy of benefit from, and while I can get bummed that I wasn't included on a certain launch or event (by choice, or not) I am ok with it and glad I don't have to spend time advertising something I don't really like or find interest in.
    So yeah, it's a tricky one, and there's a lot to learn from this "business". :)
    Thanks for such a great and important post!

    1. I totally get you. In Luxembourg brands have only just started to work with bloggers so most of them don't know what a blog post is actually worth. Also we hardly have any PR companies just for our country, it's mainly Belgian PR companies that are supposed to include Luxembourg in their events and projects.
      And we should really be glad that we have the freedom to say no. It is tempting at first but with experience we learn what suits our blog and what doesn't :)
      Anyway I'm glad you enjoyed this post and told me about your experiences!

  3. Thanks for this excellent post and useful information.

  4. This was just what I needed! Thank you for this post, it's really helpful.

    1. I'm glad I could help, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions :)

  5. I get many emails from brand and other bloggers (to guest post) starting with 'Dear Saccharine', and that is clear that they did not make an effort to research my real name. There is also the other end when somebody addressed me with 'Rux' as if he were my best friend...

    1. That's just terrible, right? I also get sooo many requests for guest posts lately but I find it quite weird. I would definitely only guest post on a blog I know and not contact random people about it...


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