When a brand comes knocking and flashes the magic word “partnership,” it’s easy to let your excitement get the best of you. But before you say yes, STOP AND THINK! Is this brand partnership really in your best interest or should you politely pass on the opportunity and say “No”?
You heard us right, “No” is an absolutely acceptable answer to a brand partnership request!
We completely understand that it’s really hard to say no to money and flashy opportunities (trust us we’ve been there too) but if a brand partnership isn’t a good fit, it can actually do more harm than it does good to your personal brand in the long run.
Seriously though, don’t be desperate! You should treat brand partnerships like you treat dating – you don’t have to say yes to everyone that asks you out.
Navigating brand partnerships is like the dating game, you have to make sure they’re the right fit.
When you’re approached by a brand to do a partnership or collaboration, the first question to ask yourself is, “Do I even like this product, hotel or destination?” If the answer is “no,” then there you go. That was easy!
You should never promote, endorse or sell something you don’t like or believe in. Followers can smell inauthenticity from a 100 miles away and it’s just not worth it to have to fake enthusiasm for a few extra bucks.
If the answer is “Yes, I do like this product,” or you find it at least interesting then let’s go over other things to consider that may cause you to think twice about accepting the opportunity.
Reason 1: The brand partnership DOES NOT resonate with your current brand and overall messaging.
We know you’ve heard it time and time again, but being niche and tailoring your images and messaging to a specific audience makes all the difference when you’re trying to take your travel influence to the next level. As marketing experts say, if you’re speaking to everyone then you’re really speaking to no one.
It’s easy to be torn in tons of different directions because you like travel, yoga, fashion, working out and want to show your followers you’re not just a one trick pony, right? Please don’t! It’s great to be good at a lot of things but just do it behind the scenes or you may confuse your followers (we struggle with this too so totally get it).
For example, if you’re a travel and fashion blogger and your instagram feed is full of pictures of you in beautiful flowing dresses holding coconuts on the shores of Thailand, then accepting a brand partnership for a cooking company wouldn’t really make sense. People follow food bloggers for cooking tips, not you.
Staying true to yourself is also very important to your brand’s future and stability because it weeds out the clutter. Loyal followers who really believe in you and enjoy your content will stick around and everyone else who is on the fence may walk away…but thats OK! The truth is that people who aren’t supportive won’t really do you much good in the long run anyways.
So if your followers typically like what you like and enjoy the things you do then promoting something that isn’t authentic to you pretty much means your audience won’t like it either.
And that can be dangerous…
Why? Because the bottom line is brand’s hire influencers because they want to make a good impression on the influencer’s followers and inevitably leverage that influence to help them with sales. If chances are the product, service or destination is not something your followers would like (and possibly buy) then it’s probably better to pass on the opportunity.
Reason 2: The brand partnership DOES NOT fit within your long-term brand strategy and overall business goals.
If you’ve already started blogging or a travel account on Insta then you probably should already know where you want to take your travel influence (or at least be in the process of figuring that out). If you don’t have a long term brand strategy in place then you need to get one ASAP. Every decision you make now will affect your future because small things affect big things and it’s important you never forget that.
Before taking on any brand partnerships, evaluate your goals and long term strategy (and timeline) to see if it fits with your end game. If the partnership in question doesn’t support where you want to go with your brand then you may want to pass.
For example, if you’re a fashion blogger and want to build a platform to do more nonprofit work to help children in the future, accepting a brand partnership with a sexy lingerie company probably isn’t a good idea, you feel us? Or, if your long term goal is to be a travel blogger then daily promotion of items like gummy vitamins, food delivery and workout gear – all of which are unrelated to travel- can hinder your brand’s ability to grow in the right direction.
There are so many influencers whose only focus is making quick cash and they end up accepting anything that comes their way. Don’t get us wrong, that’s totally fine but if you want to build a sustainable business then that probably isn’t the best approach.
Trust us, if you act desperate then you’ll look desperate and your followers will be the first to notice. We know it’s easier said than done because we all need to make an income to survive but there are other ways to monetize your influence without having to accept brand partnerships that aren’t the right fit.
Respecting yourself, your followers and your brand goals will definitely pay off in the long run.
Reason 3: The company DOES NOT align with your ideal brand partner criteria.
Before you can tackle this question, you first need to know what criteria make up your “ideal brand partner.” It’s basically like creating the ultimate checklist for your future life partner – does this brand partner check off most of the boxes? This will help you steer clear of situations that look like a good idea but in reality would turn out to be bad news.
For example, do you like to have creative input from a brand or do you like to wear the pants? Do you need hard deadlines to get your work done, or you prefer the flexibility of an open schedule? Would you like to negotiate as you go along or sign a definite contract before you expend any effort? It would be a huge nightmare to produce content only to have the brand’s representative come back and disagree with your vision or accept a partnership only to find out they are going to make you take really corny pictures and post lame captions that your followers would not relate to.
Knowing yourself and your work style will help you find the best match for a brand partner. Of course, not everyone who comes around will check off all your boxes so know the points you’d be willing to compromise on before the negotiation process. You want to work with brand partners who let you shine and be yourself – that’s the kind of content your followers want to see anyway.
As you get offered more and more brand partnerships down the road, knowing these qualities will help you quickly sift through the clutter and land the best deals.
Reason 4: The Brand Partnership DOES NOT add any value to your audience and followers.
Once you know that the partner company aligns with your overall brand and strategy, then the next step is to evaluate if the partnership would add any value to your followers. If the content you create or promote isn’t useful to them (travel inspo, awesome product recs or amazing tips) then chances are your followers are going to check out. A one off probably won’t do much harm but if you keep it up you risk alienating your followers and community.
Don’t forget your followers are YOUR PEOPLE and you rely on their support to earn income and make your dreams become reality. Respect their time and give them only useful and valuable info that you would want to receive yourself.
Reason 5: The brand partner WILL NOT allow you to incorporate your own voice and messaging into the partnership.
Being authentic is the key to success as an influencer. People are investing in YOU – not a manufactured version of you.
As you’re considering brand partnerships, you need to remember that your personal brand is separate from the partner company’s brand identity and tone. (If they are similar than more power to you!) If your social account becomes a billboard for random companies that don’t relate to you then you risk your followers losing interest.
People will respect your hustle but no one wants to be sold to 24/7.
The key to leveraging brand partnerships is using them to support your personal brand, not become your brand. You should push for the ability to organically integrate sponsored posts into your social feeds instead of letting them dictate the details – after all, you know best!
Reason 6: The partner company is NOT giving you fair compensation or trade in exchange for the deliverables they are requesting from you.
People sometimes get weird about money. When that happens, the best advice we can give you is to know your worth…
…And stick to it!
You should decide on a minimum amount you would be willing to accept and hold your ground no matter what. There’s so many components to influencer marketing – you’re coming up with content ideas, you’re actually creating the content, you’re advertising to your followers, you’re providing analytics and recaps to partners and all those hours add up.
Of course if you’re a travel blogger and the brand or destination is offering you a free trip or free hotel stay that may be a different story. If the whole point of your blog is travel and you can’t afford to travel to new destinations on your own (or just don’t want to blow through your savings) then if you like the destination the answer should probably be “yes” no matter if they offer to compensate you or not.
There are other ways to earn money while you’re traveling that don’t have to come straight from the travel brand partner.
Related: Blogging for Money: 10 Tips To Get Paid Your Worth
It’s important to know your worth when negotiating a brand partnership.
Our final words of wisdom may come as a complete shock to you but if you decline a brand partnership because it doesn’t pay enough, the company may magically find the money to pay you what you requested. Think of it like when you reject someone who asks you out – most people want what they can’t have.
While we don’t suggest playing hard to get, we do advocate for standing up for yourself and knowing your value.
If they really don’t have the budget and you want to accept the brand partnership to expand your portfolio then make sure you’re clear that you’ll give them a one time discount