The Value of Saying No
There are may things I learned over the course of my little online career that allowed me to make money blogging. Some things are more obvious than others, and I didn’t realize how important saying no was to my bank account.
True story, I used to name being a people pleaser as my weakness at job interviews when I was younger. I thought it was a good enough quality to qualify as a positive “weakness.”
In some ways, it is, but learning to say no has been the most valuable lesson I found out over the years of working in this industry. I’m going to tell you why saying no to offers and being selective can be the best thing for you. Ultimately, it’ll make you more money.
Make Money Blogging: Know Your Value
There are always going to be new bloggers coming into the industry. It became a booming business over a few short years. That makes everyone feel like if they don’t do something immediately and take everything that comes their way, they’ll miss opportunities and get left behind.
It’s a bad case of FOMO combined with wanting to be part of the club. What I mean is, as a blogger, you always want to feel valued and appreciated. When you see others working with a brand, you’re more likely to accept the brand’s offer. You want to feel like you’re playing in the big sponsorships leagues too. It’s a herd mentality.
Unfortunately, this attitude makes a lot of people accept offers that are subpar and that don’t fit with their brand. It also makes a lot of girls accept unpaid offers that they’re not passionate about but justify the value by the free random piece of the item they receive. Yay..another bag…?
I’m amazed by really talented content creators accepting any random free press sample and agreeing to undercut themselves by posting an ad for a company that’s offering almost nothing in return!
What Undervaluing Yourself Really Means for Your Brand
Here’s the deal: Advertising space, especially authentic advertising which reaches a dedicated and niche audience, is extremely valuable. Brands and PR agencies know this, but not many influencers do.
Don’t believe me? Listen to Gary Vaynerchuk’s recent podcasts. He often urges business owners to jump on influencer marketing because 80% of the influencers don’t know their value, so it’s a smart, cheap and easy way to advertise!
Let’s say you don’t care about receiving compensation and you’re just starting out, so you feel justified in accepting free items. You’ll eventually charge, but you can’t see yourself starting yet because your following is small, or you don’t have much experience.
Users don’t want to feel like they’re walking through Times Square at all times. Having a #ad or #sponsored is not a badge of honor. It hurts the image of authenticity and unobstructed content creation. Nobody wants to be pandered to, and if you’re pandering random items (for free) you’re hurting your brand image, and you’re not getting any monetary value that you can then re-invest into your brand for more beautiful, original content.
Chances are if the brand is approaching you for a niche marketing campaign (and I’m saying niche because there are campaigns that legitimately reach out to everyone and your grandma, so learn to differentiate) it means you’re creating content that’s appealing and valuable. You’re offering something that the brand wants, so it doesn’t make sense that you give everything up and work for free because you’re flattered. That’s not smart.
What Saying No Means
Being selective with what brand work you do and saying no to projects that don’t fit with your brand ultimately signal that you are serious about your job. I know it might seem counterintuitive, especially if you find that the brand approaching you fits with your aesthetic.
Your time is limited, however, and the brands that approach you should want the highest quality of work possible. For that to happen, you need to clear your schedule and devote the time to creating content that will authentically engage your audience and deliver a visual impact with the advertised product at the helm.
You can’t realistically do these things if your day is filled with not only writing and creating original content but creating just straight up ads for a bunch of free stuff. For brands to value you, you need to value yourself.
Hopefully, your audience understands that you will not advertise or accept working with brands that don’t fit with your aesthetic or your brand mission. Once again, if you’re accepting everything that comes your way, you’re not a content curator, creator or influencer. You’re simply an ad powerhouse. Your authenticity gets chipped away with every ad you post.
Any brand that’s not willing to negotiate with you for a value add is probably not worth your time. The value-add doesn’t have to be monetary in all cases. It simply needs to be a value-add for your BUSINESS (i.e. if not direct cash that you can reinvest into running your company, then a negotiated promotion or ad spend from the brand, promoting your social media profile and brand).
My Personal Experience
I made it a goal of mine to be extremely selective with my work. I put a lot of time and effort into creatively thinking about the products I’m recommending. That means I need to make sure the product is high quality and fits my lifestyle. In some cases, I have to think about what the ad is “worth” to me. For example, when Cartier was doing their activation and approached me, my immediate thought went to calculating the hours I would have to spend creating the content.
To be fair, part of my quick an concise response (it was literally, “What’s the payment for this promotion?”) was the fact that I knew I was part of a mass-mail crowd. The e-mail started with “Hi Style,” and clearly, my name is not Style.
Cartier was a good fit for me. After all, I chose the brand as my husband’s wedding ring. However, the task required me to devote a few hours of my day to attend an event, in addition to creating the content. I ended up accepting a lower amount than I would typically ask for because of my relationship with the brand. But, I was also comfortable walking away if they weren’t willing to allocate the budget for the work.
What did this allow me to do? I had one day to turn the first piece of content around. Instead of taking just a random picture and calling it a day, I made it a goal to produce a brand image that would exemplify the luxury Cartier embodies.
I researched what the event space would look like. I spent time ahead of the event to figure out which angles would work best and how I wanted to portray the space. That allowed me to go in with a plan and a visual composition in mind. I was then able to convey the vision to my photographer for the day. I asked her to position herself in a way that would catch my reflection and lights in the mirrors.
This forethought doesn’t happen as often if a brand simply mails out an item and asks for any random post featuring it. There’s no value in me spending extra time and effort if the brand is giving me minimal effort from their end.
A Reality Check If You Want To Make Money Blogging
The biggest mistake I see a lot of girls make is getting enamored by the process of being approached by a brand. The tongue rolls out for a brand name, and they hastily respond back accepting the offer. There’s a fear that someone else will take the spot if they don’t accept.
You need to slow down and think things through. It’s not a winning situation for you or the brand to rush into a partnership. They need to give you respect, and in turn, you need to give them respect and provide them with value.
A friend received a similar offer. She mentioned she wasn’t getting paid but liked the idea of the big brand name being part of her profile. We spoke about a few scenarios. I asked her to think about what value she would be providing for the brand and vice versa. She ended up making peace with the fact that she’s OK walking away from the unpaid offer.
After she had sent the e-mail saying she’s unable to do the free work, she received a response with a payment figure. She happily accepted. Moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to let things go if they don’t fit. It will make more sense in the long term. Respect yourself and respect your brand. Respect the brand that’s approaching you and don’t put out anything short of excellent. Don’t expect payment if you can’t even take yourself seriously and devote the time needed to produce high-quality content.
I’ll leave you with the following video, with Gary aptly getting angry and serving you some no-nonsense (expletive-laden) advice: