How to Assert Yourself without Burning Bridges

You’re a blogger with a readership that is invested in your content and voice. They enjoy your insight and are influenced by the information you share. In short, you are considered an influencer, and brands have begun to take notice. They may have reached out to you, inquiring about the prospect of you drafting a review of one of their products or hosting a giveaway. Alternatively, you may have contacted them with the hopes that they would like to collaborate with you in the future. Either way, the connection has been made, and the time has now come to discuss specifics.

How to Assert Yourself Without Burning Bridges

Both parties have their own set of expectations in relation to your post’s content, scope, reach, and the compensation provided. It is up to you to assert yourself in such a way where your expectations are understood and agreed upon without harming the working relationship that you have started to establish. It’s a delicate dance that gets easier to maneuver with experience. Here are some tips on how to be successful in the blog post fox trot (which is the only type of dance I know… we were kicked out of ballroom dance lessons before learning any others):

Gain Understanding

You don’t necessarily need to ask eight million questions and conduct hours and hours of research, but you also shouldn’t jump the gun. It’s important to ask some targeted questions and perform specific research to determine the following:

  • Does the company offer goods or services that match the mission and purpose of my blog?
  • Who are you working with? This sounds like a silly question, but oftentimes the contact that you’re in touch with is working for a PR firm that is representing the brand. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but this does mean that the “don’t shoot the messenger” adage is important to remember. If the brand has communicated a certain set of parameters for their campaigns, the PR representative may have limitations to the types of changes they can make.
  • What does the brand want and what are they willing to give? It never hurts to ask for clarification and to make sure you receive a reply in writing.

Be Honest

Brands simply don’t have time to beat around the bush. They appreciate straightforwardness and honesty.  If you are reliant on paid posts as your primary income base or if it’s simply a policy that you would like to uphold, and the company has stated that they “don’t have a budget for bloggers,” don’t lead the brand along. This doesn’t mean you need to be crass in your reply. Stating, “I am a blogger with ______ number of followers who is invested in sharing relevant and helpful information with my readers. This is my main source of income and, as a result, I will only be collaborating with brands that are able to provide monetary compensation.” Thank them for their time and understanding, and invite them to contact you should their policy or budge change at some point in the future.

Understand the Big Picture

If you were to poll all of the folks who have presented at BlogPaws over the years, I would venture to guess that NONE would claim that being a pet blogger is actually a part of a get rich quick scheme! It takes time and dedication to establish meaningful relationships with brands and to develop your readership. It may not be entirely realistic to expect a certain rate of pay right out of the gate. Understanding the potential of sculpting a relationship with the brand will help you to determine if you feel comfortable working for a lesser rate at the onset if there’s a possibility for a more fruitful partnership in the future.

No Matter What, There May Still Be Problems

You may have taken all the right steps to ensure that brand and blogger were on the same page. Inevitably, something might still not quite work out. The issue may arise from a miscommunication, a product that breaks, a technical glitch, or any number of other possibilities. First, try to determine potential issues that may come up in relation to your blog or the specific campaign. Brainstorm a possible game plan before the issue ever arises. Secondly, if a blip still takes place, brands appreciate open communication. If you contact them as soon as an issue pops up, they respect that. If you not only share the problem but are also able to communicate a possible solution, they will love you forever. That forethought and effort to solve is worth its weight in gold.

“No” Now Shouldn’t Mean “No” Forever

Sometimes the stars don’t align. The company may not have established a budget for bloggers the first time; you may not have the necessary time to draft a post for their campaign; the product doesn’t quite fit with your blog; or insert any of the other possible reasons. This doesn’t mean that they door should be closed forever. It’s entirely plausible that the brand may realize the importance of establishing a budget to work with bloggers and add this option down the road. If you’ve maintained a positive and open line of communication with the brand, there is a high likelihood that they might attempt to work with you again down the road.

It’s Not What You Say but How You Say It

On a final note, the saying is true. People may not always remember what you say, but they do remember how you made them feel. Even when you’re frustrated, remember that there’s a person on the receiving end of your communication. Treating representatives with respect and kindness may not change the outcome, but it can most certainly impact the potential for establishing a fruitful relationship in the future.

How to Assert Yourself without Burning Bridges

Bryn Nowell is a blogger who loves dogs and drinking equally, which is why her blog adogwalksintoabar.com focuses on both! She is a passionate photographer and animal rescue advocate. Join her photography adventures with pups Bean & Yoda on Instagram at: A Dog Walks Into A Bar.

Images: Courtesy of the author and Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com


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