When to Say No to a Collaboration

By guest contributor Michelle Edgemont. Photography by Giulio Rojer.

Has this ever happened to you? A professional blogger approaches you, a small business owner, to collaborate with them on a post on their blog - but your gut is telling you it’s a bad idea. Maybe you don’t have time with running your business, or the blog in question is just not your cup of tea. A business lesson that I’m still trying to perfect is when to say no to an opportunity.

Here are a few examples of when saying no is beneficial:

When your brand’s aesthetic and the aesthetic of the other blog don’t jive
Since one of the main reasons to collaborate with bloggers is to get your business in front of the right people, the blogs you chose to work with should be attracting your intended audience. The best business blogger/professional blogger collaboration is one where both are after the same client. A vintage clothing store owner and a blog that features vintage furniture and flea market finds would be a great match. An accountant collaborating with a blog about building a small business is another good example.

When you are just too busy
All small business owners have been there: it’s your busiest time of the year and you feel like you’re drowning. This is not the right time to take on collaborations, no matter how awesome and amazing. Tend to your current clients first, then work on gaining more clients. A polite response suggesting a future date would be an appropriate response to the collaboration request.

When in doubt, consult your hourly rate
Whether you charge clients by the project or by the hour, you should have a solid number that you think your time and talent is worth per hour. When I’m on the fence about a collaboration opportunity, I use this number as a gauge to help me decide if I should do it. At the end of the day, no matter how much you absolutely love selling fun iphone cases or designing logos, you need to make the amount of money you deserve. I’m a huge advocate of working smarter when it comes to income.

Since collaborative projects aren’t necessarily paid projects, deciding their value is a bit tricky. You will need to estimate the amount of time the project will take, and the exposure you will receive from the collaboration. Take into consideration the relationship you’ll start with the blogger, and the new readers that will learn about your business. Will you and the blogger equally benefit? Do you believe that the exposure your company will gain will turn into new business? This is a guessing game; you need to trust your gut.

When you’re just not that excited about it
Not every potential project is going to wet your whistle. If you aren’t excited about it from the beginning, the whole time you’re working on it you’ll feel resentful and annoyed. Plus, your lack of excitement will show up in the final project. Don't take on any projects that you aren't really looking forward to working on.

Of course there are many great reasons for businesses collaborating with professional bloggers. Now go out and start some amazing projects with each other! When you do, please tell me all about them.