SOS: What To Do When a Brand Wants to Micro Manage Your Partnership

SOS: What To Do When a Brand Wants to Micro Manage Your Partnership

So, great news! You’ve partnered up with a brand you love, signed and sealed the contract, and you’re ready to get started.

You sit down at your Macbook Pro, head spinning with ideas for photo shoots and content and maybe you’ll even throw in an Instagram Story series…

But the more emails you exchange with the brand, the more calls you’re asked to be in, you realize the brand is totally micromanaging your partnership, controlling the creative direction and your writing.

If this has never happened to you, that’s amazing!

But I know for a fact that some brands LOVE to tell their content creators exactly what photos will be shot, where your hands will be, how you’ll be facing, etc. 

And would you believe me if I said this post was inspired by a time that I was forced to be that micromanager…I freaking HATED it.



Here are my strategies for approaching this sticky situation without damaging your relationship and your partnership.

1. Be straightforward and ask what’s up

The best thing you can do is truly meet the brand head on. Shoot them an email, offer to jump on the phone, and


“Hey, are you open to giving me some more creative freedom? I’ve read through all your messaging and brand guidelines, and I feel like I could create something really cool for you guys if I had a bit more freedom.”

As long as you’re professional, respectful, and come at it from a place of wanting to deliver better content for the brand…I don’t think there’s any harm in this.

When you’re working with a brand and trying to create something cool and fun that your readers connect with, you NEED your creative freedom.

Or else you’re going to pump out something that really looks like an #ad.

If the brand says….

“Nope, those are our rules and those are the things we need from influencers. If you can’t work with that, then we need to terminate our partnership.”

Then, do your best to create something your audience will love within their parameters. Or if you’re really feeling uncomfortable, cancel the contract. And file this info away for next time.

If the brand says….

“Oh wow, we didn’t realize we were being restrictive! How about we remove (insert photo suggestions, etc)…”

Then, great! You successfully confronted an uncomfortable issue head on and got the brand to see your side of things. #boss

Related Reading: How to Work with Brands as a Blogger: Roadmap + Checklist –> here

Free Resources: Email Pitching PR Templates (drop your info below)

2. Clarify a few things when you’re in negotiations (next time)

Michael Jordan said,  “I either win or I learn.”

Anddd maybe in this scenario you’re learning.

Next time you’re talking with a brand about potentially working together, go over the creative direction and involvement upfront.


  • How involved is the brand planning to be?
  • How many times a week do they want to hop on the phone with you?
  • Will they be sending you a brand messaging guide and shot list?

Talking through these points upfront will save you a lot of headache down the road.

It’s a creative buzzkill to start imagining a beautiful photo shoot outdoors and then figure out the brand wants the product placed in a white shower with 2 products blurred out around it, a loofah in the background, and water gently cascading over the bottle….K.

Related Reading: 5 Reasons Your Email Pitch Got Ignored –> here

3. Figure out how to work within the parameters

So maybe you’re continuing with the partnership, but now you gotta figure out how to navigate their creative direction + requirements.

This is obviously super specific to each scenario, but here’s my best advice for making those restrictions work for you, not against you.

  • Think of it as a school project – weird, I know. But I’ve played this mental game before, and it actually kind of helps? When I’m creating something with LOTS of direction from a brand, I trick my mind into thinking it’s a project for school…maybe a class I don’t love or whatever. Remember alllll those directions for projects in college? 12 pages, 1 inch margins, 4 bibliography citations…this is kind of like that – you still had to turn in the project, you still had to do your best even if you were triggered by all the directions.
  • Hype yourself up for a creative challenge – Annoyed? Yes. Push yourself? Most definitely. Maybe completely try something new or learn a new skill that actually benefits you? Fingers crossed.


Have you guys ever been micromanaged by brands you worked with?

If yes, I’m super interested to hear your experiences if you want to drop them in the comments below.

Not working with brands yet?

No worries, friend. If you’re looking to dive into 2018 with some serious brand collaborations and pitching, download the Slightly Savvy PR Email Template Guide.

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  • Girl, what a great blog post! I’ve definitely been there. In fact, nothing makes my blood boil more than tough restrictions. Especially when they want you to mention about 694894 brand messages within your Instagram post!! Like, I get this is advertising, but give me some freedom to be myself and use my own voice!! Love your suggestions!

  • Yolanda

    This is definitely a tough situation. I have been on the other side of this – working in marketing at big corporations for years. When I was in more junior roles I didn’t realize that what I was doing was SO wrong – trying to control the content writer/designer, etc! Years later I know this is a BIG no no. Your advice is spot on. Great read 🙂

  • As always, literally GOLD! You already know I’ve dealt with this a time or too haha it’s SO stressful when brands forget why they are hiring you in the first place (to share their message in your voice!) and I actually 100% always think of brands like a school project and like I’m checking things off a syllabus haha i always wondered if anyone else ever thought that lolol

  • Oh yes, this is the actual WORST when it happens. I always like reminding brands (in a friendly, professional way of course) that influencer marketing is SUPPOSED to sound different than traditional advertising – that’s part of the whole point as to why it’s more successful in many circumstances!

  • Such a good post!! I have had brands become mad at me before because I followed their contract (and even gave them a little more), but then they had expectations that I would do even more than that and they weren’t happy. It was eye opening how even sometimes direct expectations are not all that is there and communication is key!

  • Katarina Review

    Thank for sharing this, I have never experienced that but it’s nice to learn that it can happen in the blogger sphere, thank you for this advice.

  • shootingstarsmag

    Great advice! I haven’t worked with too many brands yet, so I haven’t really had this happen but it’s definitely wonderful to know ahead of time. I also signed up for the template – thanks!


  • Patricia A. Go

    Great advice. I may work with brands later when I get more of a follow and monetize my blog. I will keep your tips in mind when working with brands/companies.

  • Jocely

    I am so fortunate to have avoided this situation. It’s so frustrating that some brands want total control. Gret tips on how to reroute the convo!