Working with Brands

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

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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.

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