- Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
- She says she’s learned how to tactfully say ‘no’ to requests for unpaid speaking or writing gigs.
- If the request is a good opportunity, Glantz encourages asking if there’s a budget for payment.
In 2011, when I first started putting myself out there under my personal brand, I said yes to every single opportunity I got as a blogger and speaker. If I were asked to speak at a conference or write a guest post for a website, I quickly accepted in the hopes that the opportunity would help me expand my reach and credibility.
After two years of taking on many free requests, I made a rule for myself that I’d turn down 90% of unpaid requests. I began to realize that saying yes to everything took me away from my own business and paid opportunities. It also made me feel like I wasn’t being properly compensated for the value and knowledge I was providing other people or their audience.
Although it can feel like a tough task to respond to an unpaid opportunity that comes your way, your reply doesn’t have to always be a flat out “no.” Based on the situation, here are a handful of scripts to use that can help you properly and professionally turn down offers that don’t come with a paycheck.
Script 1: Thank you, but I can’t
When unpaid opportunities come my way, I first like to check if it’s something I really want to partake in. I decide based on my relationship with the person or the company reaching out, and I also check my calendar to see if I have any time or travel constraints.
If the opportunity isn’t a fit, this is usually my reply:
I appreciate you sharing this opportunity with me. What you’re putting together looks incredible. However, being a part of it is just not something I have the bandwidth for at the moment. Cheering you on and looking forward to hearing about the success of this event.
Script 2: I’m not a fit, but here’s what to do instead
Some unpaid requests that enter your inbox might just not be the right fit for you or your expertise. In those instances, it’s best to turn it down and offer to share the opportunity with your network to see if anyone you know might be interested instead.
Here’s what you can say:
Thank you for reaching out about this. After reading more about the event and the kind of speaker you’re looking for, it seems as though I’m not the right fit. However, I’d love to share the information with a few of my colleagues to see if they’re interested in learning more.
Script 3: A flat-out no
It’s OK to keep your response short if an unpaid opportunity just isn’t something you’re open to. If that’s the case, your response can be short and straightforward.
Thank you for reaching out about this opportunity. At this time, I’m only accepting paid partnerships. Wishing you continued success with this event.
Script 4: A request for money
When there’s an unpaid opportunity that you would accept if you were being paid for your knowledge and time, it’s OK to ask if there’s a budget to pay for your participation. There’s always a chance they can dig up a fee to pay you, and it’s worth the ask.
Thank you for reaching out about this opportunity. At this time, I’m only accepting paid partnerships. Is there room in your budget to pay me for my services?
When unpaid opportunities come your way, take a few minutes to process your interest and your schedule. If you determine that the request is something you deserve to get paid for, don’t be afraid to ask. Part of being successful is knowing when to say yes and when to request payment for your services and time.