How a Billion Dollar Company Asked to Work with Me then Rejected Me / Carmen Varner // Travel Influencer, Blogging Coach, Social Media Consultant


How a Billion Dollar Company Asked to Work with Me then Rejected Me

One new, unread message sat in my inbox. It called my name, coaxing me to open it. I obeyed. The email invited me to participate in a paid Instagram campaign with a very well-known beverage brand partnered with a well-known award show.

"I like where this is going," I thought.

I read the campaign creative guidelines to get a feel of what they were looking for, what they weren't looking for, & what was required as far as photography, hashtags, & publishing times. Everything sounded good to me. I accepted the campaign & then waited for approval that I was officially in.

I received the "Congrats, You're In!" email the next day. I was ecstatic, especially since it was one of the biggest brands I've ever had the opportunity to partner with. I received all the final details & went through it line by line: 

Create a high resolution & well-lit image.
Must include at least one beverage.
Show the party setup.
Do not include any other brand logos.
Photo must show someone drinking the beverage.
The beverage must be upright in the photo.
Submit a caption along with branded hashtags.
Portrait or landscape format, square not acceptable.

Then I headed to the store. It had to be an exact type of packaging, not one of their specialty or seasonal ones. I browsed the aisles of the store & double checked the creative guidelines on my phone. I needed to verify it was the correct product. I got the right one, headed to check out, & went back home.

digital influencer

The theme of the post aimed to highlight the beverage as the perfect party drink for your awards show viewing party. I styled my photo to give the illusion of a full-blown gathering. I included a variety of snacks, several cans of the drink, my handy-dandy remote control, & a few magazines. I wanted it to look warm, inviting, & happy — the kind of party anyone would want to come to.

I spent time doing my makeup & making sure my hair looked presentable. I wore one of my favorite outfits & felt ready for my shoot. My boyfriend, Fred, snapped some photos. We played with the angles. We zoomed in, zoomed out. We worked to get a great range of shots.

I uploaded the photos to my computer & went through each photo. I picked a couple shots I loved & asked for Fred's opinion. I edited the photo, came up with a nice caption adhering to the brand guidelines, & sent it in for approval.


I received an email two days later.

"We thank you for submitting your image for this upcoming campaign. However, your post was not approved. Please do not post your image. We will process your payment for participating because your image met all the brand guidelines. Although the brand did not choose you at this time, you could be invited to a future campaign."

"Oh. I see." I thought.

I was disappointed. I looked at my image again. I wondered why they didn't pick me. I scoured through all the branded hashtags to see which ones went live that day. I compared their photos to mine. I compared their captions to mine.

digital influencer, lifestyle blogger

After questioning my skills for approximately 40 seconds, I came to the realization that this is business. In fact, it's something I've had to personally do as a social media coordinator & lifestyle blogger. When it comes down to it, there might've been one minute detail that made a difference. 

Perhaps they had 100 applicants & they wanted to focus on Instagram users in the Midwest or users with adult children or users with over 50,000 followers. Sometimes they didn't like the pattern of your shirt or the way the picture was framed or where the product was placed. Sometimes it all comes down to a small detail like that. In this case I was lucky to still get paid, but it's not always like that. Not at all!

I've spent time negotiating campaign details, only to receive a late night email claiming they didn't have budget anymore. I've been invited to campaigns & then rejected the next day. Rejection is simply a part of life as a blogger & digital influencer.

Sometimes someone else had a better idea. Someone might've had a genius concept or impeccable photo editing skills. Perhaps their reach is gargantuan. Maybe they're known for already working with the brand. It's a different reason every time.

You will not be the perfect match for every advertisement, promotional campaign, & paid post on the planet. Sometimes you might have the best photo, have the best post idea, have the best caption, but your demographic is simply not what they're looking for. It might be as simple as that.

After about 500 rejections, you learn not to take every rejection to heart. Brands reach out to me all the time & if I know they're not a good fit for my blog, I politely decline. Rejection absolutely goes both ways. 

Dealing with rejection as a blogger & digital influencer is a daily adventure. If anything, rejection is a motivating factor. It inspires me to keep going, make something better, & learn something new to ideally get accepted to the next opportunity. Here's to more rejection & growth! 

How do you deal with rejection? :]


  1. Loved reading this post, rejection can definitely make you question whether you're good enough but, as you said, it's often small details and it's not necessarily you that's not good enough! x

    Ariadna || RAWR BOWS

  2. As I'm a new blogger I've not had to deal with anything like this but that must've felt so horrible doing everything for it, setting up the perfect photo etc. It's so good that you've picked yourself back up and carried on and thank goodness they paid you after all of that effort went in. I'd just pick myself back up and keep on going! I really enjoyed reading this post, it's interesting to hear what can happen.

    Beckie xo // The Pale Tails

  3. I think my initial problem is rejection at the start. I'm a new blogger and I'm trying to find my niche which is quite difficult. My current rejection issue is just getting comments on posts and follow backs haha! Good to know that eventually it stops stinging.
    Kate ||

  4. This is such a great post! I've never had to deal with this as I'm relatively new to working with brands but I am the kind of person who would take it really to heart and would probably believe it's because I'm not good enough! You've made me realise that this kind of thing is pretty black and white as at the end of the day it is business! Thanks for such a great eye opening post x

  5. I feel so sorry for you about the rejection. But I agree that it is part of not only blogging but life. I think we need to learn about this thing even if they suck, they are experiences for what comes next. I really like this post, it was a nice encouragement as well.
    Records of my Troubles

  6. This was such a lovely read for me, and it's something I need to really listen to! I can sometimes take rejection so hard, and the fear of rejection is a times enough to not even try. Good for you for doing your best and putting so much effort in- and for being recognized by the brand! I am sure you will have many successes ahead, rejections are just part of the journey xx

    My Lovelier Days

  7. this kind of stuff is never easy

    This Girl Loves Chic xx

  8. This was definitely an interesting read to see what happens behind-the-scenes. Although you missed the opportunity, glad you got the experience out of it! It'll help you with your next paid content. All the best! xx

  9. I'm so sorry :( that's just how things are sometimes i'm afraid. There is no explanation really except for it literally is just the way life is and that's business. I'm sure you'll get more exciting opportunities in the future!! xx

  10. You're lucky that they still sent compensation! Too often you would go through that work and receive nothing. You're absolutely right - blogging is about rejection because each brand wants to market a certain way and it won't always mean that you're the perfect person to do it.

    Great post, Carmen!

  11. you're right...rejection goes both way in the world of blogging. Most of the time a cooperation will benefit both bloggers and brands, sometimes we see eye to eye... but sometimes rejection is bound to happen...and It is important not to take it personally.

  12. I know that feeling of let down, I was rejected a couple of time too. It's not the easiest feeling and I too start questioning myself but these days I approach it with a better and more positive attitude.m As long as I know I've given my best then I'm okay with it.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  13. I had my share of rejection but I realized not to take it personally because the brand wants what is best for them. I also want what is best for me too!

  14. I think everything comes for the reason, even rejections. Take a lesson from it and move on. stay amazing xxx

  15. Madara LiecinieceMarch 2, 2017 at 11:44 AM

    At first I really felt saddened by the fact and compared myself way too much to other bloggers/influencers, but now I think of it as learning experience. Of course, it's not a nice feeling to be rejected, but at the same time I know there will be a brand which will find me perfect for what they need. I guess I am just believing that good things will happen anyways :)

  16. I know that feeling all to well.. Just got to dust your self off and keep going or as a little fish said "just keep swimming"

  17. I've gone through the exact same thing probably with the exact network you experienced it with. It is so hard to not feel less than or not good enough when this happens. I still haven't figured out how to deal with it. I've always tried to be an overachiever so rejection is very hard for me.

  18. I would also definitely get sad and it would take me a bit longer than 40 seconds to accept it, but you're right, it's business.


  19. Thank you for sharing your experience! I also had to deal with rejection a couple of times. On some moments I can easily cope with it, but sometimes I doubt myself for it. That's why I love to read your story, knowing that you're not the only one!

    Love, Layla Rosita |

  20. I appreciate you sharing your experience! Rejection is something I think most (every?) blogger/digital influencer will deal with at some point. Plus you're so right - it does go both ways in that there are companies you may not want to partner with or don't feel fit your blog.

    Kathryn •

  21. I think I go through similar stages when I get a rejection. At first I start comparing myself with everyone who was able to take part. Then I have to take a bit of time off & regenerate and then, finally, I come to the realization that I can´t change the facts. I did the best I could & it was maybe just a small detail that wasn´t exactly loved & therefore I got rejected. This is life, after all and nobody is going to be perfect for everything.
    xx Lisa | Following Lisa

  22. Absolutely Lisa & those are all completely valid feelings. We just need to remember that we aren't always the perfect fit, just like brands aren't always a great fit for us. :]

  23. I'd say rejection is something every human being faces at some point! :]

  24. Everyone copes differently. I've been rejected a lot, so I was annoyed at myself for wasting my own time being bummed about it. :]

  25. That's understandable. What helped me is knowing that it sometimes has nothing to do with you, but it has to do with brand standards or guidelines. I work as a social media professional & we've denied people because of tiny things - but someone else was a better match. Keep your chin up! :]

  26. As the saying goes, "don't compare your hustle to someone else's highlight reel." Meaning: everyone faces rejection, bad days, etc, but not everyone talks about it. You're doing great! :]

  27. Absolutely. That's the perfect summary! :]

  28. Definitely. Most of the time it isn't because one is a bad blogger, it's more that there's someone else who is a better fit. :]

  29. I am so lucky. It doesn't normally happen that way. :]

  30. True! If needed, you can ask for feedback & that helps too. :]

  31. Absolutely. It gave me something to write about too. :]

  32. Keep trying! Keep your chin up. It's not easy, that's for sure. :]

  33. Very true, Pili. They are experiences that we can grow from. :]

  34. You're very welcome. Glad it was valuable. :]

  35. It's quite a journey! I have a bunch of blogging tips throughout my blog to help with that! I offer social media/blogging coaching if that's a service you'd be interested in. :]

  36. Yeah, it was a kick-in-the-stomach type of feeling but I had to dust myself off & keep moving forward. :]

  37. Absolutely. It's often those minute details that can make an impact. :]

  38. Rejection happens each and every day in this industry, but it helps us grow and improve. The first time I received editorial rejection, though, I was pretty devastated.

    But, then I realized that's just how business goes.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Alexia P. Bullard

  39. This post was really encouraging. Plus, it's a reminder that I'd rather here a direct "no" then to never see my work posted and wonder why or what happened. I just discovered your blog on The Skinny Confidential's Facebook group! I'm absolutely loving it.

  40. That's great they still paid you! It hurts a lot more when companies go back on their word. Enjoyed reading your experience. ;-)


Thanks for reading & writing. :] // ▲


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