Um, is professional ghosting like a thing now?
I’m going to spill some real tea here. I’ve been ghosted by two brands which has put me in a position of pure disgust and confusion. I’m not going to name blame nor am I going to dish out who I’ve spoken to but it’s really rude and not cute and I wish them a lifetime of crows feet. For the record, this is not a woe is me story, this is me doing you a favor on how to handle this shit-uation if it happens to you because ghosting people tarnishes brand integrity and I’m not having any of it.
Before I dive in to this scenario and lessons I’ve learned from it, is it really that hard to say thanks but no thanks? I feel like I say it every day. I say it to a rando passing me a flyer on the street. I say it to the waiter when he’s offering me a free bread basket. I say it to my manicurist who wants to paint my nail tips with a contrasting color. I mean I say the words thank you but no thank you probably more than my own damn name.
Since the New Year, I’ve been ghosted by 2 brands total, and I’m still so perplexed by it. Let’s take a look at what I did in one scenario followed by lessons of what I’ve learned from this shituation.
A brand approaches me via email and wants to collaborate on social media for their newest collection. I get excited, write them back, asked them what the timeline is and what their budget was. They get back to me with a rushed timeline but no budget. They also wanted me to give them some ideas on what I can do with their newest collection. Ah! Ideas! Everyone wants them! Especially from us creatives who create, dream and think for a living.
There was still no price tag attached to this project so I took it upon myself to reply with my own price sheet which is a very detailed PDF of different packages for instagram, print, magazines, you name it. I was so eager to work with this brand that additionally I attached a creative deck of ideas of what we can do together. I get an enthusiastic reply back from them and they asked me to put a proposal together and to focus/elaborate on one of the core ideas I had. Keep in mind, in the previous email I sent them my price sheet as well. So I’m here thinking, they’re totally fine with my pricing and that this project is pretty much locked and loaded. I sent them a new deck of the proposed idea they wanted me to focus on plus a price breakdown for each scenario. One day later, two days later, pure silence.
“Well this is odd” I thought to myself. We had such a consistent email exchange due to their rushed timeline so I sent them a follow up to make sure they received the email. One week later, I still don’t hear back.
I then sent them another email following up on the projects and then still crickets. Another week goes by and I finally received an email that said: “We are currently working on the new show coming up but I will let you know ASAP on when we are moving forward with the collaboration.” I knew from this moment that this was a red flag, because they originally gave me a rushed timeline but things change all the time and I certainly wasn’t going to give up hope. I wished them luck with their preparations and basically prayed to my shaman and tried to manifest that this collaboration would eventually happen. I then continued to express interest for the next three months, following up each time to see if this was the right time to move forward with the collaboration and till this day I haven’t heard back.
I was so crushed because I was so excited that a brand that I absolutely LOVED was interested in working with me and it really seemed like this was going to happen. So I faced the music and realized I’ve just been ghosted.
Here are a few lessons that I think are vital in protecting yourself and being smart about collaborations that I wish I knew before this shituation.
Lesson #1: When a brand approaches you without a timeline or a budget it is your responsibility to address that in the VERY FIRST EMAIL.
Lesson #2: When a brand approaches you and asks YOU what your ideas are, you must address the following first: Budget, to see if your time is being wasted or not. Keep in mind you have never worked with this brand so you need to gauge what you can possibly do with them and if they’re able to pay for your services. If the brand doesn’t establish a budget then you should email them with your price deck. If you don’t have a price sheet of your services then I suggest you do that now.
Lesson #3: Do not send a creative deck of ideas unless they have signed an NDA. Go online, get an NDA made, or reach out to a lawyer to have them write you one because this is what protects you. NDA’s are the only thing us creatives can rely on when it come to collaborating. You do not want to be in a situation where you’ve presented something really unique and cool and then have the brand take those ideas and work with someone who is cheaper. There is a reason they are reaching out to you so remember that. You’re obviously doing something right.
Lesson #4: Be persistent in emailing the brand, you have no idea what the other person on the other end is going through so don’t give up! Email them and continue to express interest in working with the brand. If you feel like your emails are too repetitive try mentioning reasons why you think you’d be a great fit by giving examples of previous collaborations and what the outcome was. I think the appropriate amount of follow ups should be three emails. But you do you!
Lesson #5: I wish I had done lesson #1-#4 because I wouldn’t have felt as used and toyed with as I did when it first happened, so please learn from my own mistakes!
Look, I’m a millennial with chic manners and morals and I don’t know care what age you are but you don’t need a college degree to simply respond with “we appreciate your time and efforts but we’re not interested at the moment.”
Karma is a real bitch and she knows your address. Treat others the way you want to be treated in life and in business, that’s all.
I hope my lessons will spare you from professional heartbreak! Have any of you been ghosted? I would love to hear your stories.
The Creator of Sew Sketchy