Bloggers, Learn How To Collaborate with Brands!
You’ve probably read a ton of guides on how to collaborate with brands as a blogger and best practices to get brand collaborations. I won’t bore you with general fleeting ideas or overarching sweeping statements. I’m going to get right to it because this is going to be a relatively long post.
The first step in figuring out how to pitch yourself to a brand is to determine where you fall on the blogging scale. In other words, are you a beginner, a semi-pro or an experienced blogger? Securing a brand partnership if you’re a small blogger looks vastly different than if you have a large, active following.
If you’re just starting out, collaborating with brands and seeking sponsorships might mean having to sacrifice more of your time for a lot less of a monetary reward. Even when you’re a full-time and very experienced blogger with solid traffic stats, you won’t be in the same league as some of the mega-bloggers out there.
The Numbers Needed To Start Collaborating with Brands
I’ve had experience reaching out to bloggers to invite them for brand campaigns as well as reaching out and working with brands as an influencer. I can tell you from firsthand experience that getting reliable talent that can produce quality content is tough if you’re a brand. And I’m not talking about free content here.
By approaching brands at the right time and knowing key contacts, you’ll be able to land partnerships without necessarily needing tens of thousands of followers.
Is there a minimum threshold for followers?
Ideally, you should start approaching bigger brands for collaborations when you have over 10k views a month on your blog, at a minimum. If you’re just dealing with Instagram, your numbers should be well into the high thousands with superb engagement.
The most important thing here is that you show initiative, consistency and the ability to deliver quality results. You need to be able to tell the brand exactly who your customers are.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a free product exchange where you are offering to promote them in exchange for a product, these guidelines will be a lot more lenient. If you’re looking to actually get on their radar as a blogger who is looking to get paid, you need to have the numbers.
This is also a good place to note that if you establish a precedent of working with the brand for free, it’ll be very hard to convert that into a paying relationship. So, if you’re approaching the brand for the first time and you would eventually like for it to become a paid opportunity, you need to set your rates from the get-go and come in with a plan.
Get to know your audience so you can provide the brand with valuable reach information. This is GOLD for brands. If you have 2,000 followers on Instagram and you know they’re tweens who LOVE to shop for accessories and who are primarily from the southeastern region of the US, you’ve got yourself a solid pitch.
The Basics of Brand Collaboration
Now that we’ve rooted ourselves in reality, let’s go over on an integral piece of advice you need to have when approaching ANY business deal. You need to be confident in yourself and abilities.
Consider yourself on equal footing or even in greater standing than whoever it is you’re approaching. Internalize it as a fact and you’ll find yourself striking gold in deals VERY quickly. I’m not kidding when I tell you this is an integral step ONE to this guide. Don’t skip over this.
You have to remember that brand collaborations go BOTH ways. They will reflect on your brand as much as you reflect on theirs. Having confidence in the value you provide will also communicate professionalism and ability to the brand.
What are you offering?
Now, we need to understand there are two major types of advertising at hand: brand and performance. Brand advertising is basically exposure. For example, Coke might have a billboard up along a major highway. They have no way of knowing whether that advertisement is effective or how many people purchase Coke as a result of that billboard, but they know for a fact that they’re getting plenty of exposure.
Performance-based advertising, however, tracks a particular statistic or set of statistics. If you can track it and you measure performance, it’s performance-based advertising.
Affiliate marketing is essentially performance based advertising. You get paid per sale. If you’re getting paid per post or a company purchases a banner ad for a specific timeframe, that’s a brand ad.
So now we have two key points working in the mix. Your size and whether you’re doing performance or brand marketing. These two things factor into your approach in getting a brand partnership.
Companies are a lot more amenable to performance marketing, for obvious reasons. But you need to know that you can perform if you’re going to pitch yourself as a performance advertiser.
If you’re a small blogger, it’s tough to land a large brand campaign. Some niches have an easier time than others. The fashion blogging space is a highly valuable niche. What this means is that brands are willing to pay for exposure even at smaller follower levels.
As you’re starting out, make it more compelling for brands to work with you by offering a mixed campaign package. For example, instead of confining yourself just to Instagram, offer a package where you post on your blog, on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Feel free to play around with these combinations until you hit a sweet spot for the best reach.
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How To Find the Right Partnerships
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely being pro-active in your search for collaborations. Remember, you make your own destiny and the choices you make directly dictate how your business will grow. Reaching out to brands without waiting for them to reach out to you is a way to ensure your business is GROWING. If only we could all just make money by sitting on the couch and having it knock on our door, right?
So here’s the deal if you’re a blogger who’s just starting out: form relationships with smaller and local brands! You’re not going to land a Chanel campaign with 5,000 followers. But you just might be able to deliver an awesome brand campaign for a local accessory designer. Chances are, those business owners are also looking to promote their items but they simply don’t know how.
While they might have limited budgets, this is your opportunity to get the practice you need before you move on to the bigger brands. Check out a smaller brand or two on Instagram. Get more suggestions by clicking the down arrow next to their profile name. You can keep doing this for each new brand you discover.
The reason why we’re looking on Instagram? Brand presence on the platform might indicate they’re interested in strong visual branding. If they’re investing in building out the platform, that’s also an indication their target market might be there. And that market is heavily influenced by bloggers and visual content creators. In addition, it’s easy to discover new brands with Instagram’s sophisticated suggestion tool algorithm. You can also gauge their size by checking their stats.
How To Pitch
It’s important to know where to direct your pitch, so find out the marketing & PR contacts. For example, a great place to start is Modem Online if you’re a fashion blogger. The tool hunter.io is EXCELLENT for finding the contact information of any brand simply by entering their website. You want to try to connect directly to the person responsible for influencer marketing or marketing campaigns in general.
Send them a message on Instagram if you’re really having trouble finding a contact address (it shouldn’t be), or locate the e-mail on their website. Keep this email short and sweet (5 sentences or less).
Sample brand e-mail structure:
Compliment on their brand
And exit with a request to talk at a particular time.
If the response is positive, give the contact your phone number or ask what’s the best number to reach them. Even if you’re not comfortable with speaking on the phone, this is one of the best ways to make a genuine connection.
Stumped on what you should say on the phone? You should focus on building the relationship first and foremost. You want to build a rapport with the brand, and you need to let them know why you might be the right fit. The numbers and sponsorship talk comes second.
Don’t waste too much time. Tell the person why you’re interested, why you’re the right fit, and pitch a few ideas you might have for them.
If you’re a blogger with some experience under your belt, the approach is slightly different. You’ll be looking to contact a Director of Marketing or Director of Social Media (basically, head of the field). Use LinkedIn to find the direct contact to e-mail.
Basically, go for the person who is ultimately in charge of campaigns and the budgets.
You’re In Charge
Pretty simply when it comes down to it. Your first order of business is to garner the self-confidence you need in order to value yourself appropriately.
And remember, brand partnerships are only one part of the equation. They won’t give you a steady stream of income, so you need to ensure that you’re creating content you can sell yourself. A course or another digital product will give you a more secure ownership of your income!
What’s your biggest challenge when approaching brands?
Main Photo by Wenyang on Unsplash