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Brand Collaboration Guide

Collaborating with brands that you love is not only an awesome way to make money, but it’s also a fun way to build relationships, increase your audience, and share useful content with your followers. High-profile bloggers make it look like a piece of cake. It seems like in every other post they are throwing in an #ad here and a #sponsored there. For the majority of bloggers, however, sponsorship opportunities with brands don’t come so easily.

Finding Brands to Collaborate With

Main Collaboration Goal: To create a mutually beneficial relationship with a brand – the brand provides you with a product and compensation, and you use your platform to promote their product and generate sales.

Three main ways to connect with brands:

  1. Influencer networks
  2. Reaching out to brands
  3. Brands reaching out to you

Influencer Networks

There are many influencer networks that connect brands and bloggers. This is probably the easiest and fastest way to secure a collaboration.

Pros: 

  • The network takes care of the payment.
  • They’re easy! Once you sign up, the network will notify you of available opportunities.
  • High-profile brands tend to go through networks.

Cons:

  • The network takes a percentage of your payment, which means you get paid less.
  • There are many influencers participating in the same campaign so you will all publish similar content at the same time.
  • Communication goes through a middleman.

List of Networks:

Reaching Out to Brands

Reaching out to brands can be intimidating. The best advice that I can give is to interact with the brand before contacting them. Follow them on social media, mention them on Twitter, tag them in a relevant Instagram post, and like their posts. Get on the radar and then send them an email. Chances are, they might even contact you first.

Brands are constantly getting pitched by people who claim to love and use their brand left and right. You are going to stand out if you can prove that you actually do. I will often link them to Instagram posts where I have featured their products or a blog post where I gave them a mention.

Pros:

  • You can be selective about the brands that you work with
  • These can easily turn into long-term partnerships
  • The brands are more likely to promote your post, meaning more traffic

Cons:

  • The process may take a while and may not pan out
  • You are going to hear ‘no’ more than ‘yes’
  • Asking to be paid when you’re the one who emailed them is an awkward art to master

Finding Press Contacts

Finding an email contact on a brand’s website can be a little bit of a challenge. Your best bet will be scrolling all the way to the bottom to see if there is a “Press” button. You might have to click the “Contact” button first so see if there is a “Press” button. If there is no “Press” option, you can contact the customer service team.

Hello! My name is NAME and I am the blogger behind BLOG NAME. I was wondering if SAMPLE BRAND worked with online influencers and if so, what the best means on contact would be. I appreciate your time!

Writing a Pitch Email

Writing a pitch email is your chance to shine, but be careful not to come off too strong. You want to come across as a great fit for the brand, while not wasting the brand’s time. Don’t list off every single statistic you’ve got or that great results you’ve gotten for the past ten brands you’ve worked with. Instead, send a polite introductory email and go from there.

There are six things you must include in every pitch email to a brand:

  1. Your first and last name, blog name & URL, social media links, and your email address
  2. Exactly what you will do with them in terms of promotion
  3. Examples of other similar posts on your blog, sponsored or not
  4. Your anticipated timeline for the project
  5. Your media kit

Your email should be about 5-7 sentences – short and sweet, but enticing and informative. After the brand decides to work with you, you’ll need to talk about payment. Let the brand know your rate for the post. Do not include this in your initial pitch.

Follow Up

Give the brand about a week to respond. If they don’t, try sending them a follow-up message. Most brands will at least respond to your initial email. If they do, then you have the chance to send a longer email with your specific collaboration ideas, and why you would be a great fit for their brand.

Keep in mind that it might take time before you find a brand who is interested in collaborating with you. Don’t feel discouraged – brands have different goals, budgets, and opinions. It’s just a matter of finding the ones are a great fit. Send out several emails and keep at it until you are able to land the perfect collaboration.

Brand Reaching Out to You

One morning, I started waking up to about five emails per day from brands wanting to “collaborate” with me. While this sounds exciting at first, not all brands are worth collaborating with.

If a brand is really interested in your blog, they will send you a personalized email and you will be able to tell that they actually looked at your blog or Instagram.

Many brands that contact you to collaborate will not be willing to pay you. At this point, you will need to decide whether or not you want to go forth. Just because a brand does not pay does not mean that they aren’t legitimate. But no matter how legitimate the offer is, there is nothing wrong with refusing unless they pay for your time or influence.

Pros:

  • They chose you.
  • When brands reach out, it’s easier to ask for compensation.
  • If they like your first post, you can almost guarantee a longer term relationship.

Cons:

  • Often you are just the victim of a mass email.
  • A lot of brands do not pay bloggers for collaborations.
  • The brand might skip out on the payment.

Let’s Talk Money

I run into these questions from so many bloggers: Should I accept this collaboration for trade? How much should I charge per sponsored post?

If you don’t genuinely 100% love the brand enough to work for free, then you should politely ask them to consider you when they have a budget.

What If the Brand “Doesn’t Have a Budget”

With smaller brands, this is often the case. You don’t need to send a rude email back; it does not change anything and it does not help your brand. Send them a simple email that looks something like this:

Hey there!

I totally understand! Right now I don’t have room in my editorial calendar for unpaid promotions, but the concept sounds wonderful and I wish you the best in securing influencers who can bring it to life. If there ever is room in the budget for paid partnerships I’d love to be considered. Thank you so much for your time, and good luck!

How Much to Charge

I hear other bloggers throwing “advice” out there constantly on how to charge for promotions. Most of these recommendations are wrong. Here’s how you shouldn’t decide how much to charge:

  • A formula based on your followers, likes, etc.
  • By charging how much another blogger charges
  • Just picking a good number a hoping for the best

Every blogger is going to charge a different amount based on different factors: the number of collaborations per month, the amount of money needed to make ends meet, how much time the collaboration will take, the size of their following in relation to their engagement, their collaboration experience, expenses they’ll incur for the collaboration, and more. In other words, just because you have the same number of followers as another blogger does not mean that you should charge the same amount as her.

For more resources on how to grow your Instagram, join the Gabby Sisterhood, an exclusive network of inspired influencers who embody collaboration over competition. #joingabby

July 22, 2017

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