Do you want to start working with brands? Maybe you’re wondering if your following on social media is big enough, or how to even START pitching to brands.
Because that life of getting sponsored posts, working with brands on paid collaborations, seems mega glamorous, right?!
But these sponsored collaborations with brand go beyond the glamorous photos. Bloggers put time and effort into leveraging their blog to build engaged communities. So brands undoubtedly see the value in collaborating with online influencers in exchange for the exposure to a community.
But at the same time, they strategically choose the influencers they work with.
I’m excited to share this guest post by Anna Fatlowitz of Venture and Eat. Anna has worked as a brand agent – i.e. she basically spent her days talking with bloggers and influencers. And after that 9-5 gig, she become a blogger agent and pitched to brands for her clients. Anna helped her clients win over $14,000 in sponsored collaborations in Quarter 1 (January – March 2018) alone.
So she’s giving the inside scoop on How Bloggers Can Consistently Land Sponsored Collabs with Brands.
Take it away, Anna.
1. Go Above and Beyond
It goes without saying: in order to prove your worth to a brand, you need to exceed their expectations.
First of all, why wouldn’t you want to create the best work you possibly can?
Second, this is how you’re going to impress the brand over and over again. There are small ways for influencers to go above and beyond for a brand without undervaluing themselves.
Is the brand looking for 5 photos? Provide them with 7 photos to choose from. Did the brand ask for a GIF? Provide 2 GIF options.
Also, can we talk about writing too? Although pictures typically draw brands into working with you, you can’t forget about your quality of writing. At my last position, I had to proofread a lot of influencer content, and some of it was just embarrassing. Please don’t think if you have high-quality pictures, you’re all set.
A lot of times influencers will only ever get one chance to impress a brand, even if their content is typically swoon-worthy on their own channels. So for every sponsored collaboration you do, whether it’s paid or unpaid, do your best work. Always. Brands will then see the high value you’re providing.
2. Be Easy to Work With
I can’t stress being easy to work with enough. Nobody ever wants to work with difficult people, especially brands. If this person exclusively works with influencers for their job, you better believe they are managing a ton of different influencers and personalities, along with their agents.
As an influencer, your unofficial job is to make a brand’s life a little bit easier. Why?
Because you want the brand to look at their relationship with you as both beneficial and easy. Being difficult to work with will make you stick out like a sore thumb. You can even be blacklisted from working with the brand.
Ways to be helpful are:
- Bringing ideas to the brand (you’re the expert of your blog and social)
- Asking enough questions so you understand the campaign or project
- Following directions and requirements
- Being able to chat on the phone, if needed (especially when things aren’t clear)
- Knowing your due dates and submitting content on time
- Emailing back in a timely manner (if you’re out of the office, set up an Out of Office message!)
Apart from being rude and inconsiderate, I want to also bring up being overeager. I’ve seen a few influencers get entirely too excited about initial contact, and then go overboard in assuming a brand 100% wants to do x, y, and z collaboration for money.
It’s 100% okay to bring ideas to the table and also talk about your rates, but if you’re talking about money when a brand is trying to give you something with zero strings attached, you really need to rethink this tactic. It leaves a bad taste in the brand’s mouth since it just seems like you’re just thinking of yourself.
Remember, brand collaborations are a partnership that are beneficial to both the brand and the influencer.
3. Create Consistent, High-Quality Content
I get it. We all get blogger burnout. It’s a very real thing that happens to all of us.
But if you’re looking to consistently work with brands, you need to continuously be creating content. That means you can’t go months without posting.
Brands don’t want to see their content living on channels that aren’t active. Why? Because this means that you’re probably getting much less engagement than influencers who are consistently posting every week.
However, do not create content for the sake of creating content. This leads us into my next point.
4. Treat Unsponsored Content Like Sponsored Content
When you’re not creating sponsored content, treat your regular content as sponsored content.
What do I mean by this?
If you’re creating high quality sponsored content for brands, you’ll 100% want to do this since it can also improve your portfolio.
Say you’re featuring a brand on your blog and on Instagram. Think about how you can showcase the brand in your content so that you can use the content as an example for a future collaboration with a brand.#Blogger Tip: Treat your regular content like sponsored content + use that to land sponsorships in the future. -@ventureandeat Click To Tweet
For example, I’ve used content for different food tours that I’ve paid for to land sponsored food tours in other cities.
5. Constantly Research Brands and Pitch Each Week
Okay, I know this is incredibly time consuming, but if you want to land more brand collaborations, you’re going to have to pitch. A lot.#Blogger Tip: If you want to land more brand collaborations, you need to pitch. A lot. -@ventureandeat Click To Tweet
Research brands that resonate with you, your blog, and your audience. If you write about budget travel trips, it doesn’t make sense to pitch the Ritz Carlton. Your readers are definitely not the right audience to purchase rooms there.
Make a spreadsheet of all your pitching contacts and mark off who you’ve contacted on what date. This is what I currently do for my pitching clients, and it helps so much to remember when to follow up and keep track of any current collaborations.
6. Pinpoint What Brands Need in Terms of Content
Again, this tip is also time consuming, but if you’re serious about working with a brand long term, you don’t want to skip this.
One of the ways I always knew an influencer was more invested in the brand was when they would come to me after seeing new products or a new campaign launch.
Usually when a brand launches a new product, they’ll need to promote it like crazy. More than likely collaborations happen before the product is launched, but there can be wiggle room in the budget for promotion after the launch.
For information on new products, I recommend staying up-to-date with the brand’s website and newsletter. I also recommend subscribing to PR Newswire.
Another way to figure out what brands need are to see what kind of content they’re posting on social, especially influencer content. This is really important if you see a brand struggling to post their own high-quality images too. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to offer your services.
Remember, not all influencer content lives on that influencer’s channels!
7. Build Relationships with Brands
Building a relationship with a brand is one of my favorite bits of advice I give to influencers. Want to know why? Because brands are people too.
Each person you’re in touch with may represent the brand on a professional side, but they have feelings too. They have good days and bad days. They stress about the little stuff and the big stuff.
So this is why I think it’s crucial to look at a brand contact as a real life human being with feelings. Put yourself in their shoes.
How many emails do you think they’re getting every day? How many meetings? It’s not unheard of to have back-to-back meetings all day (I really don’t miss this).
What does building a relationship look like? It can be little things like:
- Asking how their weekend or trip was
- Remembering their birthday
- Sending a welcome card if they just joined the team
- Sending a free copy of your book (if you have one)
- Sending a thank you note in the mail with a small gift like chocolates
- Sending thank you flowers (for those big campaigns!)
If you’ve met the brand representative in person, feel out their vibe and see if you can follow them on Instagram. I still follow all the bloggers I was close with and interact with them. It’s a great way to connect with one another outside of email.
Also, I used Instagram and Stories to better get to know the influencer as well to see if specific products made sense for them. It definitely works both ways!
8. Reach Out to Past Brands Worked With
After you’re done with a sponsored collaboration, it’s important to remember to follow up with the brand for another opportunity. There have been so many influencers I’ve seen that haven’t followed up with me after a project together, and this really hurts them.
The follow up doesn’t have to be anything formal either. A quick note about seeing a new product or noting how you really liked the brand’s Instagram Story can be easy conversation starters.
I don’t recommend following up for a new opportunity until a few weeks to a month past the end of your collaboration. This gives the brand a little more time to figure out their budgets—they might have a ton of influencer activations going on right when you finished your work.
Make a note in your calendar for when to follow back up again, so you don’t forget, but also so you don’t stress over it! Just remember, when you’re not following back up, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
9. Brag About Yourself to the Brand
When you do follow up with the brand, you should brag about yourself! Don’t be afraid to show off how well the previous collaboration did with the brand.
Stats like page views, conversion rates, shares, views on video content, and engagement rates are perfect. If you can prove you rank on the first page of Google, that’s even better!
Pitching to a new brand instead?
You can also use these stats as a case study for how your past collaborations did. Cold hard proof is one of the surest ways to convince a new brand to work with you.
10. Build Your Blogger Tribe
Recently, there’s been a ton of blog posts promoting the idea of building your tribe and stressing the importance of it to grow your blog. But did you know that building your tribe also helps you land brand collaborations too?
One of the things my colleagues always stressed to me about working with our influencers was that they all know each other and talk to one another. They talk about the brands they’re working with, how much they’re charging, what trips they’re going on, etc.
It’s a very small world.
So as an influencer, it’s so important to build your own tribe who has your back and can help you decipher a brand’s email since they’ve worked with them too. They can also help you price yourself.
Another great thing about having a strong tribe is that if an opportunity isn’t right or the timing doesn’t work for one influencer, they can recommend another influencer in their tribe for a sponsored collaboration. Think of it like a referral for a job interview!
Anna is the blogger behind Venture & Eat, a travel and food blog. Venture & Eat aims to inspire people, especially women, to explore the world through other cultures. Including food. You’ll find different travel adventures, foodie spots, tips on how to work with brands, and also personal stories.
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