Since I wrote my blog post about what you should be charging for sponsored blog and social media content, I’ve had a lot of interest on Twitter about the business side of my blog. What I charge for sponsored content, how to approach brands, how I monetize my blog and TONNES more.
Approaching brands is a fairly recent thing for me. It was never something I used to do – I’d just wait for opportunities to, maybe, land in my inbox and hope for the best. It was only when I found out several people I knew were going out and hunting down their own opportunities that it even entered my head to do the same.
Now, however, I try to approach brands as much as I can. If I have an idea, think I’d be a great collab for a brand or just generally want to work with someone, I’ll try get in contact with them!
Now, I’m fairly certain I’m not the first blogger to write a blog post on how to approach brands for collaborations. But I thought I’d give my two cents, let you know what I do, what I’ve learned works and doesn’t work and just some general tips for going out there and getting those collabs!
Where to find contacts
Okay, so where do you start? It may sound obvious, but the first thing you’ve got to do is find some contacts. And it’s actually easier than you think.
To start off, I tend to keep a list of brands I want to work with. These can be brands I’ve seen work with other bloggers who I think I’d collaborate well with, or brands I just love in general and would love to work with. The latter is usually the riskier one in terms of whether they work with bloggers or not, but there’s still no harm in finding out.
I usually find my contacts through a quick Google search, but with some brands it’s a little harder to find their outreach contact. Especially if they use an external PR company. This is where I search LinkedIn, enquire through a general enquiries email or ask any blogger friends who have worked with them in the past.
On that last point, though, don’t just go asking people for their PR contacts. If you’re actually friends with them/talk to them a lot, I personally don’t see an issue with it. But when I’ve never spoken to you in my life, I wouldn’t appreciate a “what’s your contact for [insert brand] please” DM on Twitter. So, just be mindful with that one.
You’ll need to get yourself a banging media kit
It’s really important you get yourself a media kit, I think. Think of it like a CV for your blog. It’s a way for brands and PRs to be able to see all your key information in one place! I did a blog post a while back about what to include in a media kit, but it’s a little outdated now. I’ll be doing a new post on it soon and until then you can see an example of mine here! I’ve changed a few little bits, but the info is generally the same. (Minus the damn bounce rate which was majorly skewed at the time due to a Google Analytics fault. Thankfully all fixed now!)
In terms of how to make a media kit, I use Adobe Illustrator to make mine. But I’m aware a lot of people don’t have the software, so if you’re looking for a free option I would definitely recommend Canva!
Don’t be scared of rejection
It’s important to remember that you could have the best blog in the world, an incredible media kit and be offering a brand/PR the absolute world, and they still might not want to work with you.
Don’t be scared of rejection.
I’d say, roughly, out of all the brands I contact I maybe only hear back/get an actual “yes we want to work with you” from a maximum of half of them. You’re putting yourself out there and it’s great, but don’t be scared of them saying no. Because it’s not the end of the world.
It’s also important to remember, even if they say no – you’re on their radar now. Just because you aren’t the right fit for them now, doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future.
Don’t just ask for free things
For the love of god do not just ask for free stuff. Don’t do it. You’ll look like a knob and they definitely will not want to work with you.
I see a lot of bloggers online saying they’re sick of being taken for granted by brands, that they want a mutually beneficial relationship. Well, it works both ways. You’ve got to offer something of use to the brand just as much as they have to offer something of use to you.
So, instead of just reeling off a list of things you’d like them to send you (even the thought of this makes me cringe), show them how you can benefit them, pitch them some content ideas, show them similar work you’ve done before. You’re asking for a relationship, not free stuff.
How to set out an email
I feel like actually writing out the email is often the hardest part. It’s hard to know if you’re “doing it right” if you don’t have anything to compare to. So, here’s how I (generally) lay out my emails to brands:
Intro: First up is introducing myself. Who I am, my blog link, what I blog about etc. I like to keep this section fairly brief.
Why I want to work with the brand: Why I love the brand, why I think we could collaborate really well etc. If you’ve already mentioned/used the brand in a post previously, now is the time to throw in a link!
Brief overview of statistics and following: I always attach my media kit to emails, but also give a (VERY) brief overview of my statistics and following in the email. Brief as in “Rhianna Olivia sees [X] unique users a month and has a combined social following of [X]. For a more comprehensive overview, please see my attached media kit.”
Pitch ideas: I think it’s important to pitch an idea or two (or more, if you have them!) to the brand in the email. As an example, if the brand isn’t necessarily your exact niche, give them a few post ideas of how you could make the brand work within your blog. I’ve done a few different types of pitches in the past, from very brief examples to a literal full pitch attached as a Word document. It definitely depends on the brand and it’s your judgement call as to what you think will work. If you’ve done any similar content in the past, throw in a link and show them if it was a particularly high-performing post.
Sign off: I sign off emails thanking them for their time, asking to be considered for any future collaboration opportunities and mention I’m open to any questions on anything mentioned in the email. A quick “I look forward to working with you”/”I look forward to hearing from you” never goes amiss, either!
Remember to not keep emails TOO long – that’s essentially what your media kit is for, after all. You don’t want someone opening an email, thinking “woah that’s very long, I’ll read it later” or “woah, that’s long, cba with that”. Keep them short and to the point!
This goes for any brand collaboration, whether they’ve contacted you or you contacted them. Be aware of your terms if there’s payment involved. It may be worth drawing up a little terms of payment contract, just in case there’s an issue with late payment – that way you have something to fall back on if someone isn’t paying you on time. Although, I do have it on good understanding that as long as payment terms/amounts are in writing somewhere in an email thread, you should be fine.
Try keep up a relationship with a brand! When I work with a brand on sponsored content, it’s always a brand I love and would genuinely use whether they were paying me or not. I find this helps when trying to create a genuine relationship with a brand. And, sometimes, the brand isn’t necessarily interested in a full-blown “relationship” (e.g. PR lists – I have very little contact with some of the brands whos PR lists I’m a part of) which is fine. On the flipside, some of the PR contacts I’ve made are people I’d now consider to be friends!
Remember, not EVERYTHING you do has to be paid. Or at least, I don’t think so anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a brand on sponsored content, then never mentioned them ever again without getting paid. Sponsored content is great, but if you genuinely love something – talk about it as much as you want. Equally, a large amount of my brand collaborations aren’t paid, except for some products/samples as payment. You’ve got to make a judgement call about whether you want to take part in a collaboration for “free” or not.
I’ve had a few people ask what brands are looking for in terms of the “size” of the blogger, so I thought I’d add this bit in. After speaking to several of my PR friends, I can confirm there is unfortunately no magic number. I mean, obviously someone isn’t going to pay you £1,000 for a post if you have 2 readers a month. But every campaign is different and has different requirements. There’s no ideal, one-size-fits-all approach, so no matter your size definitely put yourself out there! Even if they say you aren’t what they’re looking for right now, they may keep you in mind for future things.
Man, this post is beastly! Apologies for how many words there ended up being! If you have any questions/feel like I missed something out, let me know either in the comments or on Twitter! And if you have any other post requests along the same lines, please do let me know!
Now get out there, be brave and get yourself some banging collabs!