Your phone vibrates and you checked your mail box to find a potential email from a PR agency pitching a collaboration idea for your blog.
Most likely, it would have taken you long, grueling hours working at your craft, taking good photographs/videos, editing them and working hard to produce inspiring and entertaining content to engage your readers.
I used to get very excited when I received my first few offers from PR agencies and brands as a new blogger. I am still excited now but will pause to take some time to think over a few questions before replying the email.
- Is this a brand you love and are already using their products/services?
- Can this brand be aligned with what your readers would expect from your niche and contents?
- Does working with this brand have any conflict of interests with your current sponsorship/ambassadorship?
Pitching goes both ways. Before approaching brands, I would first check their websites and social media to see if they open for collaborations before sending an official email to them. I would also see who they had collaborated with previously to get some ideas before pitching to the brand. So far, all the overseas brands I have approached have replied to indicate interest in collaborating on a post together.
Why would a brand want to work with you?
The company finds your blog compatible with their brand and that their products and services will be well received by your readers and contacts you. In a way, they are paying you to promote their products, but in a more subtle and personal way than buying an advertisement.
Sadly, some brands do not allocate a lot of budget for social media marketing and not all brands are educated enough to see beyond the number of followers a blogger has.
The more experienced brands and agencies will look at the degree of engagement a blogger has and the demographics behind your followers and numbers – particularly if they want to target readers of specific age/gender from certain locations.
7 Tips on Working with Brands & Businesses
1. Work with Google, not against it
Just a word of caution here, Google frowns on sites that sell text linkages to SEO agencies just to improve search engine rankings and can even ban such sites. For example, a food blog suddenly publishing articles or having text linkages to gambling and casino business in their site would probably set some alarm bells ringing.
2. Do not accept any random collaboration that comes your way
Do not cheapen your brand. Readers are very discerning and smart these days to know that you are accepting any random collaboration that comes your way just to make some fast cash without adding any value to your blog or readers.
To go back to point #1, always do your due diligence and check on any companies that approach you in case they are using your site to improve search engine rankings of their clients’ sites.
Hence, I think it’s best to only say yes to brands that would be a good fit in your niche which you and your readers would be interested in as your reputation and credibility is definitely worth much more than gold.
Instead, focus on having a great attitude, providing quality content and delivering value when collaborating with brands which will translate into higher fees once you gained more experience and readership.
3. Evaluate if the campaign is worth your time & effort
Blogging is a lot of hard work. Not only does bloggers need to think out of the box to write a post that features the company and their product(s) objectively, they also need to stay true to their own voice and personal style, on top of promoting the post, communicating with the brand professionally and adhering to all deadlines promptly.
So don’t sell yourself or your readers short. Decide on your terms of payment (free product, monetary payment, or both) and abide by it.
As a new blogger, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of writing a post in exchange for free milk powder or shopping mall vouchers, because the reality is we still need to put food on the table.
Being paid by a brand to promote their product via social media marketing can be part of a sponsored post campaign or separate to it. Recently, I received a campaign invitation to do 3 Instagram posts for a shopping mall in exchange for $50 shopping vouchers but when I read that part of the requirement was to visit 3 different shops in the mall to take my own photos and draft my own captions with their requirements, using specific hashtags and dropping a link given by them in my profile, I evaluated and decided not to do the campaign.
Instagram marketing campaigns do work very well even for people who do not blog but has a high number of engaged followers on the platform. For fashion bloggers or style publishers, you could even convert your Instagram posts to shoppable posts to share with your followers using an Instagram shopping tool such as liketoknow.it.
Here is an interesting article I read about How Bloggers Make Money On Instagram, where they interview a top-tier Fashion Blogger, Danielle Bernstein, who reportedly make between $5K-$15K for one sponsored post. But that was then. Now with 1.5 million followers on her Instagram, we would probably need to add a few more zeros behind that figure.
4. Don’t inundate your readers with too many sponsored posts – Again Quality over Quantity
A sponsored blog post is a personal recommendation from you to your valued readers – a real person whom your audience know and trust.
I would rather work with fewer clients at my own comfortable pace for exclusivity than do many posts and suffer from burn out or a writer’s block in the end. You should also disclose that the post is a sponsored post or that you are paid to publish a post, as being genuine and trustworthy are important attributes.
You could say something like,” This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of brand XYZ. All opinions expressed were my own.”
Charging more for sponsored blog posts and delivering better quality posts that benefits your readers is an all-win for the readers, brands and the blogger as well.
5. Prepare a Media Kit
Be ready to provide a media kit that showcase who you are, your strengths, testimonials, blogging awards, followers and statistics, social media links and terms of payment for the different levels of services you provide (e.g. banner ads, Instagram posts only, blog post and complete social media shout outs, etc).
It is not difficult to do your own 1-2 page media kit also known as your blogging resume. I search online for some templates but the free ones are not really nice and the nicer ones are not really free that cost around $20 at Etsy. You can also check out Fiverr to get someone design a professional looking media kit for you.
6. Be Professional & Responsible in your business dealings
Be mindful when writing to brands and businesses and refrain from using bad grammar, short forms and emojis. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to behave professionally. If you wish to turn down a media invitation, it is polite to reply the person that you are unable to make it.
Be prompt and stay on top of all deadlines by establishing a clear process for publishing blog posts.
I would also make it a point to write back to the brand/PR to inform them when my post goes live, together with the social media links and let them know that I would love to work with them again in future.
7. Ensure that the details are laid out clearly and agreed upon before starting any campaign
Twice, I needed to wait for 3 months before I received payment for campaigns I had completed and that was only after many “reminders” sent. Before embarking on a campaign or partnership, be clear about the deliverables, payment and payment mode, and expectations. In some cases, you most likely would need to sign a digital contract, so be aware of the requirements and whether you can meet all the deadlines. The worst that can happen is to end up not getting paid for your hard work because the terms were not clear in the first place.
All I wanted to say is – Do not allow money to be your driving force and motivation for starting a blog, otherwise you are focusing on all the wrong things. If you put your heart in the right place, all the other things will fall into place.
If you have any tips for collaborating with brands, I love to hear from you too! 🙂