How to Score Your First Brand Collaboration!

How to Pitch, Find, + Work with Brands

One question that gets asked frequently in my Boss Girl Bloggers group is, “How do I work with brands? How do I get brands to notice me? Should I pitch to brands? I want free product BUT HOW?” I have done a post once before on this topic, but I figured it was time for an update! In this post I will answer it all! How I work with brands, how to get brands to notice you, what platforms to find brands to work with on, + even how to pitch to a brand! If you are looking for an in depth post on this topic, this is it! I hope you enjoy!

*contains aff links




 

 CHAPTER ONE – How To Get Your Site Ready to Work With Brands!

First things first, if you are wanting to work with a brand you should make sure your site is set up properly! When you are getting paid or receiving free product in exchange for reviews and posts, it’s important to have privacy + disclosure policies! This states that yes, you received the product for free or that you do receive payment for talking about products, but that all opinions are your own! This is an absolute MUST if you are doing sponsored posts or using affiliate links! Here are the sites I used to create my Privacy Policy + Disclosure policy

The next thing to do is make sure you are on a platform that allows you to use affiliate links and monetize your blog! If you aren’t paying for your platform or domain, chances are you aren’t allowed to use affiliate links. (which most brands will give you to use when talking about them in a post). Always read policies before hand of the platform you are using to host your blog. BUT I recommend, to prevent ANY issues when it comes to monetizing your blog, you should self host wordpress .org + it’s inexpensive! In fact it’s cheaper than using squarespace too! Self hosting guarantees absolute control and ownership over your blog!

I use Site Ground and they only cost 3.95$ a month OR 48$ for the entire year! Which is super cheap! This also gives me the ability to create my own domain so that I don’t have “www.ellduclos .wordpress .com” or something similiar. Having a domain name like that or “elldculos .blogspot .com” can throw a brand off because it’s telling the brand that you don’t OWN your website. Most brands want you to own your site if they are working with you. It also looks a lot more professional when you own your domain.

Have A Professional Theme: Having a simple, elegant theme that is easy on the eyes is important. Brands will look over your site and appreciate an easy to navigate site! You want a professional look and feel. Have categories available too if you blog about more than one topic!

Install Google Analytics: This is important to have because many brands will want to know your site stats! Google analytics provides site stats and even breaks your stats down to male/female, demographics, language + more! I love Google analytics. (Another reason why I love self hosting with Site Ground is because I can use Google Analytics + other valuable plug ins)

Of course if you have more page views your chances will increase BUT it’s not always necessary! I started reaching out to brands at as little as 1.5k page views a month! If you are looking for tips on increasing your blog traffic check out these 20 tips

Also, make sure that your email is readily available! Brands need your email if they want to reach out to you! If you make it hard to find, they won’t be able to contact you. I leave my email in my contact section of my blog as well as my Instagram bio!


CHAPTER TWO – Scams + Rip Offs

Next thing to REALLY watch out for are the scams & rip offs! In other words, KNOW YOUR WORTH. Many brands out there will try and rip off the newbie bloggers out there. I can’t even tell you how many emails i’ve received from brands that make me shake my head! Here are a few emails to ignore.

Brands that want to give you a discount on their product if you share it with your audience:

I personally pass on these unless it’s a brand that I absolutely love! For me, the exchange isn’t worth it. It would mean that I’d basically pay the brand to advertise for them. That doesn’t make much sense. They should be paying me to advertise them. I skip out on these. Especially if it’s a random brand i’ve never heard of!

Brands that give you affiliate links to share with your audience but no product/ instead they have you use their stock images:

This is just EH not my style. For me I need the actual product before I share it with my audience. It’s important that you have the chance to try out the product before recommending it to your audience. You need to be truthful with your audience, grow their trust. This would be a way to lose their trust. Always try the product first!!! Also not a fair trade off because in order to profit from affiliate links you need a buying audience or LARGE audience.

Brands that want you to buy their product + they give you an affiliate link to use:

NOPE, again, unfair. You shouldn’t have to purchase a product in order to advertise for a brand. And again, affiliate links aren’t always a fair trade unless your audience is large or buying.

Brands that want exposure to their site for free:

NO NO NO. Don’t link to brands sites just because they ask you to. That’s free exposure and unfair to you!

If you are collaborating with a brand, it should be benefiting both you and the brand. Therefore, never pay for a product to feature + make sure you are at least receiving free product to feature.

Of course, being paid for a sponsored post is ideally what you would want BUT in the beginning it may not always happen. Many brands are willing to give free product in exchange for exposure but when it comes to money, they are a bit more stingy. That’s why using Social Bluebook is a great tool for pricing what you should be charging brands for exposure!


CHAPTER THREE – Remain True

It’s very easy to lose sight of your blog when it comes to sponsored posts. Once you start receiving free product and working with brands you won’t want to stop. BUT there comes a point when it can be too much. You don’t want your site to look like one big ad. Your readers will see through it all and start to think you only talk about products because you are getting paid to. Although, this might not be your true intentions, it just may appear that way. Before accepting a brand collaboration think about this:

Would you purchase this product with your own money? If the answer is no, then you should probably pass.

Does this product fit in with your niche? Yes, okay great!

Does this product sound like something you would use? No, okay then pass.

Only work with brands that you already love or products that you would use anyway! 

BE TRUTHFUL + KNOWLEDGABLE

Don’t talk about a product that you’ve never used before. Make sure you know enough about the product as well. If you start talking about a product and don’t know much about it, you will end up looking a bit silly and your audience will not be as interested in the product as they could be. To grow your audiences’ trust, talk about products that you LOVE. ONLY.

Now what if you get a product, try it out and don’t enjoy it? – Well, still be truthful, but in a way that won’t kill the brands reputation completely. You can say things like “The formula didn’t work well with my skin because my skin is dry, but if you have oily skin I could see it working for you.” OR “This lipstick is too matte but, if you enjoy a matte lip this is for you.” Also if you are very unhappy with a product, reach out to the brand and explain that to them. See what their response is. Never lie to your audience. You don’t want your audience to purchase this “crap” product, receive it thinking it’s going to be great, just to find out it’s terrible.


CHAPTER FOUR – Engagement + Instagram

Next thing you want to focus on is Instagram. Is your Instagram “ready” to work with brands. There are a few things that brands will look for when they are looking at your Instagram

Photo Quality

You want to have high quality photography that is clear. Fuzzy/dark images are turn offs for brands. They want to work with someone who has clear images that show off the product properly. Some ways to improve your photo quality is to invest in lighting + a quality camera. If you are just starting out, I personally don’t think a high quality camera is mandatory but I do believe having good lighting will improve your photography immensely!

A few ways to improve your lighting is to use natural lighting, face windows when taking your photos. That is the cheapest way. OR if you can afford to splurge a little, invest in Studio Box Lighting and a Ring Light for selfies. Once I purchased these and began using them I noticed a growth in my Instagram following and more brands were reaching out to me!

If you have the money to splurge on a camera I definitely recommend a Cannon DSLR

Engagement

Do you have a highly engaged audience? This is something that brands will definitely look at! Yes having a high following can be important but it’s just as important, if not more important to have an engaged audience! If you have 10,000 followers but only 50 people like your content, a brand might become a little skeptical to work with you. But let’s say you have 2,000 followers and 300 + likes, this looks more appealing to a brand! The more people who engage with your content the better!

Make sure to NEVER buy your followers. This will only hurt your engagement. I know you may think it’ll help because it’ll give you “more” followers BUT when you purchase your followers, they are usually fake or idle accounts that NEVER engage with your content. A huge NO.

Related: How to Grow Your Instagram Engagement 

Do Your Photos Tell A Story?

This is also extremely important when it comes to working with brands. Yes flat lays can be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, BUT there’s something really special about someone who can take a photo of a product and bring the product to life. Capture it in action. For example: Instead of taking a photo of the lipstick, take a photo of you applying the lipstick. OR Instead of taking a flat lay of the mask, apply the mask and take a photo of you with the face mask on and hold the product in your hand. Really making the product come to life and showing it in action is extra points when it comes to working with brands!

How to work with brands and get brands to notice you

How Captivating is Your Caption?

To really WOW a brand, make an in depth caption that is filled with knowledge of the product, a great in depth review, or tell a story. I know short captions seem like the easiest/best way to go BUT really, a longer captivating caption that really explains the product is how you should go about a sponsored post. Even ending your caption with a question to engage your audience is a great tip to utilize!




Chapter Five – How To Find Brands To Work With

Now you are probably wondering, where do I find these brands to work with?! WELL – There are plenty of different ways to find brands!

Influencer/Marketing Platforms

These are sites that essentially will get you connected with brands! You sign up and give stats and details about your blog and social medias. Then the platform will either; email you with opportunities, email you when you can apply for new collaborations, or let you chose collaborations that are available!

Here are a few of my favorite influencer platforms

InfluenceHER – Some brands I was able to work with via influenceHER are Ulta Beauty, Clarisonic, + more. They email you when they have an opportunity for you! I was also able to attend Boston Fashion College Week thanks to InfluenceHER! (PAID SPONSORED OPPORTUNITIES)

Social Native – Another great platform that will email you with opportunities! I was able to work with Maybelline thanks to Social Native! (PAID SPONSORED OPPORTUNITIES)

Octoly – This is one that I recently was able to join because an influencer with over 100k followers ended up referring me. I was shocked! They mostly will only work with influencers who have over 10,000 followers. You receive credits when you first get approved and you using one credit to purchase a free product to review. Once you submit your review you receive that credit back to purchase another product with your credit to review. (Not paid)

Influenster – This is another non paid platform. Influenster will choose if you are qualified for a VoxBox which will include free product! You review the product and write reviews to earn badges. The more badges, the more chances of getting a voxbox. They will email you with a survey to fill out when they think they have a voxbox that you’d qualify for. They also offer products at discounted prices too! If you are interested in getting your favorite products at a discounted price.

Revfluence – This is one that I believe you need at least 5,000 followers on Instagram. I reached out to Tuft&Needle and worked with them via this platform. Great opportunities. (Paid + Non Paid)

Style Collective – This isn’t a platform where you work with brands but it’s an amazing community! It’s filled with amazing females who are only wanting to help + support one another. When you join you also receive access to a whole ton of free resources, including tips on how to work with brands + a list of what brands are willing to work with bloggers! LOVE Style Collective

Join Palm – This is another great community but also once accepted you receive a list of products at a discounted price. So if you like discounted products, this can be for you.

Brand Backer – Another platform that will email you and get you connected with brands!

Other Ways to Find Brands That Work With Bloggers

So, let’s say you want to reach out to a brand on your own WHICH IS A GREAT WAY to score a brand collaboration. Where do you look? How do you find them?

On Instagram

You can find out what brands are working with bloggers by searching hashtags. The hashtags that I like to use to find out about brands that work with bloggers are: #Ad #Sponsored #BloggersWanted #GotitFree These hashtags are filled with bloggers talking about a product they received from brands + it also is filled with brands looking for bloggers to work with. Always check these hash tags out!

On Twitter

Again you can search the same hashtags to find brands through twitter who are working with bloggers!


CHAPTER SIX – Pitching to Brands

Alright, it’s time to come out of your comfort zone and go get ‘em! Don’t be afraid to reach out to a brand. This has actually been my most successful way of working with brands. If you want something bad enough you go after it, you can’t just wait for it to come to you. Especially if you are a smaller blogger. Brands are busy too! There are so many bloggers out there. The chances of them coming across your amazing content can be slim because there are so many bloggers out there! BUT they will read your email, so step outside of your comfort zone and pitch to your favorite brands!

FirstHAVE CONFIDENCE. If you don’t believe in yourself, how will the brand? You have to have confidence when you reach out to a brand, and show that confidence throughout your pitch.

Reach out to brands that have similar stats as you. If you are a smaller blogger, you can still reach out to brands but, maybe start off with smaller brands! Start with brands that have a smaller following because they will be more likely to say yes to you. Not saying don’t take a risk because you still can + get shocked!

Like I said, I started reaching out to brands when I had 1,500 page views + 1,700 Instagram followers.

When pitching keep in mind that brands are interested in what you can offer them. They don’t want to know how they can help you. They are most interested in how you can help them! So don’t fail to mention it.

Also keep in mind that they are busy so when it comes to your pitch – keep it to the point! Don’t make it too long and drawn out!

*You may get rejected or ignored but that’s okay! Don’t let that stop you from trying elsewhere. Not every brand is going to have the funds to be able to collaborate with every blogger out there which is why it’s important that you STICK OUT!

What Your Pitch Should Include

  • Your first + last name (that’s a given). They need to know who they’re working with.
  • Your Blog/Social media (links) + stats. Make sure you have the links available because again they are busy and don’t have the time to go searching!
  • Be detailed – Touch base on a product of theirs that you love. Talk about how you love their mission. Make it a point to acknowledge something special about their brand and why you are wanting to work with them!
  • Let them know about your audience and why your audience will benefit them.
  • Lay out how you plan on promoting their content + the time frame (social media plan, dedicated or featured blog post, etc.) & let them know what you would like in exchange for all of this.
  • Include examples of previous work or list of brands you have worked with in the past.
  • You can even add a media kit if you’d like!

Before you hit send, read it over, proofread + make sure it’s professional.

When you reach out to a brand it’s best to use their PR email. Most brands will leave their PR email under the contact section of their website. If there is no PR email, you can then use the general contact email instead.

PITCH EXAMPLE

Good afternoon (name of PR if possible) ,

My name is Lauren Duclos (Ell) and I am a beauty & lifestyle blogger at EllDuclos . I am a HUGE fan of Maybelline and use Maybelline’s fit me foundation daily! I tried out your metallic lipstick line and fell in love that I actually purchased multiple shades! My audience loves hearing about new beauty products. With the holiday season fast approaching, I would love to share with my audience any new holiday products or gift sets that Maybelline might be launching! I know that my audience will fall in love just like I did. I would be willing to create dedicated product review blog posts, two dedicated Instagram posts featuring your products, and feature your products in holiday gift guides. This will give my audience ideas for products they need during the holiday season! I would be willing to do this in exchange for free product to feature. I have worked with many brands in the past like Loreal, Patchology, Ulta Beauty, Tuft&Needle, and more!

Here are my blog/social medias/ & stats

(list them all here)

I can’t wait to hear back from you!

Best regards,

-Ell

( mailing address)

I add my mailing address at the end because they may not want to collaborate right now, BUT they may add you to their PR list for future product launches.

I actually used a similar template when reaching out to collaborate with LOreal and it worked!

If you want to pitch and try to get paid collaborations, instead of “I am willing to do this in exchange for free product to feature”, you can add “I will also do additional posts for (your price that you want)”

LOOKING TO CREATE A MEDIA KIT?

Create a media kit on Canva OR Purchase a media kit through Etsy OR Creative Market


CHAPTER SEVEN – Get a Brand’s Attention

If you are ever wondering what extra steps you can do to get a brand’s attention, try this:

  • Tag the brands you are using in your photos. For example: If you are using a revlon lipstick, tag their Instagram in the photo you created using their lipstick!
  • Interact and engage with your favorite brands! Especially smaller brands! This can really help capture their attention
  • Tweet about your favorite brands and tag them in your tweets! Again, engage with them on twitter!

I hope these tips + advice helps you to score your first brand collaborations OR even score MORE brand collaborations!

If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

If you want to work with me one on one & discuss further – I do offer Blog Coaching services! Check out my prices here

 

Also – Follow my journey on Instagram @EllDuclos

Until Next time
xx

Ell



Author: ellduclos

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  • This was a super helpful article! Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge. I plan to start reaching out to brands soon and your tips will help me to be successful.

  • Thank you so much for posting this I checked out join palm but didn’t get to put Insta before sending I will be sure to mention if I am accepted but I did use your link thank you so much for all the tips😚