By Lauren | January 21, 2018 | 0 Comment
Working with brands can be one of the most exciting things as a blogger and/or influencer. I remember when I first launched my blog and saw other bloggers with thousands of followers, I always thought I would never be a blogger who had the opportunity to work with cool brands and companies, because I’d never compare to those bigger influencers. Turns out, I was wrong. Although there are a lot of brands out there who won’t work with you unless you have a large fan base or can guarantee a certain amount of pageviews, there are still a lot of brands that appreciate the value of smaller bloggers and what they can bring to their company.
How I’ve managed to build relationships with brands is partly because I ensure I provide them with a flawless experience working with me. I make sure to under promise and over deliver, and make sure that they are happy throughout working together. The world of blogging is smaller than you’d think, and if you’re difficult to work with, it won’t take long for that message to spread. And although every brand partnership is different, here are some tips to help you succeed and set a good impression.
First things first, not all brands are going to find you! Especially if you’re smaller. So how do you go about reaching out to them and what’s the proper etiquette?
For me, a lot of the brands I actually end up working with are ones I reached out to directly, and one of the things I learned to be the most important in your initial “pitch” email is to know what you’re asking for. That’s where I see the most success! So for example, if I know I’m heading to Chicago in a couple months, I may reach out to hotels, local attractions, restaurants, and tour companies saying a bit about my blog and that I’ll be visiting Chicago on these specific dates and looking for XYZ in exchange for a blog post, review, and/or social media posts. Be up front in what you’re asking for and straight forward about what you can provide them with. Don’t write a 25 paragraph email and keep it short and sweet.
Remember, you may not hear back from everyone or anyone but consistency is key! You’ll never know unless you try.
This will really depend on what you agree on with the brand and I strongly advice you layout these guidelines with the brand before you sign anything or agree to work with them. If they expect you to deliver content by a particular date, ensure you know what that date is and stick to the deadline or even deliver before. The sooner you can get content out the better, because the brand will get to see their return on investment sooner. Plus, they’re usually pretty eager to have the content to share with their networks too.
I also find content can perform best when it’s timely. For example, I visited Sarnia, Ontario in July with their tourism board and I got out the content within two weeks of returning because knowing Sarnia gets four seasons, I knew that after the prime summertime passed, then my content would be irrelevant for another year.
Every brand will have different expectations from you. Some may have very minimal expectations and not necessarily care as much about the results as they do about the coverage. Others will want purchases or conversions, they’ll want a certain amount of posts and for each of those posts to garner a certain result. I love brands that have minimal expectations but I fully understand when they have more, especially if the price tag for providing you with product or experience is a high one. However, make sure you know what these expectations are before you agree to anything so there are no surprises or things that may go against what you believe in as an influencer.
For example, I worked with a tour company once who never told me that they have an expectation I would garner a certain number of tour bookings after or before my trip with them. The agreement said I had to produce a certain amount of social media posts and blog posts but said nothing about conversions. In the end, the brand ended up being unhappy even though it was something they had never mentioned as a goal for the campaign in the beginning. This hasn’t happened to me often, and find most brands are pretty laid back or provide you with a detailed contract, but it’s important to clarify any grey areas before you say yes!
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is when they become so desperate for paid partnerships, free stuff, or experiences that they’ll be willing to sell their soul for it. Don’t be this person! Your blog is your brand, and everything you post is a reflection of that brand. If you are talking with a company about a partnership, and what they are offering is just way out of line with what you usually promote or talk about on your blog or social channels, decline the offer.
For example, I have daily emails reaching out to me asking me to do reviews on random products which almost always are not travel related (they’re usually for my travel blog). I have had pitches for baby products (I don’t have a baby), alcohol, and everything in between. However, it’s important to me to write about things on my blog that are relevant and are things I actually use.
Another example for me is companies reaching out for me to write a sponsored post around a specific destination or experience I’ve never been to or done. My response is always that I only write about places and things I’ve tried myself so I can remain authentic. All in all, don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place. Your fans will notice!
One of the most important things to remember is that you’re human. Often we lose sight of this because we’re so focused on the end goal, which sometimes is an exciting free product or experience. Remember, if it’s a brand that you really care about, their impression of you starts from the moment you connect, and there’s always potential that you could work with each other again down the road. If you work on building a good rapport, communicate honestly and openly with the brand, and be persistent and consistent, then you can hit a home run. Relationship building is key and will be what makes the brand remember you.
A good example of this is my relationship with G Adventures. They have been a company I’ve loved for years, and I’ve made lots of connections within their company from reaching out to people that work there through social media. That eventually led to me writing the occasional guest blog post for them, and recently landed me a chance to take over their Instagram account on my trip to Morocco. Sure it’s no free tour or anything, but I’ve been consistent with them for years and now they think of me for new opportunities as they come up.
Same goes for a relationship I have with one of the tourism boards here in Ontario. I have wanted to work with them for quite some time now but things just never worked out or they were always looking for someone different. However, my consistency in following up eventually paid off and they now have me visiting their destination with a friend this winter!
It really does pay off to not just look at a brand with money symbols in your eyes but as real people.
Working with brands as an influencer and/or blogger is super exciting and is what makes blogging so much fun. However, stay true to yourself and follow some of these general rules to ensure success!