How to Work With Brands as a Blogger
1. Grow your blog + focus on creating an engaged audience.
Before you can begin collaborating with brands, you will need to grow your blog to have some sort of audience. Yes, it gives you more leverage if you have a large audience, but most brands also look at engagement — not just numbers. Even if you’re still working on your first few hundred followers, you may be appealing to brands if you can show them that your audience — while small — is engaged. This generally means that they leave comments — on your blog, Instagram, or anywhere really.
It also helps if YOU are engaged. If a brand clicks over to your Twitter and only sees a list of automated tweets, then it will look like you’re not trying to engage with your audience yourself.
With all that said, in my opinion, you’ll need to have at least 5,000-10,000 pageviews per month on your blog to effectively collaborate with brands. If your pageviews are less than that, you’ll want to work on growing your audience and producing incredible content before trying to monetize your site. For example, I didn’t monetize my site until I was receiving about 15,000 pageviews per month.
2. Create a media kit.
A media kit is a document which shares everything a potential sponsor or marketer would need to know about your blog. It’s essentially a resume, but for your website. A media kit should list a variety of things, such as your blog’s topics, statistics, collaboration options, and more. It is essential for making a good impression and landing more (and higher paying) collaborations.
Don’t have a media kit? You’re in luck! I wrote a post all about what to include in a media kit right here.
3. Make a list of companies or products you love + that fit your blog’s theme.
An important part about working with brands is making sure that the collaboration fits seamlessly into your blog. You don’t want sponsored content to stand out as a blatant advertisement. Ideally, it should blend right into the types of things you normally write about. That way, you’re still delivering the great, relevant content that your audience comes to you for, and you’re marketing the brand and their products in the most effective and organic way.
Awhile back, I did a sponsored post for Sharpie where I shared “20 tips for your blog or business.” The post felt natural and fit into the theme of my blog, but also organically wove in Sharpie highlighters. Though it was sponsored, my readers loved it — the post received over 75 comments and was a hit in terms of how much traffic it brought my site. When creating your own list of companies and products, incorporate this same idea. Which brands would your readers LOVE to learn more about and why?
Also, keep these things in mind when making your list of brands or products:
- Think outside the box. You may feel inclined to want to reach out to huge, national brands. However, there are plenty of smaller brands or up-and-coming brands that would love the organic exposure that a feature on a blog can offer. I’ve found that these types of companies are easier to partner with because there is less of a chain you need to fight through to find the right person to contact.
- Don’t forget digital companies and products. Your first thought may be to reach out to brands with brick and mortar stores, but digital companies need exposure, too! For example, companies that sell plugins, apps, web graphics, or software are ones you should consider (if that fits your niche).
p.s. Not sure which brands to contact because you don’t really know what your blog’s niche is? I wrote a post about narrowing your blog focus and selecting a niche, which I think might help.
3. How to find their contact info
Once you’ve made a thorough list of brands and products you love (and that fit your blog), it’s time to finally reach out! When I attended the Alt Summit blogging conference in 2014, one of the brand representatives said that she gets hundreds of emails a day. What stands out to her in an email?
When someone addresses her by her actual name.
Not only is it just good, polite practice to use people’s names, but it also makes them care a whole lot more about your email. Few brands will list their marketing rep’s name on their website, so you’ll need to do a little sleuthing. The best way I’ve found to do this is on Twitter and Instagram. Send a tweet or a direct message to the brand letting them know you’d like to collaborate and ask for the best contact name and email. You may not always get a name (though sometimes you do — yay!), but most brands will respond with, at least, an email address you can contact. Boo-yah!
If that doesn’t work, then you can simply try reaching out using the contact form on their site. Options, my friends!
4. What to include in your initial email
Finally, how do you get the collab going? Your initial email is fairly crucial, especially because many brands receive plenty of these types of emails each day. My best advice? Keep it short, descriptive, and to the point. Don’t add entire paragraphs about your blog or a three-page collaboration idea that they have to download as a Word document. Rather, keep your email to a few sentences. Try this format:
- An introduction of yourself and your blog/blog topics (1-2 sentences).
- Why you love the brand or their products (1-2 sentences).
- A mention of the fact that you’d like to collaborate and why it would be a great fit (1-2 sentences).
- A call to action, such as, “would you like to hear the ideas I’ve thought of?” (1 sentence).
- Lastly, you’ll want to share your blog’s media kit with them, too. I recommend uploading it as a Google Doc and linking it in your email somewhere.
Altogether, your email will be about 5-7 sentences. Short and sweet, but enticing and full of good info.
Give the brand a week or so to see if they respond. If they don’t, try sending a follow-up message. Most brands will at least respond to your initial email. If they do, and they’d like to hear your ideas, then you have the opportunity to send a longer email with your specific collaboration ideas and why they’d be a great fit for you and for them.
Keep in mind that it may take time before you find a brand who is interested in collaborating with you. Try not to feel discouraged — companies all have different goals, budgets, and opinions. It’s just a matter of finding the ones that are a great fit. Send out several emails and keep at it until you’re able to land your first collaboration. After that, it will smooth!