This blog post was originally posted on Venture & Eat on July 13, 2017, and has been edited to reflect the change in my 9-5.
WANT TO WORK WITH BRANDS? THESE ARE MY TIPS FROM A BRAND'S PERSPECTIVE.
I had been relatively quiet about my [former] 9-5 job. I feared [on my travel + food blog] I'd be coming across as inauthentic and pushy or that my audience wouldn't care about it. But recently, I got in touch with Katherine at Slightly Savvy who [had] a similar 9-5 as me, and we hit it off right away with our shared experiences.
What exactly did I do? I used to work on the Social Strategy team at an advertising agency. My client [was] a pretty well-known small and major appliance brand in the cooking space. On a day-to-day basis, I managed their blog, which is entirely made up of influencer content. Yup, I got to chat all day with bloggers and influencers like you! And yes, I did get extremely hungry since I looked at food all day long.
So how can I help you? I'm in a unique position where I have firsthand knowledge of how brands vet influencers. I can provide you insights into what's going on behind-the-scenes so that brands will notice you. Continue reading for my first installment of working with brands from a brand's perspective.
Related reading: How Brands Select Influencers
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
This sounds like a no-brainer, but please do your homework in researching the brand you're pitching. This includes simple things like spelling the brand's name properly. I've seen countless pitches with the brand's name spelled wrong or products named incorrectly. This doesn't take any time at all to double-check.
Learn about the brand's latest products and ask about them. More than likely, these products will be a product priority over already well-known products. Think about it. Does it make sense for a brand to keep promoting a well-known product like crazy (that already gets a lot of love) or promote a brand new product that people know very little about? TIP: Try looking at the brand's homepage and see which products are prominently placed. Then read up on them.
Okay, let's talk about niches. You're going to get a no if you reach out to brands that aren't in your niche. This is obvious when we look at your blog and social platforms. It doesn't matter how large your following is; if your niche doesn't fit the brand, it's not going to be a good ROI. Your audience won't care, and the brand will be wasting valuable budget.
Since many brands are now using influencers in their social strategies, you can see a lot of the work their influencers are creating. Use this to your advantage, especially if you think your following isn't as high as you'd like it. Creating similar styles of content will show the brand your capabilities in terms of content creation. TIP: Look up branded hashtags as well as the brand's social platforms. Example: Passion Passport uses #passionpassport
2. BUILD LONGTERM RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE BRAND AND REPRESENTATIVES
Like any type of relationship you have, whether it's with your family, friends or SO, you ideally want it to be long-term. Working with brands isn't any different. That's why, when you pitch, you don't want to limit yourself to one project. Granted, working on more projects is determined by the quality of work you produce.
Avoid sending pitches specifically asking for a free product. This is sometimes a red flag, especially when your content isn't what the brand is looking for. It gives off the vibe that you just care about the free product and not necessarily about the brand.
If you're pitching a brand for the first time, ask them about any new campaigns that are coming up. Better yet, if you know of the campaign, explain what you can do in relation to it. The answer might not always be yes, but the brand will keep you in mind for opportunities in the future.
3. BE ORGANIZED AND TIMELY WITH BRAND PROJECTS
I can't stress being organized enough. Brands have a million Google Sheets and Docs at work to stay on top of all of their influencers and the types of projects they're working on together. Due dates for your assets are placed in multiple places, and the brands look at them like they're the bible. If brands are boosting your assets on social, that schedule has been sent to the Paid Social team too. So a lot rides on you remembering your due dates and turning in your assets on time.
If you need to ever extend your due date, please just let the brand know. Notifying the brand a few days before your original due date is the preferred time, but we know life happens. That being said, constant communication is fantastic. I loved when bloggers would reach out to me and ask me questions about a project. There's a lot of complex asks in some of the projects, so asking questions typically saves a reshoot.
4. GIVE 110%
I recently read that a blogger was giving others advice on not going above and beyond for brands if it wasn't in the original agreement. While I agree that you shouldn't undervalue yourself or let a brand take advantage of you, this sends the wrong message. There are ways to give 110% of your effort to the brand without undervaluing your work.
What does 110% look like?
- Being responsive with communication and properly listening (sometimes we need reminder emails!)
- A willingness to hop on the phone with me and ask me how to properly shoot a product
- Always sending high quality assets that you'd be proud to put on your own blog
- Consistently coming up with unique ideas to work together on
5. BE UNDERSTANDING
If the brand you're working with uses an advertising or PR agency, please be understanding of the client/brand relationship. Their jobs are to form strong partnerships for a high ROI and to always provide high quality content for their clients. Agencies are the clients' advocates and if they ask you to reshoot something, it's not because they're being unnecessarily nit picky. It's because they want the best work to show to their clients and to their specifications.
Because brands work with a large amount of bloggers with different specialties and interests, they want you to come to them with what you can do best. Yes, brands can definitely look through your content and past work to see what you excel at, but it really helps if you take this initiative on your own. Do you create really amazing YouTube content that you're actually in? Tell the brand! There are so many different projects or events that a skill like this would be useful for.
I know there are a ton of blog tips out there that say you shouldn't believe brands that say there isn't a budget. This can be 100% true. Don't assume how much the brand's budget is by collaborations with other influencers. Each partnership is different. Also, depending on how large the brand is, they may have many different budgets for different types of products, events, etc.
Timing is also a huge factor. If contracts are sent out for a specific amount of work, things are set in stone. For bloggers brands really want to work with, brands can work with you on a partnership that makes sense for both parties.