#BloggerLife: How to get brands to work with you

I’ve worked with major brands and I’ve worked with small brands and I have some tips on making sure you get on the mailing lists, even when you have a small following. After blogging for 13 years, I know a little bit about getting brands to look my way.

Now, if you are a blogger influencer looking to get some quick & major money from influencer marketing, I’m probably gonna make you mad. The first thing you need to know is that most brands don’t want to pay you. Like, for real. Most bloggers barely make $4 a day from sponsored posts. But, don’t get distracted, it is possible to make a great income from influencer marketing. You have to follow some steps to get your brand ready to work with your favorite sponsors.

Assess Your Value

LIKES plus COMMENTS divided by FOLLOWER COUNT multiplied by 100 equals Engagement Rate per post.

In last week’s BloggerLife post, we discussed finding your engagement rate for IG posts. Letting a potential sponsor know your engagement rate gives you great power during the negotiations. I use this equation for my nine most recent posts. That way, you know your current value, especially if you’ve had a full week.

In addition, take a look at a month’s worth of blog posts. Check out returning and unique visitors, make sure you know that number as well. Giving sponsors your current numbers shows that you are up-to-date with your current value and makes you seem much more adept at negotiations. Know your worth.

Oh yeah, make sure you have press kit. Basically, a press kit is a snapshot of your progress and value online. A press kit gives a brand concrete info on your stats, demographics, reach, and potential for growth. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be up-to-date. Once you complete your basic press kit, remember to update your numbers at the end of each month.

Work on your quality – photos, blog posts, captions

You can’t assess your value if you don’t have content to assess. I can’t stress this point enough – make sure the quality of your work matches the quality of the brand. I’ve had blogger influencers reach out to me to review their content. My biggest critique was the quality and consistency of their posts. The brand wants to see what you are capable of doing. Make sure you are posting consistently (not JUST when you have something to review). If you are new to this, I always suggest having 27 photos on IG and about two months of blog posts on your website before approaching a brand. If you are veteran, try updating old posts, archiving photos that haven’t scored high, and tagging/updating captions effectively.

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Photo taken with an iphone 6!

When I first started, I didn’t have the budget to afford a professional photographer. So, I budgeted once a quarter shoots so that I had some Hi-Res photos to share. Next, I went to YouTube to learn how to shoot content on my iPhone. You can take some amazing photos on an iPhone if you know what you are doing. Scout cute locations, find your lighting, and have a friend help you out. Some of my biggest campaigns, I booked with iPhone 6 photos.

Research the Brand

Before you get to asking for all the money, research the brand. Check out their latest campaign. Check the hashtag to see who they’ve worked with previously. If you see a gap in advertising, (ie – not enough people from your demographic) make sure to say that in your pitch. On the opposite, if you see a lot of yourself in the current campaigns, make sure your numbers are high enough to box with the big boys. I’ve had plenty brands reach out to me, only to find my numbers weren’t high enough. Yes, I was hurt, but I keep on moving. There are tons of brands I’ve worked with when my numbers were far smaller. It’s really about if your demographic can reach their demographic.

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This look is from a local brand, Curves With Purpose

Start local, start small

Some people are ashamed to work with brands in their city. I don’t know why. But some of my most lucrative collaborations have come from smaller local brands. PLUS, if something doesn’t fit or I need to change out a product, it’s much easier when the brand is in the city. Also, smaller and local brands are sometimes more willing to pay your rate. Real talk, I’ve had a local brand pay me $100 to post one time, plus gave me all the items I shot for the post. Yeah, may not be a lot, but it’s more than some national brands have offered.

Also, ask to speak with the general manager or store manager of your local franchise or branch. When I worked with Tiffany & Co, all of our communication was with the local manager. The event was the first of it’s kind for the company. This was in 2015, when influencer marketing wasn’t all the rage. I mention this to let you know that you can get a cool collab even if you don’t have huge numbers – try going through the local branch.

Network!

This point can’t be stressed enough. I’ve secured some of my most recent campaigns because of networking opportunities with other bloggers in my area. other bloggers aren’t your competition, they are your ally if you have the right vision. Sometimes brands ask you to suggest a blogger to add to a campaign. If you’ve networked effectively, you can be the one I mention. Listen, I’m not gonna sit here and say I haven’t had an attitude when i see someone secure a bag. I remember when one of my FAVORITE bloggers secured a Delta campaign that I’d been in line for. After I got over my feelings of rejection, I worked hard to figure WHY they chose him over me. I used it as fuel. And, i became friends with said blogger. Now, we exchange tips & tricks all the time.

Genuinely support – before asking

Ok, this is where most social media gurus will disagree with me, but I don’t care. I always suggest you just rock the clothes or try the brand before asking them to give you money to do so. Every outfit I wear, I tag the brand on Instagram, even if they don’t tag me back. However, I’ve had brands reach out to me for further collabs BECAUSE I tagged them first. Is it risky? Does it devalue an influencer’s worth when we do this? I don’t think so. I think it shows you can work in the community. Also, you were gonna wear the outfit ANYWAY! You were going to buy the item ANYWAY! Be a  leader in your demographic when you review without pay then send that post in your pitch packet.

Don’t be scared – to ask and to hear no

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to hear a ‘No’. Even influencers who have the best content and the highest numbers get a denial. Why? Could be a ton of reasons. I just received a ‘no’ because they already selected all their influencers for 2019. What does that mean? Make sure to pitch to them in June when they are planning for 2020. Sometimes, you aren’t a good fit for the brand. No worries! There are so many brands out there. Sometimes you need to do some deep dives into things YOU LIKE and want to share with your audience. Just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean your audience will love it.

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So, use these tips to start the process of working with brands. I’ve blogged for more than 13 years. I’ve worked with International and local brands. It’s all about the presentation, consistency, and research. Best believe, when you work on those things, you’ll start getting more yes’s than no’s.

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