Collaborating with Brands
Are you an influencer looking to get in touch with brands? Find out what I’ve done to develop relationships with companies, get free samples, build and grow your audience as well as how I monetized my blog posts.
Have you been wondering how other influencers are getting products from companies for free or get paid for posting?
Over the past few years, I’ve researched online, taken courses from other successful influencers, and have read posts from other bloggers. A very good course I’ve taken when I first started was created by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner about ‘Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing’. It taught me a lot and I highly recommend this course, it really teaches you all about affiliate marketing and ways to improve your blog. Right now she’s actually offering 20% off the course until May 27th – code MAY20PERCENTOFFCC.
It can be such a daunting and frustrating task when you don’t know what to search for. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of invites from various marketing and influencer companies asking me to join them. Most of these companies will have agents who spend time browsing Social Media, mostly Instagram, looking for influencers via hashtags, names or the explorer page and will reach out to you if they see fit.
If you’re just starting up, don’t be discouraged by numbers.
Numbers… as in you don’t have a lot of social media followers or enough blog viewers just yet, and you’re afraid your content might not be up to par. When I first started, I would post and review products I’ve used and loved. I wanted to share my knowledge with anyone who cared enough to know my opinion because they wanted more info before they buy. And guess what, there’s a lot of people who do want to know! We live in a time where we search-everything-before-you-buy. By doing this, I was able to tag the company of the product(s) I used, which allowed me to be seen by these brands. They might like your picture back or comment on your Instagram photo, and if they truly like your post because the quality and content are so good, they may even repost it. If they repost your pic then that’s a fantastic bonus! That means instant exposure to other brands and to the audience of that brand. They’ll head over to your page and see if you’re worth the follow.
But what if you don’t get the reposts or likes? How do you get their attention?
What I started doing was connecting with brands directly via email or direct message on Instagram. I originally started with start-up companies who also wanted to get exposure for their products. The best way to do this is by searching hashtags. If you’re into makeup, search for #makeup, a fashion blogger then search #fashion and so on depending on your niche. Most of them will happily provide you free samples in exchange for a blog or social media review. Don’t be afraid to engage them, the worst thing they can say is no. If that’s the case, then on to the next. There’ll be plenty of other opportunities.
Before you start posting on any medium whether blog or social media
I think it’s also very important that you take good quality pictures. You don’t need to hire a photographer or have the most expensive camera, but make sure the post is appealing to the eye. Just think of it this way, if you stumble onto a blog or an account that looked bland and not at all interesting, would you follow or like it? Probably not. Be realistic and try to look at it from a different point of view. There are websites that offer royalty free stock photos, and if it fits your post, then go ahead and use it.
The next step is to join affiliate marketing sites.
These are companies that have relationships with a wide variety of brands that allow you to join programs so you can add product links to your site and receive compensation for items purchased using your links. Check out my post on ‘How to Monetize Your Blog‘ for full details. Based on my experience, marketing agents from some of these companies have contacted me directly to collaborate. So, it’s not just all about product linking, they may reach out to you and ask to work with you directly.
If Affiliate Marketing is not for you, then search for other marketing companies. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been receiving a lot of emails recently by different Influencer Marketing Companies asking me to join them. They work with specific brands to host special campaigns that are available to registered influencers to join. Compensation could be a product in kind, free service or monetary payment. I’ve actually joined every company I received emails from, out of curiosity. I wanted to know which brands they worked with, what kind of campaigns were available and to also see what kind of influencers have joined them.
When working with companies on a collaboration, some things you need to pay close attention to:
-Do they have a legit website?
-Who is the main contact and does he/she have their name, email or phone number listed on the correspondence they sent you?
-Do they provide you the details of your agreement? Most marketing agents will send you a media kit, rate sheet or blog post requirements to ensure you agree with everything.
-Never click on a link or fall for the trap of downloading a plugin or something fishy. Trust your gut, if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is
-Check out their social media page and search other influencers that they’ve reposted and collaborated with to see if they’re real
-If the company is unknown to you, do your research and look for information and reviews online. Google is your friend.
Be very cautious of companies that charge you to join them.
I received an email from one that allowed you to register for free but for each campaign you sign up for, they charge you. After going through their site, I realized it wasn’t for me and deleted my account. The good ones will offer free registration and free signups to campaigns. These marketing sites are most likely to have already established an agreement and compensation directly with the brands they host campaigns for.
Also be very careful of phishing scams/emails
These are people pretending to collaborate and don’t have legit contact info or a website. I received one email that seemed too good to be true. They wanted me to post an ad on my site and asked me how much I’d like to be paid and they agreed too quickly. Right from the get-go, it seemed really fishy. There was also no formal agreement sent to me detailing this collaboration with requirements and payment info. Instead, they sent me another email asking me to download a plugin to my blog and once completed they would pay me. Fortunately, I’m tech savvy and knew to ask them for the plugin name instead so I can search it through WordPress to directly download, as I didn’t feel comfortable downloading from the link on the email. Their reply? Another email with link to download their plugin. RED FLAGS! I blocked this person, deleted the email and most definitely did not download or even click on that link. You can say goodbye to your blog and the hard work you put in on your posts if you download this plugin, it could potentially contain a virus, malware or some other coding that will retrieve your personal data and your subscriber’s data from your blog.
TOP TAKEAWAYS from this post:
–Don’t be afraid to engage with brands directly. As the famously quoted Wayne Gretzky says, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take‘.
–Don’t be discouraged by numbers.
-Take good quality photos before posting on your blog or Social Media
-Use hashtags and tag those companies! They’re grateful when you show them love.
-Use royalty free stock photos if you’re not able to take high quality shots yet
–Join Influencer Marketing Programs
-Be extra careful with those ‘too good to be true‘ collaboration emails
One last tip! Another good thing to have on hand before collaborating with top companies and name brands is your media kit. This is to get an idea of what you can offer them and why they should work with you. A media kit gives them information on who you are, what you do, as well as a view of your blog and social media stats. Kind of like a resume.
I hope this post gave you some insight. Would love to hear about your tips if you have anything to share or add on to this post. Stay tuned for upcoming articles – I’ll be posting about the Top Influencer Marketing Sites I’ve joined as well as How to Create Your Own Media Kit. You definitely won’t want to miss those! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter to get notified by email as soon as they’re published.