I feel like when you do research for your blog, there are a million resources out there particularly when you go onto Pinterest. Pinterest always has “all the answers” for you especially when it comes to how to work with brands. There are these splashy pretty pictures that are perfectly presented and then when you click on the catchy headlines, they are all fluff and no substance. To me that is frustrating and a waste of time. There are not enough hours in the day for me and if I’m researching, I want it time well spent. So you know me. I’m going to give it to you straight and well researched because it is all my trial and error.
How to Work With Brands
I get a lot of backend questions on how I work with brands. I have also read that you shouldn’t work with brands anymore because you are your brand and the horror of having people click off your page onto someone else’s brand. I get it. It really does resonate and I understand the concept. Why spend all this time promoting someone else’s product when you are spending hours slaving away on your brand and product. Well, for one thing, let’s be honest. We all love getting to try new products for free. I’m just saying what everyone is thinking. Why do you spend hours clicking away on your computer if there wasn’t an end result. Have you read my prior post on my thoughts of the dark side of blogging?
Well, let me tell you what.
I applaud bloggers that work with brands because you know why? We have influence. We drive what people want to buy. We are a platform for businesses to get their products to the mainstream. Seriously, aren’t bloggers the most artistic and beautiful curators of beauty? I swear, I read magazines now (on the plane) and I’m bored by the fashion spreads. Just scroll through a top bloggers instagram feed and their fashion, styling and art blows those spreads away. Why shouldn’t we be rewarded or compensated for our expertise and time spent! To many of us, blogging is a job. It allows us to be business owners. Isn’t that such an amazing concept? I know women are always the first to turn to the catty and petty but at the end of the day, blogging opens up so many opportunities and experiences. I applaud it and strive to continue to grow every day. I also try to lift up my fellow bloggers and support them. Honestly, if you ever have a question email me. I always respond.
Okay with that said, let’s get into the nitty gritty. You want to work with brands and I’m going to tell you how to do it. Here are the top four ways that I work with brands and you can to.
Be part of a network
This is probably my least favorite but most stable way of working with brands. There are a lot of rules when you are part of Blogher, Clevergirls, Influence Central, Pollinate, Rewardstyle etc etc. However, I will say these big companies are predictable. You sign an agreement and that net30 day or net60 day payout, it will happen. If it doesn’t happen, you can raise hell until it does. I have never not been paid by them. There is no worse feeling than working with a side company or brand, you hit publish, send that email with the live link and then radio silence. Damn. I just did all that work and now they aren’t going to pay me. So, even though there are rules, you will be guaranteed in 95% of the cases that you can rely on that income. The other downfall is they are competitive. I never ever used to get accepted to them but the more you work with brands, then you can use those as examples to help you land that bigger gig.
With that said, never work for free. Never put your time and effort into a company that “may mention you on their social media“. Either you get product or payment. Don’t let them take advantage of you. Unless you love the product and you want it to use to build your brand portfolio. Does that make sense? So in summary, the first entry way of working with brands is sign up for networks. I am apart of so many I can’t even count. One day I just googled “blogger influencer programs” and signed up for 100 of them. I get daily emails and it’s up to me to decide what is a good fit for me and my readers.
Cold Call Email
This is my favorite way of working with brands. Hey, I stumbled on this amazing product and want to check it out. Just send them an email and tell them why you love their product and how you want to feature it. I will say 50% of my brandwork is done that way. For example, I saw Stiks via Instyle and sent an email to the website. The owner of the company emailed me back and said she loved my site. I told her I would talk about the product if I liked it, which I did. I then asked if she would be down with a giveaway and she was. I did not receive any compensation but I loved the product and did get that. The beauty of this is you can control the terms better. You can choose to post on your social media or not. If you want to ask for compensation, you come up with the terms. However, once again, don’t get burned. I like to ask for half of the compensation when I submit a draft of the post and then final payment two business days after the post goes live. Make sure you get it all in writing and agree upon the terms.
Sometimes I won’t ask for compensation but will require that brand to use my pictures on their social media. Like for example, when I worked with Clinique or when the Zoe Report picked up my work. They did not pay me for it but the regramming of my work on their social media lead to hundreds of new instagram followers. That was worth it for me. So don’t be shy. Start sending out those emails. You have influence!
Wait for them to email you
I’m more of a go out and get them myself kind of person but I have been contacted by amazing brands in the past and if I think they are a good fit, then heck yeah lets do it. Like these beautiful necklaces by Hands High Designs that I featured on this post. I loved her necklaces and asked if she would do a giveaway plus yeah supporting other female entrepreneurs right?!?! I love opening my blogging email, I never know what opportunity is going to arise on a daily basis. Once again, you decide if the brand works for you. You will never see me promoting tampons or dogfood. It just isn’t the direction where I want to go. I want you to be able to trust me. If I put something on here, you know I have tried it and loved it. Not just that someone is paying me to talk about it. Does that make sense?
This is my best kept secret. Some of my big fashion collaborations have actually been through instagram. I love Amanda Uprichard. Her designs, color and the fact they are made in the USA. I made sure to tag the label on my instagram and wouldn’t you know it, they regrammed me and sent me a private message wanting to work with me. I have had at least 10-20 different fashion brands work that way. I even send them messages as well. “Dear XYZ, as you can see I am totally loving this sheath dress and see the engagement my followers have with it as well. Have you worked with bloggers in the past? Would you like to discuss a potential collaboration?” I would say half of the time I get a response back. Brands want to see you wearing their labels, how you style them and how they in turn can see how their pieces are going to look on you. If you love Old Navy start tagging them. Brands troll instagram. It is the easiest pickings for them. So get out there and start hounding the brands you like!
Fringe skirt here || Sweater BB Dakota here || Booties Joie here
I also think it has been said over and over again. People don’t like when blogs become completely sponsored. So make sure you pick the brands that you believe in to be a good fit for you and the direction of your blog. Last thing. I have a clause on my blog, that if a product is sent, it is not guaranteed a mention. Do not feel bullied into posting something that you don’t use or like. I have sent products back in the past when I didn’t like it or think they fit. I think that is a very important takeaway point. You are in the influencer. You have the power. Remember that.
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So there you have it. My top four ways how to work with brands. I should also say that I keep a folder in my email, once a month I send emails to all my previous brands that I have worked with or brands that have turned me down before. I then just touch base with them and see where they are at, if they are wanting to work with bloggers at the time. I mean you have the emails, that is 95% of the battle right? So what do you think? Did you learn some tricks of the trade? I love helping other bloggers grow and if you have any questions please feel free to comment or send me an email! If you like this post, I would love if you would pin it or like it on bloglovin! xoxoxo