I received such great feedback from my first blog post sharing what blogging has taught me that I decided to turn in into a series here on the blog. I know that the social media and blogging world is hotter than ever now and it's becoming tougher and tougher to compete with everyone and have yourself stand apart from all the rest. Connecting with brands is an important part of blogging, maybe not the most important, but if you hope to make revenue, establish contacts, and explore your particular world of blogging, creating genuine connections with companies and brands is key.
It definitely took me a while to learn how to go about connecting with brands. It's a balancing act of friendliness, promptness, professionalism and a little give and take between you and a brand. I am still navigating this map of brand connection today and as I grow and tailor myself, I also need to tailor who I want to work with and how to go about that. The advice I share in this post can be made unique to you, your style, brand, and blog, but generally these are the tools that I have used to help me effectively connect with brands and companies.
Show Initiative -- If you really want to work with someone, take the initiative to show them that. In this (sadly) dog eat dog world of blogging, it's hard to make yourself stand out from the rest if you just sit back and skate by. Reach out to the company, express interest, get your name out there. I wouldn't suggest hitting up the biggest and best names of fashion expecting that you'll get a "yes" automatically but, at least they'll know who you are. After all, all they can do is respectively decline. Who knows, maybe they'll say yes. I reached out to Lauren James four months into blogging expecting an automatic no on a collaboration for my high school graduation and they, to my surprise, responded yes meeting me half way on my idea. I would say don't wait for companies to go to you, you go to them -- stick your neck out there.
Understand Numbers -- When it comes to followers, likes, comments, and engagement, understand that companies look at those and really take them into consideration, along with your fit for their brand, but numbers are super important. Truthfully, with only a few hundred followers you most likely won't receive resounding yes's from big name brands. I would say if you want to show initiative to work with a brand, start small and work your way up. At 400 followers, I worked with a small monogramming company who sent me monogram stickers and that was it. She was small, but I was smaller and was willing to work with anyone just to get the ball rolling. I'll never forget the first company I worked with. Also know that your engagement is much more important that your follower count. You can have 20,000 followers but if you're only getting 200 likes on a picture, things aren't looking good. That's a 1% engagement rate, meaning only 1% of your followers are actually responding to your posts. Try to hike up that engagement to increase your success in connecting with brands. This is something that has really become difficult for me after this whole Instagram algorithm thing -- you just have to do your best to be authentic to try to beat the stupid thing!
Be a Fan of the Brand -- Don't just want to work with someone because of their numbers or they have something you want -- your job as a blogger is to share products and brands that you actually know and love. Don't be a sell out and take any brand sponsorship that comes along. It's key that you tailor your blog, YouTube, Instagram, whatever it may be do your personal style. If you want for a brand to notice you and your account, comment on their pictures, like their photos, tag them in your non-sponsored posts, and generally rave about their products. They will see this genuine and organic development of your appreciation for the brand and be more likely to reciprocate the love. Also, you can have a realer review of a product if you are aware of the brand and its morals and values.
Make a Media Kit -- You can do this on so many platforms but I think it's worth having. If you find yourself always writing long emails to companies about who you are, what you do, and why you want to work with them, they might not finish the email all the way through. I would suggest writing a shorter email, something more concise and include your media kit. If you aren't familiar with a media kit, it's a little card that explains a little about you, your goals, and what your blog is about. It also includes your "numbers" aka your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook followers, along with your unique monthly views on your blog or channel. You can also share a few of the brands that you have worked with along with your rates. I only use my "rates" some of the time, depending on the companies rules for partnerships and their ideas. These "rates" are what you charge for an Instagram or blog post. I usually derive this from my reader and follower count and my rates are much lower than a long-time blogger, but still it shows professionalism and that you mean business.
Be Prompt -- If a company emails you and it's maybe not something up your alley, email them back within 3 days of their email. Respectfully decline and be kind. It's okay if your fashion blog doesn't have a spot for a post about a tool kit or if your fitness blog doesn't really show off the newest line of nail polish. On the same note, if you and a company have a back and forth for a few days discussing an idea, continue to be prompt. Sometimes, it gets a little hectic if you have a lot of stuff going on but if you continue that desire to work together they'll be more receptive and appreciative of you.
Come with an Idea -- It's one thing to express your interest in working with a company but if you truly want to impress them and get them thinking and excited, come with an idea! If you want to work with La Croix (hi yes, La Croix, me!) approach them with an idea. Tell them what you want to do with the product, how you want to present it to your audience, and why you think it's a great collaboration. For a more effective approach, tell them about your personal experience with the product and how you can infuse it into the post. You can always say it's a great alternative to soda as a fitness blogger, or as a college blogger approach them with the idea that because it's a great alternative to soda it has helped college gals stay away from that infamous "freshman 15". Whatever your idea may be, express it with articulation and excitement while keeping your respect for the brand and product.
Follow Through and Follow Up -- These are my two "follow" rules put into one. First is follow through, if you promise you're going to do something, do it. I know things can get a little hectic but you made a commitment and you need to follow through. If a brand breaks it's commitment to you, and some unfortunately do, than I would consider your agreements null & void, but you must follow through with your agreement. I mean, hello! This brand took a chance on you, probably sent you free stuff and maybe even paid you -- treat them with respect. My second part of this rule is to follow up. This comes with two sub-parts. The first is if they don't email you back. If they don't email you back after you reach out to them, follow through. Just send a brief but to the point email about where they stand on the partnership and kindly ask for a response. Saying things like "I would love to discuss this possibility further with you at your earliest convenience" is kind yet effective. Secondly, if you work with them and you have an incredible time shooting for them and sharing their brand, follow through with a thank you note. This is something that I just started doing and I have found it to be a great thing. I ordered personalized Daily Dose of Prep notecards and use them when someone purchases a sticker and to thank brands to taking a chance on me. I love being able to thank the company for their trust in me as a brand and as a person. This leaves a great image of you in their mind and opens up the possibility to a second collaboration. It's all about a great brand/blogger relationship. They need to know they can rely on you and trust you.
Let me know in the comments below what you want to learn next about blogging!
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