So you’ve been running your blog or growing your Instagram following for a little while now and are finally ready to explore collaborations with your favourite brands. This can be a great means of income to your business and also boost your credibility in your niche.
How do you go about scoring your first brand collaboration?
After working in the PR industry for numerous years, I’ve seen the ins and outs of what makes a strong pitch and what it takes to score with big brands.
This will focus on the exact steps you need to take to be successful in securing a brand partnership and collaboration for the first time. For extended steps on how to master pitch writing like a PR pro, check out the 10 steps to writing the perfect pitch.
Right, let’s dive right in!
Before you get started
Before you start securing your first brand collaboration, you’ll need to ensure your blog and/or instagram following are up to scratch to capture the attention of brands.
First order of business is ensuring that your blog looks and feels professional. While you may still be fairly new at blogging, your site should look like you’re a seasoned veteran. This is where fake it ‘till ya make it comes in handy. Trust me on this one!
Make sure you have a visible about me page that you’re happy with. If you haven’t given it much attention before, now would be a great time to revisit and revamp the page. It’s really important for brands to know who you are, what your blog’s goal is and what kind of readers you have. Brands especially want to put a face to the name of the person they are considering represent their brand.
So give your about me page some mega self-love and promotion, ya’ll.
There’s a misconception that you need to have over 100,000 monthly page views to secure collaborations, which is not true. Your influence and reach needs to be relevant to the brand you’re pitching, so while a major international brand would require such numbers, smaller ones won’t.
It’s about more than just numbers, too. What’s your engagement like? Even if you’re only getting a few-hundred page views but your engagement is through the roof, you will still succeed in securing collaborations. Make sure you’re giving thoughtful responses to your comments!
At minimum, I suggest 1,000 total page views a month with evident engagement before reaching out to smaller brands.
You can safely reach out to smaller brands once you hit 5,000 followers, but the key here is also engagement. Your photos should have a decent amount of comments and likes.
You should also ensure that your feed represents who you are and who your target audience is. This will influence a brand’s decision to work with you!
Blogging and Instagram supplement each other. So if you have a high Instagram following but your blog only gets only a couple hundred page views a month, you can still use the blog to strengthen your pitch– just leave out blog numbers and position it as an added bonus to working with you.
Now that we’ve identified what it takes to secure collaborations, it’s time to put it all that juicy info together in an accessible, visually pleasing package called a media kit.
A media kit is simply a few documents that tell brands about your business and contain all that information we just outlined. It gives them all the details they need at a glance to decide if they want to work with you.
You should attach your media kit to every pitch you send.
So you’ll want to make your kit is hella cute and really brags about your stats. Even if you think your stats aren’t good enough to share, OWN what you’ve got and be confident with it. You worked really hard to get to this point and there are brands out there that want to reach the very audience you speak to every day! You’ll want to include details about…
- Your blog’s mission
- Your readers
- Unique monthly visitors
- Monthly page views
- Email Subscribers
- Social Media Following
- Engagement statistics
P.S. for Instagram influencers only, leave out the blog parts but include as many metrics as possible.
Find a Brand
Now you’ve got a media kit and understand the metrics that you have to offer, it’s time to find a brand that will bite. Your first brand collaboration won’t come to you– so research is essential.
I’m just going to put it out there right now– your first few collaborations will not pay much– or even at all. Smaller brands won’t have much budget for influencers, so if they can’t afford monetary compensation they will likely offer you free products or a cross-post promotion, where in exchange they promote you by sharing your post/blog with their followers (this works if they have a significant number of followers).
Any offer you get is worth taking in the beginning. It builds your experience and portfolio working with brands and you can add their name to your media kit under brands I’ve worked with and leverage that relationship in the future.
In my opinion, if you are offered a chance to be promoted to their followers I would choose that over small monetary compensation. You will get significant exposure to their audience– who is most likely also your target audience! You will benefit in more page views and potentially email subscribers, which is A LOT more valuable than money for you at this stage.
Research & Relevance
As I mentioned a few times above, when you are just starting out it’s best to reach out to smaller brands that are super relevant to your content.
If you are a makeup blogger or influencer just starting out, don’t reach out to massive brands like Fenty Beauty. They won’t respond and it’ll likely hurt your ego going forward, which isn’t fair to you!
Do your research– your first brand collaboration will likely be a start-up gaining traction or small, local brands. Ask yourself what your followers/readers would buy or if there are local brands in the same location as you that are relevant. If you have a really specific niche (for example, a blog about cross-stitching) you might be in-luck– certain brands may be less interested in your numbers and more so in your engagement. At the end of the day, brands want to reach new audiences to sell their products. If you have a really specific audience that engages well with you then it is likely that you can sell a product for a brand even with a few hundred page views.
As you can see, this is all subjective, so make a list of a few brands you think you’d have a good chance of securing– don’t be afraid of trial and error!
I’ve done a really detailed post about how to write a bangin’ pitch, which I highly suggest you check out before writing your pitch. Incorporate the below with my step-by-step guide here: [link to freebie]
For brand pitching, your email should have the following:
This is a 2-3 sentence paragraph that introduces you and you blog. It should explain what niche you’re in, who your readers are and why it is relevant to brand you’re reaching out to. Include your most powerful metrics to capture their attention!
Example of a good introduction:
(Pitch for a collaboration with Skyscanner)
My name is Rola, the blogger behind the Modern World Club, where I teach the under 35’s how to find freedom from the rat race and live their best life. We have a great section on travel, where posts get an average of 1,00 views a day from travellers around the world.
As you can see, I didn’t include unique monthly visitors or social media metrics in the introduction because I decided that letting them know that my travel posts get 1,000 daily visitors would be a more powerful and relevant statistic for a travel company looking to reach more travellers.
Make relevance obvious
Your pitch should make it blatantly obvious how working with you is relevant to them and will ultimately help them reach their sale goals. This means, if you’re pitching a travel company like my example above, make sure they know that you have a category on travel that has great engagement. Don’t assume that because your website is called “Ted Travels” that they will know what you write about or expect them to click through to your website and see what you do over there.
You want to make it really easy for the reader to know instantly that you are relevant to them otherwise they will delete your message and move on to the next pitch.
As briefly mentioned above, don’t feel the need to stick all your metrics in that the reader loses sight of what you’re even asking them for. While numbers are strong, they need to be used strategically to score your first brand collaboration.
Choose one or two strong metrics that back up your pitch best and use those in the introduction and body of the email. Leave the rest in your media kit and/or a follow up email!
How partnering with you will serve them
When they finish reading your email, they should know how saying yes to you will serve them. The brand needs to know that they are reaching people they have identified as a target audience and there is a chance that they will sell something.
Will you be reviewing a product positively? Are you going to include a link in your blog post or link to the product in your profile description for a week? Will you be taking photos with the product and using it within the post and on social media?
These are the ways in which you are serving.
If you don’t hear back from the brand in a week, don’t feel discouraged quite yet– it’s time to follow up! The PR team for brands receive a TON of emails on a daily basis, so they may just have been too busy to respond and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a no.
Assume they haven’t opened your media kit and pull a couple more interesting metrics to hook them back in. Keep the whole email short and sweet, 3-5 sentences long, and end off with a call to action and/or productive question.
To get the gist of what you could expect, please feel free to check out a post I did for a brand collaboration here: [Link]
Would you have time this week to chat further about the proposed collaboration?
Most importantly, if you don’t hear back right away, don’t give up. Keep looking for relevant brands and growing you’re your blog and/or social media following. The opportunities WILL come, it just takes time and perseverance. This is the exact formula that PR agencies use to get their clients top tier collaborations, so don’t worry, you’re doing it right. Your first brand collaboration is just around the corner!
What’s your dream brand to work with? Let me know in the comments!