In this post: Tired of being offered products in the place of payments for your services? As much as we all love receiving free gifts, products won’t pay your bills (but money will). Learn how to work with brands as a blogger (or even as a small content creator) and get paid partnerships by turning gifted items into long-term collaborations with brands.
How to Work With Brands and Get Paid Partnerships
Hi girls, how are you today?
I was inspired to write this post when I realized there were bloggers with over 50K, 70k, 100k+ followers who were not getting paid to promote products, while I was paying off my rent and upgrading my apartment only from sponsored posts, having less than 7k followers.
As an experienced Strategic Account Executive for over 4 years (i.e. I work in sales for a huge American company based in Barcelona), I know a thing or two about outreaching and pitching services to brands at an international level.
I also understand how scary it is to send cold emails to someone and the horrible feeling of being rejected.
But here’s the thing…
Being rejected when you make a pitch is normal!
What you should know is that pitching is a numbers game and the more you do outreaches the higher your chances are of making a sale.
However, don’t expect to spam brands all day long for a month and eventually get an offer. Unfortunately, it is not as simple. If your outreach is not done right, brands will not even bother replying to your emails (or worse, not even care opening them) – Yes, it is easy to identify what email pitches are worth reading only from the subject lines, trust me.
I get email pitches every day to my inbox and I just by glancing it I can tell if the person knows what they’re doing, or if they just copied a template from Google.
But the good news is that it is possible to get paid partnerships for sponsored posts, even when you’re just starting. That is, when you know what you’re doing, of course.
I hope this blog post inspires other bloggers to getting confidence to turn their gifted blogger collaborations into paid partnerships!
How To Turn Gifted Products into Paying Brand Partnerships
When a brand reaches out to you….
Think about it this way: If a brand reaches out to you, they’ve already indicated that they see value in your work and in your influence. It’s important to remember that if the brands didn’t reach out to you, they would have to create their own digital content.
Brands know the costs of hiring creative teams and producing advertising and branded content.
The brands could need to hire a creative agency, a photographer, models, copywriters to write the social copy, and even hire a social media person to engage on the brand’s social platforms once that content is shared. Phew, that is a huge budget investment.
When a brand reaches out to you to create branded content, they are skipping out all those steps and costs. As a blogger, I personally write and edit all my blog and social copy and I’m the one who styles the products and creates content around it in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and professional. It’s up to me to schedule time to take pictures and edit them and, as we know, time is money!
How to Define Your Value When Negotiating Brand Deals & Paid Partnerships
If a brand is asking for a blog post and a social media post for every channel: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, it is important to breakdown the cost of producing that content.
Lord knows we tend to underestimate the time content will take to create. As my personal photographer (AKA my boyfriend) is the definition of a perfectionist, our shoots take longer than I usually expect (however, our deliverables ROCK!).
I’ve said it many times in this blog, but I will repeat it as often as needed be: YOU define your value.
A great way to go on about defining your value as a blogger is by writing down the hours it takes to write and edit the social and blog copy. Take notes as well of the time it takes to create social media content, and your price of influence (I’ve discovered that being explicit about costs you need to cover for the campaign has helped brands increase their initial compensation offer).
If you need more tips on figuring out how to price yourself and then negotiate your rates, you can check out: 15 Tips for Pricing & Negotiating as a Blogger.
Show Examples of Past work Done
When you share previous brand work, you’re increasing your credibility and expertise. You’re affirming that it was a great choice for the brand to reach out to you because you’ve already worked with similar brands or industries.
But what to do when you have never worked with a brand before?
Think of something you genuinely love that aligns with your brand and create content around it. If you’re a blogger, write an in-depth post and be sure to add original and high-quality pictures. If you’re a vlogger, create a kick-ass video talking about it, etc.
The point is to show brands your potential as a creator (remember that being a creator is different from being an influencer, so don’t get too caught up on numbers).
Say No To Gifted Collaborations
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against gifted collaborations when you’re first starting out and trying to build an audience, or when you reaaaaaally love the product. And I still take gifted collaborations every once in a while if a brand is aligned with a project and the brand is bringing value beyond gifted product.
Nevertheless, if you’ve been blogging and building your social following for over a year and you believe that you create quality content, you can start saying no to gifted collaborations.
Keep in mind that brands also want to save costs, so if they can get free advertising from a blogger they will also offer a product in exchange for exposure. However, it is equally important to remember that brands, big or small, have a budget to invest in this and they will continue to believe you’ll only work for free if you continue to work for free.
Below is an example of a Brand who asked for a video testimonial of a product that I was raving about in my stories.
Notice that they ask for something from me, but they don’t mention anything about the payment, so it would be up to me to simply say yes or to try and negotiate.
As we all know, creating content takes time, especially if it is in a video format. Regardless if I really love the brand (which I do), making a video would take a lot of time (pre-production, makeup, recording, editing). As an experienced blogger, I can’t afford to invest time in something that won’t give me returns anymore.
Which takes me to my last tip on how to turn a gifted blogger collaboration into a paid one.
Ask To Be Paid
This is the part that differentiates experienced bloggers from newer ones (and this has nothing to do with social numbers). As a sales executive myself, I know that you have to ask for what you want, or you simply risk losing an opportunity.
In the blogging world, that simply comes down to asking to be paid for your services.
Are you wondering what I replied to the above brand regarding their collaboration idea, then read below:
Next read the Brand’s answer:
Does anyone else hear KA-CHING?
From there, instead of sending them my fixed rate I gave them a few options of prices, with each having added value to sound more pleasing for them (and to help close the deal).
If you liked reading my email exchange and you want to know more, be sure to join my eBook waiting list where I will share ALL my top secrets from being a Strategic Account Executive (those who join the waiting list will get 10% off when the book launches, early winter 2020).
Have you joined mt Facebook Group ”Bloggers + Brands Collabs”?
There you have it, friends. My tips and lessons I’ve learned turning gifted blogger collaborations into paid partnerships!
Other Useful Blog Resources
Blog Income Tracker – Don’t make the same mistakes as I did and forget to track your income (and expenses). Trust me, this will make a huge difference in your life.
ShareaSale – Has been in business for 20 years, exclusively as an Affiliate Marketing Network. This is a place where you can sign up once, and get access to hundreds and hundreds of amazing brands’ affiliate networks.
Tailwind – If Pinterest or Instagram is part of your strategy and you feel you’re losing too much time with it (join the club), then Tailwind is a MUST. Tailwind is an approved tool for both Instagram and Pinterest to schedule your posts. This allows you to batch in advance and plan your posting schedule. Try Tailwind for one month free here and make up your mind on your own.
DepositPhotos – Stunning stock photos for every niche.
The Affiliate Programs Masterlist – This masterlist is a database of 500+ affiliate programs in over 17 different niches, giving bloggers a wide range of products and services to promote so they can increase their affiliate sales.
LongTailPro – A fantastic keyword search tool for Google SEO. I love it because they also include an in-depth course on understanding SEO, how to find the best keywords to make money and get traffic, and many other insider tips on how to best utilize keywords to boost your website. Perfect for both beginners and advanced SEO understanding.
The She Approach To Boosting Your Blog Traffic (eBook) -This eBook is a guide to helping new and established bloggers increase their blog traffic. It was y first book on how to increase my blog traffic and it slowly tuned into something of a bible for me. Every so often, I go back to it both for inspiration and to refresh my memory.