How to work with brands as a blogger

Why reach out to a brand in the first place?

Maybe you love that brand. (If you’re going to feature them on the blog you shed blood, sweat, and tears over, you really should only represent brands you actually like, amiright?”. Working with brands is a great way to make a lil cash while you’re doing your thing in the blogging world. Whether you want to write a sponsored blog post, social media post, host a giveaway, or create a long-term partnership as an affiliate, reaching out to brands is something you’re probably going to want to do some time or another in your blogging lifetime.

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to:

  • Find the right brand to reach out to

  • Find the brand’s email contact

  • Write and format your email pitch

  • What to include in your media kit

  • Respond when a brand asks for your prices

  • What to ask/say in order to be sure you’re on the same page with the brand’s expectations.

First, if you’re going to be working with brands, there are a few ways to do it. The reason I’m creating this tutorial is to give you a way to skip the middleman. Many bloggers go through agencies or networks that connect them with brands. Although one could argue it’s easier to do it this way, there’s actually a lot more competition and- I think- less compensation when going this way. I have worked with agencies that I’ve liked, however; TapInfluence being one of my favorites. Their pay rate changes based on your following/pageviews so as to pay bloggers more fairly based on the exposure a brand will receive. Makes sense. But as I said, this post is here to help you cut out the middleman. We want to communicate directly with the brand to set up an opportunity that benefits both blogger and brand.

How to find the RIGHT brand

Finding the right brand to work with basically comes down to knowing your niche. If you have a good understanding of your niche and your ideal audience, then choosing a brand will come easily.

All you need to think of are these two things:

  • Would I actually recommend this brand and their products to a friend?

  • Would this brand or product be really useful to my audience?

If you’ve found a brand that answers “yes” to those two questions, then you can be confident when it comes time to contact them! Which leads me to my next point...

How to find a brand’s email contact

Now, you may have no idea where to start when it comes to finding a brand’s point of contact, but it’s actually a lot easier than you think. Most brands welcome publicity and make contacting them a pretty straight forward process.

Here’s what I do if I want to find a brand’s email contact:

  • Go to the brand’s main website (not a store they’re sold in)

  • Search for a tab or link that says “Media” or “Press” or simply, “Contact.” This will often be at the very bottom of the page in the footer, but sometimes on the very top of the page.

  • More often than not, a brand will leave a direct email address for the person or department who is in charge of partnerships. Find the email contact and address your email accordingly (ie. if you were able to get the name of the contact, address your email to them specifically. This will help you to stand out in a crowd of hopeful partnerships).

Sometimes these pages will only offer a contact form, in which case it’s ok to use your regular email pitch (more on that later) as long as it’s short and sweet. Just be sure to include any links that may have been hyperlinked in your email.

Write and format your email pitch

Now, it’s totally great if you want to email a brand from your Gmail account, or whatever email service you use. If you do this, you can ask for a read-receipt so that you can know whether or not your email has been opened, which could give you a lot of peace of mind in the future. But the person may be notified of the read-receipt when they open your email, which could look a little icky. Instead, I like to send brands emails using MailerLite, my email service provider that I use for my subscribers. This way, I can track when the email is opened, if links were clicked on, and what links were clicked on. That way, I can tell if I have a good chance of hearing back or not. BUT I am extremely careful to never add these emails as subscribers to my regular email list. That would be embarrassing.

Now, let’s talk about how to write and format your email. Here’s an exact copy of what I usually send to a brand:

Hi there!

My name is ___________ and I am the owner and writer for _[WEBSITE NAME + HYPERLINK URL]_, a website that _[BRIEF DESCRIPTION YOUR BLOG’S PURPOSE]_.

I want to say first that I love _[BRAND] _because it _[TELL WHY YOU LOVE THE BRAND/PRODUCT]_.

I’m reaching out because I would love the opportunity to collaborate on either a blog or social media post (or both) with _[BRAND]_. I have a lot of experience writing quality, evergreen, sponsored content and believe I have a great potential to market _[BRAND]_ to an engaged audience who could really benefit from it.

Here’s an example _[HYPERLINK EXAMPLE]_ of a sponsored post I wrote RECENTLY. I’ve also attached my media kit to this email.

I look forward to the chance to work with you and _[BRAND]_!

Thank you!
Chelsea

[INSERT MEDIA KIT LINK HERE]

See? Short and sweet. You tell the brand who your audience is and what you write for, why you’d be a great fit, what you’re good at, and you give them examples of your work and your media kit. Easy peasy. Here’s a picture of how I format my email to look when sending it to a brand:

I try to stay on brand in my email without overdoing it. I use hyperlinks instead of long, drawn out links because they look a lot cleaner (plus they allow me to put some color in my email). I also like to include my social links in the bottom of every email so the brand can check out my social channels if they like. And- very importantly- I make my media kit super clickable by using a great-looking button. Don’t you just want to click that??

On the subject of media kits…

What to include in your media kit

While I wrote an entire post and video tutorial in this post here about how to actually make a media kit yourself using Canva, I’ll outline some of the basics you should keep in mind when creating your media kit:

  • Your face (aka a headshot)

  • Your name

  • Your blog’s name

  • Your logo

  • Your actual URL

  • A blerb about you

  • A blerb about you blog (your blog’s purpose)

  • Google Analytics stats (pageviews and/or unique visitors)

  • Your audience demographics

  • Your services (what you’re available to work for)

But if you’d like a prettier version of that (like this printable I made here) you can always grab that in the resource library :) Also be sure to grab the media kit template in the library too!

How to respond when a brand asks for your prices

So. By now you’ve found the brand you want to work with, you’ve found their email contact, you wrote a beautiful email, and you hit send! Then you wait…. If you wait for more than several days without a response, go ahead and send an even shorter follow-up email and briefly restate why you’d be beneficial to work with.

If a brand responds that they’re interested in working with you, stop what you’re doing, go outside, and yell HOOORAYYY!

Really, no shame.

But for reals though, send a quick response (easy and fast communication will give you bonus points). They'll probably ask what your going rates are. There's a few ways to tackle this.

But why not just send the brand a price list?

Because you never know if they'd actually be willing to pay you more than what you expected! Not sure how much to charge for a sponsored post? I like to reference Social Blue Book to get an idea. The only thing I don’t like about Social Blue Book is that they don’t take your Pinterest into account, which is actually kind of a big deal for a lot of bloggers. What’s why I just like to use it as a *reference.*

I’ve heard of a couple great ways you can eventually discuss prices with a brand.

The first is, to ask them for their budget.

Living for Naptime has a great post all about pricing your sponsored content. In her post she gives this example for what to say to a brand when they ask your prices:

Hi Company X,

Thanks for reaching out to me regarding a sponsored post with your company. I have enclosed my traffic stats, social followers and examples of sponsored posts I have worked on in the past. I trust that your company pays bloggers fairly and look forward to seeing what your budget will allow on this project.

Thanks again!
Jane Blogger

In her example, she puts the ball back in the brand’s court. This way, when they say that their budget is $XXX you can either leap for joy, say “alrighty.” If you were hoping for more, simply saying something like,

Hi BRAND,

Thanks for sending that over. I understand this may be out of budget but I’m afraid I can’t ask for much less than $____ considering the quality of content I try very hard to produce with every blog post. Let me know what you think and if that’s a possibility, I’d love to work with you!

This response is simple and honest and reinforces that you believe in the quality of your blog’s content. Don’t be afraid to say no to a couple of brands before one that’s worth your while comes your way!

Here’s another option I’ve heard of:

Use a pricing tier.

What does that look like? Basically, you’re giving the brand options to choose from. Option 1 might take the most work from you, but it’s the one that will pay the best. Option 2 is a little less work, and therefore a little less money, and so on. Here’s an example:

Option 1 ($$$$): Dedicated blog post with 2(+) original photos and a 30 second (+) video. Will be shared on Pinterest (3x), Facebook (1x), and Twitter (1x).

Option 2($$$): Dedicated blog post with 3 original photos. Shared on Facebook (1x) and Twitter (1x)

Option 3 ($$): Social media posts only. Share to Facebook (1x) and Twitter (2x).

Option 4 ($): Host a giveaway featuring brand’s product. (1 social share).

This is a great way to keep the brand wanting to work with you, even if your first option might be out of their budget and you’re still willing to do the work for one of the lower-paying options.

And last but not least!

What to ask/say in order to be sure you’re on the same page with the brand’s expectations

So, if you’ve gone with the tier pricing method above, the only thing left to work out with a brand is a timeframe for when the post will be completed and go live. But if you went with the “ball’s in your court” method,” you’re going to want to really be clear on what the brand is expecting/what you’re willing to put forth in a sponsored collaboration. Using the tier model above can be a good reference when working out with a brand just how much is included in the collaboration. By the time you have your date for the post set, you’ll want to know these things:

  • What kind of content they’re looking for (ie. a dedicated blog post, social media post only, giveaway, video, etc.).

  • Then any extra’s to include (certain kinds of photos like a selfie, in-store photo, screenshots, etc. or a video and its length requirement).

  • The social shares they’re expecting the post to receive (like on what platform and the number of shares).

  • Some brands will even offer a little extra cash if you promote your social share. I once had a brand tell me that they would cover the cost of Promoting a pin on Pinterest.

While you don’t need to bring up everything on this list, it would be great if you and the brand agreed on a bulleted list of expectations for the post/collaboration. That way nothing is up for debate and there will be no confusion when it comes time for the post to go live.

There you have it!

Got any questions of your own for working with brands? Leave them in the comments below and I’d be happy to answer!!