Have you ever wondered how bloggers land sponsored posts with amazing brands? Ever wanted to work with a company but had no idea about how to go about getting in touch with them? I have done a lot of sponsored work in my blogging biz to date (some good, some not-so-good!), and have come up with a system that I use on how to pitch a sponsored post. You can get sponsored work through advertising agencies, but usually working directly with a brand is going to pay better and give you more creative control.
Before we dive right in, I just wanted to give a word of warning. You don’t want to overdo sponsored posts as a blogger. There is a mix you need to strike so that you are generating revenue (this is a biz after all) but also staying true to your brand and keeping your readers as your #1 priority. Don’t do any sponsored work just for the paycheque – make sure the company you’re promoting is one you genuinely like and use. It should feel natural and never forced. Basically, just always keep your readers as your #1 priority.
OK, back to the pitch process. Let me walk you through it.
The first thing you want to do before starting anything, is to make sure you follow the brand you want to work with on all social media platforms.
Then make sure you interact with them – retweet their tweets, post about loving a product of theirs on facebook and tag them, etc.
This is going to get you on their radar and turn yours into a name they’ll recognize when your email lands in their inbox.
STEP 1: FIND THE CONTACT PERSON
Sometimes you might randomly get a press release emailed to you from a PR person regarding a brand – and if it is one that you want to work with, then you’ve hit gold and know exactly who to contact. If you want to work with a brand you’ve never been in touch with before though, you need to seek out the appropriate contact person. Most brands will have either a PR department or a PR person who handles blogger collaborations.
Here are the steps I take to find that person:
-Look on the brand’s website and search around. Maybe there is an “About Us” or “Departments” page, or something else that might lead to the right email address. You are looking for their PR or media person (or firm, if it’s a big brand).
-Ask your blogger friends. I find most bloggers are willing to share their contacts, so hit up the facecbook groups you’re a part of, or send an email to your blogging besties, to see if anyone has worked with that brand before.
-Sometimes if you google “brand + press release” you might get a press release that the brand put out. Have a look and scroll to the bottom, as that is usually where a PR person is listed for possible follow-up.
-Because you’re already following the brand on social media, simply ask! Send them a tweet or facebook message. Sometimes even the person managing the social media is the same person who handles blogger collabs.
STEP 2: SEND THE INTRO EMAIL
Now that you have an email address, you need to open up the lines of communication.
Send them a brief, polite email that indicates who you are, a one-liner with what your blog is about, that you LOVE their brand, that you are interested in collaborating with them, and attach your media kit. Don’t get specific here about the project you want to do with them or what products you might want to review. You are simply feeling them out to see if they are even interested in working with bloggers.
Note: Always send the media kit with this email. This is what is going to make you look profesh. You can get templates from Etsy and elsewhere, or create one yourself. Make sure it looks good!
STEP 3: PITCH THE PROJECT
If you don’t hear back after that initial email, send a follow up about a week or two later to see if they got the email. If you still get crickets, just move on! And sometimes it’ll be a flat out ‘no’, and that’s OK too. Onto the next!
However, if you get back some interest (yay!), now is the time to follow up with a more specific pitch:
What product(s) or service of theirs would you like to showcase? Ask if this would be in line with their current campaigns / promotions.
What exactly are you offering in return? A blog post? Social media outreach (if so, on which platforms)? Product photography (indicate number of photos)? Newsletter mention? Be clear about what you offer in your “package”.
What is your rate? Be clear about what your rates are. Don’t undervalue your work – ask for a fair fee plus the free product you’ll be reviewing. Take into account all the time that goes into creating, photographing, writing, editing, and publishing a blog post or social media mention, plus the value of your audience size and engagement.
Make sure to really sell yourself. Emphasize your amazing readership (even if the numbers aren’t huge, if you have great engagement, highlight that), talk about how your blog post will be an evergreen piece of content on your site, how you will create an amazing Pinterest-friendly graphic to help boost reach on that platform, etc. Whatever you do really well, highlight that.
You want to make it really obvious that you LOVE the brand and that what you are offering will be amazing promotion for them. You want to angle your pitch from a position of how good it will be for them, versus talking about what you want from them.
You can include samples of past sponsored work, if it’s relevant, or testimonials from other brands you’ve worked with.
STEP 4: GET IT IN WRITING
You’ll likely have a bit of back-and-forth and potentially some negotiation, but once you’ve got the green light to go ahead, make sure to get everything in writing. Usually just over email is sufficient, but put together a contract for both parties to sign if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Some things to have clear:
- Deliverables: What exactly you are required to do (Is it 1 blog post + 1 post on each of facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest? Or a series of instagram posts?)
- Dates: What is the go-live date for the post or posts? Will the social media go out on the same day? (Note: Make sure to give yourself enough time to create the post. You don’t want to scramble and not produce quality content!)
- What links would they like you to use within your blog post? (note: these must be “no-follow” links – it’s the law!)
- Do they require seeing a draft before the post goes live?
You want to ensure a professional approach when you’re working with PR firms and brands so that you can build confidence, trust, and hopefully have a long-lasting relationship.
STEP 5: DO THE WORK
Time to create your amazing content!
Always make sure to weave the sponsored product in naturally to your posts. Something that feels forced comes off as so disingenuous and is a total turn-off to readers. Have beautiful photography, teach something, write a detailed post. The best sponsored work is when the reader doesn’t even notice that it’s sponsored – it comes off super naturally and isn’t just a plain review of a product.
Always always always make sure to have a disclaimer at the bottom of a post that indicates it is sponsored. Don’t be breaking the rules, guys! You gotta be honest about this stuff.
STEP 6: THE FOLLOW UP
So the day that you post, you need to send in your invoice (unless you had another arrangement where the fee was paid in advance). I create my invoices using Wave Apps and love their software – it’s free and you can make your invoices look super profesh.
I give 15 days to pay, and ask for payment either via paypal or cheque. Within the invoice itself, I also include a link to the blog post, the date it was published, and links to the social media mentions as well.
Usually payment happens super fast, but if it doesn’t come through on time, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask about it. This is a business after all.
Now if you really want to stand out from the other bloggers, do a 2-week follow up email with stats. Include how your post did, any screenshots of comments, shares on social media, views from google analytics, etc. This is really the cherry on top and the PR person or firm is going to be super impressed by this. This shows a level of professionalism that they will remember and want to work with again.
And that’s it!
Not too complicated, right? Just remember not to get down if you get a bunch of no’s before a yes. Some brands don’t have budgets to work with bloggers, or they might just not realize what a great opportunity it is to tap into an engaged readership, so don’t sweat it. Just move on to the next.
Stay Organized With My Free Tracking Sheet
With all those sponsored posts I know you are going to land (!!), you’re going to need to track them. I want you to stay super organized with my excel template. It’s the exact spreadsheet I use myself to keep all of my sponsored work organized in one spot. From the links, to contact people, to dates, it’s all in here. Every year I just add a new tab for that year and start fresh. It’s neat to be able to go back and look how far you’ve come and to take a snapshot of how well you did one year versus another. Download it for free here.
What about you guys? Done much sponsored work as a blogger? Have a great story to share on how you landed it? Other tips and tricks?
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