As a blogger, YouTuber, or Social Media Influencer, you're bound to run into companies and brands that want to work with you. The shift to social media influencer marketing has been drastic in the last 12 months and will only continue to grow as marketers become less hesitant to the idea. Traditional marketing is changing as we know it and if you're in a place of influence you'll only continue to have more and more brands knocking at your door.
Working with brands is mostly a great experience for everyone: you get to try some new products and make some money for your voice, sway, and time, and brands get exposure to your viewers and readers as you recommend their products or services or generate hype about an upcoming event. And, nothing seems to drive sales better than word-of-mouth. A study by McKinsey & Company found that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.” On top of that, these sales are more likely to have a higher retention rate as a consumer. It's powerful stuff.
So, how do you work with these brands and companies when they come knocking? In my 3 years of blogging and being on YouTube, I've worked with my fair share of brands from the hella good to the kinda ugly. I've learned a lot about how to not just make a partnership that works for me - but a partnership that works well for both myself and the brand, so we both leave with a good feeling about it. I'm also sharing free documents for you all to use on everything sponsorship related from payment trackers, sponsorship planners, the questions I think you should ask every brand before working together, and templates for pitching yourself to a brand!
1. Set Limitations
You may not be in a "niche" and that's totally OK. But, you know you - and not every product or brand is going to work within what you do. You also know your audience better than anyone else out there - what do they like? what do they buy? what do they engage with? - Think about this for every brand opportunity that walks through your door-- er, email box. Ask yourself How can I share this in an authentic way? Would my readers want to know about this product? Is this a company who I agree with working together on? Don't feel pressured into working with a brand for the money and never feel bad replying to an offer with a very polite "thank you" but that you don't think the product is a good fit for your audience. Companies and brands appreciate honesty.
2. Get all the facts
If you walk away with anything from today's post, I hope it's this point. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten an email saying, "Hey we'd love to work together with you on ABC and can pay XYZ dollars." This tells me NOTHING about what the brand expects from me. And, I've found it's often my job to communicate what content and deliverables they want from me, as many of them are still learning how to navigate working with influencers. I always respond telling them I'm excited to work together but need some more information. What kind of post are you looking for? Will I have creative freedom? If not, what are the limitations? Are you looking for social media shares? How many? Sometimes I feel like I'm nagging, but you can't agree to work and payments without knowing the facts, it's just not how normal business is done. Setting out these guidelines not just confirms on your end what you need to provide to them, but gives the brand an idea of what they can expect from you. Get my 9 Questions to always ask brands before working together.
Another reason the above is so important is because you don't want to get stuck in a position where you've agreed to an amount just thinking you're sharing a product in a post and they come back later with a 3-page document listing required talking points, stock photography, required links, and more. If the brand is expecting more from you, you should get paid more because it's more work...and, if the brand is really relaxed and wants to give you creative freedom, you may be willing to do it for less...simple as that.
3. Ditch the Media Package
I'm not sure if there are social media gurus rolling over in their graves right now but ...lose it. Going off the points I made in #2, every single campaign in different. There are so many moving pieces that can change the pricing you might offer. For example, if a small start-up company comes to you with a small budget but an awesome product and wants to give you freedom, to share it how you like, you may be willing to work with them for less. If you're working with a corporate company with legal papers you have to sign before working together, requesting phone calls, and a 5-page "requirements" PDF, you're likely going to ask for more because the project is going to take more of your time. If the brand itself has a great social media following and offers to share your content on their media, you may knock some money off the cost because you're getting great exposure. Maybe it's a brand you really, REALLY want to work with. Maybe the product is involved and you know the post will take you 2x as long to create, you might ask for more. Like I said, a lot of moving pieces.
Because of all this, I don't have "canned" pricing but instead, I chat with the company about what they want and then give them some offerings based on their needs. Honestly, this is the best option for both parties involved in my opinion and allows for open dialogue.
4. Join Networks
More than half of the sponsored work I do is through a network. Companies hire these networks and the networks find the best influencers for the project.
Some of my favorites are:
She Speaks: They are AWESOME to work with and have a great community behind them. Plus, they always push your content out to their medias as well.
Collectively: Collectively usually has campaigns with brands I enjoy working with. Their pay out time is a little slow - you wait 60 days after completion of a project - but are easy and enjoyable to work with.
Grapevine: This is for YouTube influencers but has a slew of opportunities for YouTubers big and small. They also have killer customer service reps who will always help you out with you need them.
IZEA: They do have a dashboard where you can apply to campaigns, but typically once you're in the network I find they reach out to me when they have something that will work with me - which makes it easy.
Social Fabric: This is a great one for if you're just getting started with brand deals and want some experience. While I don't use them a ton anymore, it's a great place to get your feet wet.
5. Don't Sell Yourself Short
I mean this in a few senses. One, don't sell yourself short with the payment you deserve for the work you do. Second, don't sell yourself short with the ideas you have. Lots of times brands come to me with specific ideas but they don't mesh well with me. If I have an idea I think will be better, I always pitch it back to them and they almost always agree. You're the only one who knows your content, your thought process, and your audience the best!
Ok guys, that's my best suggestions for working with brands - and probably some info if you're a brand yourself looking to work with an influencer! When worked out properly, working with brands is an awesome experience! Don't forget to check out my FREE documents for brand organization including payment trackers, sponsorship planners, the questions I think you should ask every brand before working together, and templates for pitching yourself to a brand