A few months ago something clicked in my mind. I was finally starting to process what content I wanted to share on my platform, and what I wanted to leave on line as a sort of legacy. Part of this whole process was understanding my value and worth on social media. When I started this journey over four years ago, I never thought I would consider being paid for what I was doing. I remember being gifted some skin care about seven months after starting blogging. It completely blew my mind, and warmed my heart, knowing brands were seeing me and what I was doing.
Years down the line, I am still fortunate to be seen by brands, asking to try their products which range from skincare, jewellery to hair products. But since then the ‘influencer’ industry has developed completely. People are starting to realise that if ‘X’ can create content for ‘Y Brand’ and be paid for it, why am I only being gifted products. I don’t like to think that it is a competitive industry. A lot of engagement is from fellow bloggers and influencers. But perhaps more tactical.
But anyway, I started to realise that despite how amazing its been to try products from a vast range of brands – gifting isn’t getting me where I want to be. This time last year I set myself a years goal to be earning enough through my blog and Instagram to quit my job. Because of COVID, my hours have been reduced significantly. So there-or-so abouts my income now is predominately through my Instagram and blog. But this hasn’t just been from brand reaching out to me. I like to think I have become quite savvy in responding to emails via brands, and pitching ideas to them in the first place.
So how do you turn gifting collaborations into paid collaborations? How do you contact brands and pitch a collaboration idea? Influencers and content creators aren’t sales people, but in theory do you have to sell yourself?
Let’s start with pitching. If you have never pitched to a brand then the idea can be really daunting and like ‘where do you even start?’. The best place to start is finding the brands correct email address. When you are contacting brands, often they have multiple email addresses for customer services or PR, or complaints etc. You need to do your research as to who you need to be emailing to make sure the right people see your pitch. You can find PR emails either on a brands website, through Google, or you can simply DM them on Instagram and ask…
‘Hi! I hope you are well. I am just wondering who is the best person to contact about a possible collaboration opportunity? Thanks!’
That is where I get most of my responses, and they will be the most accurate responses too. Often the brand will even approach you on Instagram, as opposed to email. But once you have found the right address it is time to pitch the email. With your pitch you want to keep it short and sweet but get all the necessary information there. If it is too long then it will simply not be read. I tend to follow this format…
Introduction – Introduce who I am, how long I have been in the industry.why I am emailing, why I love the brand.
Paragraph One – Mention how I am planning future content and collaborations. Brief overview of collaboration idea, and mention how you are looking for it to be a sponsored campaign.
Paragraph Two – This basically highlight why they should work with you. What you can offer e.g high quality imagery, high engagement rates… Leave a link to your media kit so they can find specific stats.
Ending – Mention how you would love to discuss rates and more details further.
Sometimes, if I am really keen to collaborate with a brand I will attach a moodboard of content creation ideas. Just to really show how the collaboration could look like. You don’t want to instantly throw your rates at them. Because that will come across too boisterous and you then don’t get a chance to play and see what their budget is. For example if you said £100 per post, but they had the budget to pay £200, then you have already sold yourself short.
Another method of asking for a paid collaboration is when a brand contacts you about a gifting collaboration. Whether its because that brand is asking for specific content in return for a gifted product or if you have seen them do previous sponsored posts with other influencers, you can ask them.
A while ago I did a collaboration with a brand, who were working with a large amount of other influencers on the same campaign. They approached it as a gifting campaign, but out of curiosity because of the content they wanted in return I asked what budget they had. They replied saying they had no budget, but wanted to know what I would charge for the content if they did have a budget available. I gave them my rates, and a week later they accepted it as a paid collaboration. However they also did this collaboration with the other influencers as a paid collaboration. So its always really worth while asking brands if they do actually have a budget.
But how do you even do that? If you have a brand contact you on a gifting collaboration but you want to know if they have a budget instead, its better not to just straight up reply ‘Do you have a budget available?’. I listened to a podcast by Vix Meldrew about this and she suggested replying something along the lines of…
‘Thank you so much for reaching out, I am a fan or or am intrigued by your product and I am excited to try out the product. May I just ask if there is a budget for sponsorship for the content you are requiring me to produce? Looking forward to discussing further. If you want guaranteed coverage there will be an associated fee.’
Obviously you will insert more about the specific brand you are talking to to make it more personal. But thats is one idea on how to reply to gifted collaboration proposals.
But not every brand will say yes. If they are a smaller brand, or strictly only stick to gifted marketing, then you have a few options. Either they just won’t reply to your email #ghosted. Or you can reply back and say no thank you and that you are currently focusing on sponsored collabs only due to circumstances. Or, if you really like the brand, and feel its worth your time to make the content then go for it.
There are a lot of things that come into play when getting content sponsored and working with brands. There are always so many questions around what people should be charging. But I don’t think there will ever be a set amount. There are guides on the internet, but the only person who can decide your rates is you. You will have different content, engagement rates, niches, and follower numbers to someone else so you can’t just follow a set guide. However I could write more on this topic. So I might do a separate blog post about rates and what you should be charging.
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