This post contains affiliate links and was originally published on May 18th, 2017.
One reader asks:
For Ask Rachel, I was wondering how you got involved with companies and products for sponsored posts and ads like Walmart for your Instagram and blog posts?
Thanks so much for your question! I think as bloggers it can feel confusing when trying to connect with brands for collaborations. Below I am going to break down four ways to connect with brands for sponsored posts. At the end of the post, I share how to get a one-on-one “pick my brain” session with me for FREE!
How To Connect With Brands For Sponsored Posts:
1) Blog Networks.
Blog networks are a great place when starting out. Basically you join them and the network acts as the middleman between you and the brand. You submit pitches for their open campaigns and then get a notice if you've been selected. Some networks require you to have a certain number of followers or page views, and those usually pay better.
Networks will save you time when working with brands. However, you'll ultimately make less money as they take their cut of the budget.
* A lot of bloggers I talk to set their rates comparable to what networks offer for campaigns – DON'T DO THIS! Typically, networks will take around 50% of the allotted budget for their work as the middleman. Meaning brands were actually willing to pay you double the number you're seeing! Personally, when I first started out, I set my rates at $250 which is what most networks paid out… little did I know brands were actually willing to pay $500 (hence why it's better to work with them directly).
Some networks I love include: Clever Girls, Social Fabric, and Pollinate. – but there are tons out there, so explore to find ones you like!
2) They Contact Me.
Have a media kit ready to send off for press inquiries at a moments notice! Also make sure it's easy for brands to contact you through your site. I would also recommend having a contract ready to send brands to sign when moving forward with the agreement; it simply keeps things clear down the road. Be professional and punctual with your responses.
Okay, truth, I am typically the one doing the referring… Not too many bloggers are keen on this which I am super surprised about. Maybe it's the coach/therapist in me, but I believe in making appropriate referrals when I can't serve someone. Several companies have reached out to me for campaigns which didn't work out for one reason or another and I offered to introduce them to fellow bloggers that might better serve them. In fact, it's happened so often now that I've decided to create a little database for myself. To be added, simply click here and fill out the form (no stats are taken, just your blog/instagram, location, age, niche, etc.). If you're a good blogger, you won't work with brands on campaigns that don't align. Use those moments as an opportunity to build a relationship with the PR person. Make his/her life easier by referring them to someone whose audience would better align. Not only will you get brownie points for helping them, hopefully other bloggers will keep you in mind and return the favor.
4) Pitch them.
Working directly with brands is the key to making real money as a blogger. Aside from the money, it's also a major key in maintaining your authenticity and credibility with your audience! There are two major resources I recommend if you're thinking about pitching brands or working with them directly: BossPitch and Slightly Savvy's Summer Camp (use code “RACHEL” to get 10% off!)
Summer Camp was started by a Katherine from Slightly Savvy. She's worked in PR managing influencer campaigns for global brands before starting her own firm. She understands collaborations from both perspectives. Seriously, just read one of her posts on working with brands and you will see just how valuable her insights are! She decided to launch “Summer Camp” to share insider “fireside” chats if you will, about what PR people are really looking for from bloggers and how you as a blogger can stand out! Over the course of 5 days, she is interviewing other PR professionals to answer our questions as influencers and how we can position ourselves as the dream blogger to work with!
>>> Sign Up For Summer Camp HERE! AND use code “RACHEL” to get 10% off! <<<
Next up is Bosspitch. Truth, before taking it, I never pitched a single brand. I thought I was too small to work with brands directly, and felt self conscious. I would constantly write down brands I wanted to work with, then just stare blankly at my computer screen when it came time to take action.
Through BossPitch, I realized I was leaving money on the table! With a newfound confidence, I increased my rates. Based on the difference (of my increased rates), the course more than paid for itself after just two campaigns! In other words, my rates were high enough that I didn't “double them” right off the bat, but I was able to pay for the course in less than two campaigns based off the difference from what I did increase them to!
I continue to see the investment pay off. In fact, in just a couple of months I more than doubled my rates; which were already 4x higher than friends who had been blogging for over 4 years! I've also gotten over $5,000 in furniture for my new house and continue to work on some big deals. Here's a little video testimonial I put together for the course (sorry in advance for my frazzled look and rough edits, I was working on a deadline and kept getting really excited about the course that I would go on long tangents):
If you sign up for BossPitch using my affiliate link, then you will also get a 60 minute one-on-one session with me for free!
This session can be used to talk about pitching, or ANYTHING blog/business related! Whether you want to talk about pitching, a blog audit, graphic design, content strategy, social media strategy, or a little bit of everything! That's right, a $275 value, 60 minute “pick my brain” session for FREE.
If you still want more info on BossPitch, visit this post and if you scroll down to the bottom there is a video Q&A with some past students about their experience!
I've linked the my exact dress from Heartloom (first) as well as some cheaper options(affiliate links):