Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Landing Brand Partnerships as a Blogger - Paid Partnerships


The long-awaited tips for paid partnerships! If you're new to this series, I recommend going back and reading through my blog posts about product trade partnerships and Media Kits ahead of reading this post! I know it's so easy to discount product trade and downplay those partnerships' importance to your portfolio but those partnerships will help build your Media Kit and give you more metrics to share with future potential business partners. Having a Media Kit on hand will be helpful for negotiating with contacts before any agreements are reached.

How to Price Services

To determine rates for deliverables you offer, refer to resources like fohr. They verify that your following engagement is authentic which is a good verification to have on your Media Kit. They also have tools to help you determine your rates. I like to take a look at each separate product offering. Make a list of what deliverables you can offer. For me, that would be Instagram in-feed posts, Instagram Stories, a blog post on my website, ongoing partnerships, giveaways, and Reels/TikToks. I'm newer to TikToks and Reels, so I wouldn't charge as much for creating that content as I would for an in-feed post or blog post. Eventually, as I make more video content and I become more of an expert I can eventually raise my prices. But from the standpoint of a brand, a company would want to work with me on deliverables that are currently my strong suit. So I often throw in Reels & TikToks as a part of the partnership so I can broaden my portfolio in that area. Additionally, sometimes brands may offer a lump sum for a few different deliverables. The most common pair I see are Instagram Post(s) and Instagram Stories. My advice is to always be open to the conversation, which we will cover later in this article.

Pitching and Being Pitched

There will be times that you are pitched, but don't forget the power of reaching out and networking! I pitch brands all the time and that is how I've landed some of my ongoing partnerships. I recommend going to the company's Instagram and clicking the contact button to get their contact information. There should be an email to contact and they might not be in charge of influencer partnerships but odds are they know the person to put you in contact with.

Always email as though you're emailing your boss or a client. Be professional but warm. When a brand pitches me, I often read over the email, attachments or information they send, and take a look at their social media channels. Also, look at the photos that the brand is tagged in. By taking the time to read, review, and research you're seeing if the brand aligns with your brand, if the company has a solid business practice, and if you want to work with them. You don't have to work with every brand that reaches out to you and you shouldn't plan to work with every brand that reaches out either. You need to make sure you have a good mix of sponsored content and organic content so that you don't come off as inauthentic to your followers. 

Once I do my own research, I always respond. Even if you're not planning on working with the brand, you never want to burn a bridge. Always thank that person for taking the time to reach out. Brand contacts work really hard to pull lists of influencers and bloggers to reach out to about partnership opportunities! If deliverables aren't listed, I tend to ask for more information about their ideal deliverables for their campaign. Once they send me more information on that then I attach my most up to date Media Kit and explain that it is attached for their review and has information about metrics across channels and my typical rates for different types of content. 


When discussing deliverables with a potentially brand partner, it is important to not have an all or nothing attitude. It's important to approach the conversation with professionalism and tact. You wouldn't want to talk to someone who threw a temper tantrum or was difficult to communicate with - so do not act that way with your contacts. 

When negotiating, also make sure you allow enough time for shipping, to test or try out the product, create content, edit, and post. Another item to discuss is how you will be paid out and when. Is the payment NET 30, NET 60 (Payment in 30 days, 60 days, or even 90 days)? These are important things to ask about so you can plan ahead for when you can expect to be paid. Also find out if you need to send an invoice, if they will pay you through PayPal, direct deposit, or if there's something else they had in mind.

Sometimes, companies won't be able to pay you or might want different deliverables or bundles of deliverables, and my advice is to always hear them out. You never want to be hostile or rude because in the future they might have a budget and be able to enter a paid partnership with you. Additionally, people will never forget the way you make them feel, and being rude when you don't get your way is a good way to be blackballed from different companies and PR agencies. 

When to Walk Away

Although the idea of being paid is enticing and for some the ultimate goal for blogging - it's important to ground yourself in reality when making commitments. Make sure that you always disclose that you need to try the product (if you haven't already) before posting any endorsement content. 

Does this company align with your brand? Would you buy from this company with your own money? Do the content deliverables and deadlines align with your schedule and current workload? Are they asking for too much? These are the questions you need to ask yourself! Your followers will know if you're just partnering to partner with a brand. They will not trust you or your opinion if they notice you're selling out and sharing items you wouldn't normally share if there wasn't a monetary agreement. 

Make sure you're listening to your gut and that you're planning content that resonates with your audience and is a true representation of you and your brand. 

There's a lot that goes into the backend of blogging and it can definitely be overwhelming! It's important to remember that it's okay to slow down, take a breather, and practice self-care. You're going to find your way and you're going to grow your blog. All of these posts will always be available on my page for reference and as always, I'm here to answer any questions! Happy blogging ladies! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Landing Brand Partnerships As A Blogger - Media Kits


Last week we talked about product trade partnerships and I gave my tips and tricks for those partnerships. There are definitely benefits to those partnerships and I fully believe that you shouldn't count them out. There's always room for negotiation, adjusted deliverables, and ongoing partnership. Remember that if you don't ask, the answer will always be no. 

This week, I wanted to build on our conversation and deep dive into the world of media kits.

What is a media kit? It's a blogger resume essentially. It's a way to showcase your creativity, talent, metrics, and rates associated with your content creation across your engaged channels.

Where do I get a media kit? You can hire someone to make you one like my friend, Melanie Smith, or you can make one in applications like Canva depending on your bandwidth and creativity. I created mine in Canva with one of their many templates and I go in at the beginning of every month and update it with brand partners, metrics, and every few months I update prices where are applicable. 

What do I put in a media kit? As mentioned above, it's a resume of sorts. However, you definitely want to communicate your brand and your visual content capabilities in your kit as well. I made mine two pages and included my baseline prices broken down to start conversations with brands as well. Below are the bones of mine to give you an idea.

You don't want to put too much information, but you want potential partners to be able to have all the information they need in a quick, easy-to-read document. Definitely showcase your best attributes and features. Chose photos that showcase your brand and personality.

What should I leave out of my media kit? My advice is to keep it easy and breezy. Whether you're entering into a product trade partnership or a paid partnership, you're asking your contacts to engage in business with you - so act like it. 

When do I send my media kit? Sometimes a contact will ask for your Media Kit and sometimes you have to bring it up. It really depends. But as I've mentioned before, if you wouldn't send an email to your boss don't send it to a potential business partner. Have a nice introduction to why you're sending your Media Kit such as in the middle of the email after you have a greeting portion, "does your team have a budget for paid partnerships? I have attached my Media Kit for your team's review." This opens the floor to negotiate deliverables, potential payment, and deadlines. 

One of my biggest tips for negotiating (all of which will be covered in the next blog post in this series) is to look at yourself, what you offer, and real ROI for potential business partners. Whether you're charging $100 or $1,000, is a company paying you that much money going to yield results for them and be mutually beneficial? If you're not going to drive website visits, clicks, and potential sales, you need to take a step back and examine your branding and how you're relating to your audience. Everyone thinks they deserved to be paid and it's because you work hard to create content! But to be able to charge money for content deliverables you need to be able to make your case. That's why it's important to have metrics on your Media Kit.

There's a lot that goes into the backend of blogging and it can definitely be overwhelming! It's important to remember that it's okay to slow down, take a breather, and practice self-care. You're going to find your way and you're going to grow your blog. All of these posts will always be available on my page for reference and as always, I'm here to answer any questions! Happy blogging ladies! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Landing Brand Partnerships As A Blogger - Product Trade

It can seem overwhelming to figure out where to start with partnerships. How do the other creators you follow get so many partnerships? I am going to break down all my tips in this series I'm calling: Brand Partnerships. This week, we're focusing on Product Trade partnerships.

It starts with some things you’re already doing - YOUR brand and what it's made of. When your content is good, your authentic engagement is high, and you’re in the groove of sharing content across channels - brands will find you! I touch on some tips about this in my last blog post in this series about community growth, but some additional tips I can add are:

  • Batch your content - I take 85% of my content all in one burst for an hour with Alexa Morelli on Saturday or Sunday every week and that frees up my time for engagement, blog posts, emails, editing, filming try on's and beyond. 
  • If you don't feel like posting that day, it's okay! You don't have to post every day to see results. It is quality over quantity.
  • Create a call-to-action in your captions. Ask a question about their week, an opinion about a show, something to start a conversation with your followers in the comments.
  • Think about your followers. When are they on Instagram? What is going on in the world that affects everyone right now? What would you think if you saw this post? Taking a step back and being realistic.

After working on your brand and you're ready to explore the world of partnerships - there's another thing I cannot be more clear about. If you’re in blogging for the money, you're going to be disappointed. It’s just that simple. Blogging should be something you’re passionate about and look forward to doing. If you’re just blogging to make money everyone following you can tell and gold brands won’t work with you. 

The last big point I want to make for any correspondence as a blogger - if you wouldn't send that email to your boss, don’t send it to your brand contact. When I was working with influencers the amount of rude, condescending, and demeaning language was astounding. People and brands talk and if you pitch and don’t get exactly the result that you want, still be friendly and cheery. You can still negotiate without being rude. Eventually, the brand might evolve its brand partnerships to what you envisioned and they will reach back out - so it's important to always be nice to people you're corresponding with about partnerships.  

Product Trade 

Product trade is when you agree to create content in exchange for the product(s) you are being sent. These deliverables on your end are usually posts on your social channels. At the beginning of your partnership journey, this is a great way to get experience with sponsored posts. 

If you are ever asked to purchase a product they want you to promote or if you're put through a lot of different contacts (i.e. getting the "send us a DM" comments on Instagram) these are not the partnerships I'm talking about - these are scams!

However, working with brands in exchange for products is a great way to build your portfolio, gain experience, and exposure. When starting out with partnered or sponsored content, it is really important to build your portfolio and your knowledge of the area. It's kind of like building a resume for a job. You want to have experience in your area of expertise to create value for a potential employer. Eventually down the road, if you want to ask for payment in addition to product you have to have a Media Kit with metrics to showcase your value to that company.  

I still do product exchange partnerships if it's something I would buy on my own, something I know my followers are interested in, something I want to try, or an ongoing partnership.

Getting Brand Partnerships

Okay, I've told you about the benefits of product trade and why you shouldn't immediately write them off, but where does one get these partnerships? In the beginning, I signed up for affiliate networks. These groups help you partner with different companies and get your foot in the door. I became apart of Mavrick and InfluenceHer Collective and they sent emails to me as opportunities came up. I applied for the ones I felt best aligned with my brand. You may not be chosen for every opportunity but it will keep sending you different campaigns and it only takes a few minutes to apply. 

Companies can also find you organically through hashtags and engagement with other bloggers. Make sure your location is in your bio, your photos are geotagged and that you use hashtags for the area you're in. For example, I live in Chicago. I use hashtags like #chicagoblogger, #chicagobloggers, #illinoisblogger, and #midwestblogger since that's where I'm located. Brands look up these hashtags if they're looking for influencers in a certain location.

Another way that I suggest starting the conversation about collaborating is to simply reach out! Shoot your shot! I pitch brands all the time. I recommend following them, organically engaging with their content over time, and then contact them! Look at their page for an email address to contact. With that email, send a professional email with a warm greeting, an explanation about why you think you and the brand are a good match, and attach your Media Kit if you have one (which I highly recommend having)! Worst case, they never respond. But usually, I receive a response and either am speaking with the right person or I get in contact with the right person in the organization. 

If you don't see an email address on their social channels, DM them! I keep it short and sweet and ask if there's an email I could reach out to for a potential partnership. Either way though, keep it professional. Like I wrote earlier, if you wouldn't send the email to your boss, don't send it to a brand contact. If you get rejected, no response or they say that they aren't accepting any new applicants at this time - that's okay! It can be discouraging or defeating but it doesn't define you. Even when met with a seemingly negative response, be positive and cheery, and move along to the next pitch. You're going to get a few rejections but that only shows you're putting yourself out there. You also never know what the layout of an influencer program might be at a company and they could always reach out later.

Be Selective About Your Partners

That being said, you should be selective with the partnerships you chose to do. You should never take on a partnership just to do it. It's really inauthentic and can alienate your followers. A few ways to decide if this partnership is a good idea:

  • What is the cost of the product being given vs the time it takes to create, post, and engage on the content you're being asked to create? Is it a $10 keychain in exchange for 2 in-feed posts, 2 reels, and 4 Instagram Stories? Probably not. 
  • Would you purchase this product yourself? If you had to buy it yourself, would you? It doesn't make sense to promote a product you yourself wouldn't purchase.
  • Does this product and company make sense with your brand? If your personal brand is sharing different kinds of coffee and the product is a candle making kit, that's going to be confusing for your audience. While your audience might not jump to understanding why they're confused, you have alienated them to a degree. You also won't see as many conversions as if you had partnered with a product that more aligns with your brand. 
  • What is the turnaround time from when you receive the product to when you are expected to post? Give yourself enough time to create quality content.
  • Do you have other partnerships with similar due dates? Make sure you're spreading out sponsored content.

There's a lot that goes into the backend of blogging and it can definitely be overwhelming! It's important to remember that it's okay to slow down, take a breather, and practice self-care. You're going to find your way and you're going to grow your blog. All of these posts will always be available on my page for reference and I'm always here to answer any questions! Happy blogging ladies! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

It's Been One Year Without You

It’s been one whole year without you. 

I think about you all the time. 

It’s really hard to explain to someone what this level of loss feels like. I think the best I can is: sometimes it feels like it happened 20 years ago. Sometimes it feels like it happened yesterday. And sometimes it feels like it never happened at all and you’re going to call me any moment. It’s a constant feeling of loss. Sometimes I’m numb to it and sometimes it’s all-consuming. 

I still listen to all of your favorite bands. But it’s really hard to listen to our songs we’d scream together in the car on road trips. I know I need to watch the Taylor Swift documentary it's just going to make me sad and miss you though. I still laugh at all the times you hung out with me and my friends. I still look for the Peanuts on TV. I laugh every time I see Crocs. 

I think about our fights and how I wish I never wasted a moment we had together. I think about how much I wish we could’ve gone to the Northwoods one more time together. I wish I never rolled my eyes when you’d make us stop at the 100th barbecue place on a road trip. I wish I always answered your calls. I wish I hugged you a second longer when I saw you last. 

There are so many stories and moments and photos that I can look back on fondly. Voicemails and Facebook posts and tie-dye t-shirts but it's never going to be the same. There's always going to be a hole. I'm always going to cry every year on Father's Day, Memorial Day weekend, your birthday, the day you had your last cancer treatment, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and today. The day we found out one year ago. 

People keep saying you’re with me and that you’re watching over me and I know you are but I hate when that’s their answer. People who don't know this pain always say it and it honestly just feels superficial. When I talk about getting married without you. And having kids and you won’t be here. When something funny happens in my day and I want to laugh with you. When I have a computer question. When a new song I know you'd like comes out. When I have a bad day and you can’t cheer me up. 

There are so many questions I will never get to ask you about your life. I just always thought we had more time. 

There are so many firsts ahead of me in my life that I can’t picture yet but I know how empty I’ll feel without you.

But with all my sadness comes love, too. 

You always wanted me to work at my current company and I know you sent me that job application as a sign. I have mom and our family and the best friends I could ever ask for. You pushed me to start a blog and to write and to be creative, and because of that, I have a strong support system not a lot of people have which has really gotten me through. I'm happy I live by the lakefront because I can see all the birds and ask any of my friends I always see hawks flying over. I know you're with me. I know you're guiding me. I know you're sending signs so I pause and appreciate all that I have. I know I'm so lucky. I promise I do. 

I just really miss you. And there will never be any words or any way to string words together to describe the feeling of missing you. I will always love you and I will always remember the all-encompassing, unconditional love you made me feel every day that we had together.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

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