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! 

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