Your Roadmap + Checklist to Working with Brands / / Brand Babes Day 1

Your Roadmap + Checklist to Working with Brands / / Brand Babes Day 1

Happy Monday little babes !! Today is a 4 day work week for me (yessssss), and I am so pumped to have a long break this weekend. I have so many Insta pics to take, and the prime lighting times are when I’m at work, soo I’m ready to guilt Michael into taking pictures of me this weekend. (sorry I’m not)

Moving on from my first world problems.

Mostly I notice that you guys are killing it with your blogs and businesses. You have some amazing questions that I want to get answered for you, so I thought I would break this lil series down into 3 parts.

Day 1: Your Roadmap to Working with the Right Brands

Day 2: Breaking Down Email Pitches / / What Works + What Doesn’t –> here

Day 3: Standing Out as an A+ Blogger + Over-Delivering on Collaborations (you closed the deal – now you need to OVER DELIVER)

To learn way even more in-depth and talk to PR insiders on working with brands as a blogger, enroll in Summer Camp –> here

What I Do Away from Slightly Savvy…aka my 9-5

I don’t talk about my full-time job on here a LOT (except for the last few posts), so I feel like I need to disclaim where I’m getting all this knowledge from.

So, I head up all the PR and marketing for a brand, and I’ve done this for the last 2 years. I started this job literally 2 days after I graduated college when the company was kind of a small startup.

Fast forward 2 years later and the company has really exploded. Now, I have a team of four people underneath me (who are all older than me BTW). I work on all our press, social media, and I travel around the world to represent us at conferences and trade shows. And I manage a million dollars or so in marketing budget.

All of this means I’m on the flipside of blogging – I’m the PR girl asking for a certain thing or being semi-annoying for my client.

This makes my perspective as a blogger a little bit unique because I see the flipside of bloggers, which is brands/PR companies. With starting my own blog, I want to share some of that wisdom because the PR world is so mysterious sometimes and very tight-lipped about the real deal.

OKAY – let’s get into it.

slightly savvy how to work with brands as a blogger


Your Roadmap + Checklist for How to Work With Brands As a Blogger

Before you start pitching yourself to brands, I would take a deep look at my blog/Instagram and litmus test myself.

Do this, and I think you’ll get more “YES” than “um no thanks, we’re full right now” when you start pitching.

When I look at a brand, blog, whatev, there’s a few things I always always look for. It’s not like a “check these boxes and you’re going to get a collaboration or sponsorship offer” thing. But these are some pretty basic must haves to get a second look.

1. Do your photos create an experience? 

This one is super super important. I love blogging/writing, and written word will never go out of style. But with Instagram and Snapchat, everything is visual. We want visual so bad as consumers. 

Think of the last time you looked on Instagram feed and followed it. You didn’t follow them because the captions were so great. You most likely followed it because of all the beautiful photos and the way the photos work together.

♡ your secret photo tips

  • Think FEED over individual pics – some of you might disagree with me which is totally fine. But I think you need to be aware that you might need to sacrifice likes on an individual picture to capture a better overall feed. I literally just did this this weekend with this little teahouse picture, which was kind of a throwaway photo because I didn’t want to put two pictures of myself right next to each other. (see below)
  • Think of your angles – I like to stick to about 3 angles. This keeps everything looking consistent without you even being aware of it.

for example….

first person point of view

slightly savvy how to work with brands as a blogger 

flat lay 



slightly spotify riverdale


These are the examples of photos I would not put on my feed.

  • anything depth perception
  • upward angle
  • anything super staged

♡ photos as an experience / / examples

@katgaskin –> here


@fashionlush –> here / read Erica’s interview with us –> here

@beachykj –> here 

@mattbruening –> here

@julianarenee –> here


2. Is your overall branding unique?

We’re going to spend a hot minute clicking to your website and clicking to your Instagram. Honestly, we’re not going to any other social media platforms.

Again, we see a lot of branding and a lot of aesthetics. So we come to know when things are just copied and pasted from a more successful blogger, or it’s a branding theme that we seen so many times before. There has to be something that captures our attention right off the bat.

♡ your secret branding tips

  • optimize your content for different platforms – your posts aren’t one size fits all. Create different captions, shareable images, etc. for Twitter, Insta, Facebook, Pinterest. When you do this, you just look SMART.

Facebook – try longer form content aka “micro blogging”

Instagram – this gets your most stunning pic. Also, experiment with short/witty captions or some longer captions, encouraging your reader to hit that “read more” button

Pinterest – go all in on your visual. Use the Pinterest search bar to help pick the right keywords to upload with. (this was the only e-book I bought for myself when I started blogging. I literally printed it + went through it, checking off things page by page. 9/10 recommend –> here)

Twitter – tweet out your new post with a few different formats (try just the title, use a quote from the post, just do an image, etc). See what your readers respond to.

  • your brand isn’t just social media or your blog posts – think a little outside the box. Let your readers get to know you through Spotify playlists, Soundcloud remixes, or a mini book club on your sidebar.
  • don’t always focus on monetizing – kind of with the above point^. no, you’re not going to monetize a Spotify playlist. But you are going to get to interact with your readers and get to know them more. Long-term vs short-term, friends.

♡ unique branding / / examples

The Skinny Confidential

Freddy Cousin-Brown


Lee From America

Ritual Vitamins

3. Are your comments/engagement legit? 

So if you’ve passed the visual test first, I’m probably going to do a little bit more digging. First thing that comes to mind is comments.

I know it’s easier said than done, but shoot for real, authentic comments on your blog. You should be writing content anyway that is so valuable and amazing that people are compelled to comment and say something.

We can absolutely tell when it’s part of a comment train – “great post, thanks for sharing!” “this was amazing, thanks for sharing!”

Phrases like that kind of tip us off that maybe this engagement isn’t totally for real.

♡ your secret tips / / how should you encourage authentic organic comments?

  • write content so valuable that people almost feel guilty for not saying something
  • keep in mind why someone else would want to read this. I see so many posts about my kids birthday party theme or what I wore to a summer barbecue. Those are fine ideas, but why should someone care what you wore to a summer barbecue? How is it different from everyone else’s summer barbecue outfit? Maybe you add value by offering detailed sizing info, maybe you add other cheaper items, etc.
  • let some personal details into your post – maybe intro your post with what you’re watching on Netflix or a book you’re loving. As soon as someone mentions Reign, Riverdale, Handmaid’s Tale, Pretty Little Liars, whatever, I immediately feel the need to comment + say something about it
  • 2 of you gems bought Gary Vee’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” and told me you loved it – this book talks so much on overdelivering for your audience, THEN asking for their support –> buy it here

4. Have you worked with other brands?

This isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It more gets down into which brands you’ve worked with.

  • If you HAVEN’T worked with any brands, that’s great. PR companies are starting to love people who haven’t worked with brands before or have worked with only a few. It means their readers aren’t inundated with sponsorships,
  • If you HAVE worked with brands, that’s also great. Depending on who you worked with. If you’ve worked with brands you truly love/use/connect with, that’ll be evident. It’s just in the energy of your post, you know??
  • If you’ve worked with brands but it’s obvious it was totally for #sponsorship, it’s kind of a turn off for brands actually wanting to connect with your readership.

♡ your secret tips / / how should you vet your collaborations?

  • be honest + blunt upfront with a brand – be 100% honest about exactly what you’re going to do for them (if anything). Show them examples of similar posts, similar collaborations, etc.
  • be honest with your readers – if you try the product and don’t love it, TELL the brand and offer to send it back. There’s zero shame in that.
  • make agreements contingent on you loving the product – never promise you’re going to post 2 Instagrams or include it in a roundup post before you even try it. Tell the brand ahead of time that anything you do together is contingent on you loving the product. If they don’t like that, then they’re not for you.
  • working for free – there’s a lot of thoughts in the blogger world on working with a brand for free. I 100% agree that 9 times out of 10 you should not work for free. I do, however, think there is value in working with a brand much much much bigger than yourself. If Sunday Riley wanted to work with me and they agreed to share my blog post on their social media…I would take them up on that. If you’re starting out or a semi-new blogger, weigh the value of experience/legitimacy from working with a big brand over immediate money.

Next Up: Summer Camp


If you loved this post, you’ll love Summer Camp even MORE.

“I nailed down $1200 in brand collaborations with your email templates! It was something I was really struggling with prior.” – Bailey

I built Summer Camp because I saw the need for something ALL about working with brands from a PR perspective. Summer Camp is for bloggers who want to make a serious income by working with brands or even become a full-time blogger.

I partnered up my 2 friends from the PR world, who work with brands like Dove, KitchenAid, TRESemmé, and more to answer your exact questions on how we vet collaborations, what you should be charging for a sponsorship, what to put in your press kit, and SO much more.

“I’m vetting a 50 person list right now, weeding through people who are a fit for an upcoming program. I wish I could help these women understand how to make their content feel more authentic + brand friendly.” – Account + Influencer Relations at Edelman PR

“So many times I’ve wanted to tell bloggers exactly why they weren’t chosen for a campaign and just give them some insider tricks, those little tweaks that take a blogger to the next level.” – Brand Manager at $300M Global Company

Our Agenda

Day 1: Using Instagram as a Non-BS Influencer

Day 2: Pricing for Micro Influencers + Knowing Your Worth

Day 3: Exactly What Brands + PR Agencies Look For in Bloggers

Day 4: Communicating with Brands: The Good, The Bad, + The Free Exposure

Day 5: FTC Standards 101

Enroll in Camp –> here


  • Krista Aoki

    Phenomenal post as usual! Thanks for being the go to resource for bloggers hoping to work with brands. PS I loveeee your Instagram feed, girl!

  • Damn girl, I’m excited for this series! So much good info in here. Your posts have been top-notch lately 🙂

  • It really rubs me the wrong way when people take on every sponsorship sent their way. Like you do not need 3 ad posts in one day.

    • ME too. I’ve actually been noticing that a lot recently – like truly 3 #ad instagrams in one day. Definitely weird, and I’m always curious to know like the behind the scenes on that.

  • this is awesome!! So happy you turned this into a series! — also i am like 99% sure that I’ve now responded to a spam comments thinking it was real… oops! do you find you get spam comments with disqus? I maybe get 1 every 6 months so never thought there was a need to install akismet, but have definitely gotten the ones that are some variation of “this is great, saving for later and sharing with friends” – but totally thought they were real and feel like a moron haha

    • Well that’s awesome you aren’t getting so many!! I was legit getting 50 a day, so I had to install the plugin.

      Lol girl, yours could definitely not be spam (and you weren’t who I was talking about). Mine were always that phrase and then the email was like or something totally unrelated.

      • hahaha!! oh thats a good idea! I never thought to check the email! i wouldn’t be surprised if mine was spam though now that you mention it… i just always assumed people didn’t get spam comments on disqus since they dropped SO drastically once I installed it.

  • I can’t wait to read the next two parts of this series – you make so many good points. I especially loved the one about incorporating personal details in your posts. It’s so important to let your personality show!

    xo, brooke

    • Ditto! I love hearing about what people are reading/writing/watching/doing in their lives away from their blog.

  • What a great series! I cannot wait to read Day 2 and Day 3! Some great tips and I think it is so important to make sure a blogger is working with a brand for the right reasons!

    xo, L

    • Girl love that you love it!! I so agree with that – I think it’s the biggest reason #ads get a bad rap. Bloggers aren’t vetting them correctly or just trying to get away with the easy $$. So it puts a bad taste in consumers mouths.

  • mckenna bleu

    So awesome that you are seeing the other side of the blogging world! I totally agree with the feed or individual picture!

  • Bella Bucchiotti

    So many great tips…Great to see from your perspective. I don’t have a cohesive feed. I need to work on that. I do try to make every single photo amazing.

  • It’s always helpful learning from someone who works in PR! Thanks for all the tips, love this series so far!!
    xo, Syd

  • Christine Martinez

    Wow! This is such an awesome post. You really give some great insights and examples. Thank you!

  • Daynna Hartjes

    Love this post so so much! You have the best advice when it comes to working with brands. 🙂 Way to go girl, keep it up!

    Daynna Hartjes | A Daynna Life

  • hello blogger bff- I love this. I’m totally in the process of trying to get ready to work with brands and this helps!! My first step is getting some actually professional-looking pics. Any suggestions when you don’t have an S.O. to bug? thanks!!

    • Hey girl hey. Hmm that’s a tricky question – I would suggest getting a tripod with a remote control clicker and going from there. A lot of bloggers do this. I think a big thing is just getting comfortable with literally standing there with a tripod taking your own pics.

      Also I would try bribing your girlfriends. Like if they’ll come take pictures of you for an hour, you’ll buy them chipotle. Pick your best photographer girlfriend.

      OR try looking for like a college student photographer – they are always looking for pics for their portfolio, so see if you can do some kind of trade off or pay them a small fee.

  • As a new blogger this is so helpful! I’m definitely working on creating a story with my photo feeds, and so far it’s been promising! Working on building my confidence to start working with brands!

    • That’s awesome! I definitely get it can feel intimidating to reach out, but the worst they say is no, right? You basically have nothing to lose.

  • Love this post, glad I found it in my group board. Definitely pinned it for later, thanks so much for sharing all this info!!

  • This has such amazing advice! I just pinned the post and signed up for your email list!

    The Blush Blonde

  • Commenting on this because you mentioned Reign and I’m also obsessed! BUT, this was a great post!! I loved hearing from the PR side and I also agree that there are some situations (maybe few and far between) when working for free is okay! Thanks for sharing all of this helpful information!

    Madison //

  • Christine

    Holy guacaroni, this is all incredibly helpful. I started a blog a few years back for fun but now I’m really working towards branding myself and collaborating with brands once I have enough new content. What kind of camera do you use? The example of different feeds was eye opening!

  • This was so helpful! I’m a new blogger and want to work in the PR industry eventually, so it’s awesome seeing someone doing that I want to do and be successful!

    – Danielle |

  • Great post, thanks for sharing! Lol, I crack me up. Seriously some super top tips, great to see behind the curtain for once too. I whole heartedly agree with a little freebie now and again if it’s going to get your name out there x