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 to talk how to work with brands as a blogger.
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 2 parts.
Part 1: Your Roadmap to Working with the Right Brands
Part 2: Breaking Down Email Pitches / / What Works + What Doesn’t –> here
What My Work in PR Means
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 Slightly Savvy, I want to deliver those insider insights straight to you guys because the PR world is so mysterious sometimes and very tight-lipped about the real deal.
OKAY – let’s get into it.
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.
first person point of view
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
@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
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
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: Want 2 free email templates?
Now that we’ve broken down how to work with brands as a blogger, your next step is pitching.
And obviously, we’re going to break down that, too.
I put together another a PR-focused email templates for pitching to brands. Like I would want these email pitches in MY inbox.
Drop your email below, and these will zoom to your inbox immediately!
Read Next: Breaking Down Email Pitches / / What Works + What Doesn’t –> here