In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about working with brands on sponsored posts…
If you’re a blogger or social media influencer that wants to start working with brands, this is for YOU. We’re going to talk all about finding brands to work with, pitching your ideas, landing gigs, and getting paid.
When you get through these tips, you’ll be on your way to monetizing your blog and social media accounts with sponsored posts.
So, who is this chick giving you advice about working with brands?
I’m glad you asked!
Hey, I’m Cate! The blogger and business owner behind this website. I’m a full-time blogger making a comfortable living from the exact line of work you’re breaking into – sponsored work. I earn from several revenue streams, but a fair amount of my blogging income comes from my sponsored work.
As a blogger, I make my money from creating and selling my own stuff and promoting and selling other people’s stuff.
When I work with a brand on a sponsored post, I’m making money from promoting and/or selling THEIR stuff to MY audience.
The sponsor is the person paying you or covering the costs of the promotional work.
It’s a great way to supplement your income or even replace your day job if you want to! And pretty much anyone can do it… with the right tools and some hard work.
I’ve been collaborating with brands (big and small) since my first month of blogging, and I have learned a lot through trial and error. I’m sharing some lessons here to help you avoid my mistakes.
Let’s get to it. This article is a long one, so grab a cold one and kick up your feet… and be sure to pin it for later!
This post probably contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
BEFORE YOU START WORKING WITH BRANDS
Just like anything worth building, you need a solid foundation if your blog is going to grow into a money-making business. Likewise, you need to have a few things in place if you want to make money from sponsored posts.
First, you’ll need a live website and social media accounts. Many sponsors require you to have your own self-hosted website, which is highly recommended in this industry anyway.
If you haven’t done it yet, here is an easy guide for setting up your own self-hosted blog.
Second, you’ll need some content that lets the brand know what kind of products and services you share with your audience.
This doesn’t have to be paid content and it doesn’t have to be fancy. A few products reviews on your blog or some nice-looking pictures on Instagram would be a good place to start!
Thirdly, you need some semblance of an audience that is showing interest in your content. If you don’t have an audience yet, you can’t really work with brands, because you don’t have anything to offer them.
After all, the whole purpose of sponsored work is raising brand awareness and inciting your audience to try new products or services that they will enjoy or benefit from…
You will be wasting your time pitching to a brand if you don’t have any readers or followers.
But, don’t despair!
Everyone starts with zero followers and zero blog readers. Focus on finding your target audience and engaging with them DAILY. You don’t need a huge audience, you just need an engaged audience that fits with the product or service you’re promoting.
To boost that engagement, I highly recommend this course by Carly Campbell. Its action packed and insanely affordable. You’ll get pro tips on engaging your audience through Facebook, Instagram, and your email list.
Pssst: I contributed to the course and covered an entire section on getting genuine engagement/followers on Instagram!
Set up your blog, narrow down your niche, and create content that reflects what your audience enjoys and wants to see. This foundation will set you up for sponsored work before you know it!
WHAT IS THE POINT OF WORKING WITH BRANDS?
The purpose of working with brands is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between your two companies.
Your blog or social media account will serve as a platform that promotes a product or service for the brand. And that brand will get access and exposure to a whole new audience (your audience).
What do YOU get out of it?
The brand or business will usually compensate you with product and payment, in exchange for your work and the exposure they get with your audience.
Hence, the reason that you need an audience.
HOW TO START WORKING WITH BRANDS
There are three ways that you can start working with brands.
ONE: You can join sponsored networks (also known as influencer networks) and get matched up with brands that fit your target audience.
TWO: You can reach out to brands that you want to work with and pitch to them directly.
THREE: Brands can find you and reach out if/when they want to work with you.
WORKING WITH BRANDS THROUGH SPONSORED NETWORKS
Sponsored networks are third-party platforms that connect you with brands that work with bloggers. You’ll apply for sponsored gigs and also get paid through the network.
Here are a few popular blogging networks that you can join for free:
For my master list of 50+ sponsored networks that match you with great brands (and my pitching template) you can sign up for my blogging course here. Use code BLOGFAN for a big ol’ discount!!!!
When you join sponsored networks, you simply fill out your profile and attach your social media accounts. Then you are matched with brands and sponsored opportunities that fit your niche.
You will usually be notified via email when a brand wants to work with you through a sponsored network.
WORKING WITH BRANDS THAT YOU FIND ON YOUR OWN
The great thing about finding your own brand to work with: you get to call the shots, name your rates, and have full creative control.
When you work through a sponsored network, you have to abide by their rules and follow their guidelines in order to get paid. You also have to wait quite awhile to get your paycheck (usually 30-60 days).
When you select a brand to work with on your own, and you formulate a contractual agreement based on your own terms, YOU are in the driver’s seat.
Here’s an example of a small company that I reached out to directly, landed the gig, and got paid.
Keep in mind: when you’re reaching out to brands, it’s a bit of a numbers game. The more people you pitch to, the more chances you’ll have of landing a gig. So, make a list of 10+ companies that you want to work with, formulate your pitch, and send it over. Do this at least once a week.
It’s extremely beneficial if you have already engaged with this brand and shown your support to them on social media.
You should like, follow, comment, and even tag them in posts relating to their brand. This pulls you up on their radar and makes it easier to connect with them when you send them a pitch.
WORKING WITH BRANDS THAT REACH OUT TO YOU
When certain brands reach out to you, they will sometimes send a generic email template and offer you “free product” in exchange for a blog post. Those companies are rarely worth collaborating with. I don’t recommend working for free.
But sometimes, if a company reaches out to you and sends a personalized email that demonstrates how much they like you and your blog, and they appreciate what you are bringing to the partnership, then it is worth considering.
Just send them a response with your sponsored post fees, your conditions, and an estimated timeline for work to be completed.
It is seriously that simple.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WORKING WITH BRANDS
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to working with brands. I’m sure many bloggers have different experiences, but this is what I’ve learned from mine.
Choose your collaborations wisely.
As your blog grows, you will get pitches from companies that want you to share their products on your blog.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to responding to these offers, but keep in mind that your audience trusts you and they want to see specific things from you.
Think less about what that brand/business wants from you and think more about what your audience wants from you.
It is okay to SAY NO if the brand doesn’t fit with your message, mission, or audience at this time.
Brands sometimes want you to work in exchange for product.
My very first brand offer came in when I had been blogging for just a month and had less than 1,000 followers on social media. They offered me free product and I accepted.
But, didn’t I just tell you that I don’t recommend working for free?
It’s true. I don’t recommend working for free. But you also have to weigh out the pros and the cons of working in exchange for product.
If you feel that the value of the product is equal to the value that you’re bringing to the company and the work you’re putting in, then it’s okay to work in exchange for product on occasion. Especially if you’re just getting started or if you truly want/need the product being offered.
But sponsored work is hard work. Don’t sell yourself short.
You’ll get some rejection and some silence.
No matter how great your writing may be or how many followers you have, some companies just won’t be interested in working with a blogger or influencer…and that’s okay.
Maybe they don’t have a blog collaboration in their marketing budget, or maybe they don’t understand the power of a blogger’s influence. Either way, you will face some rejection, and you will get a lot of unanswered emails and phone calls.
You have to have thick skin in this business.
Let it roll off your back and keep pushing forward. Working with brands can be very fun and rewarding. And when you find your groove and you’re working with companies that you love, the whole process just becomes a breeze.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU CHARGE FOR A SPONSORED POST?
When you work within a sponsored network, there will usually be a listed payment amount, which makes it a little easier on you.
When you’re pitching to a company on your own, you need to consider the amount of work you’ll be putting into this project.
Sponsored posts usually require research, writing, editing, search engine optimization, Pinterest graphics, social shares, and sometimes more.
This requires time and effort and is therefore deserving of compensation. You’ll have to decide for yourself what the compensation should be, depending on your abilities, your efforts, your following, and your financial needs.
As a very simple example, I had a company reach out to me when I was a brand new mommy blogger. They offered me free product and I accepted, as mentioned above.
A month later, I had about 900 followers and I decided to make my first pitch to a brand. I charged $50 + product for my sponsored posts back then, and several companies agreed to that rate. I was inexperienced, I was blogging as my side-hustle. And $50 + product was awesome for me at that time!
Now, I have over 50,000 followers across my social channels and email lists, and my base fee is $249 for a sponsored post.
THE LEGAL SIDE OF WORKING WITH BRANDS
Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about the legal side of working with brands on sponsored posts.
It is so important to protect yourself legally when you’re doing anything in business. I highly recommend using your own legal contract anytime you partner with a brand.
This is the contract that I use for my sponsored work. It was drafted by a lawyer and covers all your bases… even some of the stuff you and I don’t really think about or worry about when we land a gig!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I know that we’ve covered a lot of ground here today. And there is just so much to learn about this blogging stuff.
Ultimately, these are the important things to keep in mind: You are the business owner and you call the shots. Make your fees and your conditions clear from day one, make sure both parties sign a contract, and always follow the FTC guidelines.
Join some sponsored networks and apply to gigs as they become available through these networks. It takes some work, but it’s worth it. Research and pitch to companies that fit into your niche.
You want to select sponsored work that is fulfilling to your personal brand and financially rewarding.
Think about it.
If you were to charge $100 for a single sponsored post, and you did one sponsored post each week, that’s an extra $400 in your bank account every month. Charge $250 for your weekend posts, that’s an extra $1,000…
The sky is the limit!
It has been worth every bit of the sacrifice to work from home and live life on my own terms. It’ll be worth it for you too.
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