If you’re thinking of pitching collaborations to brands as a blogger, you’re in the right place. With almost five years of experience pitching to brands and after speaking regularly on the topic at events, I thought I’d put together a bumper guide on everything you need to do to gain your dream collaborations.
This post is something I regularly come back and update as I develop my pitching strategy and my relationship with my blog and brands. As we’re in an industry that is constantly changing it’s important you adapt your strategy too.
Reaching out to Brands and Agencies
My history reaching out to brands
I’m not going to go into too much detail here as I have spoken about this in a previous post, however, I started reaching out to brands when I planned my first ever event in the West Midlands.
When I realised how beneficial it was I tried reaching out to brands solely for my personal blog and it is safe to say that I got addicted to contacting them. At one point I think I was emailing up to 200 a week, causing me to have a massive backlog of products to review and no motivation to do them as I was under SO MUCH pressure.
In the end, it all got too much and I stopped blogging completely. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore so I ended up taking a three-month break.
I came back refreshed, with a new self-hosted website and a new attitude towards blogging.
Now I only reach out to brands that I know I can work with in a mutually beneficial way, even if that means only reaching out to one brand every few months. Quality over quantity is so important.
I really want people to be able to learn from my mistakes and know that being selective about who you work with is the key thing you should take away from this post.
What are the benefits of reaching out?
? You have a shot at working with the brands you love
? You can discover new favourites
? You learn valuable sales skills - pitching, selling, closing and even cold emailing! All good skills to add to your CV too.
? It can help build your confidence in blogging
? It will help you create some amazing content for your blog, Instagram and YouTube
? You can build strong relationships with brands and PRs for future collaborations
? It’s a stepping stone to blogging as a career
Who should be contacting brands?
There is no written rule on who can and can’t reach out to brands when blogging, and there is nothing to say someone that has just started their blog can’t contact anyone. It is important to remember, though, that it helps to be able to show the following things:
? What you have already written in a similar niche
? Your writing and photography style
? What YOU can offer THEM
The week before my workshop I asked Twitter a few questions about reaching out to brands, including “What puts you off contacting brands?” 18% of people said it’s because they don’t have anything to offer.
So, I gave a few examples of things bloggers could offer brands, including DA score, social following, SEO knowledge, photography skills, well-written content or writing on a niche topic.
More often than not ‘what you can offer’ will be referred to something like a media kit - a PDF document detailing your strengths as an influencer. It shows your social stats, your blog stats, your niche, brands you have worked with and anything else you think is relevant.
Although I loved having a media kit and it was requested by PRs often, I have now decided to move mine to a ‘work with me’ page on my blog.
This is several different reasons, but to cut it short it means that who I ever I send it too can easily click to anywhere else on my blog. There are lots of different things going on in my sidebar and footer, which means the right people are so much more likely to go exploring if they’re already on your site.
Where do you find contacts and opportunities?
The main way I reach out to brands is via email, so when looking for a brand’s PR and Marketing contact there are several places you can find the right address.
? Check the company website for their PR and Marketing contact - it’s usually on the ‘Contact Us’ page!
? Try and find out who their PR agency is - usually a quick Google search will do the trick!
? Check the company LinkedIn page and go through the employee list. You might not be able to get their email this way, but you’ll definitely be able to connect to them and pitch that way!
? Failing all of the above - ASK. I do this either by emailing the general contact email on their website or by tweeting them.
Looking for existing opportunities is a great way to make contacts and to get your name out there for future collaborations, so I thought I’d share where I’m currently searching for them.
There’s also an AMAZING support group for reaching out to brands called Pitching Motivation for UK Bloggers: How to Connect with Brands. It’s a mixture of people that are experienced when it comes to reaching out to brands as well as those who are looking for a little guidance - well worth a join!
Twitter is an AMAZING place when it comes to searching for upcoming opportunities and I have found that the best way to search for them is to use hashtags. You do have to weed through quite a bit of blog promotion (ugh!) but the ones I search daily are #bloggerswanted, #bloggersrequired, #paidops, #prrequest and #bloggers.
It’s also worth using Twitter as a search engine and searching phrases such as bloggers wanted, bloggers needed, looking for bloggers or bloggers in insert your location here.
Important: When contacting brands I have found it so helpful to keep track of what I am doing. I use a Google Sheet to jot down the brand name, my contact there, their email, what date I reached out to them and the result I got. It can be pretty time consuming but it’s definitely worth it.
What do you say when reaching out to brands?
Ah yes, the most important bit.
In the Twitter polls, I carried out before my workshop 28% of bloggers said that they don’t reach out to brands because they don’t know to say, so I thought I’d go into detail about what I put in my pitching emails.
When writing an email to a brand I structure it so that it has five main sections.
✏️ ️Section 1 - Hello
This is almost too small to have its own section but it is such an important part of any email. I try to make sure I have the name of who I am contacting so I can start my email strong, but if not don’t worry it isn’t a deal breaker.
✏️️ Section 2 - Introduction
The first thing you should do is introduce yourself, including your blog. Keep this section short and sweet and remember to include a clickable link to your blog.
✏️️ Section 3 - Talk about the Brand
To show you’re interested in the brand you’re contacting it is important to talk about them. Tell them what you love about them, mention new products you’re excited to see launch or talk about something you saw them post on social media recently. Show them that you have a genuine interest and that you’re not sending one of the generic pitching emails they receive on a daily basis.
If you’re struggling to write this section without it coming across as fake then maybe reconsider if they’re a brand you really want to work with.
✏️️ Section 4 - The pitch
There are two ways you can approach the ‘pitch’ section of your email, depending on whether you have a content idea already of if you don’t.
If you haven’t got a specific idea in mind I find it best to mention that you’re interested in working with them in the future and that you’d love to be put on their blogger/influencer list.
If you do have a content idea in mind that you think the brand would fit perfectly then tell them. Let them know how they’ll fit into it and how it could benefit them. I also give details on when it’s due to go live and how I am going to distribute it (social media).
Once you have told them why you are emailing, this is when you need to show them what you can offer using the things you listed above.
✏️️ Section 5 - Close
Finish your email off by thanking them for their time and by saying you’d love to hear their thoughts on potential collaborations. I also tend to say that I am open to ideas as they may well have another campaign that you’re suitable for.
What if I don’t get a reply or I get rejected?
44% of bloggers say that they’re scared of rejection when reaching out to brands, so much so it puts them off contacting them at all. However, a different poll showed that 45% of bloggers have 20-50% success when they pitch.
There is hope!
So, when a brand doesn’t reply to you, what should you do?
The simple answer is DON’T WORRY.
I know an acknowledgement would be nice, but sometimes you emails may go into spam or to a gatekeeper who might not even know what a blogger is or what they do. If this is the case I find it helpful to chase but don’t be pushy. Once is enough.
If a brand gets back to you and they don’t want to collaborate it’s not the end of the world. Remember, you’re not going to be suitable for every brand so try not to let it get you down.
If you want to improve your blog and pitching skills you could also ask why they don’t want to collaborate. It could be due to budgets, suitability or it simply might not be part of their marketing strategy. It’s always good to ask and find out what you could be working on for future collaborations.
TLDR; Top Tips
✔️ DO only reach out to brands that fit your blog style and niche. There is no point in reaching out to Cat Subscription boxes if you have a dog, is there?
❌ DON’T email a brand with the impression you’re doing them a favour - it’s a mutual agreement.
✔️ DO try to have an idea of what way you will feature a product, not all brands want a review.
❌ DON’T email everyone. If you get a lot of responses you won’t be able to keep up with the workload.
✔️ DO keep your emails as short and sweet as you can.
❌ DON’T let a negative response get you down.
✔️ DO vary your contact schedule. Don’t contact five breakfast brands in one month, then five snack brands the next as it means your content won’t be varied.
❌ DON’T forget to keep track of who you’re emailing - I made the mistake of emailing a few brands twice when I first started out and it does look unprofessional.
Creating an action plan
If you have managed to make your way through this incredibly long post and would like to put together a mini action plan to help when working towards brand collaborations then that’s amazing! I thought to get you started with this plan I would list a few of the first steps you should be taking:
? Give your blog an audit. Pick out your strengths, weaknesses and where your opportunities are.
? Ask people in the blogging community for some constructive criticism.
? Use the worksheet printable below to write down what you can offer brands - create a media kit if you don’t already have one.
? Think about the type of brands you want to work with and do your research. Have they worked with bloggers before? What could you do differently?
? Draft your emails to the above brands and then wait a day or two before sending. Re-reading what you have written with a fresh pair of eyes can make the world of difference.
? SEND SEND SEND.
Reaching out to Brands: Printable
For anyone interested in the printable that I handed out to everyone that took part in my #BlogConLDN workshop - you can download it here: Working with Brands.
It’s designed for you to write down the dream brands you’d love to work with and the things you can offer them when reaching out.
Remember no brand is too big or too small - I’m now working with a brand I NEVER thought I’d get the chance to write for, let alone meet in person.
Finally, there is a little section for you to create your own personalised action plan from the points mentioned above. If you need any help with this feel free to drop me a tweet at @kirstyleanneuk.
Thank you to everyone that came along to the talk, it obviously couldn’t have happened without you guys there to cheer me on and ask questions. After my nerves had calmed I had so much fun and I can’t wait to start doing things like this more often if you’ll all have me of course 😉
If you would like to get in touch regarding events or workshops please don’t hesitate to contact me on [email protected]