Hooray! You got your first-ever brand to reach out to you for a brand collaboration! Now, what do you do when a brand reaches out to you?….
You’ve spent the last few weeks, months, or maybe even years building up your blog, Instagram, or YouTube channel and now you feel like you’re finally being recognized for your work. You’re so excited that a brand finally reached out to you! Was it a clothing brand that reached out to you? Or was it a local boutique? Or maybe it was a restaurant? Regardless of who the brand or company is, don’t feel like you need to immediately agree to the collaboration.
Before you agree to any terms and conditions, here are a few things you can do when a brand first reaches out to you:
If you’re a brand new creator and you want to explore what it’s like to work with brands, I recommend my introduction course: How to Get Started Working with Brands.
Step 1: Ask the brand what they’re looking for in the collaboration
When a brand first reaches out to you through email, Instagram, or your blog, you should ask the brand what they’re specifically looking for in a collaboration. Your first step should be to understand the brand’s specific need, wants, and asks. You should ask the brand how many social media posts they want. Does the brand want a whole blog post? Does the brand only want a mention in Instagram stories?
Step 2: Ask the brand their goals for the collaboration
Different brands prioritize different things in their influencer campaigns. Some brands want to drive reach while others want to drive followers to their site. When a brand reaches out to you for a collaboration, you have to understand their goals in order to help you craft a package that will help solve their needs. For instance, if a brand wants to drive engagement to their page, what can you offer to send your followers over to their Instagram page? Maybe you and the brand can host a giveaway together?
Step 3: Ask the brand about the timeline
Personally, I’m balancing grad school, a full time job, and blogging with real life. I have to see if the timeframe the brand is asking for is reasonable. I can’t support a campaign if a brand reaches out a week beforehand and expects a whole photo shoot + blog spot + stories in 7 days because my schedule can’t support that.
So ask the brand when they expect the Instagram or blog post to go live. It also takes time for product to be shipped to you so that’s added on to the timeline!
Step 4: Don’t be afraid to ask the brand about payment
When a brand reaches out to you, that means they see the value in who you are and your work. They wouldn’t have reached out if they didn’t see something in you. So when a brand reaches out, please don’t be afraid to ask for payment! The worst thing that could happen is they say no.
If you’re looking for a resource to help you determine how much to be paid, I recommend checking out my course: How to Negotiate (Paid) Brand Collaboration for step-by-step pricing guidelines. It’s no longer enough to price yourself with the 1% following rule or 1 cent per follower rule. You have to factor in your time, exclusivity, usage, and more.
I personally didn’t start asking to be paid until after I passed 10,000 followers. I had no idea when and how to start charging. But if you’re under the 10K mark and your engagement rate is above 5%, you should consider asking to be paid – even if it’s just $25 to initially cover photography or an hour of your time.
If the brand refuses to pay or says they don’t have the budget to support the influencer campaign, you can either pass up the opportunity OR ask the brand how you can both co-promote each other on Instagram, Instagram stories, or other social media channels. Honestly the only way I agree to gifted/ trade for promotion partnerships is if:
- The brand agrees to repost me on their Instagram or Instagram stories or other digital channels.
- AND if I absolutely love, love, love the brand and this partnership is going to help me grow and expand Emma’s Edition.
If I’m not passionate or excited about the brand, whether it’s paid or gifted, I will pass up the opportunity.
Step 5: Ask the brand how they plan to use your content
Some brands may ask for the photos you take and produce to repost on their Instagram page. While other brands plan on using the photos to publish on traditional media (newspaper ads, fliers, etc.) Depending on how they plan to use the content, I would adjust my rates.
For instance, I had a brand recently asked to submit 5 other photos to be printed in their fliers distributed in all their stores in the Northwest. I made sure that the monetary payment was fair because the brand planned to use my content outside of social media.
Step 6: Send the brand examples of your content
When a brand reaches out about a possible collaboration, I always send them a few examples of my previous collaborations to give them some ideas on how I can support them.
For instance, if a brand is asking about creating only content for Instagram, I’ll send them:
Here are a few examples of previous Instagram Collaborations:
Mother’s Day Instagram Campaign with Bartells | Instagram Post 1, Instagram Post 2
Modeling for Julep Beauty | Instagram Video
Rocket Dog Footwear @ Coachella | Instagram Post
If you haven’t done any collaborations before, don’t stress! You can send your original work. For instance if a swimsuit company reached out and I hadn’t worked with a swimsuit brand before, here is what I would send:
Hi Brand! I’d love to give you an idea of what type of content I could create for your campaign.
Here are a few examples of my original work on both Instagram and my blog:
Behind the Scenes of the Perfect Instagram Post | Instagram & Blog Post
Thousand Steps Beach | Instagram Post 1 & Instagram Post 2
Modeling for Glyder Apparel | Instagram
I actually have never partnered with a swimsuit company, so this is probably what I would send over! (If any swimsuit companies want to work together, please let me know! )
Typically I’ll go back and forth with company/brand to get all these questions answered. So don’t feel pressured to ask all these questions in the initial email! Start out by finding out their goals and what they want from a collaboration and then go from there!
Do you need email negotiation templates?
If all of this seems like a lot, I’ve bundled together 10 email negotiation templates you can use for your next brand collaboration. How to Negotiate (Paid) Brand Collaborations is available for $250. In this course, I include:
+ 10 EMAIL NEGOTIATION TEMPLATES (including how to turn a gifted collaboration into a paid collaboration)
+ 3 BONUS EMAIL TEMPLATES (INCLUDING A PITCH TEMPLATE TO BRANDS)
+ 3 REAL LIFE BRAND EMAIL NEGOTIATIONS – THESE BRAND COLLABORATIONS ARE FROM 2019!
+ AND TIPS ON NEGOTIATING AND PRICING.
In 2018, I brought in $10,000 in revenue on top of my full-time job and grad school in aerospace with my blog and Instagram. In 2019, I brought in $40,000 in revenue again, on top of my full-time job in aerospace and last quarter in grad school.
Brands have the budget to pay you for your work. But it’s up to you to ask the brand for their goals, timeline, and budget. And it’s up to you to recognize your value as a content creator/influencer and ask to be paid.
Why I wrote this post:
These past month, I’ve had 3 wonderful ladies ask me about what to do about their first brand collaborations. One Instagram friend asked me if she should charge a company for doing Instagram stories for an event during Seattle. Another Instagram friend asked what she should do about a restaurant collaboration – her first one! I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to get your first few collaborations because I’ve been creating partnerships with brands these past four years.
So thank you ladies for asking me for guidance! I’m so glad you felt comfortable enough to personally send me an email or a direct message on Instagram. I hope this blog post helps you and others of you out there landing your first brand collaborations!
For blog posts around blogging and Instagram, you can also check out:
4 Things Brands Look for in a Blogger Collaboration
10 Everyday Tips You Can Use to Grow Your Instagram
How do you balance everyday life with taking photos?
Thank you always for reading!
Photos: Michelle Tellez
Friends featured in our Palm Springs photo shoot: @palmtreesandpellegrino & @kelseythisyear