How to Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collaborations

If you’re looking for advice on how to turn gifted blogger collaborations into paid ones, this blog post is for you.

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My personal blog journey…

I landed my first paid blogger collaboration in summer of 2017. The fashion brand that came forward first offered only gifted clothing as compensation. But after going back and forth and learning the deliverables of the campaign, the brand offered an additional $200 for the 4 Instagram posts they were asking for. At this point of my blogging career, I was around 10,000 followers and 2,500 unique monthly blog views. I jumped up and down after reading the email and eagerly accepted the terms of the collaboration.

A year later and in summer of 2018, I landed my first 4-figure paid blogger collaboration. I literally almost died when the public relations called and came forward with the initial compensation rate of the campaign. I was at 18,000 followers and around 10,000 unique monthly views on my blog and I couldn’t believe the brand saw that value in me. Up until this point, I didn’t even know that my audience size and content could be worth more than 4-figures.

Focusing my efforts on creating content for my blog and Instagram these past 1 1/2 – 2 years has allowed me make money from sponsored content and inspired me to file my blog as a business. So today I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned turning gifted blogger brand collaborations into paid ones.

Why I’m sharing how to turn gifted blogger collaborations into paid collaborations:

I was especially inspired to write this blog post because I keep learning about girls and other bloggers over 20,000 and even 60,000 followers NOT CHARGING brands for their sponsored posts. If you’ve build up your brand, created and engaged audience, and can bring a return on investment to your brand partners, you can absolutely charge for sponsored content.

I hope this blog post inspires other bloggers to turn their gifted blogger collaborations into paid ones!

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Let’s first talk about brands, content, and bloggers:

If a brand reaches out to you, they’ve already indicated that they see value in your work and in your influence. It’s important to remember that if the brands didn’t reach out to you, they would have to create their own digital content.

The brands could hire a creative agency to hire a photographer, find and hire models, hire copywriters to write the social copy, and even hire a social media person to engage on the brand’s social platforms once that content is shared. Brands know the costs of hiring on creative teams and producing advertising and branded content.

When a brand reaches out to you….

When a brand reaches out to you to create branded content, they are by-passing all those steps and costs. As a blogger, I personally write and edit all my blog and social copy. As a blogger, I’m the one who styles the clothes and models them.

As a blogger, I’m the one who schedule a time with a photographer, finds the photo shoot location, and who pulls it together in a nice neat package to send the brand for approval. As a blogger, I’m the one who takes the time to respond to all the comments and direct messages that happen with the campaign.

All of this work takes time, energy, and resources. And when you decide to move forward with a brand collaboration, your work and the brand’s deliverables also takes time, energy, and resources.

Here are 6 tips on turning those gifted blogger collaborations into paid collaborations:

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Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collabs Tip #1:

You have to see and value the work you do as a service

Before you start charging brands, you need to value the work you do as a blogger and content creator. You are providing the service of creating branded content for a brand. You are taking that brand’s product or service, showing how it fits in your life, and could potentially fit in your audiences’ lives.

I’ve realized over this past year or so that half the girls I’ve met who aren’t charging don’t believe that they’re in a point to charge. I used to also believe that I needed to be over 10,000- X amount of followers to turn these gifted blogger collaborations into paid collaborations.

The truth is there’s always going to be someone with more followers and a higher engagement rate, but that doesn’t matter for your journey. If you’ve built up an audience, if you produce high quality content, and you share your unique point of view, you have to value who you are and the work you produce.

It took me a while to figure out how to recognize my value, but if you need an exercise to help you figure out your value and worth, you can check out: 4 Lessons I Learned Recognizing and Asking for My Value. I share a few questions I took the time to reflect and answer for myself.

Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collabs Tip #2:

Share your blog and social media numbers with the brand

Whether a brand reaches out to you or you reach out to the brand, you absolutely should be sharing your blog and social media stats. When you bring forward your engagement rate, your total reach, and your audience size, you’re bringing forward facts for the brand.

I was shocked when I first heard girls complaining or questioning why they should be sharing their social media analytics with brands. The influencer marketing industry is a billion dollar business. And businesses and brands make decisions based off facts, data, and metrics. You wouldn’t enter into business with someone whose business wasn’t performing well or on the brink of failing.

When you show and stand behind your stats, you’re showing the brand that you take your brand seriously. Your blog and social media stats help the brand determine the potential reach of a collaboration with you.

Here’s my personal current stats that I’ve been sending to brands who reach out to me:

Instagram:

– 132,000 impressions and 16,800 reached last 7 days

– 4.5% engagement rate, 23,509 followers

Blog:

– 18,000 Monthly Page views, 16,500 Unique Monthly Page views

– 10,000 Monthly Unique Users, 12,000 Unique Monthly Sessions

Total Reach (Includes all social channels + blog): 36,700 total followers

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Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collabs Tip #3: Share the breakdown of your cost

If a brand is asking for a blog post and a social media post for every channel: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, breakdown the cost of producing that content. One thing I always include when I work with brands is the price of photography. I usually outsourced and hired a photographer for brand campaigns.

You can write down the hours it takes to write and edit the social and blog copy, the time it takes to create social media fliers, and your price of influence. I’ve found that being explicit about costs you need covered for the campaign has helped brands increase their initial compensation offer.

If you need more tips on figuring out how to price yourself and then negotiate your rates, you can check out: 15 Tips for Pricing & Negotiating as a Blogger.

Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collabs Tip #4: Show examples of previous brand collaborations or original work

In every brand collaboration, I include previous brand collaborations or original work that’s aligned or related to the brand or industry. This shows the brand what type of work I could potentially create for them.

Additionally, when you share previous brand work, you’re increasing your credibility and expertise. You’re affirming that it was a great choice for the brand to reach out to you because you’ve already worked with similar brands or industries.

Here are a few examples I’ve included in email pitches to brands:

Examples:

American Eagle Outfitters

Alaska Airlines | Pittsburgh’s Most Instagrammable Places

Smashbox Cosmetics

Bobbi Brown

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Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collabs Tip #5: Say no to gifted collaborations

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against gifted collaborations when you’re first starting out and trying to build an audience. And I still take gifted collaborations every once in a while if a brand is aligned with a project and the brand is bringing value beyond gifted product.

But if you’ve been blogging and building your Instagram for over a year and you believe you create quality content, you can start saying no to gifted collaborations. Brands will continue to believe you’ll only work for free if you continue to work for free.

The billion dollar influencer industry is going to continue to grow and mature. I’m telling you right now that the number of brand campaigns are also going to grow and mature. Don’t be afraid to say no because there will always be more brand collaborations!

Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collabs Tip #6: Ask to be paid

While this seems like the simplest step, I personally struggled asking to be paid for brand collaborations. It took me months of practice to get comfortable asking. I literally asked every single brand who reached out to me what their budget was. And now I feel a lot more confident always asking for the brands budget to increase the initial compensation offer.

Here are a few ways to ask to be paid for brand collaborations:

  • “May you please let me know the budget to produce the 2 Instagram post and 3 Instagram Story frames?”
  • “May you please let me know budget to create the following deliverables the brand is asking for: one blog post, one Instagram post, and one pin?”
  • “May you please share the budget of this campaign? While I appreciate the gifted product, I’m only prioritizing gifted campaigns at this time”

Have you tried asking to be paid yet? Has asking helped you turn gifted blogger collaborations into paid ones?

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There you have it friends. My tips and lessons I’ve learned turning gifting blogger collaborations into paid collaborations!

For more blog advice, you can also check out:

How to Build an Engaged Audience on Instagram

Photography Posing Ideas for Instagram: 8 Poses to Try  

7 Things You NEED to Include in Your Next Brand Email Pitch

How to Turn Gifted Blogger Collaborations into Paid Collaborations – blogger collaborations – get paid as a blogger – how to work with brands as a blogger – how to collaborate with brands – reaching out to brands as an influencer – blogging advice for new bloggers – how to work with brands – blogger brand collaborations – tips for influencers who want to work with brands

What are your tips for turning gifted blogger collaborations into paid ones?

Thank you for reading!

Love,

Emma  


Photos: Holly Phan

9 Comments

  1. January 24, 2019 / 12:57 pm

    Emma! Hi, I’m also a Seattle blogger, but I guess I’m more of a travel blogger since I don’t seem to blog about Seattle that much, lol. I need to fix that… Anyway, your blog is great! This post was super informative. I’m not a fashion blogger but I do occasionally receive emails from companies wanting me to work for free/send me a product without compensation and I always send them a “thank u, next” email in response, haha. I agree it’s super important to stand your ground in this industry! Looking forward to checking out your other posts!

  2. Sam
    January 24, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    This was an amazing post and so detailed. I love how transparent you are to help others.

    I have seen you do campaigns with big companies like SmashBox and American Eagle. Did you approach them or how did you get started with that?

    I’m always skeptical to approach a brand for campaigns if I’m not on their PR list or I think they are major companies who would not want to work with me. I would love your feedback. Thank you 🙂

  3. January 25, 2019 / 11:20 am

    As always Emma, this is a very informative post and how exciting to reap the benefits of all your hard work. Congratulations and that is seriously so awesome! I think since we all work for ourselves, I agree that it’s important to find value in what we create. Happy Friday and wishing you a wonderful weekend!

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  4. January 28, 2019 / 6:20 am

    Thanks for your transparency Emma! I really enjoyed this post, as a blogger who has now been doing this for over a year and still trying to negotiate my way out of purely gifted campaigns. This was really inspiring!

    Xo, Kacie

  5. January 30, 2019 / 1:38 pm

    thank you for sharing some tips . I’m now confident asking for paid collabs now.

  6. February 7, 2019 / 2:44 pm

    Truly appreciate your honesty and all the helpful details in this post!! It sometimes feels like a taboo topic to discuss, but you talked about it so effortlessly and candidly. Thank you so much! 🙂

  7. February 17, 2019 / 3:13 pm

    Emma! I’ve been getting reached out to by local boutiques about paid collaborations and as soon as I got asked I came back here to reread all of this! Thank you so much for being so transparent and sharing this with us! You are a blessing!

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