How to Cultivate the Best Brand Collaborations by Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook is a multi-award winning interiors blogger, copywriter and consultant. Her blog, Love Chic Living is ranked as a top UK home and interiors blog and provides aspirational but achievable style for a family home. Freelance blogging has given Jen many exciting and fun opportunities including several European design tours, and last year, a move into Pinterest coaching and consultancy for brands and bloggers.
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Bloggers: How to Cultivate the Best Brand Collaborations
As someone who has been blogging full time for 5 years I’ve certainly had my share of brand collaborations. It’s been one of the highlights of my work and continues to be a main source of enjoyment for me. I’ve worked with companies like ebay, John Lewis, British Gas, Habitat, made.com, Photobox, Portmeirion, Neom Candles, HomeSense, B&Q, and so many more over the years I’ve lost count. In that time, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating great brand collaborations, for you and the client, so this is my blogger’s guide to a successful brand partnership.
How to Get Noticed by Brands:
Many bloggers just want to know how to get on the brand collaboration ladder, so how exactly do you get noticed by a brand in the first place? Some of the things that work include networking, old fashioned blog commenting, responding naturally on social media to brands and other collaborations. Ensure you have a good solid niche and strong social followings (although this isn’t always essential, but make sure they’re all quite even if you can) and don’t forget your DA (domain authority – check Moz.com if you’re not sure), a solid SEO strategy and of course, great imagery and copy. Whilst that sounds like a lot, it’s all part of good blogging so you’ll have most of it anyway. Then, make sure you have something to say. Be different. Be relevant.
How to Approach and Respond to Brand Requests:
So, if you get a brand request, how should you handle it? The one main thing to do is be professional. Reply promptly, be open minded, polite and courteous. Spell check and proof read your emails. Send a media pack if you have one. It’s not essential, but many PR’s will ask for one, so it looks good, and makes your life easier if you do have one.
Regarding fees, the main aspect is not to undersell yourself. Don’t be afraid to stick to your rates, know your worth and if the offer doesn’t match them, walk away. Taking low paid offers cheapens the marketplace and makes it hard for everyone to earn good rates.
It’s always worth upscaling an offer. Let them know what else you could deliver if they’re interested and have the budget. Suggest alternatives on top of what they’re offering and let them know how much it will cost.
If you want to approach a brand you love to work with them – do it! Don’t be worried about rejection; it happens but it won’t necessarily be because of you and your blog. Just remember to offer a clear package, tell them what you can offer in exchange for what you’re looking for from them. Give timescales and show examples of your work.
Agreed a Deal? What’s Next:
When you’ve agreed a collaboration, this next bit is important so don’t be tempted to miss it out. You must confirm the deal plus payment terms. Do this in advance of doing the work. If they don’t put a contract in place, you should (and don’t think this is just for huge collaborations, it’s not – terms of your deal need to be clear, and this is how you avoid misunderstandings). Be clear on how you like to be paid, can they meet your terms – do you want to be paid in advance? Don’t forget to clarify if they want follow or nofollow links, how many social shares they are expecting and do they want to track the clicks?
And do ensure they are aware you will be disclosing the partnership clearly and adhering to ASA rules and regulations. Declaring your payment is the law and if you don’t do this you risk all kinds of issues. If a brand or PR doesn’t want you to do this, they are outdated and probably not worth working with.
Do all of this in advance so you don’t get caught out.
What Makes a Brand Collaboration a Success?
Brand collaborations aren’t easy, and there are a few tricks to ensuring their success. Firstly, never forget your audience. Don’t focus on simple making the brand happy, although you do have to do this, remember to encapsulate your personality, your audience plus your client into the article. It’s a skill. Don’t lose your own character and style but deliver in a way that engages your audience. Do it well and they won’t even know it’s a brand collaboration.
Ensure you deliver on time, even over deliver and the brand will be happy. If there are issues, keep the lines of communication open.
Often a company will want to collaborate on your blog, because of YOU. You are your brand and as such you should sell yourself professionally and with dignity; be fair, firm and open. This is how you build longer term relationships with brands, it’s how they remember you and how they come back to you time and time again.
Post Collaboration Checklist:
After you’ve completed the campaign you should follow up on a few things. Email the client/PR and say thank you. Send back post and social media statistics if they want them and help them measure the success of the project.
Obviously send your invoice if you haven’t already, reminding them of the payment terms. Fingers crossed payment isn’t late, but if it is, a gentle nudge and reminder can often do the trick.
Always remember, a PR is a person just like you, sat in an office doing their job. If you get a bad feeling about the job, you’re probably right – trust your instincts – and don’t be afraid to talk it through with your contact. Brand collaborations can be exceptionally rewarding, often very creative and great fun so don’t let them stress you. Enjoy them and convey that in your content. Your readers will thank you for it.
The Girl with The Green Sofa