Influencer marketing is one of the hottest things right now, am I right? Influencer marketing works and benefits both bloggers and brands for many reasons. The main benefit to the blogger is that they get to monetize their blog by writing about brands they love. Those brands that they write about get the visibility and trust from the blogger who is writing about them. It’s honestly a win-win for everyone.
Influencer marketing works because people trust bloggers. A blogger’s audience is much more inclined to trust their favorite blogger over an internet review on a random website. Brands know this and they pay top dollar for these sponsored posts & reviews but how do you get a brand to work with you? How do you pitch brands and get that brand to read your pitch and actually respond? There are a few surefire ways to make sure a brand replies back to you and we’ll go over those in this post. I’m actually also including some swipe files of emails that I use to connect with brands. These are tried and true emails that actually get responses! Keep reading to find out where you can download those!
We are going to begin where many bloggers start out – blog networks. Blog networks are websites that work closely with certain brands in order to match them with a blogger (or bloggers) that can write a sponsored post for them. These websites will post the request of the brand and bloggers who are signed up with that network can basically apply for the sponsorship opportunity. Sometimes these requests require writing a pitch to the brand, some just require basic blog statistics and some require a few questions be answered. The requirements for applying to the sponsorship all depend on what blog network you are using.
This is a great place to start out if you haven’t worked with brands before or are clueless about how to even contact a brand. The only downside of blog networks is that the network itself gets a cut of whatever you make through a sponsored post. How much the network gets depends on what network you’re using but generally, it’s between 20-30% of your fee. Even with that fee, I do think that this is a great place to start. It gets your feet wet with working for brands and gives you some experience under your belt that you can use for future partnerships.
Choosing a brand to contact
Choosing which brand you should contact to pitch your sponsored post is sometimes complicated. I highly suggest that you contact brands that you’ve used and know well. This will add authenticity both to your pitches and your sponsored posts. I, personally, would never partner with a brand that I haven’t heard of or used in the past. Sponsored posts, to me, are about sharing brands that I know well and love since I would never share anything with my audience that I wouldn’t use myself.
Who do you contact?
When you are ready to contact a brand you can (despite what other people say) email the general information address on the Contact Us section of their website. However, it’s suggested that you try to find a contact email for someone that specifically deals with the brand partnerships, online marketing or PR. You may have to do some digging to find this information but it’s very much worth it since you will get to the right person almost immediately.
You can usually find the contact information for whoever deals with the brand partnerships, online marketing or PR on the website. Sometimes there’s a Media section that the information may be on in the footer of the website. Sometimes they have all of their departments listed on their contact page. It fully depends on the brand and the way their website is set up.
“What if I can’t find the PR email on the brand’s website?”
On occasion, there may be times when the PR email is not listed on the website. While you can do a little more sleuth work and find the brand and its main players on LinkedIn, you can also just email the general information address on the page. It may take a little longer for that email to be read and forwarded to the right department, but it will get there. The main aspect of contacting a brand for a partnership is your pitch. Your pitch is what will make or break your partnership opportunity.
When crafting your pitch to a brand you need to keep in mind that the PR contact isn’t going to have all the time in the world to read through it. I started partnering with brands and writing sponsored posts 10 years ago when you “needed” a Media Kit. Honestly, thinking you still need a media kit is really “old-fashioned” and not really applicable in this day-and-age. Back when I started partnering with brands influencer marketing was in it’s beginning stages and brands weren’t being inundated with pitches or requests for partnership so having a media kit was fine. Now that influencer marketing is at its prime PR professionals have so many more emails and so much less time to read through them all. If you attach a media kit to your pitch (more than likely) it won’t even be opened.
That said, your pitch is going to have to speak for itself. It’s going to have to briefly but efficiently describe you, your blog, what you stand for, why you want to partner with them and your blog metrics/demographics. You need to hook them in the first two sentences of your pitch in order to really get noticed.
The fundamentals of a great pitch email
A short and catchy subject line – Your subject line must be short, to the point and really catch the eye of the reader. I’d suggest a subject line such as “Blog partnership request with (name of the brand)”. Alternatively, you could use “Blog partnership request with (name of the brand) for (name of product or service)” if you’re interested in promoting a specific product or service. This is short, sweet, to the point and will let the PR professional know that you’re interested in a blog partnership.
A greeting that’s personalized to the PR professional – If you are able to find the name of the PR professional I do suggest using it in your greeting. “Dear Caroline,” sounds much better than “Dear Mattel”. This isn’t always applicable and you won’t always find the PR professional’s name on the website but if it’s listed definitely personalize the email towards that person.
A short description of who you are and what you do – You’re going to want to start out the email on a personal note. Let the PR professional know who you are and what you do. For example:
Why you’re pitching the brand and what you love about the brand – This section of your pitch must be short and sweet. You want to let the brand know exactly why you’re pitching them. Do you just want to partner with them because you love their brand and think your audience will too? Are you writing a post about back to school and want to specifically have Walmart sponsor the post? This is an excerpt from a pitch that I’ve written in the past and I’ll show you as an example. I redacted the name of the company for privacy sake:
The above example landed me a partnership and also explained to the PR professional why I wanted to partner with them. I also added in how important they are among the planning community and that I use their products on the daily for organizing my life. (Which was all 100% true!) It was short, sweet and gave the PR professional all of the information they needed to know regarding why I was contacting them.
Statistics and demographics of your blog – Statistics and demographics of your blog are mainly what the PR professional wants to see. They want to see that you have the audience and engagement to promote their products. Brands want to know that their investment is going to pay off and want to see the following that a blog/blogger has in order to make the decision. When you add your statistics and demographics make sure to add:
- Monthly pageviews & unique pageviews for the last 2-3 months to show growth
- Social media followers/fans
- Engagement statistics from social media
- Demographics (avg. age, gender)
You can add screenshots of your Google analytics if you want to but you don’t have to. It won’t make or break your pitch but would be nice if you have impressive looking graphs. (Ha! I’m all about visual aspects!)
A closing with a call-to-action
When you’re adding your closing you want to make sure you add a call-to-action to compel the PR professional to take action.
This is a rough example but it lets the brand know that you’re ready to take action and speak to them immediately. It will give the PR professional some ammo to schedule a phone call (or Skype, Google Hangout, etc…) to discuss the partnership opportunity. It also lets them know that you have great ideas to promote their brand and shows that you are open to any input they may have for your post.
What if I just started my blog and haven’t yet worked with a brand?
It’s absolutely no problem if you’ve never worked with a brand before. If you’re a new blogger with low statistics you can simply mention something like this in your pitch:
This will show them that you’re actively growing your brand and have an engaged audience that is interested in the content that you post. It’s important to be transparent and upfront with the brand so that they know that you’re just growing your blog. Being a new blogger won’t hinder your chances of getting partnerships, but you may have to negotiate your compensation with the brand.
You should have a set rate that you charge for sponsored content but you need to remember to be flexible. Most brands that you contact will want to negotiate compensation with you and some may offer free products in return for a sponsored post. You can turn down the free products if you feel that you deserve more than what they’re offering but you need to be reasonable. You can’t expect to make $1,000 off of a sponsored post if you only have a few thousand page views a month. If you’re a beginning blogger I would suggest starting at around $50 per post, but this may vary depending on the project and how time-invasive it is. I read somewhere that the general rule of thumb is to take your daily page views / 10 to get the base price that you can start with. i.e. If you have 1,000 page views per day (1,000 / 10) you can charge $100 for a sponsored post.
If you’re a beginner blogger you can take free products in return for a sponsored post. I know most bloggers say to never accept free products as compensation but if you’ve never written a sponsored post before and never worked with brands this may be your only option. However, I would say the only exception would be if you’re going to be working with a large brand. If you happen to land a large brand that you know can afford monetary compensation, push for that instead of free product. These brands have the assets to take a risk on a smaller blogger and can afford to pay the asking price. They may still want to negotiate but any monetary compensation is great to start with. Just remember your worth.
Pitching on social media
Other than pitching through email you can also pitch using social media. The first thing I suggest doing when you decide you want to pitch brands on social media is to simply follow the brand. If it’s not a huge brand, they may follow you back which is a big win! If it is a huge brand that you want to pitch on social media you need to do some legwork.
Your social media profile
Before you send any tweet or pitch to a brand on social media – review your profile. Does your profile clearly state who you are and what you do? Do you have a link to your website? Make sure your profile is well-written, describes you and your blog and is unique. I know you’ve probably already optimized your profile, but you want to cover every base.
Tweet to the brand
If you want to try to pitch a larger brand on social media your first step is getting them to follow you. (or even acknowledge you!) The main way that I do this is tweeting to the brand. You can tweet a comment to one of their tweets, tell them how much you love their products, etc… It may take a few times tweeting a brand but I can vouch for the fact that they will eventually follow you. I suggest keeping your tweets [to the brand] to once or twice a week. You don’t want to annoy their social media person, you just want them to notice you.
I’m including this because I do have some success with this – You can also tweet the brand a general pitch.
Now, like I said, this occasionally works and has worked for me in the past. This may or may not work for you, it all depends on the brand you’re pitching.
Messaging on social media
Another way that you can reach out to brands on social media is to message them. Keep in mind that brands receive tons of messages per day so you need to stand out. Since the people who run the social media for brands are usually outside companies, you don’t want to sound spammy. You want to sound professional. The social media contact for the brand should get a sense that your message is important enough to be forwarded to the correct contact.
When messaging a pitch on social media you should format the pitch the same way that you would format an email. You just need to be extra patient when sending your pitch through social media message. If your pitch is well constructed I have no doubt that the correct person will see your message, it just may take longer than emailing.
The follow up
Remember that brands are busy, especially PR contacts. You have to be extremely patient after sending a pitch, it may take weeks for the brand to get back to you Personally, I have had brands get back to me 1-2 months after sending my pitch to them. Not getting an immediate response doesn’t mean that they don’t want to work with you, it means that they’re busy. That said, I like to send a follow up email 2-3 weeks after sending my pitch. This email is just a “Hey, I’m still interested in working with you” kind of thing and doesn’t have to be long at all. It lets the brand know that you’re a “go-getter” and that you really do want to work with them. I used to think sending follow ups were annoying but I’ve seen so much more success by sending them!
You can pitch brands and get partnerships with a little work, persistence, patience and a well crafted email. Go ahead and try it for yourself! I fully believe that you’ll get those partnerships!