Welcome to STYLEanthropy, dear blogger friends! As promised in yesterday’s blog post, I’m sharing my first ever post for this new Blogging Tips series. We’re not going to start with “how to start a blog”, but a topic that’s most requested – how to reach out to companies for brand collaborations.
Blogging Tips Series
Aside from beauty tips and fashion advice, one of the most asked questions sent to me is with regards to blogging. I regularly share blogging tips on my Instagram stories. And it seems that my fellow bloggers who follow me on the social media channel, respond to those the most. If you watched my stories a couple of days ago, I mentioned that I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blogging tips series. So, here you go, folks – my very first blogging tip post. It’s also timely, because there were a couple of bloggers asking about this too. So this one is for you, ladies!
Getting Started with Brand Collaborations
I regularly share unboxing stories on my Instagram. When I started sharing those, fellow bloggers started asking. How do you reach out to companies and nab brand collaborations? How do you get free products or sponsored/paid blog campaigns? Before you start reaching out, how about getting the brand’s attention first, so that they reach out to you? Here are some tips to get noticed by brands.
How to Get Noticed by Brands for Collaborations
- Make a Wishlist and Focus. Like any other business, you need to define your niche market. While I now blog about fashion, beauty, travel, tech, home, and food (which seems a lot), my blog started with personal style and I still focus on that more. When I told myself I want to start working with beauty brands, I started posting about beauty. And I had consistently done so. Then, the beauty brands started reaching out.
- So make a wishlist and be specific. Focus on one niche market first, especially if you haven’t done any brand collaborations yet. Which brands do you want to work with? Be specific. For example, don’t just say beauty brands – what type of beauty brand? Do you want to work with makeup brands? Skincare? Hair? Nails? Say you choose makeup brands, be more specific. Do you love luxury makeup, drugstore brands, all natural products, etc.? Then, list down the names of the brands you really want to work with.
- When you have those down, you can now FOCUS on them. Start posting about them. Perhaps you’re already using that brand, then write a long-term use review or a must-have post. If it’s a piece of clothing, feature it in an outfit post. Looking to work with a hotel? Then start sharing your travel adventures and where you stay. Post about those consistently and sooner or later, those brands will notice you.
- Take Advantage of Hashtags. Don’t underestimate the power of hashtags on Instagram. I’ve gotten emails and DM’s from brands saying they found me through this or that hashtag, and want to collaborate. You are allowed 30 hashtags in an Instagram post. So use them well (SEE UPDATE BELOW). Some things I do:
- I like to keep 1-3 hashtags within the caption of my post, so it looks clean and not spammy.
- Then I use about 20-25 hashtags in the comment section within 1 minute of posting.
- Type your hashtags in advance, in the Notes in your phone, ready to be used whenever you post. I have different sets of hashtags for different topics.
- Usually, I limit my hashtags to 28 just in case the brand leaves a comment saying they want to repost my photo and I need to reply with a certain hashtag to agree.
- Before posting, look at the Instagram feeds of the brands you’re featuring. Are they using a hashtag? If yes, make sure you include that in your hashtags. So the brand will see your post.
- UPDATE: Because of the recent changes happening on Instagram, there’s this thing called “shadow ban”. Basically, certain hashtags are “banned”. If you click on a hashtag, usually it will take you to a “top posts” and “recent posts” that used that hashtag. If the hashtag is “banned” on IG, you’ll only see the top posts. You won’t see recent posts. I know it’s a pain, but the only way to know is to just click or search the hashtags you use to see if they are banned or not. Now because of this, I suggest limiting your hashtag use and change it up every now and then. Sometimes I would use 20 hashtags, other times, I’d use 5-10.
- Look at the brand’s feed and study their style and aesthetic. Do they love clean, crisp, and bright photos? Or do they like moody pics? Flatlay or landscape? Or maybe they share a lot of lifestyle photos or videos? Get ideas from their Instagram feed and try to incorporate some of them to your photos. I’m not saying to change your style. You can still use some ideas without changing up the look of your feed. It will help you get noticed by the brand. Chances are, when they see that what you’re doing is already aligned to their aesthetic, they’ll reach out, or agree when you reach out to them. Use the same technique when taking photos for your blog post too.
- Don’t forget to tag. You got the photo aesthetic down and hashtags listed. Now, it’s time to tag the brands in your photo. It’s a sure fire way for the brands to see your work because they’ll get notified that you tagged them. Make sure it’s your best work!
- Get reposted. When a brand reposts your photo, it’s easier to reach out for a collab. Or maybe they’ll reach out first. So aim for reposts! How? As mentioned in #3 – get a feel of their style and apply that to your photo. Also make sure you do #4 so they’ll see your post. And the most important thing, make sure your photo doesn’t have any other distracting brand logo or licensed merchandise (trademark rights, etc), and obviously, direct competitor. For makeup looks, it’s understandable to use different brands in your makeup. But it will be easier to get reposted if you just show your face in the photo and just list down the products you used in the caption. If you’re only featuring say, a brow product, then you can definitely include that in the photo to get that makeup brand’s attention.
Obviously, there are more things to consider than just hashtags and the quality of photos. Growth, engagement, and the value of your posts are as important and we’ll talk about that in another post. Now, let’s move on to reaching out to brands.
How to Reach Out to Brands for Collaborations
You already worked hard on your posts and posted consistently too. Now, it’s time to reach out to brands. How do you do this? Who do you contact?
- Always check the brand’s website first. You’ll be surprised, a lot of them have their PR or Social Media contacts listed in their website. Search at the Contact Us or News/PR page. If not, look for a Social Media link. Sometimes, it can also be found in the list of staff or departments.
- Didn’t get so lucky? Try the Contact page that has the “leave your message” form. Usually, there’s a drop down list asking what the inquiry is about. Sometimes, you’ll see a PR, Marketing, or Social Media option. If there is, choose that and leave your message. If not, just state your name, introduce yourself as a blogger at this website, and you’re looking for the PR or Social Media contact of the brand for a possible partnership. Here’s an example of what I leave in the message box:
- “Hi! This is Cristina Zaragoza and I write and own the blog, STYLEanthropy.com. I’m trying to look for the right PR or Social Media contact to discuss a potential partnership with your company. Can you please direct or refer me to the right person for this? Thank you.”
- Another way is to Google. Google the brand’s name and then the PR or Marketing words with it. Fingers crossed you find the right agency and email them instead.
- If it’s a smaller business, usually, they have their email set up on Instagram. So click on that and then email your pitch.
- While in the subject of social media, there’s also the option of sending a DM (direct message) on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Now, I don’t really like to do this, but I’ve tried in the past with favorable results. I use the same message in #2.
- Reach out to blogger friends, pods, or FB groups. I prefer to reach out only to blogger friends I already know or have met thru pods and groups. Since you already know each other and interact with regularly, it’s easier to approach them with brands they’ve already worked with. Just ask nicely if they can refer you to their contact for this brand, rather than asking for the email contact directly. Some PR don’t like it when their emails are given out loosely. So ask for a favor to send your email address instead.
- Observe bloggers and their blog campaigns. When you see a blogger post a sponsored post (indicated with the #sponsored or #ad hashtag), you’ll notice they are using a specific hashtag for that blog campaign. Click on that hashtag to see other bloggers in the campaign and see if there’s a social media community they belong to. I do a lot of paid blog campaigns from communities like Social Fabric, Massive Sway, Linqia, She Speaks, and Tid.al. And for paid Instagram posts, Social Native and Obvious.ly are some of them. You can also check the disclosure in sponsored blog posts where the community is indicated. Join those communities to get sponsored posts with the brands you like.
- Attend blogging events and introduce yourself. Sometimes, the best connections I’ve made are through personally meeting brands and/or their PR and Social Media team. So be on the lookout for blogging events and/or conferences where your target brands are gonna be. Don’t be shy at the event, make an introduction, and be prepared to hand out your business cards.
How to Pitch to Brands, What to Say in Your Email
Usually, I have two different approaches that I use. Sometimes I would get super specific in the first email. But other times, I want to engage their interest first and send a short email like this:
Hope this finds you well. I’m Cris Zaragoza and I write the life and style blog, STYLEanthropy.com. I am always looking for new brands to partner with and I thought your company would be a perfect fit for an upcoming post I’m planning for [state the topic, for example: Summer Date Night Ideas]. Would you be interested in collaborating? I can send more information if you are interested. Looking forward to your response.
For a more specific approach, add in some points like:
- Say something you like about their brand. Obviously, you want to approach a brand that you already love. So tell them a personal experience, but keep it short. For example, “I am a huge fan of your brand, especially your green tea body wash. I use it everyday. So I thought I’d reach out for a possible feature on my blog.”
- State what you need from them. Are you looking for media accommodations on a hotel? If so, state the timeline and provide several date options. If you’re looking for clothes to feature for your style post, say that too. Looking for a sponsorship or reaching out to offer ad space in your blog, specify that as well. You can say something like, “I’m currently offering a limited number of ad spaces in my blog. I have xx number of monthly page views with a demographic of xx (e.g. young professional women) that I believe falls in your target customers. I have attached my rates below for your review.”
- Indicate what you can offer in exchange. Are you going to write a blog post for this or just for social media/Instagram? Or both? How many social media posts will you do for them? What is the theme? For example, you want to share your back-to-school must haves in a flatlay featuring the brand’s watch. Tell them when you plan to publish. And then, list down your stats/numbers for them, including page views and social media followers.
- Sometimes I would also include my media kit. Other times, I’d wait for them to request it. If including, say something like, “To learn more about me and my blog, and the brands I’ve worked with previously, I’ve attached my media kit for your review.”
Well that’s all I have for today. I hope this helps you out with nabbing your first brand collaboration. Let me know if you follow these and when you get that collab! I like hearing your experiences.
For the next blogging tips post, I’ll be talking about rates and *maybe* I’ll share about my blogging income too!?! If you have any other topics or questions you’d like me to discuss, please drop them below in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
Xo, Cris <3