It’s no secret that pitching your first brand partnerships can be extremely intimidating!
A couple things might be holding you back–who do you reach out to? How do you do it? What do you say? And the scariest of all–what if they say no?
Here’s the thing though, it’s not actually that scary, because that’s the beauty of it, too. The worst they can say is no!
If you play your cards right though, you can really minimize your chances of getting rejected, and increase your chances of landing those dream partnerships! Here’s how to go about landing your first brand collaboration.
Create a great Media Kit
Pitching brands is a whole lot easier if you have a media kit–also known as your blog’s resume.
Any brand you pitch is going to want to get a better feel for your brand in general, what your readers are like, and what your reach is as a whole. A media kit gives them all this information in one pretty little easy-to-read package.
Not to mention, a Media Kit shows a brand that you’re professional, and that you run your blog like a business, which will make them a lot less inhibited to work with you.
(By the way, did you know we launched two BFK Media Kit Designs? The only way you can buy them right now is by signing up for our new mini-course, which gives you 5 days’ worth of lessons–including how to customize your media kit–and major discounts on all our products! Click the graphic below to join, or pop over here for more information on the mini-course and our new BFK Shop products!)
Start small and work your way up
When first starting out, focus on pitching small companies or local boutiques first. This not only allows you to establish awesome relationships with other small businesses, allowing you to grow together, but you’re going to have a heck of an easier time convincing your favorite ABC boutique to work with you rather than pitching Madewell.
Additionally, be flexible with what you’re asking. If you’re a small blogger just starting out, be realistic about the fact that you aren’t likely to start landing paid gigs right away. Like anything, you need to work your way up! If you haven’t worked with any brands before, your focus should be to get as much experience as possible, establish really solid relationships with those brands you have worked with, and get fantastic, glowing reviews from them that you can then use to pitch more companies, and so on and so forth.
Make it easier to say “yes” than to say “no”
The above being said, when you start reaching out to your favorite smaller brands and local businesses, you should brainstorm what kind of partnership is going to be most helpful for them as well as you.
This is what you should lead with. Do they maybe need models for their new spring line? (Perfect, because you need cute new clothes AND outfit photos for your blog!) Are they looking for more photos to share on their social media channels? (Great! You can give them lots of those!) Are they looking to get more foot traffic in their store? (Fabulous! Wouldn’t you make the best event host?)
When you reach out, make sure your message is clear–you want to establish an ongoing relationship that is beneficial to both parties.
In reaching out, you could say something like this:
Hope your week is going well!
My name is Jess, and I’m a local style blogger at X blog, and I’ve been a fan of your boutique for years! (I’ve been shopping there since you guys first opened your old Lincoln Park location!) I wanted to reach out as I was wondering if you were open to partnering with bloggers.
A little bit about my blog–[insert a quick elevator pitch here + reference your media kit attached]–and I know your target audience is very similar, so I’d love to work out a trade if that’s something you’d be open too! I’m always looking for cute new items for my outfit photos, and I would love to style some of yours! In exchange, you would get promotion on my blog and Instagram, and would also get copies of the photos for use on your website and on social media channels.
Is this something that you would be interested in exploring further? I’m open to any other ideas you have as well based on your own goals for the store–would definitely want to make this a win-win for both of us! I’m happy to pop by the store next week to talk details in person as well.
Now, isn’t that so much better than sending an email simply asking for free clothes?
If you make your email clear that you want to set up a partnership that benefits both parties, whomever you’re pitching will be just as excited to work with you as you will be to work with them!
Even when pitching larger brands–let’s say, a small online retailer–I would still recommend starting small with what you’re asking for. Understand that the bigger the company, the more likely they get floods of blogger emails. In this case, be concise with your pitch–such as, you’re putting together some outfit shoots for a trip to London and you would love to style X boots and X dress in your post, and would also tag them on Instagram–is that something they would be open to?
When looking for contact information, I usually go three places–I try messaging the brand on Instagram, I try to find a press release with a press contact (usually in the “press” section of the site) or I email customer service directly and ask for a media contact. Usually one of these three things yields at least the correct contact information!
Speaking of Instagram, it also helps to cultivate a relationship with the brand via social media. Tweet at them, tag them in your Instagram photos. Comment on their photos, like their posts. Make your name known, and you’ll have a much better chance of landing a partnership down the road.
Work from warm leads
You’ve heard of the sales term “warm leads”–right? This refers to making a sales pitch to someone who has already used or is already familiar with your product. The same works for blogging!
If you’ve been blogging for a little bit, you likely have started to get a lot of event invitations and emails from local companies or PR reps. (If you haven’t, I’d highly suggest joining a local blogging network, and/or researching some PR firms in your area. Send them an introductory email with your media kit, and ask to be put on their media lists!)
These emails should be treated like–guess what? Warm leads!
For example, let’s say you get an event invitation for a grand opening party at a local boutique. Go to the event, speak with the PR and brand teams in charge, and give them your card. Afterward, follow up with them, and make that awesome pitch we talked about above, and more likely than not, they will be delighted to work with you in some capacity.
Now, say you can’t make the event, you can still respond to the event invitation email and say, “I’m not able to attend, but I would love to work with X brand in the coming months. Are you planning any upcoming campaigns for summer? I’m attaching my updated media kit here for your review as well. Let me know your thoughts!”
As you grow, you can still use this same concept to then move on to charge for your content. Then you can reply and say something like, “I’m a huge fan of X brand and would love to work with you! However, I’m only accepting sponsored partnerships at this time. I’m attaching my media kit here with pricing if that’s something you’d be open to moving forward with! Happy to hear any ideas that you have, and would love to jump on a call to discuss further!”
Pitching warm leads is the #1 way I land sponsored partnerships, so I can guarantee–it works!