When I put out my post about how I retain my traffic I vowed that I would put other posts, like how I’ve grown my social media and how I’m so productive (which I really don’t think I am that productive because half of the time I’m laying in bed playing Brawl Stars and the other half I’m sitting in the living room scrolling through social media).
But, something people ask me a lot is how I approach brands as a blogger.
There’s loads of information on the internet about how to approach brands. All it takes is a simple google search and you have reams of information at your disposal, for free. That’s all I did, googled, read, scrolled, read some more, and practised.
I look back at some of the first emails I sent when I was first approaching brands and I must say, I cringe. In some of them, I sound like a little girl asking their parents for some sweets in the sweet shop when they’ve run out of pocket money. In others, I sound like a high-flying journalist who lives in a high-rise building in New York. Well, dress for the job you want, I guess?
Anyway, both of them showed my experience or lack of. As much as I had read, I still didn’t really know what I needed to do. Sure, I knew I needed to attach a few documents here and there, I knew to be a little formal but not too formal (whatever that means) and I knew I should offer them what I can do, but, what could I do? I wasn’t sure really. I can write a blog…? Great Lauren, that’s 95% of the internet then…
It’s not until recently that I’ve really learnt how to approach brands. It takes time. You have to send your cringe emails, you have to start from the bottom. You have to collect rejections.
It might sound ridiculous to say collect rejections. If you’re approaching a brand why would you want them to reject you? Well, it’s simple. I didn’t know I needed them now, but I did. Every rejection helped me to mould my own email format. Most responses would come with a reason why they rejected me. I made a note. I learnt from it.
The less exciting ones are the: “We just don’t have the budget right now.” – which equates to real-life terms “I have money but I just don’t like the plans you’re offering and would rather go for a meal with a different friend“. Or “We’ll keep you on file for future opportunities.” which roughly equates to “Please don’t ever call us again, we’ll call you. Which, ultimately, will be never.” You have to take those ones with a pinch of salt. Just because they don’t want to work with you now, doesn’t mean they don’t want to work with you, ever.
Utilise Social Media
That person sitting behind the Twitter or Instagram of the business pulls a lot of strings, in some cases. They are the ones who see how you perform. Sometimes, they’re even the marketing managers. Or, they have access to influencer budgets. Make use of them.
I don’t mean start stalking them, liking every post and commenting below everything saying “Wow I’d love to work with you!!!!!!” because let’s face it, that’s creepy. But, drop a like every so often. Things you genuinely do like that is. Make a thread of businesses you’d love to work with and tag them in. Write posts about them or take photos with their products and tag them in. Build a relationship with them and then slide into their DM’s.
You might find you get a contact detail for the person you do want or in some cases, they’ll show interest and ask if you can talk about it in emails. Result.
Do Some Voluntary Work
I know this won’t sit well with a lot of people, but, unfortunately, it’s the way the world works. It’s a way to build experience. Build your brand. Build your reputation. You can’t walk into blogging and start at the top with PR parcels to review and experiences to… um, experience?
PR’s, your audience, marketing teams, brands – they need to see what you can do. They need to see that you’re good at reviews. They need to see that you take an alright photo. They need to see that you genuinely do use their products. Your posts should show your personality and show why you should be trusted to create content.
Address the Recipient
General office etiquette here, but, there are so many people, without generalising, usually the much younger generation who don’t address the recipient in their emails. Sending an email without a name almost guarantees that you do not get a response. Unless you have trudged long and hard across the internet and they really don’t disclose who works for which department, which, in all honesty, is a very small amount of brands then you need to include their name.
There are so many ways to get the contact details for who you want. Don’t do like what I did and used to email the customer services email every time. I mean, I cringe just thinking about it.
You’ll need to find the press contact which is usually in a secret little portal on their website. It’s never hard to find when you know what you’re looking for. Look for press and then look for the contact. Some brands you’ll need to sign up for their press releases which will give you a login to their press portal. Sometimes there are limitations, such as circulation and if they like your blog, for them to send you a login credential.
You know that stupidly annoying part of a job application where they ask if they can contact a reference and you know they might not ever do it, but you kind of like, have to tell them yes please feel free to contact my previous boss whom I didn’t like much praying that they wouldn’t actually contact them, no just me?
Well, the beauty is, you have the power to attach a reference.
Previous brand collaborations are your reference. If you’re wanting to work with a perfume brand, attach a previous perfume brand reference if you have one. That simple email where they say “we have loved this, thank you!”. That’s a reference. Hotel stay reposted your blog post and said: “we love this post that @____ has done and what a great review!”. That’s your reference. Not there yet? Don’t worry there are more options.
Your audience is your reference too. Somebody has messaged to say how much they love your blog? That’s a reference. Direct the brand to messages that show you’re reputable. One or two is sufficient. Don’t go on overkill.
Highlight your Skills
Now, this is one that I really feel like I’m preaching something that I can’t actually do very well myself. I genuinely do find this one the most difficult to do. When I first started blogging I was hopeless at taking flat lays, so I never mentioned them. In fact, I purposely swerved away from fragrance brands or products that I like, purely because my flat lays would have been laughable.
Instead, I focused more on the things I can take photos of, or Alex can take photos of. Holidays, food, travel accessories, clothes. Things that I knew I would be able to get photos of. After researching how to do flat lays for a long time, I finally felt confident enough to start contacting brands offering flat lays.
The point I’m trying to make is: Bloggers are almost expected to do everything. Photos. Writing. Social media pushes. If your strength lies with writing, show them that. Share a recent article that highlights your writing. Don’t offer something you don’t believe you can achieve. Not everybody can have strengths in the same things. It’s what makes us different, I mean, I can never compete with the dreamy flat lays that katelovesx.co.uk creates. Neither can I compete against some bloggers for a social media photo.
But, that’s okay. We are all different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Share your strengths.
Twitter analytics, Instagram analytics, LinkedIn connections, blog visitors, Facebook impressions, they’re all important and they all count towards your engagement. I would even go as far to say your Pinterest unique visitors count, but be wary of this one.
Everybody grows so quickly on Pinterest because somebody who sees a pin you’ve saved, which actually has nothing to do with you and they never clicked your profile or even knew they saved it from you, counts. So, I tend to leave Pinterest out of my circulation, but add it to the bottom as additional information.
Your monthly circulation is probably much more than you’d even imagine. The last time I worked mine out, which was in November, I was getting a consistent 3.5million reach from across the platforms. I lowered it down to account for the odd inconsistency. I didn’t want to have to work it out each month.
My Twitter analytics show that in the past 28 days, my tweets have reached 1.16 million. That’s a phenomenal number for somebody who has just over 5,000 followers. That counts to my monthly reach. My Instagram shows that 1,500 people consistently watch my story. That counts. These are people that the product can potentially reach. Do your maths. Attach screenshots.
Of course, follower count is just as important. Add in your total follower count and share how it breaks down, either in a list form or as a graph. Canva is a great way to do this.
You’ll need to add a media kit to even be considered by a majority of brands. There are many ways to create your media kit, but I find Canva to be the easiest. Sell yourself. This is your portfolio. Work you have created. Brands you’ve worked with. Talk about you, talk about your blog. If you’re struggling about what to write, ask a friend to help you. They will probably know your qualities better than you do.
If a brand does work with you. Be sure to create the work in a timely manner and keep them updated when content goes live. Attach links for them to see the content. Ensure that you are fluid with them and share the impressions, views and likes that content has gained. Be sure to thank the organiser of the collaboration. Manners go a long way.