11 min read
You don’t need to be an influencer with 50,000+ followers to start collaborating with brands you love.
So many bloggers think they can’t pitch brands until they reach a pie-in-the-sky number of pageviews or email subscribers, but you may be surprised to hear just how quickly you can get started.
We are in the age of micro-influencers, meaning that a collection of social media accounts with 5,000+ followers can be as valuable as one person who has millions. But how can that be?
The high engagement rates and highly targeted content that micro-influencers produce can often outweigh the visibility of celebrity-type influencers. Companies are looking to work with people who are relatable, personable, and represent their product.
This is great news for bloggers who are new on the scene and looking to get their start with brand sponsorship opportunities. While you don’t need to wait until you reach astronomical growth to work with brands, there are a few things to consider before diving in.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some brands may look for blogs with 100,000+ monthly pageviews while others would rather work with many bloggers who have 10,000+ monthly pageviews.
What determines this? One thing is the brand’s marketing budget. The smaller the brand is, the more likely they will be to work with several micro-influencers who can produce great content for them.
This doesn’t mean you can only work with small businesses. When I worked in the influencer marketing department at a public relations agency, we had a very well-known national health and fitness industry client who was interested in working with bloggers who had 3,000-7,000 followers on Instagram. That feels more doable than gaining an audience of millions, right?
Remember that numbers do not always equal influence. Someone can have many followers but if they have terribly low engagement, they won’t be as valuable. Most brands would rather work with someone who has higher engagement and less followers.
In the end, it’s all about how many of your readers or followers take action. Visibility is great, but action is so much better because it’s measurable and turns marketing messages into sales.
Keep in mind that the more niche your blog is, the more flexible your numbers can be. If you have an ultra-targeted audience, it’s easier to sell brands on a lower overall traffic number than a broad lifestyle blogger.
This is because a brand knows exactly who they will reach through your sponsored content. If you have a highly niche blog, make sure to highlight that in your pitch as its a major benefit of your own brand.
Before we tackle this question, it’s important to know that your time is worth something. Many brands offer free product in exchange for social media promotion and blog post collaborations, but you’ll want to assess the value of your time versus the product.
A restaurant giving you a free meal is great, but if the value of the meal is $20 and you spend 10 hours creating content, you’re only making $2 an hour. Whomp whomp.
Don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of brands who are willing to compensate bloggers who can create high-quality, highly engaging content. That’s why it’s important to figure out what your time is worth to you before pitching yourself.
Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:
How long does it take you to create content? Whether you are snapping product photos or writing an in-depth product review, you’ll want to come up with a ballpark number of how long it takes you to create whatever you’re producing for the brand. Don’t forget to add in the time you spend planning, formatting, scheduling, emailing, and any other behind-the-scenes work that goes into your content creation process.
What is your content worth to the brand? Is the content meant to engage their own audience, introduce them to new customers through your brand, or translate content into sales? The more conversion based your content is, the more valuable it is to the company. Naturally, they want to work with bloggers who can sell more of their product, so this can be a great opportunity to prove your worth to new brands.
What does this added income mean for you? Are you creating sponsored content as a side hustle for extra “fun money” or are you planning to make it your full-time gig? No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it will most likely dictate what you feel comfortable charging. Some bloggers may need to charge $35-45 an hour to sustain their business, whereas others may feel comfortable with a flat rate of $100-200 for their first blog post.
With sponsorship opportunities, not all numbers are created equal. You can charge more if you are a professional photographer (or work with one), have a high amount of blog or social media comments, or better video equipment.
Before you set your price, take stock of all the value you’re bringing to a brand through your sponsored content and then settle on a price. We recommend charging brands at least $100-150 for content so you can provide real value at a real cost.
You might be tempted to jump right into the pitching process, but we recommend asking yourself a few important questions before you begin. That way you can ensure it’s the right move for your personal brand and any other companies you work with in the future.
Do you already have experience with the brand? Your sponsored content will come across as more genuine and authentic if you’ve used the brand in the past. It’s even better if you have a personal connection or a specific story behind your experience with the brand. This is what separates good sponsored content from great blog posts.
Have you done your research? If you’ve been an avid follower of the brand, it will show through your pitch and sponsored content. It impresses a brand if you can add on to ideas from their content archive or find a way to refresh them for a new segment of readers.
Are you willing to create valuable content for the brand? When you work with a brand, you may be asked to create engaging content not only for your blog but also for theirs. Are you ready to go above and beyond to show how valuable you are to the company?
Sponsored content takes time to intentionally plan and develop so make sure you have enough room in your calendar to do it justice.
If you answered yes to all of the questions above, you’re well on your way to making a splash with your sponsored brand content. Let’s cover what you need to get started so you can pitch with confidence, even if it’s your first time pitching yourself.
If you’re a little nervous to send your first pitch, you’re not alone. Even though I began my career in public relations where pitching becomes a second language, I still have to hype myself up to send new pitches.
You may be surprised to hear that some of the largest influencers still get nervous to send sponsorship requests. Feeling your palms sweat is totally normal, but it doesn’t have to hold you back from collaborating with brands who are waiting to work with someone like you.
The best place to start is by feeling comfortable about your mode of communication. You have the option to pitch collaborations by phone, but email offers you the unique opportunity to think about what you want to say before you press “send”. It’s what I recommend starting with if you want to get more comfortable with pitching.
Now you may be asking yourself what you should include inside the email. This is often where bloggers stall out, but writing your pitch can feel easy if you have an email template to pull from.
When I pitch a brand for a collaboration, I like to work from a content flow so no important details slip through the cracks. Then I don’t have to work from scratch, which also helps me save on time.
Here’s a look at what you can include in your email pitch:
I’m excited to pop in your inbox today to talk about [what kind of collaboration you’re proposing] because [why you love the brand].
I loved your [recent campaign title here] campaign because [reason why you loved it]. Are you looking for additional campaign contributors to collaborate with?
I can add value to the campaign by [what you specifically can offer them]. This could look like [what the project could involve], but if you have another idea, I’m all ears!
If you’re interested in learning more about my blog and my highly engaged blog readers, I’ve attached a media kit with some additional information and statistics. I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Have a great start to your week!
[your signature sign-off],
[your own name]
[your blog name]
[your website link]
See? That isn’t so hard, is it?
Make sure you do your research so you are sending your email pitch to the right contact. If you can find the marketing, public relations, or media contact, they will be your best points of contact. If you can also find what their name is through a Google or social media search, that’s even better.
Before you press “send” on your email, it’s best to include a media kit with your pitch. What’s a media kit? It is essentially a summarized list of key facts and statistics behind your blog.
Think of it as an “at a glance” look at who you are and what you do. Not only that, but you’ll also want to highlight the demographics of your audience so brands know who they can connect with when working with you on sponsored content.
When creating your very own media kit, here are a few things you’ll want to include:
If you’re looking for more media kit inspiration, The Blog Maven has 20 examples you can take a peek at. If you want a done-for-you solution, we have just what you need.
We’ve created a media kit template just for you in Canva. Simply create a free account in Canva and then click here to open the template. To use it, make sure you save a copy to your account from the File menu first, then edit away. It's our gift to you!
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.