Your creator business doesn’t have to live in a silo.
It doesn’t have to be you against the algorithm. With partnerships and collaborations, you can grow your following, sell more products, and create new revenue streams.
“Working in a niche industry like yoga can be challenging when it comes to building a wide audience of dedicated consumers. The absolute number one benefit of partnerships is the audience growth they can create. By partnering with another brand, you are immediately opening yourself up to a completely new consumer base, which is something so beneficial in today's oversaturated market.”
– Brett Larkin
But, how can you know a partnership will help your brand, your audience will care about it, and that you’re going about it the right way?
This is the guide to partnerships that help you scale your creator business, from the three questions to ask yourself to find the right partners, a template to ask them to work with you, and setting up your agreement, so everybody’s happy.
The benefits of partnerships and collaboration
Partnerships are magnifiers for businesses. They connect you with fans and future customers, allow you to access funds to help you scale, and create new revenue streams.
“Working with sponsors allows us to reinvest back into growing our audience. I hired terrific writers, and we’re expanding the Why We Buy series to include long-form blog posts and possibly a new podcast.”
– Katelyn Bourgoin
We get it. Scaling is tricky, but working with the right partners can be an easy way to expand your reach, drive more revenue, and grow. *Right* partners are key here. Your audience and customers don’t want to see you working with random companies that don’t align with your brand. They want to see collaborations that further their trust in you.
How to find the right partnerships
Partnering with just anybody isn’t the right way to approach collaboration. Your audience seeks authenticity from your creator brand. Anything that doesn’t align with that dings your relationship and credibility. Finding the right partners ensures your audience sees the connection. They need to understand the value this partnership has for them to buy-in.
Ask yourself four questions to find the ideal aligned partnership.
Step 1: Who is your audience?
People feel attracted to your brand for a reason. They love the way you edit travel videos or how you exude and teach confidence in the online courses you promote. Their attraction to your brand gives your audience commonality. So if you were to boil your audience down to one hypothetical person, who would they be?
- What stage of life are they in?
- What do they spend their time doing?
- What’s something they’re struggling with?
- What inspires them?
With ConvertKit tags, you can survey your audience with questions that help you get to know them better.
Here are three examples of who your primary audience could be:
#1: Young women in their 20s, interested in dating, and aspirational about finding the perfect partner. They’re inspired by self-improvement that makes them more comfortable and confident in relationships.
#2: Creators who launched a podcast but struggled to get downloads. They spend their time learning podcast marketing and aim to get 10,000 downloads per episode.
#3: Gamers who love watching you stream Fortnite. They like spending their time getting to experience games through perspectives like yours. They aspire to be streamers themselves but haven’t taken action towards this goal yet.
Knowing your audience sets you up to find aligned partnerships they will love.
Step 2: What challenges can you solve for your audience through a partnership?
Solving problems for your audience is a terrific way to keep them engaged and passionate about your business. Think carefully about:
- How can you help your audience get from Step 0 to Step 1?
- What’s missing in your audience’s toolkit to help them get to where you are now?
- Was there something essential you needed when you first started that they could use?
Here are a few examples of how you can solve challenges for your audience:
#1: Your audience of young women aspiring to find the perfect partner faces challenges in dating. You can teach them how to tap into their confidence through your content so they can say yes to more dates. The ideal partnerships would come from cross-promotions with other influencers with a similar audience.
#2: Your audience of podcasters is aiming for 10,000 downloads per episode but keep struggling to reach that milestone. The ideal partnership could come from showing the automation system you use to turn hour-long podcast videos into social media content promoting each episode. In this partnership, you could get paid a set promotion fee from the automation software.
#3: Your audience of gamers love playing Fortnite yet are too scared to stream themselves. You can connect them with another streamer’s course on How to Become a Streamer. The ideal partnership makes you an affiliate for the course.
When you solve challenges for people, you get paid. But only if you’re clear about the benefit of this partnership to your audience or customers. This is something Amanda Natividad, VP of Marketing at SparkToro, focuses on with each partnership she shares with her audience.
“When it comes to executing that partnership, lead with authenticity. Remember: people are smart. They'll quickly see through the BS. If you're writing punchy copy to promote a webinar that guarantees attendees will learn a valuable skill — how can you guarantee it? Make sure you deliver on that experience.”
– Amanda Natividad
Step 3: What other companies or influencers solve similar problems?
Saying yes to every Instagram DM asking you to promote products is never a good idea. Unless your audience can see the connection between your creator brand, that company’s brand, and themselves—you won’t have partnerships that scale.
You need to look for partnerships that align with your audience. Each partnership needs to help them with the specific challenge you’ve narrowed down.
Katelyn Bourgoin, creator of the Why We Buy newsletter, looks for partners she’d happily tell her audience about, even if they weren’t working together. She says, “I believe that the secret to making partnerships work is to only work with brands that you would happily promote for free anyway and to be transparent with your audience from day one.”
Ask yourself these questions to get started:
- What companies are in my niche?
- Which company has products best aligned with my audience’s challenge(s)?
- Which of these companies aligns with my brand?
- How would this partnership work best for me, them, and my audience?
To find companies in your niche:
- Google search for your niche’s keywords
- Search social media for companies with your niche keywords
- Ask your audience what their favorite companies/brands are in your niche
Then narrow companies down based on how aligned their products are to your audience’s challenges and your brand. Then, ask yourself how this partnership would work best for each of you.
- Are you looking to cross-promote each other to get more followers or email subscribers?
- Is it best if you promote their brand for a set fee?
- Does it work better if you ask for an affiliate commission?
How to ask partners to work with you
When it comes to partnerships, there are two ways they come about. Either a brand or another influencer reaches out to you and asks to work together, or you reach out to them. Neither is right or wrong. They’re both great ways to scale your creator business through aligned partnerships.
Use ConvertKit landing pages to create a partnership-specific page for brands and influencers interested in working together. These landing pages are built to come with little to no learning curve, so you can hit publish and start bringing in those partnerships ASAP.
Once you have your partnership landing page set up, take matters into your hands. Instead of waiting for partnerships to come to you, here's how to get all the partnerships you want (so you don’t have to sit idle waiting for somebody to come to YOU).
It comes down to one secret. Talk about what they’ll get out of the partnership.
My name is [Your Name], and I have an audience of XXXX [describe your audience]. I’d love to talk about the opportunity for a partnership together that can help you grow your following and/or sell more products.
[*Only include ‘sell more products’ if they have products you’ll promote in the partnership]
When would be the best time to talk about collaborating?
The key is making it clear you’re looking to help them with your partnership. Once they respond and get into the details, you can discuss what you’re looking for from the collaboration. For example, are you hoping to cross-promote and increase brand awareness? Are you looking for a set fee for promoting another company’s brand? Or do you want to collect affiliate payments?
How to set up your partnership
Just like how with great power comes great responsibility, great partnerships come from transparent expectations. Each party needs to understand:
- What’s in it for you?
- What’s in it for them?
- What does success look like?
The more transparency, the better.
Set clear expectations
Let’s say you’re the dating and relationship influencer who is partnering with other influencers to get more eyes on your content. You’ll promote their TikTok in return for them promoting yours.
The expectations set for this partnership are:
- What’s in it for you? You get promoted to their TikTok audience through 3 TikToks.
- What’s in it for them? They get promoted to your TikTok followers through a series of 3 TikToks.
- What does success look like? 3 TikToks from each party with direct links to the other’s profile with the aim for a 5% increase in followers each.
If you’re looking to get paid for a sponsored post (like the podcasting example), the expectations will look like:
- What’s in it for you? $3,500.
- What’s in it for the other party? 3x newsletter promotions to your 10,000 person email list.
- What does success look like? The company wants to see at least a 1% conversion rate to consider working together again.
And the expectations for an affiliate partnership similar to the gamer promoting another streamer’s course will be:
- What’s in it for you? 25% affiliate fee per course sold with your link.
- What’s in it for the other party? Promotions to your audience at your discretion.
- What does success look like? The streamer would love to see 20 conversions per month from your affiliate links. (Since this is affiliate marketing, you don’t usually need to hit a certain number to continue being an affiliate!)
Once these expectations are set, it’s time to draw up a contract. (Don’t be scared!)
What to include in your contract
Partnership contracts can differ depending on the details of the collaboration. Some contracts include clauses about IP rights or protect internal information from one of the companies. But, generally, every partnership contract will include.
- Deliverable dates
- Type of deliverables
- Necessary details about obligations from each partner
- Termination terms or end date
Make sure to save a signed copy of your contract to refer back to as needed in the future.
Partnerships amplify your creator business
Your creator business is ready to scale. It just needs you to hit the GO! button. Amplify your creator business through strategic partnerships your audience loves that also build out revenue streams.
Make it easier to add partnerships to your business with ConvertKit's creator marketing platform. Use ConvertKit’s tags to learn more about your audience and build landing pages to help potential partners reach out to you.
Get started with your free trial of ConvertKit here.