There is a lot of information out there about how to pitch brands for sponsored posts and almost everything I read repeats a few things that I’ve found to be untrue. For example, the articles and courses I’ve taken have said:
- You should have at least 500 – 1,000 daily visitors
- You should never work for product only
- Your media kit is extremely important and should contain a million things that makes it like 3 – 6 pages long
While I’m certain that the people writing those posts and creating those helpful checklists are well-intentioned, I can tell you from personal experience that it isn’t necessarily all true. You see, I booked my first piece of sponsored content when my blog was averaging only 174 daily visitors, I have worked for product only, and I didn’t have a media kit until about 3 months ago (2 years into running my blog!).
To be completely honest, by all measures I’m still a small blog (I still don’t reach 1,000 daily visitors) yet I lock down new agreements and contracts with brands all of the time. It’s not that hard to pitch brands for sponsored posts yet the blogging world has this tendency to make it seem so challenging and out of reach.
Here are a few things you need to know before you pitch brands for sponsored posts:
Prepare your blog and be confident in your message
Regardless of how large (or small) your blog is when you start pitching brands, you must be visually appealing, clear in your message, and consistent in your branding. That’s the one thing I’d say you truly have to do before you pitch brands. Invest in your design and branding so that you appear professional and like you deserve to be taken seriously.
When you prepare your first email pitch, start with an introduction of your name, the type of blog you run, a link to your blog, and explain your core messaging.
For example, I might say:
My name is Ashley LaMar and I am the owner/operator of Honey & Pine (H&P). H&P is a lifestyle blog that provides readers with proven solutions and resources for domestic engineering (homemaking). My content primarily focuses on homemaking, gardening, self-care, and simple living.
Don’t bother writing anything longer than that because the people in the PR or Marketing department reading your email doesn’t have time to read a novel about your blog. Be clear and concise because all they really want from you is an idea of who you are and what you do. Don’t overwhelm them and respect their time.
Be prepared and specific
For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how exactly to find the brands to reach out to for collaborations. That was my big issue. I couldn’t decide who to reach out to and every time I asked for help in a FB group or a blogging community I was told, “Keep track of the brands you already buy and use, then reach out to them” but that didn’t really work for me. I mean, how often do you buy a new vacuum? Or new glassware?
I am not the kind of person that is brand-loyal to something like shredded cheese or coffee creamer so it was just hard for me to come up with a list of companies to contact. That struggle held me up for at least a year! Once I figured out how to find the brands I should be contacting, it made my life so much easier (I share those secrets here). If you’re one of those people that does have favorite brands and is brand-loyal, just sit down and make yourself a list.
Once you identify a brand that you want to work with, post something related to what you intend to pitch on social media to engage your followers. Reach out to your biggest and best community, you want to target the people that give you the most engagement. I defer to my Facebook page because that’s my most engaged community but if your people are mostly on Twitter run a Twitter poll or if you’re mostly on Instagram, post a pic asking for feedback. Then, get them to engage in a thread similar to what you intend to pitch the brand. For example, if I plan to pitch to a company about their new easy-clean vacuum I might pose a question on my Facebook page like:
Does anyone else finding cleaning their vacuum to be the most tedious chore ever?! Between my hair, my dog’s hair, and the dust bunnies, I just find it gross! I’d love to hear your cleaning tips if you have them.
Once the discussion is started, pitch the brand with your idea and link to your social media thread to show early interest in the topic. Going back to my example, I’d share that I am excited to learn about their brand-new ‘easy to clean’ vacuum because my readers and I agree that cleaning a vacuum is a tedious and disgusting chore and link to the FB post. Then, explain your post can introduce your readers to a solution to the problem you were discussing earlier.
Don’t be afraid of a basic introduction
I cannot even begin to tell you how many partnerships and sponsored posts I’ve booked simply because I sent an email very simply saying, “Hi, I’m (name) and I blog at (blog name / link / description). I wanted to send a quick note to introduce myself to (company or PR agency name). I would appreciate being included in (company name)’s press releases and considered for potential blogging collaborations.”
Sometimes the best way to get started is to simply extend a digital hand and say hello.
You could receive a number of responses when you just say hello. I’ve received the following email replies in just the last week.
- Hi Ashley! What did you have in mind? I’d love to possibly work together.
- Hello, we send product samples quarterly. If you’d reply with your mailing address I’ll add you to our list.
- We aren’t doing any collaborations at this time but I’ll keep you in mind.
- Please sign up for publicity announcements (at this link).
- You don’t fit our required aesthetic.
- Sorry, we are not interested at this time.
- We do not offer sponsored posts or product reviews however we are happy to provide a free product valued at between $200 – $500 in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes (see: often), I don’t receive a reply at all which leads me to my next point…
Be direct but stay flexible
I am always very clear and direct in my email pitches to brands about seeking sponsored collaborations. I let it be known that I’m seeking sponsored work and I generally outline what I’m prepared to offer in exchange for compensation however it is important to be flexible especially when you don’t have a large following.
After I make my initial email pitch, if the brand comes back and tells me they don’t have a budget for bloggers at this time I do not automatically dismiss the brand even though I know a lot of other bloggers do. When you are a smaller blog it’s important to build a reputation around the PR world of being approachable, considerate, and flexible. I have received a lot of sponsored content that came only after I was initially flexible and open to trading other items of value (like maybe they add additional product or agree to share the post on Facebook with a paid ad).
A few of my general rules:
Do not be rude, snarky, or entitled in your response
There is very high turnover in PR and Marketing so the person you’re being snarky with right now might be the same person you speak to at another brand in a few weeks or months. Don’t burn a bridge just because you can’t keep your attitude in check.
Have a bottom line value and be open to negotiation in order to reach that line. If they are unable or unwilling to provide financial compensation, ask yourself what additional compromise could be met in order to achieve your bottom line. Can they provide additional product that raises the value of the product received? Are there opportunities to work together in the future for opportunities that may be sponsored? Are they willing to promote your post on their social media channels with paid advertisements? Don’t be afraid to say no if you can’t reach an agreement but also don’t be too quick to say no when you don’t have a history of brand collaborations. Sometimes larger brands will ask for examples of past collaborations, just something to keep in mind.
Side Note: You have to pay taxes on product received as compensation so if you agree to work for product you have to keep in mind that you’ll be paying those taxes out of pocket.
Be gracious in denial
You will be told no to some collaborations and it’s important to be kind and gracious in your response. It is simple really and breaks down to being kind, asking to be included in their press release announcements, and expressing excitement about possibly working together in the future.
The most important thing is to remember that you and your readers have value. Don’t sell yourself short just because you don’t have six-figure traffic. Want to talk more blogging? Tweet me @ashleyfromhp!