One of the struggles I had, in the beginning, was learning how to find sponsored blog post opportunities and finding brands that work with small bloggers. There’s a lot of information out there about how to pitch brands for sponsored posts but it all felt so overwhelming. I felt like I needed more page views, a higher social media following, a better media kit, and a million other things before I could find brands willing to work with me. Turns out, almost everything I read wasn’t exactly true.
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. I booked my first piece of sponsored content when my blog was averaging only 174 daily visitors (approximately 350 page views), I have worked for product only, and I didn’t have a media kit until about 3 months ago (over 2 years into running my blog!). You do not have to be a huge blog in order to find sponsored blog post opportunities. All you really need is a clear purpose and an understanding of how to present your value.
*This post was updated in 2018*
By most measures, I’m still a small blog yet I lock down new agreements and contracts with brands all of the time. It’s not hard to find sponsored blog post opportunities and pitch brands for sponsored posts yet the blogging world has this tendency to make it seem so challenging and out of reach. I promise you can do it, even if you’re not one of the top blogs.
Here are a few things you need to know before you pitch brands for sponsored posts or apply for sponsored blog post opportunities:
Prepare your blog and be confident in your identity
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 present yourself in a way that shows 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.
Here is an example of an actual introductory pitch I sent that resulted in a contract.
Hi PR PERSON FIRST NAME!I’m Ashley LaMar and I’m the owner of Honey & Pine. I recently left the urban city life to return to the mountains so I could reconnect with life in a more natural, authentic, low-stress way. Now, I focus on helping other women do the same and find contentment in the simple moments. One of the best parts of returning to a simpler life is being able to focus on the joy that comes in the little moments with your family; moments like gardening on our family farm, watching the sunrise over our mountains, or just relaxing on the front porch telling stories. We recently learned of BRAND’S new PRODUCT and love it as a healthy morning option.
I would love to partner with BRAND and invite our readers to choose BRAND in the morning as a healthy breakfast for their families. May I send over my media kit?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Don’t bother writing anything longer 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 want from you is an idea of who you are and what you do. Don’t overwhelm them and respect their time. Never pitch a specific idea and do not send your media kit or proposal until they ask for it. You want them to respond to you, to engage with you, and to ask for your media kit.
Send your media kit and a formal proposal
Once a brand has responded to your initial email and asked for your media kit, respond with your media kit PDF (1 – 2 pages, max) and a formal marketing proposal. Your marketing proposal should be 1 – 3 pages and include the following:
- Project Overview – This details who the collaboration is between and what the collaboration is going to achieve. This should be 1 – 2 paragraphs long but should not include details of the agreement.
- Specific Collaboration Offer – This section includes specifically what you are offering to do for the brand. For example, my collaboration offer may include:
- 1 blog post featuring BRAND as the go-to company for PRODUCT OR SERVICE. This blog post will inspire readers to TAKE THIS ACTION.
- Original gorgeous photography highlighting the benefits and uses of PRODUCT.
- 1 Facebook post, 1 tweet, 1 pin, and 1 Instagram post
- 1 Instagram Live video talking about the product and engaging with followers.
- Cost – This section includes your fees as well as your timeline for payment.
I also include a page to Meet Our Team where I include headshots and a bio for each of our team members (myself, my husband, our photographer, and our dogs).
Invest in your knowledge
I really struggled to sign sponsors before I finally broke down and decided to invest in the area where I knew I was weak (pitching). I had confidence in my skills with content, social media, and SEO but my pitches weren’t landing as frequently as I thought they would. I attend Pitch Perfect Live with Jenny Melrose and learned soooooo much from her free training. I stopped having trouble finding the right contact at a brand I wanted to work with and I felt more confident reaching out once I did get the email address.
After taking Pitch Perfect Live, I signed on to take the full paid course, Pitch Perfect Pro. It was actually the first course I ever invested in and it was absolutely worth it. It gave me the confidence I needed to raise my rates (by 2.5x!) and negotiate when a brand offering less than I wanted. My first sponsored post after taking Pitch Perfect Pro covered the course cost and gave me enough left over to buy a few new blouses. 🙂 I don’t often pitch courses but this one was worth it.
Be direct but stay flexible
I am always very clear and direct in my email pitches to brands about seeking sponsored blog post opportunities. I let it be known that I’m seeking sponsored work and I clearly 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 an 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 an 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 a product you have to keep in mind that you’ll be paying those taxes out of pocket.
Be gracious in denial
When you begin seeking out sponsored blog post opportunities you will be told no to some collaborations. It’s important to be kind and gracious in your response. It breaks down to being kind, asking to be included in their press release announcements, and expressing excitement about possibly working together in the future.
If you’re struggling to find PR professionals to contact, you may like this post which shares my top 3 resources for finding their contact info and making connections.
Want to talk more about blogging and finding sponsored blog post opportunities? Join my Facebook group, #AdventuringTogether
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