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How To Get Brand Collaborations

Arguably one of the best parts about being a influencer is getting the opportunity to work with brands. Before influencers and bloggers really became a “thing,” the only way to work with your favorite brand was to get a job there or or start a career in marketing. With the boom of the blogging industry, brands have started collaborating with influencers on campaigns, effectively using it as a new advertising outlet. Securing brand collaborations isn’t as simple as it may seem, though. There’s a lot of strategizing, creative planning and downright hard work that goes into securing and executive these collaborations. In this article, we’re going to share our most valued tips on how to get brand collaborations, and furthermore, how to follow through on those collaborations to ensure success.

Before we dive into our tips on how to get brand collaborations, we wanted to touch on the common belief that influencers just receive tons of free stuff and take a quick iPhone photo with it and call it a day. There are so many misconceptions about what it means to work with a brand as a blogger that we wanted to take a second to clear those up and make sure you know what you’re getting into before seeking a collaboration.

How To Get Brand Collaborations: The Process

There’s an entire process that goes on in the background before a photo can even be taken and it typically goes something like this:

Phase 1:  Proposal

Collaborating with brands usually starts with a proposal process. This process will differ depending on how you came upon this opportunity or if you’re reaching out to brands in a “cold call” style. If you’re reaching out to brands with no prior invitation to work with them, the initial email is where you would propose a collaboration, an idea, or a creative concept to them in the hopes that they’re interested in seeing it through. Along with this, you would also include any statistics, analytics, or media kit that you have. Providing these statistics will help to give the brand concrete reasons as to why they would want to work with you, and the numbers to back it up.

Phase 2:  Contract

After the proposal, assuming that the brand moves forward with your collaboration, you typically reach a contract phase. In the contract, the brand lays out, in legal terms, what you’re bound to by entering into the collaboration. Typically, the contract is short, sweet and to-the-point, outlining your post requirements, timing and deadlines, as well as consequences to be paid should you not follow through on the agreed upon terms. In larger, more complex or paid collaborations, negotiations can be made on both sides on things such as:  payment, deadlines or timing, non-compete terms, etc.

Phase 3:  Product Selection & Shipping

After the contract is negotiated and signed by both parties, you would send the brand your product selection (assuming that a specific item was not agreed upon in the contact), sizes, and shipping information/address. This part is typically the most fun, though not without strategy. Product selection must be strategic from a number of angles, some of which include:  outfit planning, location spotting, fitting the brand’s aesthetic, as well as your own, etc.

Brands typically send over the shipping information immediately following the item(s) being shipped out to your location for tracking purposes.

Phase 4:  Content Creation

Once you have received your items in the mail, you have from delivery date until the due date to plan the shoot, coordinate with a photographer, create the content, edit, and if included in the contract terms, send the content to the brand for approval prior to posting.

As a side note, lots of brands prefer to edit photos themselves in order to better fit the aesthetic of the brand or their Instagram feeds. This is totally normal, and in which case, they would ask you for the raw, unedited photo files, perhaps in addition to those that you have edited to fit your own personal aesthetic.

Phase 5:  Posting

Typically brands prefer the post to go live in accordance with your Instagram analytics. Whenever your followers are the most active throughout the day is when you would typically post. Note that this sometimes fluctuates depending upon the campaign.

In the contract, the brand will outline posting guidelines, which include relevant and required hashtags, photo tags and text. Often times, brands will also provide monetized or trackable links for you to post in your Instagram stories in a swipe up link and/or in your bio.

Phase 6:  Payment & Completion

Provided that the collaboration was paid, after your post goes live, you would receive payment from the brand, typically through PayPal or a similar service. After the close of the collaboration, it’s always good to follow up with the brand, thank them for working with you, and leave the opportunity open for a future collaboration, should they want to engage you again on a future campaign.

How To Get Brand Collaborations: Tips

Now that we’ve laid out the standard framework for a brand collaboration, we wanted to share with you some tips on how to secure a collaboration and make it through that first “Proposal” step. The tips below are based in personal experience and we hope you find the same success as we have following this advice.

Tip 1:  Build Yourself A Media Kit

As mentioned in Phase 1 of the standard brand collaboration timeline, providing concrete proof of your value in the form of engagement rates, follower statistics, impressions, etc. is the key to securing brand collaborations. It provides concrete evidence of the value that you could bring to a potential collaboration. The easiest way to share these statistics and analytics with a brand is through a media kit. If you’re unfamiliar with media kits or their contents, it’s basically a brief PDF document where you pitch yourself, your personal brand, provide examples of past work and present numbers related to your following and reach, and state your rates.

Your media kit should be a very well designed document, easy to read and easy to understand. In all, your media kit is your way of being able to ask a brand to work with you and very clearly showing them why they should.

If you’re not particularly familiar with design programs or are unsure about how to create your own media kit, there are tons of really awesome templates available for purchase on Etsy. A quick google search will tell you everything that should be in your media kit in order for it to be effective.

Tip 2:  Join An Influencer Marketing Platform

Influencer marketing platforms have undoubtedly been the most helpful for us in securing brand partnerships and collaborations. If you’ve been struggling to get collaborations on your own, join an influencer marketing platform, like Cohley or Foray. Platforms like these have already done the hard work of establishing contact and relationships with brands that you’ve previously had no entry point to. Typically how these platforms work is one of two ways:  the platforms either list out different campaign/collaboration opportunities and you can apply directly right there, or they add your face/name/statistics to a database and reach out to you when one of their brands wants to invite you to a campaign. We’ve had influencers we know able to work with brands like Revolve, MINKPINK, Dyson Hair and the like, solely from being a member on influencer marketing platforms.

One last note to the benefits of joining an influencer marketing platform:  These platforms make it super easy to track the collaboration’s progress and act as a safeguard to ensure everything goes smoothly throughout.

Tip 3:  Never Be Afraid To Ask

This tip seems simple, but it’s honestly really important. Never be afraid to ask. This bit of advice is far-reaching. Never be afraid to ask a brand for a collaboration, compensation for your work, or to negotiate terms, and also never be afraid to ask your fellow bloggers how they personally secured certain collaborations with brands. You’ll never know if you don’t ask and you’d be surprised how willing people are to help, if you just ask.

Tip 4:  Have A Vision

We think it’s really important to have a vision before heading out to shoot for a collaboration. Anyone can go outside and take a photo of themselves. It’s your creative vision for how you want the collaboration to go that will set you apart. By no means are we suggesting that for every photoshoot you do that you create a million mood boards and piece together some elaborate plan. However, we are suggesting that you put some thought and genuine effort behind the content you create for a brand. Those extra ten minutes of thinking through a shoot or an outfit or whatever it may be will stand out to the brand and make you memorable.

Tip 5:  Follow Up

Remember when your guidance and career counselors at school would tell you to send follow up thank you emails after a job interview? This is no different. Kindness and good manners go a long, long way. After finishing a collaboration with a brand, be sure to follow up, thank them for working with you, send over your favorite images and leave the door open for future collaborations. All of this makes you memorable, more likely to work with the brand again, and also gives you a better chance of being reposted. Lots of times brands miss the tags or mentions when you post a photo featuring their product. They definitely won’t miss it when you’re sending it in a follow up email, and assuming that your photos are good, they’ll most likely repost it, giving you more exposure.

Like these tips on how to get brand collaborations? Checkout the Wolf Blog for more great articles with advice on Instagram, Influencer Marketing and more!