This week, I’m traveling to Chicago to run my SEO workshops at The Blog Societies Conference. I spoke last year, and I really loved the entire conference. It’s a great way to make brand connections, network with other bloggers, and learn everything from photography, SEO, and blogger finances! I have attended quite a few conferences, but #TBSCON is the only one I strongly recommend, especially for lifestyle bloggers.
On to today’s topic – pitching brands! Money doesn’t magically appear. It requires some work. Whether you are a blogger or a digital business owner, two channels contribute to your monetization – what you do (services and media kit) and examples of your work (past collaborations or portfolio). For digital business owners, or at least for me, referrals make up a large portion of the customer base.
For bloggers, it’s a little bit different. You have to be more proactive in building connections with potential brands. Getting your name out there is just as important as the content you create. Digital business owners don’t necessarily need to have a large following, especially if it doesn’t relate to the service they are providing.
Before You Pitch
Personally, these items are quite obvious, but I’m surprised at the number of bloggers who don’t do this before they contact brands. Follow the brand on all your major social media channels and subscribe to their email list. If you’ve been a long-time subscriber, the better! I would wait a week or a few if you haven’t interacted with the brand before.
Secondly, tag the brand in your blog and Instagram posts. This practice illustrates that you naturally already feature the brand, and the content is a sample of the engagement and influence you are able to generate.
What Brands Want, Want Google Wants Are the Same
Improving your SEO helps you become a better candidate to work with a brand. Both Google and brands are looking for the same thing!
- Original, high-quality content written by experts. I can’t emphasize this enough. This key point separates a lot of people. Brands want to see professional content – images and text. Google penalizes sites lifestyle sites and blogs that write clickbaity titles without the substance (source).
- Relevance to the Company: When people search for topics, the results are populated to what’s most relevant to the searcher. The searcher should be able to find what they need in the first ten articles because the content is relevant. When pitching to the brand, your content should be relevant to what they do – both in niche and photography style.
- Influence and Reach: Articles that receive more traffic, comments, and engagement tend to show up earlier in search results than others. Brands are also looking for influence and reach. What’s your average user per post? Average comments per post?
Using Your Own Photography
Part of my rebrand, I completely switched from stock photography to 100% original photography. I did this for several reasons – to get my site copyright protected and to build a portfolio of original photographs for brands. When you partner with a brand, they most likely want to use the photographs for their materials. Your contract will often point out the requirements of the engagement.
Lately, a few of my clients have been able to secure very good partnerships with brands, despite a more niche, smaller following. Why? Their original photography aligns with the brand’s style guide.
Pitch Emails Qualities
When I started to freelance, the number of unprofessional emails I received from other bloggers shocked me. Even if you are running your blog on the side, always be a professional with how you communicate it to others.
- Be professional, direct and clear with your communication.
- Thoughtfully add personality, but don’t go overboard.
- Know the brand. Include thoughtful details about how the brand aligns with your blog.
- Use a clear and direct subject line. Brands receive thousands of emails each day, stand out by clearly communicating your objective.
- Be willing to negotiate. In Marcy Tweet’s You Know Everybody, she talks about building a relationship with a mentor. Think of it as you are building a relationship with a brand. First, you need to get on their radar. Ask to be on their PR lists, or ask about what relevant influencer programs they have going on at the moment.
Pitch Email Content
Substance makes your pitch email valuable. If you don’t include any valuable details, then you are not giving the brand any reason to engage in a partnership with you.
- Illustrate Your Value: Include two to three relevant examples of past partnerships that benefited the brand. These examples should include metrics that can be verified by either a Google Analytics or social media report.
- Audience Demographics: Break down your audience by gender, geography, and age. If your audience is a little bit different than the norm, emphasize that quality. For example, I worked on a lifestyle blog that had quite a large male demographic, they emphasized that in their media kit.
- Relevant Examples: Share a few links (two to three) of the actual past collaborations. Did you work with RMSBeauty and think you would be a good fit for JuiceBeauty? Include a link to your collaboration post or Instagram post in the email.
- Contact Information: Make sure to include your contact information so that it’s easy to find (separate paragraph).
Track Your Pitches
Depending on how often you pitch, I recommend setting up a system for tracking who you pitched to, when, and any follow up. Personally, a spreadsheet works best for me, but you do what’s easiest for you. If you are looking to monetize your brand, set aside a few hours each week to send pitch emails. If you haven’t heard from a brand in a week, send a follow-up email!
Interested in working together?
I’d love to hear about your project!