INFLUENCERS - HOW TO RESPOND TO BRAND COLLABORATIONS

 



    As a YouTuber myself who has received collaboration offers from brands, I know how exciting it can be when you're first approached. To think that a company wants to send you free products in exchange for a review - who could pass on that? Well...you'd be surprised. As tempting as it may be to accept every offer that comes your way, you need to do so with your best interests in mind.

    When a brand reaches out to you asking for a collaboration, this is what that email will typically look like:

"Hi Sarah! My name is (blank) and I am the Marketing Director for (Companies Name w/links). We love your work and think you're a great fit for our brand. We would love to collaborate with you by sending you (products name) in exchange for a review for your audience. This product has a value of (product's price) and we believe you and your audience will love it. We look forward to your response!"  

    Now, before we jump into analyzing this email, it's important to know one thing. When I first started accepting free products in exchange for reviews on my YouTube channel, I did so because I knew I needed the credibility. I wanted to give the company the confidence they needed to know that I was able to follow through on my end and at the same time, build up my collaboration portfolio. Depending on your situation, you may or may not be in the same boat. 

    I personally think if you have no experience with collaborating with brands, it's worth getting the free products at first. After you have a few collaborations in your portfolio, you can then start charging companies. I say all of this now because many influencers are afraid to put a price on their time because they think working with big brands is enough - sorry to break it to ya', but enough doesn't pay the bills! 

    Now, another thing I want to say before we dive deeper into this, is that if you don't have a Media Kit  - you need one ASAP! Media Kits are like resumes in the Influencer world that will give potential brands a better understanding of your style, your audience and your rates. I created a Media Kit using Canva - which is free -  and every six months I make changes to it if needed. If you want to take your business as an Influencer seriously and get the best sponsorships, you need a Media Kit. 

    Now that this has all been establish - lets go back to that email and dissect it to see if it's worth our time.

1. DOES THE EMAIL ADDRESS YOU?

    You would think that it's basic courtesy for a business email to address you, right? Well, it's not. I've received so many collaboration emails where whoever was writing to me, didn't even take the time to type my name in. RED FLAG. If a company doesn't take the time to address you by your name -  which if they found your email, they surely came across it - I would move on to the next. 

    Remember, as an Influencer, your job is to create content and it's important that companies treat you as a professional. After all, this is a Business Proposal we're talking about! Raise the bar high from the very start so that companies do not take advantage of you.

2. HAVE THEY RESEARCHED YOU?

    For a company to want to work with you - it's 100% considered an investment. They are using their own resources and time for you to market their product with their goals being either more exposure or sales. The same can be said on the flip side;  if you're marketing for a company, you're investing your time away from your regular content so that you can market their brand to your audience - an audience they currently don't have. 

    For a company to want to work with you, it's only necessary that they research you - after all, you wouldn't buy a car if you didn't have it thoroughly inspected, would you? Exactly. If you received an email from a company and they don't even mention any of your social media handles or your work even - odds are this company is simply looking for a quick collaboration, or they're spam.

3. IS THE PRODUCT RELEVANT?

    I think as an Influencer, trying a range of products is great - but only if it's relevant to your content and/or if you're genuinely passionate about the product itself. You don't want to be that Influencer who makes content on Beauty hacks but you're promoting a Home Improvement brand. 

    It's not exactly bad if you can present in a way that isn't too commercial like, but it won't look great. Just because a company is offering you a free product and great money with it doesn't mean you have to accept it.  Doing so could lead to your audience losing trust in you and you losing your credibility as an Influencer. 

4. DO THEY MENTION A BUDGET?

    A budget is a companies ability to financially compensate you for the work you do for them. If anywhere in the email budget is not mentioned; bring it up. Influencers should never shy away from the money talk because this is business after all. Remember, you're a professional with a business to maintain so compensation needs to be discussed. Something like this will work nicely:

"Hello (blank), thank you so much for reaching out to me with this lovely opportunity! Is there a budget for a project like this? I am currently only providing my services for paid collaborations only."

    While you're at it, throw in your Media Kit too and briefly explain what they can expect by working with you:

"Hello (blank), thank you so much for reaching out to me with this lovely opportunity! Is there a budget for a project like this? I am currently only providing my services for paid collaborations only. I offer a range of services including (list your services) that your company can choose from to fit your needs. I have also attached my Media Kit to this email where you will find more information on my brand, my channel analytics, collaboration history, and my rates/packages. I look forward to your response and thank you again for reaching out to me!"

    Keep it simple but straight to the point. By mentioning a budget first hand, you sift out the proposals that don't fit. If a company has a budget, all you have to do is negotiate with them. If all goes well, both parties should sign a contract (yes, as an Influencer, you need your own contract!) that finalizes the agreement. Now there are tons of resources out there that help you determine what you should set your prices at, but my favorite is a post from Tinuiti.

    If they agree to your asking price - wonderful! You're on your way to a great collaboration that works for both parties. However, be prepared for a lot of companies that will try to low-ball you. I was appalled when a company told me flat out that they didn't think I was worth my asking price - um, EXCUSE ME? Yes, you guessed it - NEXT. 

    Don't let big companies fool you into thinking that they can't pay you - they have employees of their own, all of who perform work and get paid at the end of the day.  So, why should you be viewed as being any different when you're marketing them? The only time I accepted an offer that couldn't pay me was when it was for a product that I genuinely wanted and I was excited just to have it.

5. DON'T BE PRESSURED

    Do not be pressured into doing anything that makes you cringe on first impressions. A business proposal should feel exciting, professional, and worth while. If at first you're given bad vibes or the company shows signs that you're just another Influencer to mooch off of, don't accept it. 

    Remember, you're the one with the audience that they want to be put in front of. They're asking you because they want something from you. You've already proven that you have what it takes to be successful and your hand-crafted platform can back you up on this. 

    Think about it this way. Lets say you were to accept a business proposal where the company refused to pay you what you wanted. Here is everything you would most likely end up doing for them, while you walk away tired and unappreciated:

  1. Spend hours researching their brand and products
  2. Spend hours if not days recording content - using your own equipment
  3. Spend hours taking social media pictures - using your own equipment
  4. Spend hours or days editing your videos and picking music that you will most likely need to buy
  5. Spend hours typing up a blog post that has back-links, personalized photos, and embedded videos
  6. Spend days away from uploading content you normally upload
  7. Spend hours sifting through the right photos and editing them for social media
  8. Spend hours cross promoting any videos or pictures for your post 
  9. Spend hours traveling if traveling is required
  10. Holding off on other paid collaborations as you dedicate your time on one campaign that isn't paying you what you want

    Now lets take a look at everything they they will get just by you working for them either for free or at a pay you're unhappy with:

  1. Personalized social media posts from you, a developed Influencer
  2. Tags that increase their ranking on social media from you, a developed Influencer
  3. Personalized videos that will lead to potential sales and brand recognition
  4. Content that will be available to the public until you close your social media accounts - giving them years of exposure as you continue to grow as an Influencer
  5. Well written blog posts that will drive up their google rankings
  6. Exposure to your audience - an accomplishment that took you years to achieve and they got in just a few days.
  7. Free or discounted services - as if in the real world you could ask a Dentist for a free cleaning or for a discount in exchange for exposure.
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    So you see - it's not worth it to accept a low-ball offer. You're making your life unnecessarily harder when you can focus on opportunities that will compensate you and leave you feeling appreciated for all of the hard work you do to maintain your reputation. If you think my reasons for emphasizing getting paid for your work stops there - think again. 

    Here are some common excuses companies will use to convince you into accepting less than you're worth:

"You're not big enough...your views are low...we're offering you exposure...you can join our affiliate program...if all goes well, we'll pay you for future campaigns...your prices are too high...we can pay you but you will need to work more for us...blah, blah, blah."


   The first paid collaboration I did went smoothly. They responded to me and liked my idea, then asked me how much I charged. I told them my price and they agreed to it; no excuses, no extra questions or having to go back and forth. Any company that tries to fight how much you should be compensated is a company you will regret working with later on. 

    If you're a bigger Influencer, you most likely have a Manager who is responsible for handling all of your collaboration offers - but majority of us don't and we're forced to learn on our own. To save yourself so many headaches, do everything proper the first time, and it's only a matter of time before the right opportunities land in your lap. Stay true to yourself though no matter how much a company tries to "buy" you.

    Do you have stories to share about your collaborations with brands? What did you do to improve your chances of finding the perfect collab for you?




Until next time! xoxo - Sarah

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