I spoke at The iCAN Collective Sponsorship Masterclass July 15 on how to secure sponsorships and partnerships as a blogger. Since I wrote my answers down in preparation for my talk, I decided to share them with you in a blog post too for those of you who weren’t able to make it.
Below are the questions that the host asked the sponsorship panel.
- How To Pitch A Collaboration With Brands
- How To Get Brands To Notice, Collaborate, And Pay You As An Influencer
- How To Monetize Your Blog: The Secret Is In The Foundation
- How To Make Money Blogging: The Most Comprehensive List Online
- How And Why It’s Crucial To Create A Strong Personal Brand
1) Please say a quick intro and give background on who you are and what you do.
My name is Elaine Rau. I am the founder of LadyBossBlogger.com, a blog for female entrepreneurs to learn how to start, grow and scale their own online businesses and blogs; and the best part is—it’s free. All the posts are sponsored, but the content is free to the public.
2) Who was your first sponsor, and how did you go about approaching them? Or did they approach you?
It was a few weeks in when I secured my first sponsored post. I was living in a third-world country at the time and couldn’t find a job. I didn’t speak Spanish and needed to learn how to make money online somehow, so I started a blog to document what I learned!
I reached out to about 100 people, 10 people got back to me and 1 accepted my offer of being featured on my blog for $5. Her name was Joelle Tremblay, and her slogan was “Failure Is Not An Option.” I took it as a sign from God and ran with it.
That did well for a while, but it was exhausting having to reach out to new people every single day to find new clients, so I started researching how to get posts continually sponsored by companies. So I signed up with feedmyblog.org to get sponsored posts.
They connected me to the first company that established an ongoing relationship with me, and I decided to open up guest posting as another source of income where companies pay to feature their articles on my site.
I saw that was working and decided to do more of it, so I signed up for more influencer marketing companies and applied to their various campaigns.
3) How far along were you in your business when you secured your first sponsor or major collaboration?
Before I answer that question, let me tell you the three major ways you can work with companies.
- You can reach out to companies you like by pitching them, going online, finding out who to contact in regards to partnerships and promotions.
- You can sign up for influencer marketing companies for free and get pitched to. If you fulfill the requirements they are looking for, you’ll have the chance to be admitted into their available campaigns. An example of this would be ValuedVoice.
- You meet in person, perhaps at a networking party where you strategically place yourself, establish a connection and talk about how you can work together.
My first major sponsor was Intel and I got them through an influencer marketing site called socialnative.com. The benefits of going through a company is that they are in contact with the brand and know what campaigns they are running, so there is no guess work involved. If you fit the campaign and are what a company is looking for, you’ll probably get it.
When you reach out to brands, you may not know what promos they are trying to push, so it’s a longer process, or you may not even be able to find the right person. While it’s harder, it’s also the best way to get the big bucks if you’re looking to land a prolonged relationship.
4) What essential information is requested by most companies when it comes to deciding on if they will partner with you?
Include qualitative stats such as engagement rate, monthly views, audience demographics. But more than anything, your brand must match their brand. What makes you valuable is your audience’s attention to your words. The more your audience trusts you, the more valuable you are, which is why engagement is such a huge factor.
Use shortlinks sites such as bit.ly to help you track your engagement by tracking clicks and where they are coming from. For example, you’ll get free products before you get paid to post; when you get that product and post it to your social media outlets and blog, make sure to track the click-throughs from each platform by assigning a unique link to each different channel so you have a number to show people your “engagement.”
5) How do you decide who you want to work with when it comes to sponsors?
I like products and services that service my brand. If it’s not something that I would use anyways or something that would save me time or make me more money, I generally don’t accept. But if it’s intriguing to me and piques my interest in one way or another, I would be interested in learning more.
Recently, an email validation service reached out to me offering to clean out my email list. I had been needing to do it anyways, plus their offer was really great—and it required minimal effort on both parties. I would get their services, and all I had to do was mention ZeroBounce! Check them out!
Now, on the other hand, I had a company reach out to me who wanted me to become their affiliate and work with them. It was a makeup company for tiny makeup. I said no because, well, I don’t like small things. Go big or go home. ?
Final example, I reached out to a company who was looking for influencers to sell their red light therapy anti-aging devices, and I was intrigued. This company was advertising their offer in a Facebook group so I contacted the owner, introduced myself and asked if he would be interested in working together.
I thought my audience would like it because, well, first off I am my own target market, so it makes it easy to think what ladies my age would like and, second, everyone was looking for gifts around mother’s day, and I thought this would be a perfect gift!
Needless to say, it was a huge hit and within two days of promoting the product, I had already made thousands of dollars for them, and because I was also their affiliate, I made a few hundred for myself.
The timing was too perfect not to pounce on it—and it paid off!
6) Have you ever turned down a sponsor? What led to that decision?
I have lots of female product companies that reach out to me asking me to promote their tampons or pads, but I am a fierce believer of the Diva Cup and don’t use anything else! However, that isn’t the point.
All they see is that I’m a brand for females and while yes that is true, I talk about business strategies, tips and tricks, and my focus isn’t actually on women’s topics apart from business.
This lesson is great for when you reach out to brands as well: make sure you know who you’re reaching out to!
7) Do you typically reach out to brands, or do you wait for organizations to reach out to you?
I don’t actively reach out to brands anymore; they reach out to me. They are researching their competition just as much as we are, and if they see another company going after you, they are going to value you.
Additionally, I’ve optimized my site in a way that makes it easy for people to see if they are a good fit or not. For example, ladybossblogger.com/guest-post lets both companies know how much it is to guest post and ladybossblogger.com/how-to-get-featured lets individuals know how to get interviewed on my site.
If they aren’t a good fit, they won’t reach out. It also makes it easy for me to simply send people the link when they inquire, so I don’t have to type out a full response.
8) If you reach out, how do you find the right point of contact?
A great place to start is by joining Facebook Influencer Groups. These are the easiest campaigns to get into, as you have direct access to the person in charge of the brand. However, they don’t pay the best, because they are usually smaller brands with tighter budgets.
However, this is a great way to build your “sponsorship resume” for when you reach out to larger brands. I would say the next step is getting on influencer marketing lists, such as ValuedVoice for sponsored opportunities. Different platforms serve different niches better.
To find some that work for you, simply search “influencer marketing platform,” in Google and a ton will pop up. Just make sure you’re signing up for the ones for creators, not the software or service designed for brands to find influencers.
When I was trying to reach out to Elf Cosmetics, I looked up “Elf Cosmetics” on LinkedIn and hundreds of their employees popped up. So I messaged all of the ones that could potentially be the point of contact, asking if they were or if they would be willing to point me in the right direction, and one of them did!
9) In your early days of getting sponsors or working with other brands, what’s something that has gone wrong?
I remember when I was trying to review a hair curler to see how it would compare to my Beachwaver and Procabello, and I told him I wasn’t looking to get paid, because I wanted to give my honest review on his product. I then forwarded a negative review where I had talked about the Procabello hair straightener. Needless to say, he never got back to me! ?
10) What do you wish you had known about working with sponsors that you know now?
There are humans behind brands too. I know that is a given, but sometimes when I think of huge brands, I just think of a conglomerate entity and not necessarily human haha!
One thing I would recommend is to treat your partnership as you would approach a friendship. The goal is not to grab your freebie and run but to find out what the brand’s objectives are and how you can fulfill them using your skills as a creator and your audience as your vessel.
Below is a picture of me at the conference representing my lovely dress from Lalla Bee, which is an elegant fashion company founded by the amazing Melina!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would be glad to answer any questions you may have!
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<3 Elaine Rau