When I started blogging four years ago, I had no idea that it would become my full-time job. It started off as a passion project, but quickly turned into something that I wanted to turn into a business. As time passed and I continued to post about my interests and passions, brands started reaching out to collaborate. This was intimidating to say the least, but it encouraged me to think more strategically about working with brands in exchange for the content that I created.
On the other hand, I didn't learn how to negotiate deals with brands and settle on the right budget overnight. It takes practice, it isn't easy, and there's no manual highlighting what you should and shouldn't do during the negotiation process. Thankfully, my best friend Nathalie Martin coached me until I figured things out for myself, but I've also learned lot about a brand's perspective completing my degree in public relations. After four long (but insightful) years at school, my outlook on the blogging "world" has become far broader than I ever imagined. Not only do I understand the industry from a blogger's perspective, but I also have knowledge of what the brand is thinking in terms of deliverables, budget, negotiating, and the back-and-forth "game" they often like to play. After all, that's what I learned about for four years!
**By no means am I an expert when it comes to negotiating and working with brands. I'm still learning too, but I thought it would be helpful to share some tips I've learned thus far. Here they are...
1. Know How to Ask for a Budget
When you ask a brand for their budget, always be confident. Instead of asking "Do you have a budget?", ask "What is your budget?". Furthermore, don't be scared to ask. Thanks to the rise in social media and influencer marketing, there's plenty of brands that have an allocated budget to work with influencers. However, this also depends on the brand. If it's a small local brand that is looking to spread awareness about their new store, chances are they won't have a budget. If it's a global, multi-million dollar company, it's pretty likely they'll have funds allocated to working with bloggers and influencers. My theory is, if you don't ask, you'll never know!
On another note, when you ask a brand for their budget via email (after receiving an opportunity), forget the fluff and get straight to the point. Be nice and have manners, but get to the point. It's great to engage in conversations and build relationships, but PR and marketing individuals are busy. They skim through emails and look at the key points. If you want to ask a brand for their budget, don't beat around the bush. Be upfront. Thank the individual for reaching out, introduce yourself (if this is the first time you're communicating with them), ask questions about the collab, then inquire about their budget.
2. Know Your Worth
Secondly, know your worth. Often times brands will offer you a budget for the deliverables they're asking that won't reflect your rate. Simply put, if you don't think the budget they're quoting you is fair for the amount of content they want you to create, don't accept it right off the bat. Reply to their email and negotiate. Try cutting down on the number of posts for the budget they quoted you, or simply highlight your rates and see what they're willing to offer. Again, don't be rude. Be polite, have manners and see what you can work out.
3. Think About the Bigger Picture
I always tell my blogger friends to think about the bigger picture. Do you love the brand enough to work with them in exchange for product, or even for free? Is adding the brand on your blogging "resume"or media kit more important than financial compensation? Will working with the brand open up more doors, or even future paid collabs? If the answer is yes to all of the above, move forward with it (but do so with caution).
Ultimately, thinking about the bigger picture and building relationships with brands and PR practitioners should always be one of your priorities. I often work with brands initially for payment in product if I truly love the brand and want to start building a long-term relationship with them. At the same time, it's extremely important to know your worth. Don't continue to work for free. You need to think about the bigger picture and get paid for your content and the time you put into creating that content. Let's be real. Free product won't pay your bills!
4. Is It Worth Your Time?
Based on the deliverables or expectations the brand gives you, whether that's one blog post and three Instagram photos, is creating the content from start to finish worth your time? Are you passionate about what you'll be shooting and writing about? Are you willing to spend hours photographing, editing, and writing about a product, piece of clothing, etc? If you're hesitant, try and negotiate the deliverables with the brand or simply pass on the opportunity. If you're going to pass, don't be an ass or stop replying to their messages. Let the individual know you're not interested in the particular campaign but you would love to keep in touch and/or work with them in the near future (refer to point 6 below).
5. Does the Collaboration Mesh with Your Personal Brand?
DOES THE COLLAB MESH WITH YOUR PERSONAL BRAND? (That was in caps for a reason)...If there's doubts or any reason you're hesitant to work with a brand because of what they make, sell, or do, re-evaluate. I know the money or free product can be enticing, but if the brand or collab doesn't mesh with your personal brand, pass up the opportunity! It's as simple as that.
6. Building Relationships is Key
If you want to continue working with brands, building positive, two-way relationships with them is key. Ultimately, no one wants to be known as "the bitchy blogger" or "the blogger that's difficult to work with" in the industry. You want to represent yourself positively via email, phone call, and especially during face-to-face conversations. I've learned that if your work is unique, high quality and you've built a good relationship with a brand or PR company, chances are they'll keep coming back to you for future collaborations.
7. Be REASONABLE!
Last but certainly not least, be reasonable. Don't ask a brand to pay you an insane amount of money if you don't have reasons to support why. For example, if you have 3,000 followers on Instagram, don't ask a brand to pay you $1,000 for one photo. Brands are smarter than that. Well, most of them are. They can see right through your BS and probably won't reach out to you again for further opportunities. This is especially true if you're being difficult, or if your expectation of how much they should pay you is way too high. That being said, coming up with rates can be difficult. If you have friends that are bloggers or influencers, ask them. Otherwise, do plenty of research online. Google should be your BFF and you should never stop doing research.
I'm always open to feedback, especially on lengthy, informative posts like this. Do you agree or disagree with my points? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know in the comment section below!
What I'm Wearing
Photos captured by Vincent Ko