The 10 Golden Rules Of Working With Brands

April 19, 2019 1 Comment

The 10 Golden Rules Of Working With Brands

April 19, 2019 1 Comment
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more details. Thanks for supporting the brands that make The Happy Arkansan possible!

Are you ready to take your blog to the next level through monetization? One way to monetize your blog is brand partnerships. These partnerships can be difficult to navigate for new bloggers, so I wanted to shed some light on them. Over my time as a blogger, I've worked with some pretty cool brands: AcneFree, Advil, Coca Cola, Erin Condren, Glade, Schick Quattro, and Tai Pei to name a few. I've learned a ton from working with those brands, and I wanted to share some of that knowledge with you all today.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

The Ten Golden Rules Of Working With Brands | Do you want to work with brands but you don't know where to begin? Start with this article that will give you everything you need to get started. Getting blog sponsorships doesn't have to be hard, especially if you follow these golden rules. #Blogging #BloggingAdvice #BlogAdvice #BrandDeals

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1. Always Disclose Your Partnership

If a brand wants you to hide your disclosure or include do-follow links in your promotion, they do not have your audience's best interest in mind. Let me say this one more time for the people in the back. They do not care about your audience. Those brands care about the money they can make from your audience and the SEO they can make from your blog. They do not care about the people involved with that money and SEO juice at all.

Always disclose your partnership. You will only be working with this brand for a few weeks (and maybe more if they like your work.) They are eventually going to move on from your audience and off to someone else's audience once they get all that they can from your brand.

The only thing that you have is your blog and the audience that you have created around it. Your audience has to be able to trust you and the content that you put out into the universe. Don't let them down by succumbing to shady business practices to get paid. Show your audience that you love them by following FTC guidelines and properly disclosing your partnerships.

Be Upfront About Your Disclosures

Another trend I am seeing is the act of putting your disclosures at the bottom of your post. Don't do that either. Disclosures need to happen before links to brand content. I don't put mine at the tippy top. When creating content, I usually start with a paragraph about the post, and then I do my disclosure. You may not want to start with a disclosure, but don't bury it at the bottom either. Again, if a brand is pressuring you to include your disclosure at the bottom, they don't care about your audience.

Are you ready to start making money with sponsored content? Check out the ten golden rules to working with brands from The Happy Arkansan first! Click To Tweet

2. Know That Things Will Probably Be Inconsistent

Brand work shouldn't be your only income stream just like affiliate work, your products, et cetera shouldn't be your only income stream. You need to successfully build up multiple streams of income for your blog so that you do not depend too heavily on any one revenue stream. If you depend on your blog to pay your bills, you never want to depend on when someone else needs promotional work for their brand to get paid.

Different niches bloom in different seasons. For example, college bloggers I follow often find that they get more opportunities in late spring and during the summer. You may find that fashion opportunities only pop up during the beginning of the season/end of the season. Travel opportunities may be sparse or nonexistent during the colder months. You don't want to totally build an entire empire around that.

Instead, try out several different income streams and stick with them if they work. You may want to try having a few of these income streams:

  • Brand Sponsorships
  • Freelance Writing
  • Coaching
  • Virtual Assistantship
  • Course Creation
  • E-Book Writing
  • Graphic Design Work
  • Opening An Online Boutique
  • Affiliate Marketing

There are SO many different streams of income that you can decide to use. The important thing is that you give each stream a fair chance and you work hard to create those income streams.

3. Don't Get Greedy With Partnerships

Your entire blog or social media feed shouldn't be a constant promotion for another person's products. You want to have a good mixture of branded and nonbranded work on your feed. I understand that because of the inconsistency of branded work, sometimes you happen to get a lot of branded work in a short period. If that is this case, learn to spread out your content in a way where you can weave nonbranded content around and through it. If you can help it, try not to have two sponsored things back to back–be it on your Instagram feed or your blog page.

I know that sometimes this is unavoidable because we get busy and we can't always take the time to create content between our sponsored content. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense for our social media accounts. I completely understand if that is the case for you.

When you are scheduling out sponsored content, do so in a way that makes sense for your brand. Create sponsored content in a way where you can space out sponsored posts so that it works for the brands and your readers.

Also, be smart about how you bring your sponsorships to your audience. If your sponsored posts feel like they seamlessly fit into your regular amazing content then posting more sponsored content shouldn't be an issue. It's all about how you integrate sponsored work into your blog.

The Ten Golden Rules Of Working With Brands | Do you want to work with brands but you don't know where to begin? Start with this article that will give you everything you need to get started. Getting blog sponsorships doesn't have to be hard, especially if you follow these golden rules. #Blogging #BloggingAdvice #BlogAdvice #BrandDeals

4. Do Your Due Diligence Before You Create The Partnership

If you are like me and you like working with small businesses, this point is especially important. PLEASE DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE YOU CREATE THE PARTNERSHIP. When it comes to small businesses, people look to sponsored work and purchases from other people a lot more because they want to see how the company works. When people see that the brand has worked with other bloggers before they are more likely to trust the brand, even if they don't know the blogger.

This happened to be a couple of years back when I was a HUGE monogram lover. I had been looking for someone to replace the monogram shop I had bought my monograms from during college, and I found this cute small business that was having some good sales on products. I decided that I would try them out because I had seen them work with another blogger before and their products seemed legitimate.

Then days turned into weeks, and they missed the deadline of when they said they would ship by. I contacted the company with no response. I was upset because I had spent some good money with them and I was excited about my monogrammed items. So I started digging, and I did a Google Search with some of their images. It turns out they were just yanked from various Etsy shops. They weren't going to provide these items. So I filed a Paypal complaint, and I let a few of the store owners know that their product photos were being used on this person's website. I was devastated because I trusted that a blogger did their due diligence before they worked with this small business.

People trust you when you work with brands. You have to take the time to sit down and do very basic Google searches and find out more about the brand before you agree to work with the brand.

Are you doing your due diligence before you work with brands? Check out this post from The Happy Arkansan for information on why you need to start. Click To Tweet

5. Get A Handle On What Your Audience Is Drawn To Before You Partner

If a brand wants to pay you any amount of money it can be easy to get so excited that it doesn't matter what your readers would want to see from you. This is a mistake. Instead of taking many sponsors where you aren't sure if your readers would resonate, hyper-focus on the sponsorships that you accept. Make sure that your readers would resonate with that brand. At the very least make sure you would be passionate enough about that brand for your readers to care.

Figure out the kind of content that your readers enjoy, take a peek at some of your followers Pinterest boards to see the type of stuff they like, really close in on who they are as people. This way you can create the kind of content they will love and work with brands that resonate which makes those brands more likely to come back to you for another post in the future.

Besides focusing on their likes and dislikes, focus on what they respond to from your blog/social media.

Pitch stories that make sense for your audience. What would they be interested in seeing from you? Do you have a post that your audience is always asking you for? Maybe you keep a spotless office, and your audience is always asking for your best tips. Go through all of the cleaning products you use to keep your office spotless and pitch each brand the story your audience already wants to read. If your audience already wants it, they won't care if it's sponsored.

Who wouldn't love getting paid for a post they were likely already going to make?

6. Don't Be Afraid To Negotiate Your Rate

If you are not getting a reasonable rate for your work, don't be afraid to negotiate to get a better price for your blog. Negotiating your rate is simple. Think about the following as you are preparing a sponsored post rate.

  • What your deliverables are? What kind of posts are you making? Will the images be high-quality images?
  • Who your audience is? Is your audience made up of people who would love this sponsorship? Is your audience made up of people who have expressed tons of interest in this brand? Do you have an extremely niche audience that the brand would love to tap into?
  • How are you approaching the sponsored post? What will make your partnership special? What makes your sponsorship worthy of more money than they are offering?
  • Are you hiring anyone? Do you need a photographer or a hair appointment or something else to make this sponsored vision a reality?

To negotiate with a brand, be clear. Give them a set of deliverables, give them information about your audience, and stand in your worth.

If they still have a lower budget than you'd like, negotiate their needs down. If you can't write a dedicated blog post within their budget, can you do a social media campaign instead? Make sure that their budget matches the content you will produce for them. Don't let anyone try to make you give up more work than you want to.

Believe in yourself and how much you know your audience. If you have faith in yourself, no one can take that away from you.

The Ten Golden Rules Of Working With Brands | Do you want to work with brands but you don't know where to begin? Start with this article that will give you everything you need to get started. Getting blog sponsorships doesn't have to be hard, especially if you follow these golden rules. #Blogging #BloggingAdvice #BlogAdvice #BrandDeals

7. Get Sponsorships How You Feel Comfortable Obtaining Them

There are many ways to gain sponsorships for your brand.

Blog/Sponsorship Networks

One way to make money on your blog is through blog networks and sponsorship networks. All networks work a bit differently.

Networks like SocialFabric showcase all their opportunities and then you apply each “shopppertunity.”

Sites like TapInfluence work as a marketplace for potential bloggers. On TapInfluence you will not see who they are working with, but you will get a direct opportunity if the brands feel that you are a good fit for a sponsored post with them. TapInfluence also sends out surveys often to bloggers to get more information about them and see if they would be a good fit for upcoming opportunities.

Sites like Izea are the best of both worlds. Izea has a few sponsored opportunities open for the public to bid on. It also works as a marketplace where brands can reach out to you directly if they feel your blog would be a good fit for their promotion.

Here's the tea about networks though: they take a portion of your income. If you see a job on a site like SocialFabric where you are getting $300, you best believe that SocialFabric is getting something on top of that. They're giving you $300 of the money they received. They're charging the brands a lot more. Those extra charges occur because:

  • They need to pay the bills to run their site
  • There is a premium for them introducing influencers to the brand
  • There is a premium for using their employees to run the campaign successfully.

Here are a few different blog/sponsorship networks you can join:

Pitching

Sponsorship networks are great, but they can also cut into your potential profits because these networks often take a cut of the money. Also, not every possible brand uses a blog/sponsorship network to work with other bloggers. There are many great resources out there for pitching like the course BossPitch by Erica of Coming Up Roses or the Facebook group That Pitch Life which is a useful free resource for bloggers out there.

Pitching brands yourself means that you can work closely with the brands you love, and you can make a higher income because of it. Double win, y'all!

Trouble knowing who to pitch? Check out the #AD and #Sponsored hashtags on Instagram and other social platforms. They are filled with tons of brand deals, even if you have to wade through hundreds of companies you probably don't want to work with. Instead of delving into all the content, only check out the top content for the brands working with the best bloggers. Those are usually companies with higher budgets since they are working with bigger bloggers. Then, it's just a matter of finding their PR contact and pitching them with an amazing blog post idea.

Having Brands Come To You

Once you make a more significant dent in the blogging community, you may have brands start to come to you. I would encourage you to keep your inbox open and ready to receive pitches at all times. Make sure it's easy to contact you on your blog or social media profiles. You don't want to keep brands guessing on how to contact you. When people need to look hard for your email address, they'll usually stop looking.

While you are at it, get a professional email address. I adore G Suite for my email addresses. It's all the power of a Gmail address, but with my own domain name attached. Holla! Get away from the unprofessional @gmail.com addresses. If a brand contacted you from an @gmail.com address, you'd think they were shady. Brands feel the same way about bloggers who haven't invested in their email addresses.

The issue with waiting for brands to come to you, though, is you'll often end up just waiting. Especially when you are a smaller blog, brands may never find you as quickly as you like. Instead of waiting on others, take the initiative, and reach out yourself. If you start with a good pitch, there is no telling what you can do.

You don't have to wait for brands to come to you. Check out this post from The Happy Arkansan with various ways to get sponsored post opportunities. Click To Tweet

8. Exposure Doesn't Pay The Bills

A few years ago a sports jersey company asked me to write a sponsored post for them. I believe it was supposed to be a round-up/advice post or fashion post; either way, their payment was exposure. They said they had thousands of fans on their social media accounts and that they would share some of their favorite blogs on their social media accounts.

*Giant Red Flag Alert*

Exposure doesn't pay the bills. Furthermore, exposure from a sports jersey company surely doesn't pay the bills. Even if by chance that companies fans were to hop over to my blog, they would take one look around and know that the site wasn't built for them. All I would be left with is an extremely high bounce rate and no money from the sponsored post to boot.

Exposure doesn't pay the bills, y'all. When you work for exposure alone, you are undermining other bloggers who want to get paid for their work, and you are undermining your self-worth. I can't make you believe in yourself, but don't bring down other people who don't want to work for exposure.

If They Reached Out, Your Audience Is Worth Something

Brand representatives will try to get work for free, but even if they do, your work is worth something. Brands want to get more exposure for their company for the lowest amount possible. They aren't going to go out of their way to spend money usually. Most of the time, they are putting their feelers out to see if they can drum up some exposure without paying. Don't fall for it. Know that the simple fact that they reached out proves it. You and your audience are worth it.

9. Communication Is Key

When it comes to working with brands–communication is KEY. You need to make a habit of communicating with brand managers. Those are the same brand managers who will notice your hard work and decide to work with you again in the future.

So, communicate with your brand manager about anything and everything related to your brand sponsorship. If you:

  • Are unclear about the deliverables they expect, email your brand contact.
  • Need extra time to make your post spectacular, email your brand contact.
  • Need an update on a product shipment, email your brand contact.

Your brand contact/manager is there to be your liaison between you and the brand so use them wisely.

This communication will help your brand sponsorship be a continuous thing versus a one-then-done thing. You want to start making your sponsored posts more consistent, and a great way to do this is by working well with your brand manager. Brand managers want to make their job as easy as possible. If you can get on their good side and they know you will deliver a great post, you can get them to start recommending your name when future sponsored opportunities show up.

The Ten Golden Rules Of Working With Brands | Do you want to work with brands but you don't know where to begin? Start with this article that will give you everything you need to get started. Getting blog sponsorships doesn't have to be hard, especially if you follow these golden rules. #Blogging #BloggingAdvice #BlogAdvice #BrandDeals

10. Don't Put All Your Sponsorships In One Basket

Lastly, let's chat about where we share our sponsored content. Since we don't want to get greedy with sponsored content, we want to find ways to expand our sponsorship basket. Think of your different social media networks and your blog as a bucket. You want to be able to spread your sponsored content across many different buckets. Maybe one week you want to share a sponsored Instagram post, the next week a tweet, and the following week a Facebook post.

Each of your networks has a distinct audience, even though there is some overlap to be expected, but overall you want to make sure that not all of your sponsored content is going up on your blog or going up on your Instagram page. Try to find sponsored post opportunities for different networks.

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Final Thoughts

Today we discussed the ten golden rules of working with brands. I hope that you found this post helpful as you begin to set up your blog to work with the brands. Your audience should be at the forefront of your mind when you chose to work with different brands. I hope that I have given you things to consider when it comes to brand sponsored work.

Did I miss anything? What other golden rules do you feel should be added to this list?

Amanda Cross

Amanda is the founder of The Happy Arkansan. She is a happiness enthusiast with a passion for helping others and red/purple lipstick.

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1 Comment

  • Maureen April 22, 2019 at 5:40 am

    This is a very insightful post Amanda. It really is nice to get a gist of what to do, don’t and what to look for and not when working with brands. Happy belated Easter and happy Monday!

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

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