A Blogger’s Guide to Working with Brands

Welcome to the final day of blog week! We have had so much fun sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the blog and all that goes into making content for you guys each and every day. Today’s topic? Working with brands!

We’ve been fortunate to build great relationships with our favorite brands over the years, and this has led to lots of amazing opportunities for us. We’ve done 2 room makeovers for deserving recipients with Lowe’s Home Improvement (patio makeover, bedroom makeover), we’ve been a part of the Michaels Makers program for over 2 years, and we’ve worked with home décor sites like HomeGoods, Marshalls, Article, and Wayfair…just to name a few. These brand relationships have helped our business in so many ways, allowing us to gain exposure, make money, and experience some fun events and opportunities along the way.

If you’re a blogger and want to create these partnerships, we are here to help!

Securing the Relationship

First up, how do you actually secure these partnerships? Our answer is that sometimes brands come to us, and sometimes we go to them.

Let’s start with the former. We get a lot of emails each day, and often times it’s a company (or their PR company) reaching out to inquire if we can team up for a new campaign. We turn down A LOT of these inquiries (like 98% of them), but for the ones that really interest us we’ll usually respond and ask for more details, deadlines, and their budget for the sponsored post. We will then email back and forth a few times just to make sure it’s the perfect fit for us both before moving forward.

If you’re looking to work with a particular brand, then you will have to be the one who does the reach out. Here’s how we tackle those partnerships…

Find the Right Person to Contact

If you are really eager to work with a particular company, you’ll first need to find the right person to contact. Most company websites have a “press relations” or “media” tab at the bottom. Go there and see if you can find an email address for their social media manager or PR person. It’s always best to email an actual person and use their name in your email…instead of just blindly emailing the generic address. Also, search for press releases from that particular company. Those will always have contact information for the right person to contact for that brand.

Send a Killer Email

Once you’ve found the right person to contact (see above), it’s time to craft the perfect email. Our main advice? Keep it short, sweet, and informative. Greet the person by name, explain why you love their company, tell them a few things about your site, and then get right to the goods…tell them why you’re emailing them.

This is all about what YOU can do for them. Not the other way around. Tell them how your blog can bring awareness to their product, or how your social media followers would love to learn more about their company. Thank them for their time and give them information on how they can contact you to discuss more. It’s also a good idea to attach your media kit so they have all of the information they will need to make a decision about moving forward.

Respond to PR Emails

Another way to make connections is to respond to PR emails. If you’re a blogger, you may receive press releases and invites to random events in your city. While you may not be able to attend all of these events, it may be a good idea to shoot a friendly email back. If you’re looking to work with more brands, find out what companies those PR firms represent and email them saying you’d love to be considered for their next campaign.

Rocking the Relationship

So you’ve secured a partnership…now what? Well, there is still plenty to do to make sure you create a lasting partnership.

Outline the Deliverables

When working with brands, it’s always best to be upfront about what everyone is getting from the deal. You want it to be a mutually beneficial relationship, so make sure you clearly outline what everyone is getting out of the partnership: the number of blog posts and socials shares for them, and the money and amount of product for you. Making this very clear from the start is crucial to keep everyone on the same page.

Set Expectations

It’s also crucial that both sides set expectations for how the content creation will go. Whenever we’re presented with a sponsored post, we always brainstorm how to authentically weave it into our content and editorial calendar. We want to make sure it’s an organic fit and our readers will greatly benefit from the brand relationship. Right from the start, we tell the brand that we want creative control and luckily most brands are totally on board with that. For those that aren’t, we politely explain why this partnership is not a great fit for us and go our separate ways.

However, sometimes companies will want to review blog posts and social shares prior to publishing. This isn’t always ideal, but sometimes it’s a necessary part of the job. We set clear expectations that we only allow for one round of revisions and won’t make any major changes to the post content. Ask the brand how they typically handle this so you’re on the same page.

Consult the Contract

Sponsored posts often come with contracts, and (as always) it’s important to thoroughly review this document. We always keep these contracts on hand when creating the post and social shares, just to make sure we hit everything on our end and deliver exactly what the client wants.

Communication is Key

As with most relationships, it’s all about communication. We have a policy that we respond to every email within 24-48 hours. And when it comes to working with brands, we try to always be prompt during our correspondence. Sometimes hopping on the phone saves time (less back and forth via email), so that is always a smart way to maintain a good relationship.

It never hurts to be friendly and nice! We’ve made some lasting friendships with some of the brand managers and PR firms we’ve worked with over the years. At the end of the day, they’re a person just like you, doing their job. So be nice, make friends, and enjoy the perks of a mutually beneficial brand relationship. After a successful campaign or sponsored post, a thank you email (or snail mail!) can go a long way to maintain that partnership.

So there you have it…everything you ever wanted (or probably didn’t even care) to know about working with brands as a blogger. At the end of the day, it’s all about treating your blog like a business and making the most out of every opportunity that comes your way and relationships with brands is a significant part of that.

Catch up on Blog Week

More Blogging Tips

Bridget&Casey

  • Jill Steinwender

    Thanks for a fun blog week! The posts were quite interesting in getting a ‘behind the scenes’ look as a non-blogger!

    • Thanks so much, Jill! We are glad you enjoyed the week. =) Have a great weekend. -B&C

  • Pam

    Great week of posts. I really liked this latest post about Brands. Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Aww, thanks Sarah! I use the Erin Condren planner and LOVE it! (https://www.erincondren.com/)

  • Danae | Made2MakeBlog

    Thank you so much for peeling back the curtain! As someone who has struggled to break into the blogging community over the last few years, I’ve always wondered how this happens and for you girls to be so open and honest about how to go about securing brand relationships has been so helpful! Often times it’s hard to create content to grow your blog when you’re doing and paying for everything out of pocket but if you aren’t creating great content then your blog won’t grow or be noticed – such a vicious cycle! Hoping that I can use some of these tips in the future. Curious to know what you girls consider your “big break” moment in blogging? At what point in your blogging journey (how many followers/page views etc.) were you able to secure your first brand relationship?

    • Brooke – My Beautiful Mess

      I too would love the answers to these questions!

    • Great questions, Danae! It’s hard to remember the exact pageviews or stats we had when we established our first brand relationship but we do know that our brand relationships looked very different than they do now because our pageviews were a lot lower at the time.

      For example, there was a new author who reached out to us in order to review her book when we were a very small blog and although we had minimal pageviews, she was excited for the chance at any exposure she could get. We were excited to work with her and she was eager to giveaway a few copies of this DIY book to our readers. It was a small parternship but it was mutually beneficial so it worked! As long as it is a mutually beneficial relationship, there is no “magic number” for pageviews. It’s all about finding what you could offer the brand that is beneficial to them and in turn, what they can provide you. Don’t let small pageview numbers keep you from getting creative and finding partnerships that could still work!

      As our blog grew so did these relationships and organically we were able to build bigger, better relationships. Having experience working with smaller brands in the meantime was a great learning opportunity for us as we eventually worked with larger corporations. Then we would probably say our Lowe’s Fall Makeover in 2014 felt like our “big break” when it came to working with brands because we got to travel and do what we love (DIY) in someone else’s space. We already loved Lowe’s as a brand and were honored and so excited to work with them in this capacity.