We are continuing our pitching series today and I am excited to share a huge topic! How to convert a gifted opportunity into a PAID opportunity! We've got a pitching resource coming soon that will offer a deep dive into pitching and how to secure consistent paid sponsorships with brands, but in the meantime, let's focus on this specific topic: when a brand messages you about working for a gifted product and how to turn that into a paid deal!
Here's the secret: TIMING is everything! I'll explain, but let me remind you that I work with brands often on paid campaigns and I have less than 10k followers on Instagram! Numbers are not everything! If you're new to blogging, be sure to check out last week's podcast and resource to set your foundation before you start pitching!
Today we'll focus on what to do when a brand reaches out to YOU! We can all agree that a brand reaching out to you is easier than you reaching out to them, BUT they *usually* are asking you to post for a gifted. So there are a few strategic steps to take to make it clear to a brand that you need payment, OR if you *are* working for a gifted collaboration (if you're a newer blogger or entering a new vertical, then how to negotiate for a more valuable gifting).
Before we jump into the steps, we need to talk about how brands find you in order to reach out. Aka... are you DISCOVERABLE?
There are two big ways that a brand could find you:
Yes, hashtags work! They are not dead! I worked with a brand from Canada recently and they told me that they found me through a hashtag I used on one of my posts. Their message about a gifting resulted in a paid collaboration...and it wouldn't have happened without that hashtag!
2. Your email in bio
Is your email address in your Instagram bio? NOT your contact page on your blog, NOT the "email" button; is it clearly written out in your bio? This is HUGE. Brands and PR agencies use software to scan Instagram profiles for locations and email addresses of bloggers they might want to collaborate with. If yours is not in your bio, you could be skipped over. I know your bio is valuable real estate with limited characters, but if you have tons of value on your page, but no way to get in contact, then it's all for nothing!
Now that you are discoverable, let's dive into the ways that a brand could reach out and how to direct the conversation immediately.
1. They reach out via DM.
DM is a great way for initial outreach. Again, it's most likely going to be for a gifted collab (or spam!). I immediately block anyone who mentions "brand ambassador," "discount code," or "give your 50% off our shop" etc...those are all JUNK!
If it's a real brand, you IMMEDIATELY PUSH THEM TO EMAIL. All it takes is a quick message asking them to email you what they're looking for. Any real brand who is interested will email you right away. If they don't, then be glad you didn't waste any more time on them.
2. Once a brand is in your email, that's when the fun begins!
The most important step in turning a gifted collaboration into a paid sponsorship is to IMMEDIATELY mention budget. In this podcast episode, I give a few different examples of verbiage you could use. Keep it simple; keep it short. "Thank you for reaching out. I'm interested and would love to hear a little more about what you're looking for and the campaign budget." BOOM.
You just communicated to them that you expect to be paid for your work. Now the ball is in their court. You've made your side very clear. After this step, negotiating can begin and that's the fun part!
They will respond in one of two ways:
1. We don't have a budget.
2. Here's what we are looking for. What would your rate be for something like that?
This is your open door to talk openly about what you're willing to work for! Do not waste time talking to brands UNLESS your first message to them mentions "budget" or "rates" so they have a clear indicator of how to move forward with you.
Listen to the episode for more verbiage suggestions, but this recap is a great resource to start implementing these steps in your future brand communication.