How to Collaborate with Brands (and Make You Irresistible to Work with)
How to Collaborate with Brands
I've been getting a few questions about this, so I'm going start sharing tips, advice and insights with you that will include how to grow your following to help market yourself as a [insert your passion here: yogi, influencer, writer, underwater basket weaver, etc] on the personal branding side AND strategies that will help get your foot in the door to work with other brands.
You may be wondering, what the hell do I know? I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, working with brands both big and small. And, as the editor for yogalifestyles.com, I get a lot of inquiries about collaboration, including guest blog posts, contests, photo features and giveaways -- which I love! But, I see a lot of emails in that just leave me scratching my head, wondering what were these people thinking? Hopefully, what I share with you will give you guidance on what to do —and not to do —when reaching out to a brand.
This article’s focus: UNDERSTAND the brand you're reaching out to... preferably before you reach out to them to collaborate.
First of all: good for you for taking the plunge and reaching out to a brand. No, seriously. I know it can be intimidating, but seeing beyond your fears of rejection is half the battle. With that being said…
Step 1: Learn to accept rejection
And know that it sometimes comes in the form of no response at all. There's no way to sugarcoat this, it's just the reality of the situation. This in no way means what you’re offering isn’t good enough. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. It simply means your inquiry isn’t currently aligned with the brand’s current strategic objectives, or it doesn’t convey an offer that’s mutually beneficial.
Step 2: Research the brand (plus an example of what NOT to do)
I recently received an email was from a great yogi with a big following. In her email, she asked to collaborate, to which I responded with, HELL YEA! Let me know what you have in mind and I'll consider it!
She told me she had a photo shoot coming up, loved our brand and would LOVE to rep our athletic wear for the photos.
There's just one teeny, tiny problem... Yoga Lifestyles is a media site, and we don't sell apparel.
This gave me the impression that this individual, while genuine and professional in her email, didn't take the time to even look over the website (ouch).
This begs the question: why would a brand want to work with you if you don't put in just a small amount of effort into researching them?
Step 3: the fool-proof introductory email
If you're pitching to brands, your introductory email should be professional, to the point, and offer the benefits that you can give to them (not the other way around). It's a partnership, right?
Include all of your handles with your following, and give them a plan of action of exactly what you plan on doing. This doesn’t need to be set in stone, but by already having a framework for how you plan on holding up your end of the collaboration, it makes you appear reliable and trustworthy. The less work you make brands do, the more likely they are willing to work with you. Don’t take this the wrong way thinking brands are snobby and lazy. Instead, consider whoever is on the receiving end of the email already has a full plate of tasks, and if you make their lives easier, it automatically makes you a shining prospect.
For example, if the brand you’re looking to collaborate with IS apparel, you could state in your email that you'll post photos on your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, etc. Maybe you have a group of friends and want to do a yoga challenge, and their product would be featured as a prize -- in order to do in the challenge, participants have to also like the brand's instagram page as part of the entry. Get creative, the possibilities are endless!
Brands consist of real, live humans that want to work with you. And the easier you make it for the brand in terms of planning, strategy and execution, the more likely they are to work with you/give you free product/help you with whatever goal you're trying to achieve.