November 2, 2021
Established content creators with their #vacay pics and travelogues make collaborations look easy. For the creators who are still finding their footing, paid collabs are more like dreams, continually out of reach.
How does a content creator collaborate with the bazillion brands out there?
It’s the burning question every creator has.
So, we’re answering it.
To make it simple, we’ve divided it into three parts. The before, the middle and the after. Pin it, save it, screenshot it, memorize it, whatever. Just save it for the future because it’s going to be a long one and a necessary one.
How to get collaborations with brands – the before?
Before you can even think of collaborating, you have to build an online presence. Without an established audience, no brand will work with you.
You don’t need 10,000 saves or 1M followers to get a brand collab. What you need is authority over the followers you do have. Here’s how you start building an engaged audience:
If you need tips and tricks on how to be an influencer, swing by here.
Step 1: Find a social network and stick to it
When brands look for an influencer, they want someone who is laser-focused on one platform. Don’t make the grave mistake of spreading yourself thin on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., etc.
Choose one social and cling to it like a barnacle.
When the brand you pitch sees that you have history on the platform, with a specific voice and an engaged audience, they are more likely to partner with you.
Step 2: Find your thng and work on it
No, that was not a shameless plug for DYT. We actually mean it.
In a day, brands are bombarded with inquiries from creators. From professional emails to spammy comments, they are pitched continuously for collaborations. So, if you want to secure one, you have to stand out from the hoi polloi.
The probability of a brand partnering with you improves when you have ‘a difference.’ The difference is your thing – something you are passionate about. Pitching for collaboration becomes simpler when you have a thing because:
- You prove to brands precisely who you are
- You have an audience that enjoys the same thing as you
Together, they give the brand a crystal-clear picture of how you can be of value to them.
Let’s say your thng is sneakers. You not only obsess over them, but also love to express through them. If your Instagram showcases this adoration unquestionably, a sneaker brand would love to tap into your followers.
Step 3: Before finding a collaboration
When you’ve completed step 1 and step 2, it’s time to find brand collaborations. There are three ways to go about it:
- You pitch to them.
- The brand reaches out to you through emails or DMs. This will happen only after you’ve gained a sufficient follower number. (more on this later)
- You use an influencer platform (like DYT) that already has brand campaigns to submit content. This is the easiest way and really doesn’t need elaboration. You download DYT, pick a campaign and get to it. So, for the rest of the guide, we focus on the first and second methods.
Do a favour before the pitch
We’ll get to how to pitch to brands in a minute.
But before you send that long-a$$ed email to secure a collaboration, you’ve got to tango with them. For a bit, at least.
The dance is like a knock on the door. You make the brand aware of your presence, and then you swoop in through the door.
How do you get to tango with a brand? By doing them a favour. Influencers are repetitively asking brands for handouts. Why not take a step away from the norm and do something for them?
Follow, mention, tag and do everything in between. The crux is to get on the brand’s radar before you email them for collaboration.
What type of favours can you do for brands to make them notice you?
- Like, comment, or share their social posts
- Genuinely review their services or products
- Mention them in your content (without expecting anything in return). Seen Chrissy Teigen randomly dropping names on Twitter? That’s how you do it.
(This is from queen @MarthaStewart’s latest issue of Living magazine!)
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) September 28, 2019
How to find brand collaborations – the middle?
Let’s recap. The first three things you need to do are: select a social media network. Post content around the niche you picked. Then prove to brands that you adore them by tangoing with their socials.
What happens next?
Step 4: You create a pitch
The first official step to finding and grabbing a brand collaboration is also the trickiest. You send pitch emails that introduce you to the brand, without wasting their time.
What should the pitch email have?
Polite and polished, in a few short lines it should explain:
- Who are you?
- Who is your target audience?
- What do you bring to the table?
- Your media kit (more on this later).
Pitching to a big, bad brand can freeze even the most experienced influencer. Don’t sweat it. A collaborative process takes time, and the pitch is going to be the first of many emails, calls, and messages. Focus on two key elements, and you’ll grab their undivided attention.
Stats, figures and value
The email should explain how you add value to the brand.
- Tell the brand how your content promotes their messaging and targets.
- Some figures on where, when, and how many times you will post brand-related content doesn’t hurt either.
- Keep the email tone open to suggestions. Remember, the brand may have some kicka$$ ideas that your creator brain may not have thought of, and a brand loves it when you involve them in the process.
Your media kit
A media kit provides a clear picture of you to the brand. Think of it as a resume that mentions:
- A short bio
- Your social media stats and links
- Relevant past collaborations
- Contact details
The pitch is meant to make the creator shine, but blowing your own trumpet too hard is a faux pas. While listing the number of followers you have on Instagram is a-okay, listing the stats of every previous partnership is not.
Also, don’t scare away the brand by writing your rates in the first email. That part comes later in the process.
Got what you have to say in a pitch? Great, moving on…
Step 5: Sending the pitch
Who do you pitch for a brand collaboration?
That’s a vacation-in-Maldives worth question because the person you connect with at the brand is as important as what you write in your pitch.
If you catch hold of middle management, the odds of you being recognised are low. Look for a social media executive low on the totem pole or search for a person who has actual decision-making powers in the firm.
Digital natives, do we need to tell you how to search on Google?
A better and, most times, more effective method is to locate an influencer who has already partnered with the brand, successfully. They will have the details of the right contact.
Where do you send the pitch?
Dropping a comment that says, “Wanna collab?” is not the right way. While a lot of creators swear that their collaboration began in the DMs, it is not professional.
Moreover, you’ve taken pains to create a media kit that showcases your bomb content. Don’t let it hide among the dozens of direct messages brands receive.
If you’ve been able to find the email of the right contact person in the brand, shoot them the personalised pitch. If not, then drop the mail on the ID given on the brand’s Instagram page.
Tips to get your brand collaboration pitch noticed
Brand collaborations are easy, as long as the content creator lays down a mountain worth of groundwork.
By groundwork, we mean high-quality content. When your content is unique, it engages your audience (which brands look for), and it makes you stand out (which will get you noticed by the brand).
Another practise that’s likely to soar your chances of brand collaborations is authenticity. When you are genuinely interested in the goals, products, initiatives and services of a company, it becomes visible in your conversation with them. Your sincere interest will perk up the brand’s curiosity and take you a step further on the collaborative path.
How to find brand collaborations – the after?
So what’s a kickass creator got to do after the pitch has been done and dusted?
Step 6: You follow up
One email does not a brand collaboration make.
Which one of us is not guilty of a messy inbox? And in messy inboxes, emails fall through the cracks. Ergo, send a follow-up email. Wait for a minimum of three and a maximum of five days, then write a version of “What do you think about the collaborative campaign?”
You aren’t butting in; you’re being thorough.
Step 7: You’ve got mail
Let’s say, after some back and forth, you got the collab. The one thing you’ve been waiting for. Now what?
You create the sponsored post.
Since a lot of creators get stuck at this point, we thought to help you out. Your aim is to make the #ad not sound like a #sponsored post.
For example, if you’re collaborating with an eco-friendly brand that sells wooden toothbrushes. Your content can be:
- An image of the toothbrush with the caption ‘My Favourite Brush’ with a boring list of its benefits.
- A short video or image showing the impact of plastic household products on the environment, and then a caption talking about how a simple switch to wooden toothbrushes (tagging the brand here) can bring massive change.
More tips on making brand collaboration content
No one wants to read a boring ad post. Even the most loyal follower will scroll past it. So:
- Make it fun.
- Make it relatable.
- Make it appealing.
- Add it organically.
- Focus on the brand unobtrusively, so it doesn’t seem commercial.
What to do if a brand reaches out to you for collaboration?
Way back, we mentioned that there are 3 routes to collaborating. The first one is the creator pitching to the brand, and the second is the brand reaching out to the creator. We’ve covered the entire journey of scenario 1. Let’s figure out how to tackle scenario 2.
Once a creator reaches a particular stage, media outreaches start pouring in. Brands want to collaborate with you left, right and centre. Don’t fall for every DM and comment. A brand worth its influencer will go about it professionally.
How do you decide which brand to pick?
Not every brand is meant for collaboration. Some will be there purely to leverage the clout you have on your followers. Some will try to get your content for free.
Be on the lookout for legit brands. Ask around in the creator community. Find if another influencer has worked with a brand you are considering. If yes, get feedback.
Moolah is one more factor to ponder. A good brand will compensate you for time and effort. That said, smaller brands may not have the budget for influencer marketing.
While refusing the brand collaboration because of the lack of funds is okay, try a good faith gesture. Instead of an elaborate YouTube video, tweet a line about the small brand.
How does that help you? When the business does expand its budget for paid brand collaboration, you’ll already be on their radar!
And if you have to refuse a brand collaboration. Do it politely.
Final tips on creator-brand collaborations
We’ve really covered all the information under the sun on how to collaborate with a brand, but extra tricks never hurt nobody. In that spirit:
- Do not go big. Pitch to small brands first. Get one or two under your belt and then reach out to the sharks. E.g., if you are a lifestyle influencer, try local boutiques.
- Always research the brand to know if they fit your online persona, voice, and tone.
- Join creator communities like Facebook groups to keep an ear to the ground.
- Download DYT. Yes, this is a shameless plug, but a sound strategy for you. Do Your Thng already has brand campaigns. Instead of you slaving over brands to collaborate with, the app hand delivers them to you.
We sign off by reiterating the point of brand collaboration – a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved. The brand gets potential sales by advertising its product or service through your platform. You, the creator, get hard cash (or rewards) for your efforts.
But there is a third side to online collaborations – your followers. The partnership serves them only if it is authentic. So, as an influencer, do your duty. Advocate for brands you sincerely and honestly believe in.