7 MISTAKES I'VE MADE WORKING WITH BRANDS + HOW TO FIX IT
I've been working with brands for a almost 3 years now and I've made every mistake in the book. Trust me. These are a few cringe worthy moments that still stick out and I want you to avoid doing them at all costs. Learn from me children! These even apply to your 9-5 because at the end of the day it's all business. So here are my, "Girl!" "OMG" and "Fix it Jesus" moments along with proactive steps and tips to remedy them.
What You Wont Do: This is the most unfortunate mistake of all. After I would submit or launch a sponsored video I would go to sleep because I probably stayed up all night to complete it and would never touch base with the brand contact again. That's a big no-no.
What You Better Do: When a campaign is finished, it's on you to do a final recap - regardless of how things turned out. Get all the receipts, send a detailed email or hop on a call and go over what was executed, social engagement numbers, what you did well and how you can improve. This transparent move is imperative when building trust between yourself and brands.
What You Wont Do: Sigh. Guilty. I'm really not proud of this one, but that's why I'm sharing. True story, I did all the heavy lifting of seeking a partnership with a brand. I was sent a seasonal item months in advance with promise to create content and release it when time was appropriate and then I just didn't. Of course there's 101 reasons why their project was pushed to the back burner but bottom line, it's it unacceptable, unprofessional and borderline breach of agreement.
What You Better Do: Is communicate, communicate, communicate! These are not easy conversations to be had but you HAVE TO DO IT. Let whoever know that you respect their time and that you're running late with the deliverables and give a realistic deadline and then do your best to turn it in before that date. Miss them with the sob story about why your life is in shambles and be prepared to send back items or issue a refund.
Another note, this is an unspoken expectation, but when brands send over PR packages, you should be creating at least 2 forms of content: blog post, IG, Twitter, YouTube, podcast. Those packages are not meant to be a brief IG story mail-time clip that make your followers envious of all the free product you got. PR packages are sent to you to actually try and give feedback to the company and then transfer awareness and knowledge about the product to your followers with hopes that the engagement turns to buzz and then into sales. The more you know.
What You Wont Do: Last year I took on a lot of projects outside of my platforms because I was trying to figure out what does Ondia J as a brand do and what do I want it to become. I thought, and still do, I wanted to be an all encompassing creative studio where I create visual, digital content for brands. I was in verbal agreement with a local beauty brand to create an intro video from provided existing footage for a fee. The footage never came so I packed my whole studio and setup shop on location and did all the filming and post production of the project. When it came time to deliver the final product, the other party wanted to pay less than the agreed upon fee. Naturally I was pissed, so I password protected all the content and answered those emails when I felt like it. #pettyparty. I felt that the original negotiated fee was already too low and then I did above and beyond the scope of work and should've been compensated at agreed upon price at the very least and even more!
WRONG! This situation is just wrong on all accounts. All parties involved were unprofessional and this was a HUGE lesson for me not knowing my rates and the value I bring because I should've walked away in the very beginning. If you don't know how much to charge for your content read my post: How Much Should Micro-Influencers Charge Brands. Any who, this is what should've been done:
What You Better Do: Consult a contracts lawyer and have them draft a blanket agreement that can be used with various brands or individuals. It needs to spell out the scope of work in its entirety, all the fees and all that legal gibberish. If or when that scope of work is altered, a new fee is incurred or negotiated and another contract is drafted and signed. Period. If the parties can't come to an agreement, walk away.
PREMATURE PRICE SHEET
What You Wont Do: After I learned what a rate sheet was, I took an afternoon and made mine all pretty and was super pumped to get that in circulation. So the next round of introductory and pitch emails I sent had my cute little rate sheet attached. I was coming in hot and needless to say I received crickets.
calm down baby girl, ain't nobody ask for this!
What You Better Do: I promise you, just like dating, when a brand wants you they'll ask for your rates. There's no need to say Hi, my name is bla bla bla and here's what you can pay me. Instant turn off! On top of that, I guarantee whatever rates you whipped up wont even apply to the final scope of work and you left money on the table because you showed your cards first.
WHO DIS? ADDRESSING THE WRONG NAME OR ADDRESS
What You Wont Do: On average I send out about 10 emails everyday to brands and there's lots of cutting and pasting involved so naturally errors are made. I have addressed the completely wrong contact, misspelled company and contact names, girl I even interchanged my own house address number and missed out of a really nice PR box. Waa!
What You Better Do: Triple check and then walk away. I've learned when I'm sending batch emails like that, I need to read them out loud to check for missed words, spelling etc., and then give my eyes and mind a rest and do something else for a little bit. When I come back I'll re-read it and it's like there's fresh eyes on the email. You only get 1 chance to make a first impression.
What You Wont Do: Look, sometimes life gets in the way. I have a full-time job, a 2 hour commute both ways and l live with my boyfriend. The last thing I want to do when I finally get home is be glued to another computer screen. Plus, it takes a lot for my creative juices to start flowing and they don't typically kick in until after 1am and that's not really conducive for a 5am next day wake-up. So I may or may not have skipped a newsletter or turned in a video super later on the day of delivery or a day or two later.
What You Better Do: Be proactive. Be professional. Create processes. For my everyday in house things like newsletters, blog posts and (lately) Instagram story promos and captions, I have a time a day when I get busy and try to knock out a whole months worth. It's called batching. Get into it.
When working with brands I do my best to give realistic turnaround times like 10 days so that I have at least 2 weekends to create and execute and then deliver ahead of that schedule. Another trick of the trade. Under promise and over deliver. More importantly, communicate ahead of time if you'll be late and propose a new delivery time.
Finally, create processes for everything. At work, this is called desktop instructions. Write out what it takes for you to complete a task (and time yourself) as if you're leaving instructions for the babysitter. when you see all the steps, it helps you with time management because you can either break it out over a couple of days or you can carve out that time to complete it.
What You Wont Do: I mentioned in this blog post that I sent over 1028 emails introducing myself with the intent of just familiarizing myself with brands. What I didn't expect was for 3 out of 10 of them to come back with questions like, "how do you want to work with us?" and "what are your rates?" or "please send over samples of your work" and "Sounds great, how many do you want and where can we send it?" Uuuuuuuuuuugh..... I was just saying "Hi." Even though I wanted to work with them, I didn't have an actual plan of how we would work together nor was I ready to produce their requests. I was just happy the email didn't bounce back if we're being honest. Multiple missed opportunities because I wasn't ready.
What You Better Do: Email with intent. I've learned that it's a waist of time to just send "hi" emails. The next email you send to a brand or someone for collaboration, you better have an idea of what you can provide, what you want return, how much, how long and get to the point in 3 paragraphs. It sounds a little aggressive but people are busy! Everybody is an influencer and wants something so you need to get to the point. If you stay ready you never have to get ready!
WAS THIS HELPFUL?!
Let me know if you've made any of these mistakes and if these types of posts are helpful for you and your professional journey. I really do love hearing from you!