WHAT YOU NEED TO WORK WITH BRANDS AND GET PAID!
PHOTO BY ME
It seems that everyone and their mom is an influencer / IG model and every post is a paid sponsorship. I'm not one in real life, I just play one on Instagram. You know its a paid collaboration because quietly at the end of their post will be '#ad' or 'in collaboration with' insert brand name here. I would always look at that say to myself, 'how she get that!?' or 'I use that brand all the time!'
I've scoured the internet looking for any information to tell me exactly how, I too, can get free stuff and paid for content that I create. Not much luck. What I found was very vague information if they shared anything at all or they put a hefty price tag on some of their secrets. I get it, the information is valuable and yields real coins in your pocket, but what they fail to realize is there's enough room at the top and everyone can eat.
Keep reading if you want all my secrets to working with brands and get paid!
So, I investing in some classes by the likes of Mattie James and collected all the crumbs other bloggers and influences left and created my own blueprint . . . and its working! Its best that I break this down two fold. What you need and how to use it.
WHAT YOU NEED
First, claim your name! Whatever name you're marketing yourself as, buy the domain name for it. For $10 dollars you can buy your domain name from GoDaddy.com and now you're a step closer to starting a blog or becoming an LLC. More importantly you can have an email address with your brand name instead of @gmail.com. Its that attention to detail that will make a difference.
I mean... since you bought the domain name you might as well go ahead and get a cute little website. Squarespace or Wix make really easy plug and play templates that are really affordable. Yours can be as simple as a banner displaying your Instagram, an about or bio page, a contact page that points folks to your email address and social platforms, and a link to your YouTube channel - if that's your thing. Done!
UNIFY YOUR NAME ACROSS SOCIAL
Now that you've claimed your name on the web, make that your name across all your social platforms. Uniformity IS branding. Make it easier on yourself and your followers. If you find that someone already has your name on a platform, try adding 'the' or 'it's' at the beginning of your name. e.g. I go by 'theondiaj' on social because apparently someone else in the world is names Ondia J. Pff, go figure!
Yes, you may have to re-brand yourself if your current social scenario doesn't reflect what I just said. Is it a deal breaker? No, but you want to be professional and well put together when you're approaching brands. Mattie James always say's, 'When its easy to find you, its easy to pay you.' Let the church say, Amen!
Most companies want you to have a presence on all social platforms and have a sizeable following on all so its important to keep up with social trends. I personally don't like all the social platforms (ahem, Twitter) nor am I proficient in speaking the language of all the platforms, so I stay in my lane with Instagram. I will say is it is advisable to have a handle of each of the social platforms and have at least 100-1k followers on each. To this day, I don't have 100 followers on twitter and I've worked with companies, but having those numbers and statistics certainly help with negotiating prices.
The blog trend has been reborn and everyone is running to their laptops to create blogs and articles for any and everything and you should too. If blogging isn't your thing, too bad, get into it. if you're keeping up with social trends, blogging is the new IT thing. Remember when I said earlier, brands want you to be fluent in all the social platform languages. Remember that domain name I had you buy earlier, now you can put it to work with quick little articles talking about that dress you wore on Insta or that shampoo you used in your video.
Listen, this doesn't have to be a thesis especially if writing isn't your thing. But I'm sure you can squeeze 5-10 sentences out about whatever topic you specialize in.
Now that you have a legit name, get a PayPal account so you can get your legit coin. Period.
Business cards are perfect for when you go to events, trade shows, conferences or meet people on the streets. My name is unique so if I just rattle off 'follow me at Ondia J.' you would probably A. spell it wrong and B. not find me. Handing them a sleek business card with my face on the front and all my pertinent information on the back is clutch.
I get all my business cards at Moo.com, hands down the best quality cards that are affordable (catch the sales) and ships fast. Some important information to have on your card is your name, title, abbreviated state, email, blog address and social handle name. I like to keep it all the simple with my face on the front and my name and blog address on the back. When people of interested go to my website there they can easily find my contact page where they can email me or have directed links to all my social platforms.
Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud etc., pick one. Aside from my external hard drive, I keep backups of all my raw video footage, final edits, photos, blogs, documents, signatures, email templates, you name it, here. This is also the most common way you will deliver your final content to brands. Typically the service is free until you maximize the allotted free space and then you'll incur a fee to continue service. Trust me, its worth the investment and has saved me when my external hard drive crashed. True story.
CUSTOM EMAIL SIGNATURE
Creating a customized email signature puts that cherry on top when sending email correspondence. In mine, I include a cute small head shot, my real name, my brand name and title, phone number, hyperlinked website address and clickable icons to all my social platforms. I can't tell you how important it is to hyperlink the before-mentioned information and locations.
I also include a confidentiality Notice at the very end of the email (small print and in light text), kind of like the side effect list they read off at the end of medication commercials. This is important written verbiage to keep yourself safe by outlining that all the information in the email is not to be shared. Especially key when your address or ideas are shared.
HEAD SHOT + FULL BODY IMAGE
If you stay ready, you never have to get ready. There have been a couple of instances where the PR contact asked me for a head and full body shot because image is everything when aligning influencers with their brand image. Have a head shot and full body picture that is current and in season at all times. The image should be of good quality and clean backgrounds.
I strategically have a head shot of myself in my email signature so they know right off the bat who is addressing them. They can clearly see that I'm a Black millennial woman and from there can determine if our goals are in line.
Remember to keep these in a Dropbox folder so that its easily accessible.
You might ask, 'What is a media kit?' A media kit, simply put, is your influencer resume. It cites who you are, your social reach, brand collaboration, press spotlights and general prices. It should include pictures of you, a bio, your social platform numbers (ie. followers and views) overall follower statistics, brand logos of past collaborations, topics and categories that you currently create content for with hyperlinks to samples, general prices (ie. IG images, IG/YouTube videos, appearances, social platform takeovers etc.) and contact information.
The best way to package this is in a creative PDF. You can purchase templates from Etsy.com or my favorite, bloggerkitco.com. Use the template to get you started, but play around with the layout and make it your own to reflect you and your brand. don't forget to hyperlink links and addresses and save to your Dropbox for easy access. Always, Always, Always update your social numbers, prices or addresses before sending out.
The Pitch Deck is a storyboard and price sheet of the content that you'll create. Now, to be honest, I have not found an influencer who shows or discusses their pitch deck in detail or teaches how to create one. In my research it looks a 10 page power point presentation geared towards startup businesses pitching to investors. So with that, I will tell you what i've created and it works!
Using the Media kit template that I purchase from bloggerkitco. I created a 2 page pitch sheet. The first page, in paragraph form, no more than five sentences, tells the story of the vision I have for the content I'll create. To the point and specific enough that they can take this document back to the powers that be, read my pitch on my behalf and that audience will have a clear understanding of what I'll provide.
The second page sites the deliverable package and total cost and then itemizes everything that I will do in order to execute the deliverables. Its easier to swallow a $1k price tag if you break down that a video takes you 2 hours to film at $150/hr. 3 hours to edit a 2 minute video at $250. Flatlays are $150/image and model shots of me is $300/image.
Just a rule of thumb, you should know what your hourly rate is when creating media kits and pitch decks. It will help you formulate prices and build bundle packages. In the art of negotiation, aim for the stars and land on a cloud.
Pitch decks aren't a canned response like the media kit. It is customized for each brand that asks for one, so you better have a content idea before reaching out to brands. I've left some money on the table by blindly reaching out to brands and they asked for a media kit and a 2 month proposal and it took me too long to create an idea and put into words.
HOW TO USE IT
Now that you've gathered all these things, you're ready to reach out to companies and start networking. The person you want to communicate with is the PR manager, Social Media Coordinator or Owner in some cases. There are a couple ways to get this contact information: in person, at trade shows, networking events or conferences, written press releases (found by google search on their website under press) or the companies contact page. Some virtual leg work will be exerted to get this information but you have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it?
DO NOT SLIDE INTO A BRAND'S DM
Do not, I repeat, do not slide in the brand's DM on social. For one, I guarantee its not the person you want to talk to and its unprofessional. The exception is, if they reach out to you through DM but kindly and swiftly direct them to your email address.
Now that you have the email, send them a introductory feeler email. Introduce yourself, tell them how much you love their product and what positive things its done for you. Include what you do on social, add a quick line about if they work with influencers you'd like to be considered then close with expressing your love for the brand. Notice you're not attaching your press kit or pitch deck. Its simply an email to introduce yourself and get your name on the radar of a company but most importantly you're making sure the email you have works! I've had plenty of bounce back emails. The smartest thing I ever did was send a bunch of these emails out around the end of the year, Christmas and New Years. And guess what? The emails that did work, bounced back out of office emails to other PR contacts within the company! Now I've built a spreadsheet of PR contacts for all my favorite brands! Take a page out my book and send your emails around Holidays and Friday's and I guarantee you'll get somewhere.
In the event you get a response, you got this! You're armed and ready with your head shots, media kit, pitch deck, email signature and numbers and all you have to do is sell yourself and seal the deal!
Whew! That's a lot, because it is. It can be overwhelming task to brand or re-brand yourself but its so necessary to stand out in this saturated market. Hopefully this information will successfully help you! Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more tips like this!