How To Weedle Out The Bad Brand Collaborations From The Good
It might not have been your intention when you started your blog and maybe it's not your intention now but chances are you've seen bloggers and brand collaborations.
For me there was no magic key, no magic number that got me my first brand collab but I just got to a point when I started receiving emails, I secured my first freebies, I secured my first paid for campaign, I started upping my prices and now I'm at the point I could (reasonably) confidently approach brands and sell my blog.
But where do you start when you're approached with your first brand collab email? When you've got nothing to compare it on how do you know which ones decent and which aren't worth the time it'd take you to reply?
After a few messages from a few people in the last few weeks asking for help - here's my top tips on how to weedle out the bad from the good - entirely based on my own experiences.
1. Wrong name.
'Hi twenty something meltdown'......hun it doesn't take more than 2 clicks to find my name on social media or on my blog. There is nothing that gets my gears grinding more than a brand PR that can't be bothered to find out my real name to address me by.
2. Clearly never read your blog.
If the initial email asks for a space to 'place a unique article on my site' I'm already rolling my eyes because my blog clearly says I don't accept pre written content. An idea about tractor maintenance your readers will 'love' when you write a purely beauty blog? If you get the vibe that they haven't taken the time to look at your blog it ain't worth your time in my opinion.
3. The chance of exposure.
No we won't work for a 'possible' retweet. No we won't work for the 'chance of winning a competition'. No we won't work because your 'favourite 5 will be shared on our Twitter'. Exposure don't pay the bills.
4. Asking for do follow links.
Just don't risk it. Get clued up on what Google advises with regards to bloggers getting paid for reviews and don't accept anything less. 30 quid from a company that couldn't give AF isn't worth the risk of your blog being penalised. If a brand asks for it (and my experience 75% still do, just to try their luck) make it plain from the beginning that isn't your game.
5. Asking for non disclosure.
'If you could NOT mention you've been paid for this that'd be great' or 'can you chance the wording of your disclosure to say in collaboration with' are two of the biggest red flags you can hear from a brand. Don't do it plain and simple, you run the risk of Google penalising you, everyone knows it's a sponsored post anyway - mark every sponsored post with a disclosure making it plain.
6. Re emailing.
The amount of times I have responded to an email saying 'no thanks' or 'can I have more info' and they have then RE EMAILED as if it's the first time is beyond me. I started ignoring them, they still re emailed identical initial emails, I started sending sarcastic emails back along the lines of 'we've discussed this in 5 prior emails which I have attached'.....nothing deterred them and in the end I realised you could unsubscribe (like I subscribed in the first place where did you get my email) like spam. Just not worth replying.
1. Personal emails.
Your name is correct, they've had a look at your blog and mentioned a post they enjoyed and why, what they're offering is super relevant to your content and they sign off really personal with a 'can't wait to hear back from you'. These are the guys that get you all excited when their email drops into your inbox.
2. Open and friendly.
I think this might be a personal thing but I loooove a PR that makes me feel like I'm chatting to a pal. Friendly tone, quite informal and open approach, makes me feel like we could really get on and would enjoy working together.
3. Full creative control.
Nothing gets me raising my hands to the ceiling with a hallelujah more than an email along the lines of 'this is what we want to promote and we're interested to hear your ideas on it'. The chance to create something completely personal to your blog, to exercise your little fingers and get them brain cells working with something creative and no 'this is how we want you to describe the product'. Hell. Yes.
4. On board with blogger regulations.
When they already know what's expected of you, when they don't kick up a fuss about no follow links, when they're fine with your disclosure and they know the Google guidelines as good as you.
5. Excited about what you can offer.
The best best types of brands or PRs are ones who seem genuinely pleased to be working with you. They're super responsive to your emails, they're on board with everything you outline, they love your ideas THEY are just as keen as you to get cracking on the project. Sensing genuine enthusiasm is a great motivator as a blogger.
6. Potential ongoing relationship.
The best part of good brand collaborations is the chance to work together again. If you do a good job, if they like what you've done and if you like working for them this could be a regular deal, it might lead to campaigns, to meeting up with them, to attending events, to becoming a brand ambassador.......potential to make this more than a one time deal is a sweet incentive.
THE GREY AREAS;
1. Very vague details.
This is a bit hit and miss. If the initial email doesn't give you a lot to go on it can either mean they're just sticking the feelers out to see if you'd be into it and it would actually be an amazing collab. Or it can mean they don't have much to offer, they're going to be annoying and it's not worth it. I tend to give everyone the benefit of the time and email back asking for more info before denying or confirming my interest.
2. No budget.
Again, totally up to you how you feel on this. I've done brand collabs in exchange for products but no payments and I'd do completely free brand work if I loved the brand that much. Also sometimes you might feel like one freebie for someone you genuinely would recommend any day of the week might lead to more work when there's a budget and you'll be top of their list.
3. Quick turnaround.
A quick turnaround can be a very grey area. It might mean you want to put your prices up because you have a shorter deadline and might need to rearrange content to fit it in or you might just like the challenge of producing high quality content in a few days. Your call.
4. Third party writing.
I personally don't accept pre written content from brands and I'm really not keen on including sentences and wording they've chosen too but I know loads of people who ARE happy to go along with it. Decide your stance early on and if you decide you're not in the pre written content party just discount people who ask for that.
5. Limited link to your blog.
Again, totally at your discretion. I find brand collaborations that have ZERO link to your normal blog content really jarring and quite obvious you've done it for the cash. Then again, girl gotta pay dem bills. Even if a brand is slightly more obscure when it comes to my normal content I try really hard to be creative and fit it in somehow, something I actually really enjoy but if it doesn't match in the slightest - think about whether it's worth it.
6. Not disclosing their client.
I've had so many of these lately of emails where the PR won't disclose who their client is until you've agreed to the content and for every single one I've turned it down. I will NOT agree to a collaboration and payment and sign a contract and then find out it's for fucking sea world or summin. You might be totally fine with this in which case fab but if you get any feeling of the heebie jeebies, just say no.
Do you have anything else to add to the good brand/bad brand red flags? Ever thought you were signing up to a gold mine only to find out it was a load of old rubbish? Lemme know!