Have you ever wondered how bloggers and YouTubers get products to review, for free? How do you become a PAID influencer, and how do you make that happen?? In this post, I’ll give you the details on how I handle sponsored content and brand deals on my blog and YouTube channel.
Listen to Episode 17: How I handle sponsored content on my blog and YouTube channel
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Back in episode #3 of the Video Pursuit Podcast, I covered the different ways that bloggers and YouTubes make money online. One of the ways I talked about was working with brands on sponsored content and brand deals. So that’s what this post is all about!
Should you take product for free?
Personally, I think it’s fine to take a product for free, in exchange for an honest review when you’re just starting out. If it’s something you could use, you need, or want, then go for it! It’s good experience AND it’s good to learn, for yourself, whether you even LIKE the concept of brand deals and working on sponsored content.
But, I would only recommend doing this if you’re totally new to blogging and/or working with brands. Why? Because you are basically producing a commercial. They can link to it, embed it on their site, share it on social, etc. and assuming you have nice things to say about their product, you have created a HUGE asset for them. So, don’t do it for free!
BUT, if you don’t have a following, and you’re not really influencing an audience or community, then they aren’t really getting the exposure that they are probably after. Right? So that’s why I say it’s not a bad idea to take a product in exchange for review when you’re just getting started.
Now, I am definitely of the belief that you should not work for free. Don’t give away your time and talent for nothing. But, that doesn’t mean that learning the process, getting experience, making a connection with a brand, and feeling out this whole sponsored content stuff isn’t valuable to you. So consider that. Just making the connection with a brand and establishing yourself as a friend of their product might prove to be extremely valuable to you in the future.
Connecting with Brands
Speaking of making a connection with a brand, let’s talk about that.
I get emails from sellers or stores on Amazon–ALL THE TIME–wanting to send me products in exchange for reviews. I did this once for a $15 product. What I have learned from these people is they don’t want to pay for sponsorship (they just want to send me cheap products, usually knock-offs). They’re not a name brand, they’re not willing to pay for the exposure I can provide them, they’re not trying to establish a relationship, they just want to get eyeballs on their products and their Amazon store. So, there is no value in that connection for me!
So consider the relationship you are establishing, and who you are establishing it with.
So how do you get brands and PR companies to actually contact you?
I used to see YouTubers who had a mailing address (usually a PO BOX) in their About sections or video description, and I thought… maybe brands go around looking for people they want to partner with, and they find their mailing address and send them stuff! Or better yet, they offer to send them stuff and pay them to talk about their product.
Like, a fairy godmother just comes along and poof! Brand deals flooding your inbox.
Um no. There is no magic wand that I know of BUT if there was a “brand deal fairy godmother,” it would be my friend Jenny Melrose from the Influencer Entrepreneurs podcast.
Jenny is the queen of working with brands, pitching them, setting your prices, negotiating, and getting paid what you’re worth. I was a guest on episode #78 of the Influencer Entrepreneurs Podcast and I’m SO excited that Jenny asked me to speak at the first ever Influencer Entrepreneurs Academy in Charlotte, NC April 2019.
I am excited to attend this conference and slightly scared about the speaking part because I’ve never even been to a blogging conference!
So there is no magic wand you can wave to get brands to send you products and checks for free. But, you can go ask them. You can pitch brands and PR companies, and ask if they’d like to partner with you. There is a whole process for this, which Jenny covers in her course, Pitch Perfect Pro and in her free 5-day challenge, Pitch Perfect live. She has a really great free checklist for this process which you can grab at vidpromom.com/pitchperfectchecklist.
Don’t be afraid reach out to brands. Make connections on Twitter, Instagram, or through email. You might be the exact type of blogger or personal brand they are looking to partner with, and the worst the can happen is they say no or ignore you. I get ignored and declined all the time, it’s not that bad. Really!
Lastly, you don’t need a brand to send you a product in order to review or feature a product. Feature what you HAVE already!
Actually, that is a fantastic way to get a brand’s attention, to begin with, to start to foster a relationship with them. Look around at products that you use that are part of your niche or your content, and start talking about them on social media and in your content. It serves your audience well if you’re sharing your experiences with products, and helping to establish that trusted influencer relationship with them, while at the same time possibly getting those brands attention. Win, win, win!
Let’s recap what I covered here in this post.
1. If you’re totally new to working with brands, it’s ok to take a product for zero dollars as long as there is value in it for you.
2. If you have an audience and community, you should definitely get paid to feature or talk about a product, and if you’re not sure how to do that, start with Jenny Melrose’s Pitch Perfect Cheat Sheet.
3. There is no magic wand… just pitch brands for sponsored content ideas. ASK!
4. Talk about brands and products you already own to establish yourself as an influencer and get brands’ attention
One more thing about the Influencer Entrepreneurs Academy event. At the time this post is published, early bird tickets to IEA are still available (I think they expire the end of October so be sure to hook yourself up). Let me know if you’ll be there too!