Working with Brands: Building Relationships Beyond Reviews & Giveaways


One of the biggest challenges I've experienced as a blogger is building a more long-lasting relationship with my favorite brands.  It's been my experience that getting the review or getting the giveaway in the first place is a lot easier than turning that relationship into more than a one-post stand.  But at the same time, who wants to turn their site into nothing more than regurgitated press releases?

What are you looking for in a relationship with a brand? Free swag and gifts for your readers can be great, but I think ultimately (like our real-life relationships) we're looking for something mutually beneficial.  Maybe you're hoping to grow that relationship into a brand ambassadorship, paid sponsorship, or a full-time job with the company.  Regardless of what your end goal is, getting from the point of making the contact to the point of a mutually beneficial relationship IS HARD. I've got brands I've worked with for years, who I still have to beg for a lookbook each season!

I recently chatted with some of my favorite bloggers: Julia di Nardo from Fashion Pulse Daily and Marie Leggette from The Curvy Fashionista about how THEY do it.  These ladies have built exceptional relationships with brands, so I'm checking in to see how they did it and what advice they can share.

What advice do you have for the blogger who wants to move her relationship with a brand beyond reviews, giveaways and press releases?


Marie has worked with some of the biggest brands in plus-sized fashion, and she shares, “I suggest asking what some of their objectives are. From there you can get a feeling of where they are even willing to go and grow…and if what you may want to do aligns with their goals! When you know, you'll have a prime opening to pitch your idea, showing them how their objectives can be reached!”

Julia suggests a direct, but laid back approach: “In order to move the relationship beyond the status quo, ask them, in a casual manner, if they may be interested in X (a paid opportunity) that would even more thoroughly spotlight the brand on your site, or casually send them your media kit, in case they might be interested in some sponsored opportunity in the coming months. Keeping it professional, but casual, should make it comfortable to approach.

What's the biggest struggle a blogger faces when trying to take a relationship with a brand to the next level?


When you've been blogging a long time, you inevitably come across some challenges when working with a brand for so long. Julia talks about one issue I've encountered several times: “I think if you've had one solid contact at a brand for a very long time, and that point-person leaves, it's almost like starting from square one to build your relationship up again with a new person.”

For Marie, that biggest struggle in taking the next step is that “we can either underestimate or overestimate ourselves.”  She goes on to say, “For me, I have found that I surprised myself when I pitched a major brand and they loved it. I had history with them and had an idea and went for it! Was I scared? You bet. But if I did not believe in myself or had the courage to go for it, I wouldn't be here.”

How do you stay memorable with a brand? How can you keep them engaged & thinking of you for upcoming projects?


When it comes to remaining memorable, Julia suggests that you show some common courtesy: “I think with any kind of relationship, being attentive, diligent, and making them a priority (i.e. attending the brand's events, posting info about them as soon as it's released) is much-appreciated…doing something courteous and considerate, that requires minimal effort, like sending a thank-you email or even hand written note after you've worked with them on something really can make a difference in distinguishing yourself from the rest.”

Marie leaves us with some simple advice for staying memorable: “believe in yourself, have a game plan, and be professional!”

Have you been successful in moving your relationships with brands past giveaways, reviews, and press releases? What tips do you have for the rest of the class?


[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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55 Responses

  1. Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    Great tips – Thank you! I’ve yet to reach out to larger brands and these are helpful suggestions. I’d love to move beyond working solely with smaller local-shops and I’m looking forward to putting your recommendations into my pitches!

  2. Incognito

    Thank you for these tips, I was actually wondering how to keep long relationships with brands be it small or big.
    I did not try yet pitching any brand but will be thinking about it but for now I am thinking about growing my readership and making my facebook fan more active.

    I happen to have my very first collaborations in these last months so these advices are very precious to me. I believe in long relationships with brands instead of believing in the more collaborations I’ll do the better it will be. I prefer secure my position with a brand to gain more confidence and then try to pitch an other one after.

    It seems like each time I read IFB I should have a pen and a notebook !

    Shug Avery of Incognito

  3. Patreisha Richey

    Excellent tips! Although I have several goals I would like to accomplish before I seek to establish a long-term or a even short-term relationship with a given brand, this is excellent information to keep in mind while I continue to build my product and brand.

  4. Patrinia

    Hello, great tips I love the last one about making different, because everyone would appreciate it. Anyways, if you are interested with cooperating with brands you can try to contact Personally, I think they have great staff and they let me to do giveaway so if you are interested i would be grateful if you will joint.

  5. Stephanie

    Great post! I’ve got a few long-standing relationships with some great brands, and I find that the best way to stay ‘in the loop’ is to just chat! Half the time I find myself sending the online managers / PR people messages about my day, and they tend to do the same. You end up forming a relationship personally too, not just a “hello have these shoes” “okay thanks love them they’re on my blog now” if you chat about your daily life as well they’ll love it!

  6. Laura

    Although I’m a new blogger and still have a long way ahead of me until I might once have the chance to build a relationship with a brand, I appreciate tips like this because you can use them outside the blogger-world as well. 🙂


  7. Glitter Riot

    I hated feeling used and abused as a fashion blogger, and it seemed like the bigger the company, the worse they were. I’m currently shifting from fashion blogger to fashion vendor and working with fashion bloggers is goin to be a big part of my marketing plan. You (we) are valuable and deserve benefits from brand relationships!

  8. Balsam

    Great tips, I would certainly follow them. I was approached by a major brand recently and I was thrilled!!! I will use these great tips to hopefully stay in a good relationship with the brand

    Balsam –

  9. Raquel Ramirez

    Hi, I’m Raquel and I am kinds new on this fashion blog thing, I’m trying to be as succesful as all of you are, posting the things I like and about my style and lot of fashion inspiration, if you want to check it out:
    blog (its a secondary blog so i can’t follow back from there):
    instagram: @raakrguaura
    I am new on this site and new on fashion bloggin so it woul be amazing if you can give me some advices or feedback!

  10. Jacqueline Jax

    My newest venture has me collaborating my fashion posts with hot spots around town. I love the mix since I’m always out trying new spots and of coarse wearing my designs. The two just organically went together so when my director of marketing suggested the idea, I went for it. Now we have a dedicated section for it and lost of places have embraced the blog as sponsors. come check out the City Spot posts to see what I mean. Xoxo, Jax

  11. Donna George

    Love your posts always! IFB – my favorite blogs…
    I have had a lifestyle blog since March with 30 post, not monetized but launching a fashion blog next month and I do not have a brand but need product to blog. I have 10 post completed and can make do for these with what I have however I am seeking any more specifics if you have any. I worked my career as a retail executive for a brand but left in march after 30 years. Tired of the corporate world but miss the fashion. I have a unique perspective from the inside but I don’t know this world well enough to have resources. thanks so much, website for lifestyle blog, not to bad for a newbie. My fashion blog has not launched but close.

    warm regards, Donna

  12. Omega Fashion

    Absolutely great ideas to try out! Thank you for sharing.


  13. Selbe

    See, my problem is that I don’t even have any brands that I have a partnership with! Can get some advice on that first?

  14. Mau

    These are awesome tips. I always envy how you guys can manage to approach a brand or a clothing line and ask for a collaboration. I am a shy-type of person and is afraid of getting myself embarrassed and might lose the chance of having a partnership by doing so. However, I am really into fashion and I want to share the world that I got what it takes. And I really want to have sponsors. I feel so free when I’m blogging. xoxo

  15. MAHSA

    i love u re pics always .i want to say i am an IRANIAN girl and we love AMERICAN people……….thank u

  16. Osy Osehie

    Very great tips, thank you. I am a new blogger and I am looking forward to building my blog and having an opportunity to work with brands and other bloggers.

  17. LaRuth

    Great article! These tips will surely stick with me when I’m ready to move forward with reaching out to brands and developing relationships with them. This advice is definitely doable. Thanks! 🙂

  18. Jessica

    Excellent article! Thank you for the tips! I am 5 months into the blogging world for fashion, and have worked with 4 different well known companies, but I do find that more and more companies are looking for a free or “low paying” press release. Some offer nothing in exchange. I think it should be a two way street, and I love the approaches you have shown here. Thank you!
    Twitter: jessicajannenga
    My style is classic, sometimes trendy with a bit of vintage.
    I love meeting and viewing new blogs!

  19. Jordan Landes-Brenman

    Thanks so much for these great tips! I recently launched my personal style blog last month, and so far am loving every minute of it. There’s definitely a learning curve, but I think if you start by reaching out to smaller brands and offer to do a post for them, you can start building a relationship and also leverage your past collabs later when talking to bigger brands. Getting some small brands on board will also give you the confidence to go after bigger name brands in the future. 🙂

  20. Sabrina

    Great post, I haven’t done any brand work yet on my blog. I’m alittle unsure on how to go about doing it. Id love some advice on how to contact brands or find brands that work with bloggers.

  21. Tia

    Guys, need a little help here.
    What does it mean when brands ask me to “send in my commercials” . What all information should I include?
    Please reply asap