Fair warning bloggers: this is a long post. When I started analyzing how many steps go into the back-and-forth communication that leads to a blogger-and-brand deal, I had no idea how long it would actually take to explain. Rather than skim over steps with a sentence or two, I've created example emails, based off of ones I've actually sent and received from brands I've worked with. I also consulted fellow blogger (and Links a la Mode editor) Victoria of Vmac + Cheese about her experience as well. The goal is to give you an idea of how to set up and follow through on a pitch that you designed yourself, to make you, the brand and your readers happy!
1. Compose your introduction email:
Your first pitch email should be short-and-sweet. You want to get to the point as quickly as possible, but also give personal attention to the brand, and perhaps provide an anecdote that indicates your feelings about the brand or product. Find a real person to address the email to, whenever possible. Let them know you have an idea already, and politely inquire if they are currently working with bloggers. Or, if you know they are, perhaps cite specific examples that you particularly loved.
Victoria says, “When you're first making contact, it's not necessary to spell out every single detail or idea. I find it more effective to just shoot your contact a quick email, introduce yourself if necessary, and write one or two sentences explaining the concept. From there, if that piques their interest, you can hammer out all the nitty gritty details, including your stats, rates, and how you can shape the content to be beneficial to the brand and to your readers.”
Here's a sample email to give you an idea…
Dear So-and-so [find first name of PR or Marketing contact],
My name is Taylor, and I write the fashion and personal style blog, shut up, i love that shirt on you. I wanted to introduce myself because I'm a big fan of Brand X, especially Product Y. I first discovered Brand X through a friend who was always raving about Product Y, and since purchasing it myself I've become addicted. I am reaching out to you because I have an idea that would promote [Product Y / Campaign Z / etc] on my blog and social media channels. Are you currently open to working with bloggers on sponsored content? If so, I would love to talk further about how we could work together.
I can happily provide my media kit with my blog and social media statistics, as well as examples of previous sponsored projects [if it applies].
Thank you so much.
Taylor Davies [+ your email signature with contact details]
2. The brand replies:
Hooray, you've gotten a response! Now that you've made contact, be sure to be timely with your communication going forward. Since we all know that life and blogging don't always work out in our favor, let's play out two different scenarios.
In the first, the brand is intrigued, and would like to know more.
Hi there Taylor,
Thank you so much for your interest in Brand X and Product Y, we are so glad to hear you like them. We are definitely open to working with bloggers who we think fit well with our brand and customer, and your site looks like a great fit.
We would like to know more about how you think Brand X and your blog can work together. Do you have a specific type of project in mind?
Please send over your media kit and/or statistics, rates, as well as past project examples we can share with our marketing team, and we will let you know.
In the second, the brand is not as receptive.
Hi there Taylor,
Thank you so much for your interest in Brand X and Product Y, we are so glad to hear you like them. At this time we are not currently working on any initiative with bloggers, but will keep you in mind for future projects.
All the best,
Ouch! But listen, in both cases you need to respond. Even when the sting of rejection is still fresh on your mind, be gracious, thank them for taking the time to get back to you, and encourage them to follow up with any future sponsorship opportunities. If you're feeling particularly bold, send them your media kit anyway! (You never know, after all.)
3. You send your specific pitch:
Okay, now it's time to shine! Take a deep breath, flex your fingers, and prepare to dazzle – in a polite and professional yet definitely enthusiastic way, of course. (Keep your exclamation points to a minimum.)
This is where you want to lay out your specific idea of how you want to work with Brand X. You may have a totally new idea, or riff off of the success of a previous project. Victoria adds, “I find what's the MOST powerful is if you can round up a few other bloggers to participate in the promotion — then it's truly a win-win-win. You help a fellow blog colleague, you increase the reach to your content (which the brand loves!), and if the other bloggers you work with link over to you, you can increase your traffic.” Of course, that's not always feasible or possible, but it's a fun and creative way to add additional selling power to your pitch.
Note that whether or not you request compensation will depend on your past experiences and the size of your blog. Here's what your response email might look like:
I'm so glad to hear back from you. I really look forward to working with you and Brand X. I have included my media kit as an attachment to this email [my stats, including social media followings, are listed below].
In the past, I have had great success collaborating with brands on a giveaway, run through my blog and promoted consistently through my social media channels. For a handbag giveaway with Brand A, I had more than 200 entries and 100 tweets with the unique hashtag. Entries were accepted for 7 days, and the post and Brand A were tweeted daily.
The post was a styled and professionally photographed personal style shoot, featuring the (gifted) handbag, and offering the same one to a winning reader who left a comment below the post. The brand took care of shipping the product to the chosen winner, whom I contacted and connected to Brand A. To boost social media engagement, we offered an extra entry to those who tweeted about the giveaway.
I would love to create a similar post with Brand X, promoting Project Y / Campaign Z. If you are interested, I have proposed this idea to three of my blogging peers who would also be glad to participate in the same way.
[If no media kit attachment, list your stats here]
Let me know what next steps you would like to take, and if you need any more information from me.
4. Brand X comes back with specifics:
Once I send that email with my media kit and stats, I always get a little nervous. What if I don't have enough followers? What if my traffic is too low and my pictures aren't good enough? What we have to remember though is confidence! Believe in your blog, and believe in what you have to offer. Oh, and because it's bound to happen: one rejection is not a universal rejection. Put that bad match behind you and pursue your next goal.
Hopefully though, Brand X responds promptly with their specifics:
Brand X loves the idea of hosting a giveaway on your blog. Could you send us links to the other blogs you have in mind for us to review? Currently, we are looking to promote Campaign Z, please see attached press release. We would like to send you Product Y in your choice of color to style on your site, and can offer you a $300 AmEx gift card as additional compensation.
Please send us the best shipping address to send you Product Y. Ideally, your post will go live on the same day we announce Campaign Z, and include a link to BrandX.com/campaignZ, as well as a disclosure clause, per FTC guidelines. It should also not include pieces from direct competitors such as Brand C, Brand D and Brand E.
We would also love to have you promote the giveaway on your social media channels, and will do the same. Once you have received your product, please let me know, as well as when you will have the post go live, and when the winner will be announced.
We look forward to seeing your post, let me know if you have any further questions.
5. Thank you and tie up loose ends:
You did it! The wheels are turning and your blog business deal is underway. From here, unless you have specific, case-by-case issues, the project will run itself exactly how you designed it. Keep in close contact with Brand X to let them know how everything is going, and if you run into any problems. To tie things up, compose a concluding email that confirms the details (or brings up any other questions you might have) and thanks Brand X for working with you.
I just received Product Y this morning. Everything looks great! I am going to style and photograph the shoot over the weekend, and the post will go live Monday at 9 a.m. EST. Entries will be accepted through Sunday, and I will announce the winner the following Monday, if that works for Brand X. I am also happy to include the aforementioned links to Campaign Z as well as a disclosure note.
Thank you for working with me on this project, I am truly excited to be working with Brand X, and hope that we can continue to support each other in the future. I have included the links and email addresses of the bloggers I mentioned, please let me know if there's anything I can do to foster those communications as well.
6. Bonus step! Results follow up email:
Whether it's a giveaway or another kind of sponsored post, you can earn bonus points for following up with Brand X to let them know how the content was received by your audience. They may very well be keeping track of this as well, but going the extra mile will earn you respect and professionalism points.
Hi again So-and-so,
I just wanted to let you know that the giveaway with Brand X and Product Y was a huge success among my followers and readers. The winner, Suzie Q, received her Product Y yesterday and is absolutely thrilled. Here are the results of the giveaway:
Comment entries: 236
Tweets with #CampaignZ: 68
Thank you again, it's been a pleasure to work with you and Brand X.
Keep in touch,
Phewf! Did you get all that? Let's review. The key ingredients to a successful self-pitched project are:
- A very specific idea
- Prompt communication
- Professional execution
- A gracious, friendly attitude