One of the best ways to make money as a blogger is to learn how to get sponsored posts for your blog.
Knowing how to pitch a brand as an influencer is a skill that can be very fruitful. That and producing great content can lead to getting brand collaborations and sponsored opportunities with brands and PR reps for many years to come.
This is why I’m sharing my tips and tricks, based on many years of working with blogging as a public relations professional. I want you to know how to do it right!
Ever try to reach out to a PR rep to get sponsored posts for your blog and hear nothing but crickets?
Chances are you’ve been put into the “add to the blogger outreach list” pile without too much interest generated.
I’m here to help! In this guide, you’ll learn how to pitch a brand as an influencer, so that you can get sponsored posts and successfully work with brands.
In this rather long post (sorry about that, but it’s full of info for you) I’ll answer these questions on how to pitch your blog to brands and PR reps, that you may have:
- Who do brands and PR reps like to work with and how?
- What’s the best approach to reach out?
- What do I need to have to pitch a brand?
- Do I need a media kit?
- How do I find out who to connect with? Where do I find their contact information?
- What do you write in your first email? How much do you reveal?
- What if you get rejected?
- I’ve got their interest, what do I do next?
I’ve updated this post (February 2024) to reflect the most recent strategies and tips. So if you want to get started building your network of brand partners and PR reps, read on!
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a product or service, and decide to purchase it, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All recommended products and services are based on my positive experience with them. For more information, please read my Disclaimer.
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How Do Sponsored Posts Work?
What is a sponsored post in the context of brand collaborations? How do sponsored posts work?
Before we jump into how to get brand collaborations, we’ll need to answer these questions first.
A sponsored post for your blog or social media account is one where a brand collaborates with you on authentic content developed by you, providing an honest review of their product or services.
The honest review could be a full blog post or just a mention in a relevant post (example, a round-up of gift ideas, or tools that solve a problem).
Usually, there is an agreement to include one or two “no follow” links if it’s website content.
Here are two different examples of sponsored posts I did:
Review Post: The Inkey List Review: Affordable Skincare
Post in Context: Four Things We’re Doing Wrong With Dry Skin In Winter
Why It’s Different Than A Scammy Link-Building “Sponsored Post”
As you grow as a blogger, you’ll start to receive emails with requests for adding links to your existing content or to place “sponsored posts”, “guest posts”, or a pre-written article.
These are almost 100% scammy link-building schemes. They will offer money to place their content. I usually avoid these as they most often than not have content or links that aren’t relevant to your niche.
Your audience can also pick up on spammy content, creating a negative perception of you and your site.
How do you differentiate spammy sponsored post requests from legitimate ones?
First of all, there’s not pressure – no “I want to add my post to your site” approach.
Secondly, the contact is asking YOU to create the content after reviewing their product.
How do legitimate brand collaboration sponsored posts work?
The brand wants to build awareness and interest in its product or service among your readers (their key consumer target audience).
They’re leveraging you to get their key messaging about said product or service out to your readers.
These readers are a “target audience”. In other words, they’re people most likely to be interested in their products or services.
The brand may also want you to direct your readers to a specific site, or to include a link to where they can purchase the item.
For this link, you ALWAYS need to add “no-follow” and “sponsored” rel attributes to let Google know that this is the case, so it doesn’t penalize you.
Sometimes you get to participate in their affiliate program, which is an extra bonus for you if you get any sales and commissions.
What About Working With Influencer Marketing Agencies?
You may be wondering why I’m proposing you pitch yourself to brands instead of working with influencer marketing agencies.
What are influencer marketing agencies in the first place?
They’re companies that build a database of influencers like you – bloggers, Instagram influencers and TikTok influencers. Brands that sign on as clients, seek access to these influencers.
However, there are usually strict parameters that the influencer marketing agency uses to select the best options for their clients.
So if you don’t necessarily fit the parameters on paper, you can get passed over on some great opportunities.
Where you fail with influencer marketing agencies is this:
- It’s harder to get chosen for samples and sponsored post panels
- You may not get as much money as you would if you worked directly with a brand (the agency takes a cut)
- You don’t build a working relationship with PR reps and brands as you would with an old-fashioned “cold call” type email pitch.
You also potentially get brand collaboration scams on Instagram, which can really set you back financially and in other ways.
So being proactive and reaching out directly to brands and PR reps puts you in control of the situation.
How To Identify Scam Pitches For Sponsored Posts
The key reason why you need to know how to spot a scam, and why you should avoid them is that they can affect your SEO and cause issues with Google ranking.
When a brand, “writer” or digital agency that works on behalf of brands approaches you with a sponsored post that they’ve already written, you need to be very skeptical.
They often ask for the following:
- Placement on your site with a “blog post” they’ve prewritten, or one that you can write for them, AND
- Inclusion of “do-follow” links to their site on yours
- Permanent placement on your site as part of their “contract”
They will do this for a set price, and in many cases, they won’t pay you a decent rate.
But in this case, it’s not really a sponsored post. It’s an advertorial or “native advertising” – a post that’s crafted to make their company look in the best light.
It’s also in reality a link-building scheme (against Google’s Terms of Service) to boost their backlinks.
You want to avoid them for three reasons:
- You haven’t had experience with the brand’s products or services, so you aren’t vouching for the quality.
- Your readers can tell that it’s not written by you, or that it’s been manufactured, especially if the product/service that’s being promoted isn’t related to your blog niche.
- Google views these kinds of posts as advertorials or native advertising and is potentially part of a link-building scheme. Your site may be penalized, and your ranking in Google searches diminished.
Companies do this practice for one reason alone: to benefit their client’s SEO by having a do-follow link (backlink) to their site on your blog.
This is especially beneficial to them if your blog has been around for a while and has a good Domain Authority (you can check this out on Moz).
I really don’t want new and growing bloggers to be sucked into accepting these “sponsored opportunities”. There’s no good benefit for you, even if they pay you.
There are better ways to monetize your blog that don’t risk your success with organic traffic.
You want to be looking at ways to grow your blog where you are a credible expert in your niche, and you don’t look like you’ve sold out.
So how should you be getting sponsored posts with brands?
I’m going to share with you my top recommended way to pitch brands as an influencer.
The Best Way To Get Sponsored Posts With Brands
So how do you get sponsored posts that are legitimate?
There are many platforms and companies where you can sign up for brand-sponsored collaborations. They can be a good way to start making some money with sponsored posts.
However, the best way to get sponsored posts still remains to reach out to your favourite brands directly.
It’s pretty simple: pitch a sponsored post to a brand you really like.
This strategy works because:
- You’re being proactive
- It’s a brand you already know and like, so you can write positively about them
- You’re raising awareness of your blog and building a relationship with the brand contacts/PR reps
- It’s a good blogging practice that won’t get you in trouble with your SEO/Google
Waiting to be found by a brand doesn’t work.
The best way to pitch a sponsored post is to email a brand contact or their PR.
How To Get Sponsored Posts For Your Blog
Before I share my email pitch secrets, there are a few essential pieces of information you need to know and research.
Yup, there’s work on your end!
It can take hours to do this right and to get a result. Prep work with your blog, media kit and research can greatly improve the outcomes of your pitch.
Don’t skimp on efforts to make a great first impression. This matters!
Grab a notebook and cup of your favourite brew, and let’s get started, with me spilling my influencer collaboration secrets.
1. Understanding How PR Reps Find Influencers
How do you pitch my blog to brands and PR agencies and get a favourable response? This is one of the biggest questions many new bloggers have.
It also applies to those who use social media as their micro-blogging platform.
This is the same question I mull over whenever I now draft a pitch email for a brand collaboration.
You see, I’ve been on both sides, both as a PR rep and also a blogger for over 10 years, reaching out to other PR reps.
Over the years working in PR agencies, I was pitched by bloggers 10 to 15 times a week, all wanting to work with brands we represented. All wanted to get sponsored blog posts, or at least product samples for reviews.
Introductions to influencers would come through my clients directly (i.e. an influencer reached out to a brand manager or marketing contact) or directly to the PR agency’s general email inbox.
Here’s something you need to know about PR people. We have blogger lists. Many lists.
We’re often the people who reach out to influencers on behalf of brands. On the influencer lists are two types of contacts: bloggers and influencers.
Let’s look at both and how they work with brands.
Not all agencies do this. Some use platforms and software to find influencers. However, many others research influencers and bloggers to build lists.
These lists can range from Tier One bloggers to Tier Three. Tier One bloggers have a huge reach and many blog pageviews and newsletter followers and expect quite a bit in compensation.
Bloggers with mid-range reach and lower rates are Tier Two. Meanwhile, Tier Three bloggers are just starting out and growing their blogs.
Just a heads-up, Tier Three bloggers are usually pitched last unless the budget is super tiny with little room for sponsored posts, but the client wants us to reach out to many bloggers.
Sorry! This is inevitable.
Many clients are still hung up on quantitative numbers, not necessarily quality work.
You may have an amazing blog, but if you don’t have the numbers behind it, unfortunately, many PR reps will relegate you to Tier Three. This isn’t to say you don’t get opportunities.
If a PR rep reaches out to you with samples, take the offer!
Want to know how to get sponsored posts for your blog? When a PR rep reaches out to you, even with a free sample when you’re just starting out, don’t turn them down.
I truly believe it’s perfectly alright to accept samples in the beginning, to showcase your capabilities before asking for compensation. Think of it as an internship! In the meantime, continue to build your following.
NOTE: You will need to submit the value of the “free” sample for your taxes. Always write down the cost of what you received when you’re adding up your monthly/year-end income from your blog.
Social Media Influencers
These are mostly Instagram, the current social network darling)
How to get sponsored posts on Instagram?
It all depends on a few things: the size of your following and how engaged it is.
Engagement is increasingly becoming important. Even more important is if you have a track record of influencing your followers to purchase the item through a custom link (giving the brand the ability to track the results).
In most cases, anybody with over 5,000 followers is on the radar for sponsored posts. However, many brands and PR reps will consider niche influencers with small followings for campaigns, depending on the product and audience.
For example, you’re a woman who’s a whisky connoisseur and you have an Instagram account that’s appealing to other women whisky fans.
If a whisky brand is seeking to grow awareness of its whiskies among female consumers, it will probably want to reach out to you, even if you have a small but highly engaged account.
Niche bloggers and social media influencer with big engagement are important to select brands and clients!
TIP: Beware of brands reaching out to you on Instagram with sketchy collaboration requests. It may seem flattering, but in many cases they want you to pay for shipping and customs costs.
Sometimes even for the product itself with a “discount”. Read more about how these brand collaboration scams work.
2. Know Your Strengths And Promote Them Succinctly
The best way to get sponsored posts for your blog is to send an email! You will need to pitch a brand as an influencer or blogger that wants to collaborate with it.
Essentially, it’s like cold-calling for a sales pitch, but luckily it’s over email and you can craft the perfect pitch.
However, before you send that pitch email to a brand, you need to prepare to make a great first impression.
First, create a one-paragraph description of who you are and your blog/social networks.
- What is your overall genre or niche topic? If you have a general lifestyle blog, what are some of the key topics?
- Who do you write for? Is your audience in Canada, US, International? Generation (Millennial, Generation-X) and demographics (moms, singles, etc.)?
- How do you promote your blog? What is your total number of combined followers? What are your monthly pageviews, and engagement rate on social networks?
- Who do you partner with (e.g. I work with small brands to help build their awareness) and if you’re an established blogger, an example of an outstanding recent campaign with a similar brand
If crafted well, these four things equal three to four sentences maximum. Enough for one paragraph. This is one of the paragraphs that you will use for pitching brand collaborations.
It’s like your business card – it creates the first impression. Just remember, you will have to modify it slightly for each and every pitch you send, to fit the brand and industry.
Once you have this crafted, set it aside. You have more homework to do.
| Related: How to Start a Blog in 2024 and Make Money
3. Make Sure You’re Really Ready To Pitch
One of the key things you need to do before you pitch a brand collaboration is to have all your ducks in a row.
Think about it this way: before you go on a date, you shower, style your hair, put on makeup, and your best outfit. You want to look presentable and dateable.
The same approach applies to your blog and social networks. If you want to get sponsored blog posts, you need to present your blog as the perfect fit for a brand.
Is your site up to snuff? Update your images, and improve your key posts containing brand partnerships to make a great impression.
- Are your theme and website attractive?
- Are there too many pop-ups and too much advertising cluttering up the page?
- Is there white space?
- Are the images aesthetically appealing?
- Are there comments on your blog posts?
- Does your Instagram feed have a consistent look and feel?
- Are you engaging with followers on Facebook?
Although updating your blog and sites can take some time, it’s worth it.
There are great resources out there such as Pexels, Unsplash, and others to help with visuals. You may want to invest in a paid stock photography subscription for a few months to do a visual overhaul and stand out even more with unique visuals.
Check out these stock photo sites that I’ve used on my site:
If you’re a new blogger, it can be hard to grow the numbers. But you can at least have an attractive presence online. Have a few close friends comment and like to increase engagement.
As for more established bloggers, the same questions apply. We can get complacent at times with what we are used to.
Changing up a WordPress blog theme or sprucing up images can take you to a new level.
| Related: How To Make Your Blog Look Professional Right From The Start
Do Your Research!
And the most important thing to do before you pitch a brand is research.
Understand their key audiences, their products and how they align with your brand and your audience’s interests.
Find out how they have worked with influencers in the past. This will help you figure out exactly how you want to work with them.
4. What Is A Media Kit For Influencers?
Do you need a media kit when you pitch a brand for a sponsored post? I would say, yes. Have a media kit ready on standby if you’re asked for it.
It’s good to have one when you’re pitching a big opportunity to a popular brand. They’ll vet you carefully and they care about metrics.
If you’re starting, and working with smaller brands, all you need is a couple of things in your back pocket:
- An example of past partnerships or product reviews in which you received samples.
- An up-to-date snapshot of your monthly pageviews, engagement rate, and audience demographics
- A list of ways you can partner with a brand and rates (provide a ballpark range with a footnote about rates being dependent on the scope of work). Be realistic in setting these, based on your network and blog power. Always note that you are open to negotiation based on the ask.
Should you send a media kit in your first introductory email?
If you’re sending a general introduction email to a PR rep, I say yes. Send it and let them know that more information is in the attached media kit. Make sure the PDF is a small file so that it doesn’t clog up their email inbox.
If you are pitching an idea for a sponsored post, include top-level stats, and a few links to similar brand collaborations and let them know a media kit is available upon request.
Need a media kit?
Check out this NEUTRAL Media Kit template that I’ve created for Canva:
Get it now on my Confident Blogger Academy site.
PRO TIP: To find your engagement rate for your social media accounts, check out this engagement formula.
| RELATED: Top 3 Things To Do To Boost Blog Traffic By 200% In One Month
5. Find Out Who To Pitch As An Influencer
So you want to pitch a brand collaboration with the ACME brand. You have a great idea for a sponsored post with an in-depth review, social media posts and a video.
You’re looking to try out a sample and would like to do a full sponsored campaign. You love this brand. So exciting!
Hold on there, partner!
First, you need to find out who to pitch!
In most cases, brands are working with PR agencies. There’s a consultant who handles ACME’s communications activities with media and influencers. This is the person you ideally need to reach out to first.
Why? Because the client is busy and their PR rep is their consultant. They consult on opportunities that arise and get approval on whether to assign a budget to work with you.
Finding The Right Person To Pitch A Sponsored Collaboration
- News releases will usually have the PR contact at the brand’s partner agency listed. See if you can get yourself included on a newswire’s email distribution list for news releases. Cision’s PRNewswire is a good place to start. It’s also a great source for original post ideas. There’s a Canadian version of the Newswire too.
- LinkedIn is a gold mine. If you have an idea of the agency that represents a brand, you can drill down to find out who is the Account Manager in charge of the brand-client relationship. You may have to figure out the email address with some guesswork. Or better yet, call the agency and ask for the contact’s email address if it’s not listed on their site.
- Subscribe to free marketing or PR industry newsletters. These news sites sometimes have stories as to account wins. You can find out which agency is working on the brand and reach out to them via their general email inbox.
- Reach out to the brand on Instagram or TikTok. This involves following and engaging with the brand for a while before sending an inquiry via a direct message as to who you should reach out to for a pitch.
So now you have a name and email, or have at least an idea of the agency, what do you do first?
Now it’s time to pitch a brand to get a sponsored post for your blog!
Draft your pitch, read it for content and proofread it for an error-free email. Set it aside for a while and come back to it for a second time to make sure you’re sharing a succinct but content-rich pitch.
When I send my first email pitch to a brand, I like to use the “AIDA” method that’s often used in sales pitches.
Grab their attention with a fact or something related to their products and how it fits with your blog and/or audience.
Perhaps talk about how you’ve been using the brand’s products, have written about it before, received much interest from your readers and would like to do a partnership with them.
Be truthful and authentic. Finish off this paragraph with your general partnership idea (e.g. I’d love to do a sponsored post), and that you are also open to ideas from them too.
Keep their interest by telling them more about you and your blog, social networks (including hyperlinks to the accounts and blog for easy access).
This is where that pre-crafted statement about your brand comes in. Modify it to work with this brand’s key focus.
Tell them more about what you’d like from them at a minimum, and what you’ll do and in what context. Give them a taste of an expected result.
Wrap it up and let them know how to check out more info on you and your blog. Wrap up the email with a call-to-action to contact you if they are interested in learning more.
I’ve used this method when cold-emailing potential clients in my past PR agency work and it would work! And as you can imagine, it’s MUCH tougher to get signed on to do a PR campaign for a client when budgets can be tight. Most brands and their PR agency reps have some budget set aside for advantageous partnerships with influencers.
7. Don’t Be Discouraged If You Get Rejected By A Brand
If you’ve confirmed a brand collaboration for a sponsored post, that’s AWESOME! Continue to build the relationship and find out how they want to work with you.
However, if you pitch a brand as an influencer and haven’t heard a peep out of them, don’t get discouraged. Follow up in a week’s time and if you still haven’t heard back a few days later, try another person at the agency or send it to the general email inbox.
If you haven’t heard back, there can be many reasons why:
- They are busy with a big campaign and your email has been put into a “respond to later” sub-folder in their email inbox.
- Sometimes it’s as simple as a lack of budget to share samples and do sponsored paid campaigns.
- You’ve reached out too late for the campaign they are working on right now, and their budget for sponsorships and sample outreach has been maxed out. And the client isn’t willing to provide any incremental budget to cover your opportunity.
- At times, it may be something like your blog just doesn’t work with the brand’s aesthetic or audience demographic. For example, a luxury handbag brand won’t want to partner with a parenting blog with a focus on family recipes and the occasional lifestyle brand post.
- The rates you shared are not in their budget.
- Your email failed to include clear details as to your proposed idea and about your blog.
Take each interaction as a learning opportunity to tweak your own brand, your blog and social media networks (your assets) and your approach to pitching.
8. When You’ve Caught A Brand’s Interest For A Collaboration
So what happens after you’ve caught their initial interest?
- Answer any questions they may have about your site, your campaign vision or your sponsored post.
- If they are looking for examples of past partnerships, have a few links ready to share with them, and explain what you did and the results.
- Find out exactly what they expect before confirming your rates and signing any contracts. Ask questions! “What does the brand expect from me? One blog post, social mentions? Any specifics?” Also, consider having a Sponsored Posts contract for the brand to sign, so you can get paid on time and are protected. This one from lawyer and blogger Amira from A Self Guru is an EXCELLENT one that helps you protect yourself legally. READ my post on how to blog legally to ensure you’re protected legally in all aspects.
- Once you have these details in place, share your expected rate for the scope of work. This is the time you want to send the media kit with your well-designed rate card. As for the question of negotiating your rates, always be open to what the brand has to offer (see the previous section about budgets). If they don’t have a huge budget, be open to giving them a lower rate with a small value-add for the introductory first-time partnership.
- Once you have an agreed-upon scope of work, the PR agency will normally have a contract that they will send to you. When you sign it, make sure you get the counter-signed copy in return for your files. Treat this like a business and you’ll reap the rewards! If they don’t have a contract, use the Sponsored Posts contract and send it to them.
9. Keep A Record Of Your Brand Interactions
It’s always a good practice to keep all emails when you’re dealing with clients or others on business matters.
It’s even more important to keep all emails with negotiations and introductory rates when you work on a brand collaboration.
Consider the possibility that a brand or a PR agency reaches out to you in the future, and asks for another collaboration. You’ll want to reference what you quoted them in the past or if they offered anything specific last time.
You can always renegotiate a higher rate if your following has grown.
Have A Sponsored Post Agreement In Place
Any brand that wants to work with you legitimately will always have a contract or agreement laying out the details of what you’ll create for them. They’ll include what you’ll receive in return – either as just compensation or product plus compensation.
If the brand is a small one and hasn’t worked much with influencers, you can provide them with an agreement of your own to legally protect yourself.
A worthwhile purchase is the fully customizable Sponsored Post Agreement template that you can use for any sponsored post campaigns for your blog or social media.
As I like to say, “cover your ass and get paid!”
In many cases, the brand provides you payment in kind (i.e. provides you with the product for free), or pays you with a free product AND monetary payment.
In both cases, you are being compensated for writing the post. When it comes to your taxes, that free item for review purposes needs to be claimed, regardless of whether you were paid or not.
10. Professional Communication And Results Mean More Opportunities
I’ve seen it in the past – influencers can get “blacklisted” if they fail to complete the work they promised to do.
If there’s no sponsored post contract, they end up on the list.
If there’s a contract that outlines sponsored posts or collaboration details, that’s worse. You may owe the company more than just the work. They could sue you for a breach of contract.
Always be professional in your communication. Respond promptly and deliver quality work on time. You will end up getting more opportunities and invitations to events.
PR reps like to build relationships with super-star bloggers who can deliver great results quickly. You’ll want to be one of those superstar bloggers or influencers.
Remember To Include A Disclosure Statement
With any “sponsored post” you need to include a Disclosure statement (like I did above).
However, with a sponsored post, it needs to state that you’ve been provided with product/complimentary access to the service for review.
All opinions are your own, and if there was any additional compensation or no compensation provided. Add a link to your Disclaimer page.
If you don’t have a proper Disclaimer page for your blog, you can get a template (written by a lawyer and fully customizable) in this Legal Bundle.
A well-written Disclaimer is required to legally protect yourself and your blog and to avoid getting fined by the FTC.
| Read More: How To Legally Protect Your Blog With Key Legal Pages
To Summarize…Tips For How To Get Sponsored Collaborations
While this may seem like many things to do, if you take your business relationships seriously, you will be taken seriously too!
Getting sponsored posts for your blog is one of the ways to monetize your site. Particularly with difficult-to-monetize lifestyle blogs.
It takes time and hard work, but for many bloggers, it’s a very worthwhile activity. Partnered with affiliate links, it’s quite lucrative.
Anytime I do a brand collaboration pitch, I always make sure I follow through on what I promise. It builds a good relationship and I can always come back to the PR contact with new ideas or requests. As to how to keep your relationship with a PR rep from going sour, that’s a future post!
Learn how to spot a Brand Collaboration Scam – read my post on what to look for in fake inquiries.
Looking for other ways to make money online?
Read these posts:
QUESTION: What has worked for you when you reach out to a brand as an influencer? Share your successes working with brands and PR reps!
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