How to collab with brands

Are you an influencer, content creator, or just someone with a knack for creativity and a desire to collaborate with your favorite brands? Well, get ready to unleash your inner collaborator because we’ve got the ultimate guide on how to team up with brands in style. From crafting the perfect pitch to building authentic relationships, this article will equip you with all the witty and smart strategies you need to make your collaboration dreams come true. So grab your notepad and let’s dive into the captivating world of brand collabs!

how to collab with brands
how to collab with brands

How to Find Brand Collaborations Complete Guide for Content Creators

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, influencer marketing has emerged as a formidable force, reshaping the way brands connect with their audiences. Articles I’ve read recently refer to Influencer marketing as a billion dollar industry! Show me the money right?? 

Before we keep chatting about how to collaborate with brands, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what influencer marketing is (and isn’t!)  Influencer marketing is when brands partner with social media influencers on their influencer marketing platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok. 

What is a brand ambassador?

These brands don’t just partner with anyone. The brand ambassadors they choose must have an engaged, dedicated group of followers. The chosen influencer has established a level of authenticity, trust and expertise in their field. Think about, why do you follow the people you follow? It’s because they provide something to you (education, information, entertainment or inspiration), bringing you back for more.

Why do brand collaborations work?

Brands want to partner with Infuencers for a couple different reasons. One reason is because it helps them, the brand, get in front of more eyeballs. Perhaps a brand is looking to tap into the Latino market and connect with their Latino customer base – what better way than to partner with a well established Latino creator who also uses & talks about their brand AND has a great following.  Bingo!

Another reason brands partner with social media ambassadors to create content for them on social media. There’s no better way to talk about how great your product is via someone else, right? Influencers, by nature of their name, have a big impact on driving sales, awareness, helping with messaging & converting new fans. 

By having a collaboration with an influencer or two, it’s a great way to tap into a new market – niche or not and get eyeballs on a staple product like Quaker Oats, raising awareness about a health issue like high blood pressure, or creating a magical moment and memory about their bourbon.  

Influencer marketing is NOT a brand partnering with a content creator just because that Influencer has a follower count in the millions. No, while it may not always seem like it, brands are strategic about who they partner with depending on what their overall goals are.

Advantages of collaborating with Brands for Influencers

There’s a couple quantifiable advantages of collaborating with brands for influencers. Just as a brand is looking to expand their reach, you’re getting in front of their audience as a brand fan. Yes, I’m talking exposure. If you’re able to use the collab feature of Instagram (for as long as it’s around!) and they’re a bigger social media account, kudos to you! 

Collaborating with a brand also allows you to build your client portfolio of successful projects. When doing so, you also build your network of agency contacts and the humans who work agency side with the brands you want to partner with. Love up on those relationships!

This landscape of brand collaborations as brands look for new audiences offers a wealth of opportunities, ideally equal access for everyone but I’d be kidding if I truly believed that.

As a talent manager representing all Influencers of color, I’m FULLY aware at how brands discriminate and campaigns are too heavily white, massively lacking diversity. 

While it’s taking too damn long, brands are increasingly recognizing the value of diversity and inclusivity in their marketing efforts, opening doors for influencers from diverse backgrounds. As a result, women of color have the chance to not only collaborate but to reshape industry norms, ensuring that their voices are heard, their talents are acknowledged, and their expertise is valued.

The journey of collaboration is not just about revenue; it’s about empowerment, representation, and breaking barriers in the influencer marketing sphere.

Is it easy? Nope. Is it happening at a ridiculously slow pace? Glacial. Are Influencers of color traditionally relegated to “non-general market budgets”? Yup. General market budgets have historically been for White Influencers while Latinos have their budgets pulled from the Latino market budget. Do I need to say it’s less than general market budgets? No.

I will say, because if you know me, you know I have to keep it positive, that I have seen an uptick in brands being more proactive about ensuring diverse campaigns. Granted, compared to previous years, there’s a loooong way to go but I do see it happening.

As a talent manager all too accustomed to being told “Oh we can’t pay that amount, we’re working with the Hispanic Marketing budget”, I’m hearing that much less than in previous years.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the strategies and steps that can empower influencers, especially women of color, to thrive in the world of brand collaborations. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together.

Identifying Your Unique Value Proposition

In the ever-evolving landscape of influencer marketing, authenticity and uniqueness stand as the cornerstones of success. Influencers who resonate with their audience do so by identifying their unique value proposition—the qualities and attributes that set them apart from the crowd. Defining your unique selling points is not just about standing out; it’s about forging a meaningful connection with your audience.

Not sure about this part or just getting started? Here are some questions to ask yourself to get the ball rolling.

  • What are your passions, expertise, and interests? 
  • What experiences make you uniquely qualified to speak to your audience? 
  • Have to talk about one thing for days – what is it?
  • Why do you know so much about what you know a lot about?
  • What’s been a constant thread throughout your life that comes naturally to you?
  • How do you spend your free time? (Personally I think this is one of the most helpful starter Q’s to ask yourself.)

Need some inspiration to figure out how to take your interests and make them into a business or social media platform for a start? Remember whatever you do has to be something that you can create boundless amounts of content on, for days and days, when it’s late at night, seems like no one is paying attention and you’re tired. What would your business be about then?

Consider successful influencers like Jessica Serna, who has carved out her niche in the travel and lifestyle sector. Her passion for exploring new destinations, coupled with her storytelling skills, has endeared her to a dedicated following. By staying true to her values and consistently delivering valuable content, she has become a trailblazer in the influencer world, proving that authenticity and passion are key ingredients in defining your unique value proposition.

She knows her audience intimately and creates content that always resonates with them, such as this perfect slice of Texas paradise, an ice cream themed color Airbnb, or how to visit the Texas State Fair and save money. See the endless content possibilities? How can you replicate your version of this? Who is your target audience?  

Now, it’s your turn. Take a moment to reflect on what makes you, as an influencer,
e x c e p t i o n a l. Embrace your passions, experiences, and individuality, and let these qualities shine through in your content.

As you navigate the influencer landscape, remember that your uniqueness is your strength, your key to connecting with your audience, and your ticket to brand collaborations that align perfectly with your identity.

Thinking you make the best Mexican food? But how? What’s your special ingredient? What makes you stand out? You’ve got a lot of competition out there (daunting but I believe it will push you to be the best in your field.)  Push yourself. 

How to Create a Strong Brand Identity

In the influencer marketing landscape, your personal brand is your most valuable asset. It’s the unique combination of your personality, values, and expertise that sets you apart and attracts brands eager to collaborate. A strong personal brand not only increases your credibility but also serves as a magnetic force that draws brands toward you.

It’s how your audience knows your content is YOURS. It’s part of how they connect with you, how you draw them in. 

To create a personal brand that resonates with both your audience and potential brand partners, consider these key tips:

1. Authenticity is Key: Authenticity is the foundation of a compelling personal brand. It’s about being genuine, honest, and true to yourself. Brands seek influencers who authentically represent their products or services because it builds trust with their audience. Share your passions, values, and experiences authentically in your content.

2. Define Your Niche: Identify a specific niche within the broader influencer landscape. Consider what makes you passionate and uniquely qualified to provide valuable content. Whether it’s fashion, travel, beauty, or lifestyle, honing in on a niche allows you to stand out and become an expert in your field.

3. Consistency is Key: Consistency in your messaging, visual style, and content type helps reinforce your brand identity. From your color scheme and logo to your writing tone, ensure everything aligns cohesively to create a memorable brand image. This is where I see content creators fall off the wagon their journey to more paid brand collaborations. It’s the HARDEST THING. 

How to collab with a brand
How to collab with a brand

What is branding?

4. Visual Storytelling: Visual elements are powerful tools for brand-building. Utilize high-quality imagery and cohesive aesthetics on your social media platforms, website, and blog. Share your journey through visually appealing content that tells a story. There is ZERO excuse for low quality, bad, blurry photos or images. Videos need to be of exceptional quality. You’ve got infinite free resources for you available on the internet.  Use them. Make sure you’re always on top of your game. Your competitor is.

5. Engage with Your Audience: Building a personal brand also involves building meaningful relationships with your audience. Respond to comments, engage in discussions, and show appreciation for your followers’ support. Active engagement fosters a sense of community around your brand.

Do you reply to all the lovely souls who comment on your posts? This is another swing and a missed opportunity if you don’t. It boosts your engagement rate, feeds the algorithm and overall keeps people engaged.

Take inspiration from influencers who have successfully crafted and showcased their personal brands. For instance, look at my creator, Lorraine Ladish, whose style and voice are synonymous with confidence and empowerment. Her content reflects her brand identity consistently, attracting collaborations that align seamlessly with her persona as an over 50 influencer  with healthy aging tips. 

Remember, building your personal brand is an ongoing process. As you invest time and effort into defining your unique identity, you’ll naturally become a magnet for brands seeking authenticity and alignment with their values. In the next sections, we’ll delve deeper into practical steps to enhance your personal brand and optimize it for lucrative brand collaborations.

Building Your Online Presence

In the digital age of influencer marketing, your online presence is your digital storefront—a powerful tool for attracting both your audience and potential brand collaborators. Cultivating a professional and appealing online presence is paramount to your success as an influencer.

It’s also usually the first (and oftentimes) only place people get to interact with you. It’s your digital home. Make it welcoming, 

1. Professionalism Matters: A professional online presence exudes credibility and trustworthiness. Brands want to partner with influencers who take their craft seriously. Ensure your social media profiles, website, and blog reflect this professionalism by using high-quality visuals, clear messaging, and error-free content. Follow the briefs when you have them. Be responsive. All of this matters. 

2. Craft Engaging Social Media Profiles: Your social media profiles are often the first point of contact for brands and followers alike. Optimize your profiles with a professional profile picture, a concise and compelling bio that highlights your niche, and links to your blog or website. Use keywords related to your niche and brand collaborations in your bio to improve discoverability.

Gone are the days when you can use a random, blurry photo of you and your cat from 7 years ago and call it a day. If you’re online dating (god bless you and good luck with that btw!) you KNOW the power and importance of a great photo. 

3. Consistency is Key: Consistency in content quality, posting schedule, and branding elements (such as colors and fonts) is vital. Your audience and potential collaborators should instantly recognize your content amidst the sea of online information. Develop a content calendar to maintain a regular posting schedule. As I’ve mentioned before, figure this part out. Doesn’t matter if you figure out everything else  but you never post. Get on board with being consistent. 

4. Engage and Interact: Actively engage with your audience by responding to comments, asking questions, and participating in relevant conversations. Interaction not only strengthens your community but also signals to brands that you have an engaged and attentive following. Worth repeating, take the time to respond to the people who commented on your posts.

5. Showcase Your Expertise: Position yourself as an authority in your niche by consistently sharing valuable and insightful content. This could include how-to guides, tutorials, and informative articles that cater to your audience’s interests and needs. 

PRO TIP  : A great question to ask yourself is “would I follow my own profile?” 

Remember that your online presence is an ever-evolving entity. Regularly audit your profiles and content to ensure they align with your brand identity and resonate with your audience.  You change over time and it’s okay if your brand does as well. Empty nester and no longer doing parenting content? Review your content every 3 or 6 months. 

PRO TIP : Look at your metrics. What content is your most saved? Shared? Why?

By following these best practices, you’ll create an online presence that not only attracts brands but also fosters a loyal and engaged following, increasing your influencer marketing potential. In the upcoming sections, we’ll delve deeper into strategies for brand discovery and effective outreach.

How to find a partner for collaboration

In the world of influencer marketing, finding the right brand collaborations is akin to discovering a perfect match. It requires careful research, strategic alignment, and a deep understanding of both your niche and the brands you aspire to partner with.

How to find a partner for a brand collab
How to find a partner for a brand collab

1. Niche Alignment: Begin your journey by identifying brands that align seamlessly with your niche. Delve into your niche’s core themes, interests, and keywords. For instance, if you’re a travel influencer, explore travel-related keywords and trends within your niche. DO NOT reinvent the wheel. Look at your favorite travel influencers (remember your niche – local Colorado travel vs international travel vs parenting travel blogger vs budget traveler?) and spend time on their feed. Scroll, scroll, scroll. It’s called research. 

PRO TIP : Look around your house. Look at your own photo roll. What products & services are you  already using? This isn’t an exercise to find new ones but to start with what’s right in front of you. 

Do in-depth research on brands

2. Understand Brand Values: The most successful brand collaborations are those that share values and goals with influencers. Research a brand’s mission statement, values, and previous collaborations to ensure they align with your own. Brands appreciate influencers who authentically resonate with their ethos. Again who are you already a #1 fan of?

3. Locate Brand Contacts: Finding the right brand contacts is a critical step in securing collaborations. Start by visiting the brand’s official website and searching for a dedicated influencer marketing or partnerships page. This often provides contact information or submission forms.

Additionally, utilize LinkedIn to connect with brand representatives and network within your industry. I can’t stress the power of the google on this one! So many free accessible resources for you exactly at your fingertips. Will it take work? Yes. Will you get frustrated? Yes. Keep at it. 

4. Leverage Social Listening: Harness the power of social media eavesdropping, ahem listening to see what people are talking about related to your niche. What’s blowing up? What’s popping? What’s the news as of late? What’s on your FYP on Instagram?  This can unearth potential collaboration opportunities and help you stay up-to-date with industry trends.

5. Collaborative Platforms: Many influencer marketing platforms connect influencers with brands seeking collaborations. Explore platforms like AspireIQ or  CreatorIQ serve as valuable resources for finding and connecting with brands. Create a profile and get into the databases that brands use to source talent for collaborations..

Remember that patience and persistence are key in this process. Building relationships with brands often takes time, so maintain a proactive approach to researching and targeting brands that align with your influencer journey. 

PRO TIP : Manage your expectations on timing. The longer you give yourself for this hard work to pay off, the better.  Play the long game. 

By strategically identifying and reaching out to brands that share your values and resonate with your niche, you’ll be well on your way to establishing fruitful partnerships. 

Reach out to brands that engage with you.

This is a GREAT and easy place to start your influencer marketing journey. If a brand engages in your content with a story reply or better yet with a comment in feed, message them back some love. And it never hurts to ask about their influencer program. Go on, shoot your shot – just like Travis Kelce did with Taylor Swift.

Next up, negotiating a brand collab.

4 negotiation mistakes to avoid
Why you? Learn to answer this question.

Negotiating Brand Partnerships

Negotiating brand partnerships is both an art and a science—a skill that you must master to ensure mutually beneficial collaborations, basically to make sure you’re giving as equal a value as you are receiving for payment from the brand. As an influencer, understanding your worth and confidently articulating it during negotiations is paramount.

And believe me, I FULLY know this is the hardest part of building a successful influencer business. I hear about the struggles, trials and tribulations from aspiring influencers about how to respond when a brand reaches out. I talk about my negotiation tips here but I also know how much of a pain point this is so I’ve got some more article strictly about negotiation to share with you. For starters, here’s one about 5 tips about how to negotiate better as an influencer.

1. The Art of Negotiation: Effective negotiation is a dance between your interests and the brand’s goals. I love this analogy of equating it to a dance. No one dances one steps and then says they’re done. Negotiation like salsa, or the latest Tiktok dance craze involves multiple back and forths between you and the brand. 

You must recognize, embrace and believe the value you bring to brands as an influencer. Understanding the unique strengths you bring to the partnership, such as your engaged audience and authentic voice, is the foundation of successful negotiations. Remember, they reached out to you? Believe that they believe in you & want to work with you. 

2. Real-Life Strategies: Here are some ways to leverage the compensation you’re asking for. 

  • Showcase your impressive conversions from past projects OR any affiliate links you’ve shared
  • Highlight past pieces of content that enabled you to showcase your creative storytelling and why it would matter here. 
  • New to paid brand collabs? Showcase your most engaged pieces of content with your understanding as to how you create it

3. Transparency and Fair Compensation: Transparency is key to fostering trust in brand collaborations. Clearly outline your expectations, deliverables, and timeline from the outset. Understand the brand’s budget constraints and objectives. This transparent approach sets the stage for a cooperative partnership based on mutual understanding.

PRO TIP : Hands down the BEST eye opening negotiating question to ask is, “what are the expectations of me?”

4. Know Your Worth: Never underestimate the worth of your influence and the impact it can have on a brand’s success. Calculate your value based on your reach, engagement, and the potential return on investment for the brand.

I’ll be honest, I see a lot of aspiring influencers inflate their worth not for nefarious reasons but for not having a grounding in what is fair compensation for their follower count and engagement rate. Much as budding influencers who believe they have 6 figure influencer self deep inside them, until you are that in your business bank account, or with your social media profile and website numbers, you can’t ask for ridiculous numbers. Here’s an article about 4 negotiating mistakes to avoid.

What influencers seem to forget is that brand’s have a bottom line and it does NOT make sense for them to pay $5000 for an Instagram reel when you have 5438 followers and less than 100 people viewing your content. The math on that means they’re paying $500 for  every IG reel video view you get.  Wanting to become a full time influencer who works with brands? Read this article I wrote for you.

4 steps to negotiate with brands
4 ways to negotiate with brands

In the world of influencer marketing, fair compensation for what you bring to the table as an influencer is not just a desirable outcome; it’s a necessity. Brands recognize the value influencers bring to the table, and compensation should reflect this reality, recognizing the value you give them by being a successful brand collaboration partner. 

By approaching negotiations with confidence, strategic acumen, and a commitment to fairness, you can establish strong, long-lasting partnerships that benefit both you and your brand collaborators. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into measurement and showcasing your collaboration success, solidifying your position in the influencer marketing ecosystem.

How can you measure the success of a brand collaboration

In the dynamic realm of influencer marketing, tracking and showcasing the success of your brand collaborations is not just a good practice; it’s essential for your growth and credibility. Understanding the impact of your campaigns, collecting relevant data, and effectively showcasing your achievements can set you apart as a trusted influencer and pave the way for future opportunities.

1. Tracking Campaign Success: Measurement is the cornerstone of improvement. It’s imperative to track key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your specific campaign goals. Did you aim to drive website traffic, boost sales, or increase brand awareness?

By analyzing metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, engagement levels, and follower growth, you can gain insights into what worked and what can be enhanced in future collaborations.

2. Collecting Data and Analytics: Utilize various analytics tools available on social media platforms and websites to collect data. Google Analytics, Instagram Insights, and Facebook Page Insights provide valuable information on user behavior, demographics, and content performance. Combine these insights with custom tracking links and UTM parameters to monitor traffic and conversions generated by your collaborations.

A majority of my creators use a tool called Influence Kit to track and share metrics. No more screenshots for brands! I’ve got a link here if you want to take a look. If you decide to sign up, I do earn a commission. Bruno and Chris are great  founders! I’ve known them for years. 

3. Creating Compelling Case Studies: Elevate your influencer portfolio with compelling case studies that highlight your successes. Showcase the metrics, anecdotes, and tangible results from your collaborations. Share the story of how you exceeded campaign goals, whether it’s increased sales revenue, boosted brand engagement, or reached a wider audience. Visualize the impact with graphs and charts, and include authentic testimonials from satisfied brands.

How to measure success of a brand collab
How to measure success of a brand collab

These are great success stories to include in a media kit or another visual PDF document that’s easily sharable. 

By consistently tracking and presenting the tangible results of your collaborations, you not only validate your expertise but also inspire confidence in potential brand partners. Your ability to demonstrate the value you bring to the table enhances your reputation and positions you as a go-to influencer in your niche. In the upcoming sections, we’ll explore the art of professionalism in brand collaborations and how to maintain strong, enduring partnerships.

Handling Brand Collaborations Professionally

Professionalism is the bedrock of successful influencer marketing. In this ever-evolving landscape, influencer-brand partnerships thrive on trust, reliability, and mutual respect.

1. Professionalism and Reliability: Meeting deadlines, delivering on promises, and maintaining clear communication are non-negotiable aspects of professionalism. Brands appreciate influencers who take their commitments seriously, as it reflects positively on their own reputation.

2. Etiquette Tips for Successful Partnerships: Demonstrating respect for brand guidelines, brand values, and the products or services you promote is vital. Always disclose paid partnerships transparently and authentically to maintain trust with your audience. Respond to brand inquiries promptly and constructively, showing that you are dedicated to a productive collaboration.

3. Value of Long-Term Relationships: Building long-term relationships with brands can be highly beneficial. It allows you to develop a deep understanding of their objectives, audience, and preferences, enabling you to create more effective campaigns over time. Brands often prefer working with influencers who consistently deliver exceptional results and demonstrate commitment to their brand values.

By approaching brand collaborations with professionalism, etiquette, and a commitment to building lasting relationships, you not only secure your current partnerships but also lay the foundation for enduring success in the influencer marketing industry.

In the vibrant world of influencer marketing, we’ve explored the journey from aspiring influencer to a confident collaborator. As you reflect on this comprehensive guide, remember that your unique voice and authenticity hold immense power in shaping the influencer landscape.

Key takeaways:

Authenticity: Your authenticity is your strength. Stay true to your values and passions.

Professionalism: Approach collaborations with professionalism, reliability, and a commitment to building lasting relationships.

Value: Know your worth and confidently negotiate collaborations that reflect your value.

Now, it’s your time to shine. Take action and embark on your influencer journey. Reach out to brands, share your unique story, and empower your audience with your passion and expertise.

As you navigate this exciting path, don’t hesitate to seek guidance or assistance. We’re here to support you on your journey towards becoming an influential force in the world of brand collaborations. 

Epic brand collaborations 

My favorite brand collabs to date are ones that are nimble, creative, have the element of surprise and/or are quick to jump on pop culture trends. Here are a couple of my favorite ones, in no particular order :

Pro tip : If you’ve loved this article, sign up for my weekly newsletter HERE. It’s full of industry insights, brand negotiation tips and scripts, events I’m attending, perspective on how to grow your Influencer business and more. I keep it pretty scrappy and real – would love you to join us over there! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

How to collab with brands FAQS

How to ask to collab with a brand?

Great question. There’s a few ways to go about this. But either way, you do need to be proactive about approaching them.  Time to put on those big girl shoes and do it! This could mean sliding into their DMs and asking if they’re currently doing any influencer marketing partnerships. If yes, then ask who the best name + email is for the person running the program. It could mean finding the contact information for the agency running their influencer program and reaching out directly to the agency. 

Keep your initial outreach short, witty and to the point. Remember that they are probably receiving hundreds (if not thousands) of pitches a day so find a way to stand out, catch their attention and leave them wanting more.

Be polite, up front about why you want to partner and what you’d bring to the collaboration. This isn’t so much as “you, the brand, would be so lucky to partner with me but why I’d be a great asset to you, the brand.” Show your value and what you offer. 

And of course, the fortune is always in the follow up. 

What does it mean to collaborate with a brand?

Collaborating with a brand means that you’re a spokesperson for them and creating some sort of content (short form video like a Tiktok, something more long form like a Youtube video or a blog) that gets posted somewhere on a digital marketing platform (either yours or theirs).  You’re effectively giving your endorsement to them. 

How much does it cost to collab with a brand?

It shouldn’t be much measurable cost to you to partner with a brand. Perhaps you’ll need to buy ingredients or some props but it shouldn’t be a lot of out of pocket costs to you (besides the team you pay to help with your content production). The only cost is your time, but remember this is your chosen work and that’s part of any career you embark upon. 

How do you collab with small brands?

I’m happy to report it’s no different collabing with a small brand, a small business than it is collabing with a global conglomerate such as Pepsi. Basically, everything I’ve shared above (did you just skip right to the FAQs?!) The only things that are different are probably what you can imagine – budgets, the experience and expectations are different.  Your local mom and pop store won’t have the same access to funding as a larger company. BUT what’s cool about working with small businesses is that there’s a great appreciation for micro influencers or even smaller, a nano influencer. Here’s an article I wrote about how to work with brands as a micro influencer.