For brands of all shapes and sizes, there are many benefits of working with bloggers, influencers and creators (I’ll just refer to us collectively as creators from this point on). If you missed my last post, you should read, ‘This is why brands really need to work with bloggers.’ While the benefits are clear, the steps on exactly how to work with creators can be a tad murky. To help brands understand how to find and approach us, here’s the second post in my ‘For Brands,’ series, sharing everything I know on the subject!
This post is great for brands looking to learn more about how to work with creators but it’s also useful for creators too. You’ll learn what to expect, how a brand might find you and a little insight into best practice. Perfect for newbie bloggers or those wanting to turn their platform into a full-time career/source of income at some point.
You need to know what you want
Before you even start looking for a creator, you need to have a very clear understanding of what you want. The more organised you are and the better understanding you have of what you want, the more successful it will all be. You need to take time to work out what you’re trying to achieve before you do anything else. You’re going to need answers to these questions:
- What’s your target market? For example, travellers who love outdoor adventures and rely on good-quality active gear or maybe people based in Sydney who love to try new food spots?
- What do you want the creator to do? Are you looking to share a lot of information on a hotel, for example, and need long-form content, like a blog post? Are you serving up beautiful food and need photos shared on Instagram or would video content suit your product better?
- What do you want out of it? Are you looking to build awareness of your brand as a whole or are you more interested in promoting select products? Are you looking to gain more followers on social media, get some great quality images to use or simply make more sales?
- What are your budget and timeframe? How much can you pay creators and how quickly do you need them to turn the content around?
Once you know these things, you’ve got the bones of your project or campaign. The answer to all these questions is going to give you an idea of the type of creator you’re after.
For example, a cafe will most likely be looking for a locally-based food blogger or Instagrammer with a large local following who takes beautiful photos. A luxury hotel will be looking for an aspirational travel blog with a large following in their target market to create a review and share images on social media too. If you’re on a small budget, approaching super famous creators probably isn’t on the cards, so that narrows down your search too.
How do I find a creator?
Now you have a clear understanding of the type of creator you want, it’s time to find someone who fits the description. There are many different ways to find the right influencer, blogger or creator for your brand. Here are a few ideas:
- Take a look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. Have they run an influencer campaign? Who did they work with? Cyber-stalk the content and see who engaged with it, you’ll most likely find other creators in the same genre commenting on or liking the campaign content.
- Check the social media hashtags for your destination, niche genre. In Brisbane that would be something like #BrisbaneAnyDay, #BrisbaneIgers #Brisbaneblogger or #BrisbaneFoodBlogger
- Try a Google search for bloggers in your niche, something specific like, “Melbourne’s best food bloggers,’ or, ‘Sydney’s best fashion bloggers,’ should yield results. From there, unleash your cyber-stalking skills and see who your faves are following and engaging with, we all tend to stick together so you should find more options in a creator’s circle of creator friends
- Put a call-out on your own social media, share what you’re looking for and ask creators to slide into your DM’s with their details. A call-out like this could also be a little pre-campaign brand awareness/follower boost
- Rely on influencer platforms to find the perfect fit for you! There are so many out there to choose from and which one you go with/if you do use them will just depend on your budget.
You’ll most likely have a short list of creators you want to work with. Go through their blog posts and find out whether you like the way they write and share information. If not, scratch them off the list. Go through an Instagrammers feed and work out if you like their photography style and their captions. Hate it? Give em the flick!
It’s also important not to focus solely on size – as I mentioned in my last post, micro-influencers are incredibly powerful. Quality engagement is crucial. Keep in mind, common ideals – if you’re a brand with a strong eco-friendly focus, an influencer who appreciates this will know how to highlight it best and, chances are, their audience share the same ideals and will appreciate them too.
How do I reach out to them?
By now, you’ve figured out what you want from your creators and who fits the bill, it’s time to reach out to them. Now, look, I’ve been approached by a lot of brands about working together and I’ve seen it all – from the very, very good to the very, very bad.
You can, technically, slide into an influencers DM’s buuuuut, in my experience, there’s a lot of information that needs to be shared and a DM just doesn’t cut it. I always feel like the DM approach is a bit unprofessional unless it’s asking for an email address. For me, the best way for a brand to approach me is by email. It immediately signifies the brand is switched on, professional, personable and someone I could potentially work with.
Most importantly – do not contact a creator unless you are genuinely interested in working with them and have an opportunity for them. I have been approached by brands on many occasions with the lure of a ‘potential opportunity,’ that doesn’t amount to anything. In most cases, the brand didn’t do any research before contacting me and, instead, cast a wide, lazy net, asking me to spend time telling them why they should work with me only to have them turn me down. It’s a huge waste of my time and turns me off the brand altogether because it comes across as very unprofessional.
Before I contact any brand with a pitch, I research them properly and ensure they’re a good fit for my brand and offers value to our audience. Brands must do the same. There are two reasons I say no to working with a brand: 1. They aren’t a good fit for our audience, or, 2. The first contact email is unprofessional, vague and I get a sense of disorganisation and confusion. I won’t associate my brand with one that doesn’t seem professional itself – it’s a risk I can’t take.
What should I say?
A generic email ain’t gonna cut it! Remember, you get what you give, so if you send out a lackadaisical, vague email, you may find the creators who receive it don’t take it seriously or give their all to the job. Command respect and professionalism by offering it in kind. Here are some tips on what to cover in your email:
- Address each email individually to the creator, i.e. ‘Hey Phoebe and Matt,’ a generic email tells me I’ve received a bulk email and the person on the other end may not care whether I respond or not
- Be warm, personable, professional and courteous in the tone of the email – if a creator emailed you, you’d want them to be polite and professional too, right? So, set the tone of your working relationship right from the start!
- Offer information about your brand with a small introduction to who you are, what you do that’s so great and why you know it’s a great fit for the creator’s audience
- Share your idea with them, letting them know what you have in mind, what you want from them and why you think they’re a good fit for the project
- Invite them to share their own ideas and thoughts too, after all, they know their audience best and may have an even better idea on how you can best connect with their followers
- End the email with something mutually beneficial, like an offer to promote the content they create with your existing audience
Here’s an example of the kind of email I love to receive – it’s clear, makes me feel I can trust the brand and want to work with them, based on the level of professionalism and thought put into it and I feel like the person who wrote it genuinely likes what I do and values me. I’ve written it to us, from our cat, Figgy, who apparently manages a boutique hotel now. Congrats, Figgy!
Hey Phoebe and Matt,
How are you? Hope you’re both well. My name’s Figgy and I run Figgy’s Retreat, a gorgeous little boutique hotel in the picturesque Cat Mountains.
We offer luxury, boutique accommodation in a beautiful setting, aiming to help our guests escape daily life while they rest, relax and recharge in nature. Our restaurant, ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas,’ serves delicious food, showcasing local produce and we also have a decadent day spa, plenty of fun outdoor activities and great views too!
We’re looking to bring awareness to the retreat and think your audience of Brisbane-based travellers and weekend warriors would love what we do here. We’d love to have you both out to spend two nights at Figgy’s Retreat, have you create a review blog post of your stay and share some photos on social media too.
We’re a small, feline-run business so our budget for this project is $800 and lots of cuddles/nose kisses.
Take a look at our website and let me know what you think or if you have any other great ideas on how we can work together. We’d love to promote the content you create by sharing it in our meow-nthly newsletter.
Have a great day, talk to you soon.
Do I need to pay them?
Yes, you should pay creators who you want to work for you. Here’s why:
- For people like Matt and I, it’s our full-time job and source of income, so we rely on being paid for our work to pay our bills, buy our food and keep our business running, just as hotel relies on paying guests or a restaurant relies on paying diners
- Paying a creator means you can establish a contract and determine specific deliverables from them, like 1 x written blog post, 4 x social media posts and 1 x Vlog episode
- When you pay a creator, they feel valued and fairly compensated which means you’ll get more out of them. I often go far above and beyond on a paid contract, because I want to work with the brand again, so they end up getting far more out of me than they would’ve otherwise
- The brand is gaining access to the creator’s audience, which warrants payment. If you were going to run a TV or magazine ad, for example, you’d need to pay to gain access to the intended audience. By not paying a creator, it sends the message that what they do doesn’t warrant payment, which makes them feel undervalued
- The brand is receiving a benefit from working with the creator, so they creator should receive a benefit too. Creators are often told they’ll be paid in ‘exposure’ but, honestly, that doesn’t help grow our businesses, compensate us for our time or keep our bills paid
Not all brands have the budget to put behind payment. In this instance, brands may choose to offer a contra-arrangement. Essentially, it’s an exchange of services between the brand and the creator. For example, a restaurant may invite a food blogger to come for dinner, free of charge, in exchange for coverage.
The problem with a contra-arrangement is you don’t really have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to deliverables. Matt and I have said yes to contra-arrangements but we’re very selective when we do – it has to be a product we really, truly believe in (like something eco-friendly) or an amazing opportunity, like an overseas trip to an incredible destination where our flights, food, accommodation, transport all covered. In those situations, the brand doesn’t get to dictate deliverables to us, we decide what we’re offering in return. So, there’s a distinct lack of control from the brand’s perspective.
Paying a creator sets the tone of the working relationship, establishes a set of agreed deliverables, ensures the quality of what the brand receives and gives the brand more control over the situation. Respect begets respect.