We all want to live in a world where amazing opportunities come knocking at our door. Unfortunately, that isn’t– and will never be— reality. Sometimes we have to go outside of our comfort zones to get what we want, which, in the blogging world, means actively pitching ourselves to the brands we want to work with. Although there’s obviously no sure-fire way to get a response, or even to guarantee someone will read your email, there are ways to significantly increase your chances.
I’ve received several emails over the past few days asking how I’ve approached some of the companies and PR agencies I’ve been lucky enough to work with thus far, so here are my top five tips on how to effectively pitch brands and get yourself noticed.
1. Email the right person
If you want to work with Lilly Pulitzer, emailing email@example.com isn’t going to do you any good. I’m not even sure if a living person reads that inbox; it’s probably run through some sort of algorithmic filter to weed out robot messages. If your message does reach a human, it comes across as lazy to choose the first email address you find as your point of contact. Search for any PR or media contacts you can through the website– if you come up empty-handed, do a Google or LinkedIn search.
Also, blog networks are created for a reason. If a friend of yours has collaborated with a brand you’re interested in, ask who they worked with. Depending on your professional relationship, they may not feel comfortable giving you a specific email address or name, but they can at least give insight into some of the company’s media logistics, like if they have their own PR department or they outsource to a particular agency.
2. Be original
I will admit that I am 100% guilty of writing up an email template and using it for just about every pitch I made during my first 6 months of blogging. What I didn’t realize, though, is that I was using terms like “summer clothing” and “vacation style” in emails to cosmetic brands and/or travel agencies– and in the fall, nonetheless. Needless to say, I didn’t get a response the majority of the time. If you really want to work with a specific brand, your pitch needs to be personal, specific, and carefully constructed.
Further, imagine how many emails Nordstrom receives from bloggers, YouTubers, and media companies on a daily basis. If your email does reach the right eyes, you’re competing with thousands of other bloggers and brands who desperately want to work with the same company you do. Your pitch must be original. Instead of saying something generic like, “I’d really love to work with your brand for some of my upcoming fall posts,” you need to say something along the lines of, “I’d really love the opportunity to feature your xx in my upcoming post about xx; I think it would be an amazing fit because xx.” I’m not saying to write a dissertation about why a brand is a good fit for you blog, but I am saying that you need to approach them with a specific and unique pitch that will get you noticed.
3. Be realistic
You can’t take it personally, but some brands just don’t work with bloggers. Either they don’t need to or they don’t want to– the distinction is irrelevant. Don’t let one or two absent responses keep you from pursuing other opportunities.
Also, keep in mind that products are a form of payment. Just because a brand doesn’t offer you financial compensation doesn’t mean the collaboration isn’t credible or worthwhile. Consider the potential traffic, cross promotion, and most importantly, the notoriety you’ll receive from the potential ongoing relationship before turning it down. Building a quality resume is much more difficult than most bloggers realize.
4. Know your worth
Know your worth. If you can prove that the last sponsored pin you created received 4678 repins and generated 2440 unique page views, flaunt it. If you have impressively high monthly visitors, let them know. Put all your most powerful stats in a media kit (if you need help creating one, Etsy is a mecca of effective, attractive, and unconventional templates) and offer to send it upon request. Many bloggers will send it right out the gate; however, I look at my blog’s Media Kit similarly to my professional references. They’re the pièce de résistance of my girlboss appeal. Plus, it’s easier to pinpoint what’s getting you noticed if you receive a response from your pitch– or from you resume– alone. If a company is responsive to your pitch but cuts contact or declines a collaboration after viewing your media kit, you need to work on your traffic or follower count. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification either; most brands are receptive to explaining why you’re ineligible for a particular project.
Also, don’t be discouraged if your following is lower than you’d like it to be. We all know that girl who has 100k followers on Instagram… but gets 10 likes per photo. Brands value interaction, and any seasoned PR or marketing professional can sniff out when followers are bought or solely the product of a dozen loop giveaways.
5. Be prepared to back up your pitch
In addition to supplying a kick-butt media kit, be sure you have sample posts to use as representation of the quality of work you’re promising to deliver. Consider these carefully chosen and original posts your digital portfolio. Personally, I believe work samples are compellingly more valuable than any numbers or statistics you can possibly provide. Low stats can be justifiable (just started blogging, took time off, switched blogging platforms, Google Analytics is glitching–again, etc); poor quality of work isn’t.
If you put these tips to the test, your chances of receiving a favorable response will dramatically increase. I little bit of extra work goes a long way in the blogosphere; I promise!