So you’re a novice blogger with strong audience insight and on-point writing skills. Naturally, your blog is going to grow. Your readership will shoot up and your regular traffic will increase. Soon, your inbox is going to be full of outreach emails from brands seeking to capitalize on your success. But before you embark on your first brand collaboration, there are few important things you should know. 

You’re writing for your audience, not theirs

When a brand reaches out to you for the first time, it’s flattering. A legitimate business thinks your blog is a valid platform for sharing their message, and it’s very gratifying.

Consequently, it can be tempting to trip over yourself to accommodate them and their needs, especially when there’s money involved. But it’s important to remember that brands are reaching out to you because of your own merit, not how they can shape you.

To that end, ensure you stay true to your blog’s voice and style. Sprint’s #LiveUnlimited campaign is the perfect example of this.

Each influencer used in the campaign delivers a branded message for the internet service provider, but in their own distinctive way. Indeed, the success of this campaign lay at least partly in its delivery.

Takeaway tip

A brand-blogger collaboration is just that: a collaboration. While you should certainly work together to achieve a shared goal, remember that the end product should be delivered in your own inimitable style. Your readers will notice an aberration from your usual style, and it will ultimately detract from your collaboration’s end goals.

You need a media kit

Every professional blogger who wants to work with a brand at some point in their blogging career needs a media kit. It’s the shop window of your business, an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you do and how well you do it.

A good media kit takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. It’s often the first port of call for brands when they reach out to you, so it’s important that you perfect yours. And not only does it help brands as they scope you out for potential collaborations, but it helps you weed out those that don’t fit with your blog style.

Takeaway tip

Every media kit is different, depending on your blog and your niche. But as a general rule, you should include:

  • Contact details including email address and a phone number
  • Media assets e.g. headshot, blog logo, homepage screenshot
  • A list of your regular topics,or an elevator pitch for your blog
  • Facts and figures such as average page views, unique visitors, subscribers, etc.
  • Existing sponsorship deals/collaborations
  • Customer testimonials

Your media kit won’t just be your brands either. If your blog receives press coverage as a result of your collaboration, journalists will use this to help write their stories.

Check out these examples for inspiration.

Your blog is your job, and you should expect payment for it

Sometimes, a brand will reach out to you to request a collaboration but, instead of paying you, they’ll offer a ‘freebie’ instead. As a novice blogger, new to the world of brand collaborations, it can feel difficult to say no.

But for many of you reading this, blogging is more than just a simple sideline: it’s a full-time job. It takes time and effort to craft content for your blog, and that’s only a fraction of your job. You also need to create and schedule your social media posts, respond to your readers, and coordinate your marketing efforts.

Consequently, you should feel confident to reject the offer of a freebie, and ask for financial payment instead.

Takeaway tip

Accepting the offer of a freebie in return for content is a decision ultimately made at your discretion. But remember: for professional bloggers, it’s a job, not just a hobby. Feel free to ask for payment instead. If a brand gets annoyed at this, they’re not worth your time.

Don’t get too hung up on numbers

When you’re assessing your blog’s value, it can be easy to get hung up facts and figures. Many brands and bloggers alike often fixate on who has the biggest follower count or the highest number of page views.

But those numbers are just numbers. What brands really want is engagement. You might have thousands of readers, but if they’re not truly engaged with your blog and your voice, then that number is irrelevant. Readers that are genuinely interacting with your content are worth so much more than those that aren’t.

As those of you reading this whorun affiliate schemes or other revenue streams alongside your blog will know, this is as true for bloggers as it is for every online business. The most successful niche online stores aren’t those that experience high volumes of traffic everyday. They’re the ones that experience regular traffic from the same loyal customers time and time again.

Takeaway tip

While your readership and page views will have some bearing on your blog’s value, what really matters is engagement. Use tools to accurately monitor your comments, social shares, backlinks, and total time spent on your blog.

Be discerning with who you work with

Just because a brand is offering you money to work with them, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes. It’s important that you only accept offers from brands that are directly or tangentially related to your niche.

While it’s uncommon for a brand from outside of your niche to offer a collaboration, it happens. And if it does, don’t let the offer of money tempt you. Suddenly sharing branded content that deviates from your usual output will dilute your appeal and repel your audience.

Takeaway tip

Even in dire financial straits, try to avoid collaborating with brands that aren’t related to your niche. Your readers know when they’re being sold to, and won’t appreciate unwanted products or services being thrust in their face. Partnerships with relevant brands will give your blog value and longevity.

Before entering a partnership with a brand for the first time, it helps to know the landscape. Remember the tips above and enjoy a fruitful collaboration that will benefit each of you.

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.