From your vision board to reality…
When you’re ready to take that next step and start working with brands, this is for you. Partnerships and deals are a vital source of income for many creators, but if you don’t approach them correctly, they can end up running you, rather than the other way around. Here are some starting points and good practices to bear in mind as you start to approach building relationships with brands.
Identify your key brands and establish why they’re meaningful to you
Why do you want to work with this brand, or these brands? Is there a certain cachet that you identify in them, do you genuinely use and love their products, or is their ethos you’re attracted to? None of these reasons are wrong and no one is more valid than another – in fact, having a strong personal affection for a brand could even be a hindrance as it may make you less likely to push back on points you’re unhappy with. Start with a list of dream brands you’d love to partner with and make sure you list them in your settings in your InChief profile, having them listed here will mean they can see that you want to work with them – a bit like when you like someone on Tinder and they like you back and you get a match. It also means InChief can let you know if there are any key launches and events happening with those particular brands. There’s no point dreaming of working with Chanel and not bothering to watch their shows, or wanting to partner with Apple and not tuning in for the keynote addresses.
Start a grassroots relationship
Just because you’re not already working with a brand doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them. You most likely own some of their products already, and if not because the cost is prohibitive, you can still find other ways to talk about them in your content. Start by posting about the brand, making sure to tag them, and reply to content on their feeds, too. When you feel you’ve established enough of a foothold, you can consider emailing their press office to ask to be added to their mailing list. Do not ask for free samples. It will appear immature and unprofessional. If they add you to the mailing list, try and follow up on their emails and build a rapport, and post about their happenings, too.
Be professional, online and offline
When a brand is choosing creators to work with, they won’t just look at your recent posts. Brands, especially big multinational brands, take on a big amount of reputational risk when they work with creators, and they need to be sure it’s not going to be embarrassing for them. Petty fights, off-colour jokes, political campaigning, sharing news from questionable sources, overtly sexual content, swearing, and over-sharing all spring to mind as brand turn-offs. Don’t think your Stories or your Tweets are exempt; treat every online communication as if it’s going to be plastered on a billboard and be professional and friendly at events, too. Any drama or feuds with other creators ends up tarring them all with the same brush, so avoid being sucked into any gossip.
Consider stepping stone partnerships
It’s unlikely the first ever brand that comes your way to work together will be one of your dream brands, but that doesn’t mean you should turn them down. If a brand is a good fit for your brand, the terms are good and you’re happy to deliver what they want, go for it! It’ll show to other brands that you’re on the market and available, and teach you valuable lessons which you’ll undoubtedly find useful in future partnerships. What’s more, if the partnership proves lucrative for the brand, you’ll have cold hard data to bring to the table at your next negotiation.
Build a media kit
When the time comes to negotiate terms or approach brands, you need to have a media kit. It’s basically a portfolio of your reach, the demographics of your audience, the successes of your past partnerships, any accolades or awards you’ve won and examples of past branded content you’ve created. You can create one with your F.I.T.T.Y Index data included just by clicking on the generate resume tab in your settings. It will automatically create a short one-page document that’s clear and concise and it’s all you need. It is focused on making it easy to read and in the spirit of being truly authentic and honest, your numbers are taken from your F.I.T.T.Y Index so the brands instantly know the numbers are not inflated. Brands can easily fact-check media kits that have been inflated, so don’t be tempted to change your numbers, but even just having the kit will make you look more professional and appealing.