Like all Instagram bloggers, I started out with zero followers. This was about 3 years ago. When I started out, I had no idea what collaborations were exactly. I didn’t really know they existed. That’s up until I saw bloggers I followed doing them.
I really wanted to do collaborations, but I just didn’t feel I could because my low number of followers. Yes, most brands will look at your follower count. It sucks and is kinda not fair. For instance, I have seen bloggers with thousands of followers but their engagement just didn’t match. And then I see smaller bloggers with double the amount of engagement but more than less than half the amount of followers. Brands need to wake up a little and realize many of those numbers of followers could have been bought if it doesn’t go with their engagement number. Orrrr, we can blame Instagram changing their algorithm. I know first hand that my engagement has dipped because of this.
Before I knew I could actually get free products, I used to buy from brands and post about it on my Instagram. I enjoyed this actually, plus it helped with my exposure. Why? Because some of these brands actually re-posted my picture tagging me which got me some more followers. I find that before collaborating, a great way to get yourself out there is to purchase from brands and post. They LOVE this. So do not forget to tag them! Both on the photo and in the caption. And you never know, they may just contact you to work together!
So, at around I believe 500 followers, I searched up on Instagram new brands that were starting up like fashion or beauty. I figured why not? Worse case they say no. So I started sending some DM’s. Some didn’t respond which was OK and some did. And to my surprise, they were interested in working with me even with the small amount of followers I had at the time. What did I write to them you make ask? See below:
“Hey there! My name is Sarah and I am a blogger at The Stylish Mommy. I love the items/products you sell and would love to work on a collaboration with you! I would post (insert here what you wanna do whether blog post and Instagram post or just Instagram post etc). If you’re interested let me know!”
(Yes, I kept it short and simple. Honestly, who wants to read so much? They will anyways go straight to your profile).
Now, not only should you show interest in wanting to work with them etc, but you need to have a profile and feed that stands out to them. If they don’t like it, then they probably won’t want to work with you. Quality is key here as they’re looking for people who post nice pictures. No, you do not need a professional photographer to take your pictures nor do you need to get a fancy camera. I always used my iPhone. But I made sure I took great pictures. Below iare going to be a few tips and tricks so I don’t write a whole long paragraph LOL:
- Ok, I mentioned this above, but make sure photos are good quality. Make sure you don’t over filter your pictures. I filter, but I don’t over do it if you know what I mean? Make sure your pictures are clean, no mess in the background, not fuzzy etc.
- Make sure your feed flows. What do I mean? Make sure your photos blend together. Have you noticed sometimes a photo looks out of place between the others? That’s what I mean. That is ok, but not constantly. Make sure to chose one filter or a few that match depending on the lighting of the photo and stick to it.
- Be consistent! I make sure to post between 6-7 times a week. Since I started doing that, I am keeping to it. Not only because it helps my posts be seen if there is consistency, but because if a brand checks out my profile and sees I haven’t posted in a week, it makes them think I are not reliable enough or should I say not passionate enough. Makes sense? So chose a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
- Make sure you have quality content. I used to make this mistake in the beginning. Don’t just post for the sake of posting. Better to not post anything then to post a not worthy photo which may not get many likes in turn hurting your overall engagement.’
Since I started working with smaller brands, it gave me the confidence to contact semi-larger brands. I am not talking Gucci or any stores in the mall. More brands that had say 10k followers etc. Again, to my surprise, they were interested in working with me. I believe it was not the follower count I had, but the quality content I had. Also, when I approached larger brands, I made sure to let them know I have done past collaborations (and told them who those brands were). Them seeing you have done it in the past makes them want to actually work with you. Especially if they go back and see those quality photos you took for the other brands. SEE! That is why I say quality content is important.
Before you know it, even at 1500 followers, you will start getting DM’d on Instagram from brands (make sure to constantly check if you have message requests) and emails as well. This is because they saw on my feed I have done past collaborations or that I have posted about products/brands. I made my blog a business on Instagram as it has the option to add an “email” tab which is easier for brands to contact you. Many have said it hurt their engagement switching from a personal account to a business account, but I haven’t noticed it. I even went back to a personal account, but it didn’t make a difference so I switched back over to business (to do this, you need to have a Facebook page to link Instagram to). I feel brands also like working with bloggers who have a business account on Instagram. It looks a bit more “professional” in a sense, though don’t get me wrong. There are TONS of bloggers out there with a regular personal account that do many collaborations.
As far as payment, for now I have not asked for pay only because it is items/products I would buy or want. So that for me for is payment. I think I may start asking for more pay once I hit the 10K mark. I have once asked for pay (a brand contacted me) as it was not something I would put on my feed, but I am making it work. Especially just starting out, pay may not work as the follower count isn’t where brands “feel” it needs to be at to get payment. You can definitely try! Worse case its a NO and you say ok product is enough. To get an idea of what you can charge per post, go to Social Blue Book and create an account. They take the number of followers you have, engagement rate etc and let you know the fair price you can charge per post.
Before I end off this post, below are things to remember when accepting a collaboration or more like a checklist:
- Are you familiar with the brand? If not, go check them out! See if it is worth working with them.
- Do you like the product or item they are offering? Give this one a good thought.
- Is this item or product worth it if you are not getting paid? Think of how much its worth…
- Always make sure you understand and agree to the brands requirements prior to accepting. You do not want issues down the road where they will not want to work with you again and so on.
- If what they are asking for is too much (which unfortunately many brands do this like want a blog post and 3 Instagram posts), let them know what you can do. Most times there is negotiation before reaching an agreement. And if there is a collaboration like this, make sure the end agreement is in writing and signed so there are no surprises.
- Does your schedule work with this collaboration? You do not want to outdo yourself here. It gets stressful! Believe me.
- Is this collaboration going to help you get future collaborations?
- Are your followers going to be interested in this item or product? Remember the reason why they followed you in the first place. Don’t post something out of your norm for the sake of getting something for free. Unless you can make it work!
- Are you able to get a good photo? Make sure as sometimes they give you a time-frame. And yes, if the time-frame is too short, tell them and change the date. They most times agree to this. Because sometimes not having time, photos aren’t the best and then both your followers and the brand aren’t interested/happy.
- Does this item fit with your niche? Does it fit with your overall “brand” on Instagram?
- Are you going to end up writing a fake review? If so, do not accept. Always be real with your followers. I know we are quick in accepting collaborations because the exposure and free stuff, but you want to make sure its going to be something you won’t need to fluff up for your readers.
Now, once I accept the collaboration, I put it down on my “Notes” in my phone. I keep a list because sometimes, I forget and that is no good! Also, communication is key. I always email back the brand letting them know when I receive the item and that I am working on the post. I also email them letting them know once I have posted with the link to that specific post. This way, there is no confusion on their end if I posted by the deadline etc.
I hope this post will help all those working on getting collaborations. And don’t ever be shy to message me on Instagram if you need help or have questions 🙂