By: Kelly Smith; Photos by Brooke Dennis and Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit
Working with sponsors can seem intimidating, but I am here to tell you that they want to work with you! Where people can go wrong is in the approach, the stubborn idea, and consumption of fear. However, if you approach working with sponsors with a focused plan, an open mind, and a casual attitude, all will be well in the long run.
Seven tips for meeting with sponsors
- Sponsors are not hiding out in a secret location. It might seem like that, but the truth is that they are everywhere! You just have to have an open and realistic mind.
- If you are new to blogging but are able to produce good content then start locally – start where you shop, where you have connections, and where you find an aesthetic that matches yours. Speak with a manager and offer your services.
- Make connections and lasting relationships on social media with brands that will notice your effort. That might mean commenting frequently, sharing photos and tagging their products, or engaging with them in a way that captures attention in a positive way. Never ask for a follow, never ask for products on social media, and never promote your work on their feed. Those tactics look desperate instead of meaningful or worthwhile. But, if you play the right cards and have the right material to share, chances are that they will start to notice you – especially if you are hoping to work with a smaller company.
- Establish and invest in a tribe or mastermind group. The friends that you make in the blogging world are just like you. They want to work just as much as you do, and sharing sponsor information is part of that relationship. Of course, trust that your friends will not share information if the brand is not a good fit for you or your level of work. And, in that case, keep working, ask for help to get to that point, and practice your skills until you are truly ready. You wouldn’t want to blow a chance at a dream brand before you are ready.
- Go to conferences and blogging events. Nothing will replace a real conversation with a brand or sponsor. You can ask what their expectations are, who they are looking for, what is important to their brand, and see if the relationship is a good fit for both of you. If the brand is offering exposure and you need money, that is not a good fit. If the brand wants exposure and your numbers are small, that is not a good fit. If the brand wants quality content to put on their site, and are open to compensation or trade, then that is probably a good fit.
- Look up brands on the web that are on your “dream list” and research if they have a blogger program, contact them, and cross your fingers. Many blogger-friendly brands have programs in place and forms that can be filled out for potential partners. Just like a job application, make sure that what you present is your best self.
- Join a network such as Collectively, who will help you find, connect, and work with brands on a regular basis. I have worked with Collectively for a number of years after meeting them at Alt and have been so happy with my experience and am thankful for the opportunities they have brought me.
Of course, the worst thing you can do is nothing at all! Even when you hear a no, the experience will grant you practice to do better the next time around, to work harder to achieve those relationships, and reach for a better fit. Good luck, and don’t forget to have fun!