Anyone who maintains an engaging blog knows it’s no easy feat to gain exposure with the right people. But you may be overlooking one powerful tactic to reach the audience you’re looking for.

Collaborating with your favorite brands can inspire fresh ideas and introduce your blog to new groups of potential readers. These collaborations offer advantages for both bloggers and companies, and you can use these selling points to land your dream partnerships.

The advantages of collaborating with a brand

By working together, bloggers and brands can tap into each other’s networks. You can reach not only fans of the brand, but also other bloggers who have partnered with the brand — expanding your audience and enhancing your network. By targeting brand loyalists who overlap with your audience, you’ll build your following and connect with more readers in your niche.

At 9th & Elm, we recently collaborated with Kate Heimann from Wear In LA, a popular fashion blog. While we benefited from featuring our products on her blog by scooping up a new, engaged audience, Kate gained new readers and followers when we shared her posts and photos through our social media channels.

Working with great companies will also help you establish credibility. When you have a positive track record of working with brands, other companies will be more inclined to partner with you in the future, boosting your ability to gain exposure with the audience you crave.

How to successfully land a partnership with a brand

You might see your favorite brands as out of reach, but there are plenty of ways to begin building relationships with them.

Displaying your genuine interest on social media shows you’re in it for the right reason: to promote something you actually love. Liking their Facebook pages, leaving complimentary comments on their Instagram photos, or following them on Pinterest are great starting points.

After you’ve connected through social media, send a note telling your favorite brands who you are and why you want to work with them. This process is similar to pitching guest posts to editors: You must make sure to grab their attention so your email doesn’t get lost in the sea of other inquiries.

Most companies have a designated social media manager who handles posts and interactions within the community; this is the person to contact with collaboration ideas. If you can’t find the manager’s email address via a brand’s website, reach out to customer support to be directed to the proper channel or leave a message on the brand’s Facebook page asking for information about brand collaboration.

When bloggers or social media professionals express interest in working with 9th & Elm, we encourage them to write us an email. Although we reached out to Kate after coming across her on Instagram and identifying with her style, this type of situation is rare.

In fact, Kate reached out to us later with another collaboration idea, following the traditional model I’ll outline below. What made it easy for us to agree was that we had information about her social reach — I can’t encourage bloggers enough to prepare their numbers and expectations ahead of time to make that “yes” a no-brainer.

What to include in your pitch email

To help differentiate your proposal, here are a few important elements you should include:

  • Your reasons for wanting to work with the brand: Detail why you love the brand and how it relates to your blog content to show you’ve done your research.
  • Statistics about your blog and readership: These can include your average monthly views, number of followers, the length of time you’ve been blogging, etc.
  • Details about the potential collaboration process: Would you like to give each other social media shout-outs, feature products on your blog, offer giveaways, or do something else? Let the brand know exactly what you’d like to do. This piece is key — suggest an idea rather than expecting the brand to come up with one.
  • Expected results of the partnership: Explain where you will share the content, how many times you’ll post about the brand, and what that will mean for the company. Be as detailed as possible.

Bringing up your own expectations is tricky, but it’s information that can make or break your proposal. Blogging is still a new platform for brands to wrap their heads around as a form of marketing that requires compensation. The key in bringing up “the money conversation” is to lay out exactly what kind of work the collaboration will entail (e.g., how many posts, how often, etc.), then set your price.

Bloggers should approach this conversation with confidence and a strong sense of professionalism that shows they’re in it for a business relationship, not to gain free merchandise.

Generally, it’s expected that a blogger will request compensation in one of two ways: product or a monetary compensation. While it’s common for well-known bloggers to receive both, it’s best for smaller bloggers to start with one. Once you’ve shown your value, you may propose a change in compensation.

You have a lot to offer brands, and this proposal is your chance to explain exactly how you can help them.

Nurture your relationship with a brand

Like any type of relationship, you need to stay in touch. You could send regular emails notifying them of upcoming projects or new collaboration ideas, or engage with them on social media to stay top of mind.

Taking an interest in the brand’s other projects, even if you’re not directly related or involved, also shows you value the relationship as more than a one-time business transaction.

There’s something special about the collaboration between bloggers and the brands they love. Bloggers perceive and speak about a brand in creative ways the brand’s marketing team might not consider, and that can serve as a powerful way to reach new audiences.

Enjoy the benefits of brand partnerships

In the case of 9th & Elm, seeing our products through the scope of Kate’s personal style was a joy. We eagerly shared her photos on our social media platforms, and Kate did the same.

Thanks to those posts, Kate earned 100 new followers. In addition, showcasing our brand as a sponsor helped boost her credibility with others and snagged her collaboration opportunities with several Etsy shop owners.

On our side, we connected with a valuable media source who provided positive press, showcased new photos of our products, and offered a new avenue for marketing them.

Partnering with a brand could give your blog the edge and exposure it needs to truly take off. Don’t let the size of brands intimidate you. If the opportunity makes sense, they’ll see the value in working with you.

Bloggers, have you partnered with a brand? If not, is this something you’d like to try?