‘Build it, and they will come’ – this old adage is only half true for content creators. Yes, if you focus on building your community and your personal brand, you may reach a point where brands are approaching you with some great sponsorship opportunities. But until then, you’ll likely have to hustle and pitch brands you want to work with.
Crafting a great pitch is actually a two-step process:
- Choosing the right brands
- Creating the actual pitch
Too many creators don’t spend enough time on the first step, and the result is almost always a miss. But if you spent enough time on defining and building your niche, choosing the right brands will be easy.
How to choose the right brands to pitch
The number one thing to remember is that brands get pitched a lot. If you’re going to put the time and effort into pitching brands, start with ones you’re a very obvious fit for. Perfect-fit brands aren’t difficult to find because they’re the brands you love in the first place. Here’s where you can start and expand your search:
Search your own purchases: Remember—brands care about authenticity above all else. When you approach brands you genuinely love, your passion will show in your pitch. Bonus points if you’ve posted about that brand before and can show them how much you appreciate their product.
Search for sponsored posts within your own community: If creators similar to you are scoring brand deals with certain companies, that shows a brand is investing in creator marketing.
How to craft your pitch
Odds are, if you’re excited to work with a brand, other creators are, too. Assume the brands you love are getting a lot of pitches and answer the following fundamental questions right away in your pitch:
- Who are you and why are you an obvious choice for sponsorship?
- Who is your audience?
- Why do you want to collaborate?
And don’t assume a pitch needs to be written! To stand out, consider packaging your pitch in the following ways:
- An Instagram/YouTube/TikTok/etc. portfolio of content relevant for that brand
- An Instagram highlights reel with relevant content and/or other sponsored posts
However you choose to pitch yourself to a brand, the most important things to remember are:
Show, don’t tell: Take every opportunity to show brands why you’re a great fit, rather than just telling them.
Make it easy: Never make a brand sift through your content to find out who you are. Create a curated portfolio with a smaller amount of pieces to make everyone’s life easier.
How to negotiate compensation with brands
Your negotiation process will be different for every brand, but there are some standard items you’ll want to consider as leverage and/or watch for.
Multi-channel use: It’s one thing to post one piece of whitelisted content on your feed, but if a brand also wants posts for their own feeds and their website and in emails, those are additional pieces of content that will start to move your rates away from your standard.
Exclusivity: If a brand doesn’t want you to work with their competitors, that cuts off potential opportunities for you—which means you can charge more.
Perpetual or long-term use of your likeness: If a brand wants you to be a spokesperson for them on a long-term basis or if they want to reserve your likeness forever, your rates should increase.
Content packages: Multiple pieces of content cost more, as do additional tasks like storyboarding or collaborating with other Creators.
Audience sharing: If a massive brand like Nike is offering to tag you on their accounts, you may consider a lower rate in exchange for what will likely be more engaged followers. Just make sure the brand fits your niche.
Expensive products: If a brand can’t offer payment but they can offer a product of extreme monetary value, you may want to consider it—just make sure the value lines up with what your time is worth.
How to increase your value to brands when you want to level up
If you’ve been at this a while and feel like you want to level up, there are three main ways you can grow and ultimately charge more for your services.
Upskilling: Take courses that will help you create better content, like photography, videography, and video editing. You likely already know how to do these things, but advanced courses can help you take your skills to a new level.
Learning new skills: Determine some ideal next steps in your career and learn new skills that will help you reach your goals. If you want to become a television host, for example, you may want to take some broadcast journalism courses.
Affiliate marketing: If you want to develop more long-term partnerships with brands, consider setting up an affiliate channel for product reviews.
Think of all these investments as additional points of negotiation when you’re crafting brand partnerships. When you can point to concrete actions that show why you’re an expert, you’re much more likely to see success in raising your rates.
Final thoughts on creating predictable income
Don’t underestimate the importance of being easy to work with. Behind every brand there’s a team of people who want Creator partnerships to run smoothly. If you can make sure this happens, you’re setting yourself up for a competitive advantage. The easier you are to work with, the more a brand will work with you again and again. This is what creates predictable income, which creates the stability most creators seek.