IE 59: Biggest Mistakes Influencers Make when Working with Brands on Sponsored Content


Influencers routinely make mistakes when working with brands on sponsored content without even realizing it.  I learned by building my site, The Melrose Family, exactly what it takes to build a blog that brands are excited to work with. But along the way, I also learned what the biggest mistakes are that influencers make when trying to work with brands on sponsored content. Today, we are going to dive into those mistakes.

IE 59: Biggest Mistakes Influencers Makes when Working with Brands on Sponsored Content

Blonde woman at her desk frustrated because of the biggest mistakes influencers make

Influencers Mistake #1 – Elevator Pitch

Could you tell me in 30 seconds what you do and who you do it for? Let’s say I ask you, as a blogger, “What do you do?” If you answer, “I’m a food blogger”, you have told me nothing.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had that exact conversation. But it tells me nothing about what you do and who you do it for. Do you create vegan recipes? Are you a gluten-free cook? Are you trying to help people cook delicious meals at home more? Who are you trying to help? How are you doing it?

Your elevator pitch should tell me what pain point you are solving for your reader and how you are solving it. You have to know your target audience in order to know your elevator pitch. If you don’t even understand your own message, how will anyone else understand it? How can you tell a brand what you do and who your audience is if you don’t know?

Influencers Mistake #2 – Confidence

Think back with me to the last time another mom asked you what you do. Did you say something like, “I’m just a blogger”?

Come on! You do more than just blog! You are a marketing strategist, you are a social media manager and expert, you are a bookkeeper, you’re a content creator (and a recipe developer if that’s your thing), you’re a skilled photographer. You are an influencer in your space.

Have the confidence in yourself to state what it is that you do.

If you aren’t confident enough to tell your friends or fellow moms what you do, how will you work with brands? I get asked ALL THE TIME how many page views you need before you can pitch to a brand.

Listen to me, the sky isn’t going to open up and shine down a beam of light onto your pretty little head with a voice telling you that it’s time! No!!

You need to be able to articulate to a brand who your people are, what age range they are in, and what they are coming to you for. What is your most popular content? That’s what the brands care about, not the number of pageviews you have. Now, will the blogger with 100K pageviews likely make more than a smaller blogger on sponsored content? Yes! But if you want income coming in, it is possible! And it is possible to grow it over time to an amount you may have only dreamed of.

If your niche is small, play into the audience that you do have and be able to tell the brand all about them.

Grab your pitch perfect cheat sheet here

Influencers Mistake #3 – Not Contacting Brands Correctly

The first thing you need to do if you want to work with a brand is to go to their website to get a specific email address in order to send an initial pitch.

Every brand has a website, no matter how big or small they are. When you go to the website, look for the words press or media. If you see a press release, click on it to familiarize yourself with the product they are currently promoting.

After you have read the press release, look at the very bottom and you will see the name of the person who wrote it. This is the person you want to get in contact with. Now listen to me; this person may not work for the brand itself. They may work for a PR company. That’s fine!

If there is no name or if you can’t get the email address, I am going to tell you another way to do this. We are seeing a 50% conversion rate in getting the information we need by using this alternate method.

What is it? Instagram.

If you aren’t familiar with Instagram or Instagram stories, go back and listen to episode 58 to learn all about them. Tagging a brand in an IG photo or story is a great way to get their attention. When you tag them, they get a notification. If they respond to you with a “thank you for the tag” message, you are going to message them back and here is what you are going to say:

“I would like to get the contact email for the person on your team who works on blogger and influencer campaigns.”

Influencers Mistake #4 – Initial Pitch

Once you have the email address of this person, you’re going to send your initial pitch. BUT, before you send that pitch, you need to listen to me.

Your initial pitch should not contain “all that plus the kitchen sink.” You want to keep your initial pitch broad. If you are pitching a flour company, you don’t say in your initial pitch that you will create an award-winning apple pie recipe using their brand new gluten-free flour. No! Keep it broad.

You also want to be pitching 3-4 months in advance. So if it’s currently Valentine’s Day, you should be pitching for Memorial Day or Mother’s Day. You are pitching spring or summer recipes. You may even be pitching for July 4th.

The reason for this is that it takes some back and forth to nail down a campaign and this is the work that the networks usually have already done before they contact you. As an influencer working directly with brands, you are doing this part yourself now.

The second part of the initial pitch where I see the biggest problems is when the blogger focuses on themselves. Keep in mind, this is not about you.

You aren’t pitching yourself, you are pitching your audience.

In order to pitch your audience, you have to know something about the brand. What is it about the brand that makes you confident that your audience would be the perfect fit for it? You have to be able to express to the brand who your audience is and why they would be interested in the product, whatever it is.

Influencers Mistake #5 – Proposals

Okay, you’ve sent your initial pitch and they’ve responded with interest in hearing how they might work with you. Now what?

In that initial pitch, you mentioned that if they were interested, you would be happy to send along your media kit and a proposal. So now you need to put together a proposal. This needs to be more than just another email.

Your proposal should be a separate document telling the brand exactly what you are going to do for them. Your pitch needs to stand out from the networks, so don’t just say something like, “I will create a recipe, share it on my Facebook, my Instagram, and Pinterest.” The brand can go to the networks and get bloggers to do that for pennies on the dollar.

Another thing – you are not giving them a rate sheet. You are putting together a complete package with one price. In this package is where you want to stand out. For example, if you do live broadcasts on your Facebook page once a week, include that in the package and charge for it. Everything comes with one price in a package deal.

Your proposal should tell them exactly what you will do, including how many Facebook posts, how many Instagram posts or mentions in Instagram stories, how many tweets, and how many pins on Pinterest.

Download your pitch cheat sheet

Influencers Mistake #6 – Lack of Authenticity

The number one reason that I am able to create so much income from my sponsored posts is that I am authentic. If I can’t make it work for my audience, I walk away. Let me give you an example-

I was asked to do a campaign with Glad trash bags. They wanted me to use one trash bag for 4 days and show my audience how it was still smelling fresh after those 4 days. Well, we are a family of 4, so we kinda’ go through more than a trash bag every 4 days. : )

But I sat back and thought about how I could make this work for my audience. It was springtime, and my family had just come home from a week-long trip to Key West where we ate these delicious Caribbean fish tacos every day.

So I decided to recreate the Caribbean fish taco recipe. My post ended up being about how after we had the tacos, we left for the weekend. And when we came back 4 days later, the house didn’t stink, even though my youngest daughter had thrown a bite of her fish taco away in the trash, which didn’t get emptied before we left.

I created a gorgeous pinnable image of the tacos, I had a keyword rich title, and I created content that would continue to drive traffic to my site rather than just a post reviewing a trash bag. My audience is not interested in a trash bag review.

Do not fill your blog with a bunch of reviews. Figure out a way to make the campaign work for the type of content they have come to expect from you. Creating stellar content for sponsored work is the only way to keep your audience engaged while also fulfilling the details of your campaign.

Influencers Mistake #7 – Not Going the Extra Mile

One of the things that really frustrates me is hearing a blogger say, “Well, my contract says one post, one tweet, one Facebook post, and one pin. And that’s all I’m doing.”

Now if I asked you how many times you share your own content, what would you say? Do you really only pin your new content one time? Do you share your post on Facebook once and then never mention it again? NO!

You’re pinning and sharing like crazy to try to drive more eyeballs to your site, so don’t tell me that when you’re working on sponsored content, you are only going to share the content one time. What will happen is that it will all blow up in your face. Why?

Because you have shown the brand that you aren’t worth the money they paid you. Pin this post the way you would normally pin it. Share it like you would share a normal post. You should promote a sponsored post at least as much as you promote non-sponsored content. Email your list and tell them to be sure to read the post.

Influencers Mistake #8 – Non-Existent Follow Up

If you’ve done sponsored campaigns with networks, you aren’t accustomed to having to follow up with brands. The networks act as the middleman between the blogger and the brand, so all of the extra work is done for you.

Why is following up so necessary? Because this is how you get long-term contracts with brands. Once the campaign is over, you need to let them know the stats. Give them highly detailed information about the reach of the campaign; how many retweets you got, how many saves on Pinterest, how much engagement on Facebook, etc.

If I told you that you could have your editorial calendar filled months in advance…if I told you that you would no longer have to beg networks to send you something, anything…if I told you that brands would be excited to work with you and give you long-term, multi-post contracts…would that get your attention? It should!

Following up is the way to make these things happen. When you work directly with a PR person for a brand, you are establishing a relationship with that person. You aren’t hidden behind a network. They get to know you. And once they know you and what you have to offer, the more willing they are to look at a long-term contract with you.

Get your pitch cheat sheet here

Putting It into Practice

Okay, I have told you many things and given you a ton of information in this post! But I need to stress something- this is not just theory. This is what I put into practice on a daily basis. And trust me, I fell on my face so many times while trying to figure out how to work with brands, that once I did figure it out, I knew I had to shout it from the rooftops.

As a former teacher, I not only think like a teacher. I plan like a teacher. I strategize like a teacher. And I share with others like a teacher. My program takes you from Step A to Step B and on and on. I give you a plan to follow with every step laid out for you all along the way. I hope you will take advantage of it!

Tired of being asked to create content for free... or better yet, a bag of granola?

Want to give them a piece of your mind? Or hit the delete button? You could...OR, you could steal the emails I use to flip those low-ball product offers into four-figure campaigns!