In short: yes. In my opinion at least. This is a hot topic in the blogging world and has been for some while now; as the blogosphere grows and us bloggers are rewarded with more and more opportunities to grow our own brand and solo businesses, the question of whether it’s “okay” to contact brands yourself for collaboration is becoming more and more relevant. So is it okay to pop over an email to the PR department, and if so, how should you go about it?
BE REALISTIC: I absolutely think it’s acceptable, but I do think you have to pick appropriate brands, appropriate moments and be realistic. If you’ve just started blogging, are taking pictures on your iPhone and have 200 Instagram followers, don’t expect a reply from ASOS. However, if you are in this position and you have a few months of visible content, then it would be totally worth reaching out to some small online boutiques and letting them know you’d be interested in working together. Some might say yes, some might say no, but it won’t harm you either way. At the very least you’re getting your name out there and upping your brand visibility.
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Research the brands you want to contact beforehand and see if they actively collaborate with bloggers. If they do, have a look at the calibre of blogger and what their content/follower count is like. Is this similar to you? Do you fit the brand aesthetic and have a wide enough audience to be able to promote them? If you don’t see a lot of bloggers popping up, don’t be disheartened. One of the brands I actively work with now both via promotion and through an affiliate programme didn’t have bloggers on their Instagram page, but I contacted them nonetheless and they were super enthusiastic. Again, however, be realistic. If you see a brand only collaborates with huge bloggers or doesn’t promote a lot on their Instagram, maybe re-evaluate and find other brands that do. Either way, researching is vital.
SELL YOURSELF: Brand collaboration is just that: collaboration. It’s a two way street where you’re either being compensated financially for your time and work, or via a gifting scheme where you are given products in return for styling and promotion. Whilst you are offering your time, work, audience and promotion, the brand are ultimately paying you for these services. Don’t be afraid to big yourself up a little when you send out the feelers in a preliminary email, and always include any vital stats and social links so the receiver can check you out fully. Be upfront with why you want to work with the brand and why you think you’re a good fit – the gal/guy on the other end will be grateful that you haven’t just gone down the ‘I would love to work with you!’ route.
USE YOUR PLATFORMS: Email is conventional – preferred even – but more and more brands are using alternative forms of communication with bloggers. I know I’ve liaised via Instagram and Twitter DM’s, so there’s nothing wrong with popping one of these through if you can’t find a direct email address. The one thing I wouldn’t recommend is leaving comments on brand photos or replying to Tweets – it’s impersonal and unprofessional, and looks like you’re just spamming brands looking for any old hook up. Keep it professional, but don’t worry about taking the route less travelled.
DON’T BE DISHEARTENED: Don’t be disheartened if you get a no – heck, be happy that you got a reply at all. I remember when I first started blogging brands would email me first and then never reply, let alone just not respond to me sending a little hello. You may not be able to work with your favourite brands to begin with or even 2 years down the line (Topshop I’m still waiting), but the time will come. Just focus on producing great content that you’re passionate about, and you’ll find your inbox filling up in no time.