A Starter Guide for Working with Brands

When you’re starting out, unless you go viral immediately, there’s going to be a point where the scales aren’t yet ready to tip. You aren’t big enough for brands to sign on, unless you find a brand looking to expand their market and take a chance on a new influencer. The long-term goal is to get big enough that the scales do tip and it’s less about you finding new brands, and more about them finding you. In the beginning, though, there are some methods of getting brands of various sizes on board.

Reviews

Maybe the easiest request to get a yes on is asking a brand if you can review their product for free. You never know who might say yes, so you can always aim big, brand-wise, as long as you’re aiming relatively low, product-wise. Meaning pick one of their least-expensive items to review so that they’ll feel less put out if they send it to you for free and don’t get a huge bump in numbers.

Product Placement

This might be a little more advanced, but it’s similar to getting a review item. Only instead of reviewing the item, the item takes center stage in your photos and videos, etc. Product placement is usually reserved for bigger names (because there are usually cash payments involved) but if you can make a trade deal where you keep the item to be placed in a shot or two, that’s ideal.

Payment-In-Kind

This essentially describes what you’re doing with reviews and product placement, if your only payment is the item itself. Obviously, you want to make money if possible, but if you’re small, payment-in-kind can work wonders. You might even be able to get more tech to help you build up your equipment stock. Especially if you have a platform like a podcast, payment-in-kind can mean the simple exchange of an item for a few weeks/episodes worth of ads.

Brand Collabs

Typically, these are also for bigger names, but if you see a brand collaborating with another name at your level, or even if you’re interested in shooting for a brand you like, give it a shot. At least they’ll become aware of you. Collaborating on videos, etc with a brand sends a powerful message to all involved.

Smaller Brands

One key for people with smaller audiences is to find brands that are just as eager for exposure as you are. That’s when your time and your videos, etc really are worth whatever these brands give you. It’s mutually beneficial, and can start with a pretty simple email, call, or meeting, maybe with the head of the brand.

Summary

Experiment with how you reach out but don’t be afraid of cold-calling and cold-emailing contacts for brands you’re interested in partnering with. Early on, especially, the majority of brands will say no, but the more you’re seen interacting with brands in an interesting way, and the more your fanbase grows as a result, the more options you’ll end up with.