INDUSTRY ADVICE & SPONSORSHIPS
I often get asked how I get sponsorships with various brands and such cool companies so I wanted to compile a list of my blogging experience + advice. I get all of my opportunities because I work hard and go after what I want. Nothing was handed to me. I figured out what I wanted to do and I spent days (probably more like weeks in actuality) researching how to make it happen, and how to still make it happen. It definitely doesn't happen over night, or without a lot of hard work.
BUILD YOUR RESUME + GET EXPERIENCE
Almost four years ago (wow time freakin flies) I decided that If I wanted to work anywhere in the fashion industry besides retail that I was going to need to get experience. Living on the shore of Maryland, at the time, there really weren't many opportunities for me to pursue and learn the world of fashion outside of retail, but I never let that stop me. I literally googled "virtual fashion internships" and came across collegefashionista's program and was soon obsessed. It gave me one of the best starts to the industry I could have ever asked for and truly opened so many more doors than I ever could have dreamed. Having a platform where I could develop my voice, express myself and explore my passions, while connecting with likeminded people was inspiring. They pushed me to a new level, that I didn't even believe I was capable of. The workshops and various positions I held helped me to see more of the different aspects of the industry and find out what I loved, and what I didn't love. This was also the first time I was connecting with people who shared my interests in fashion and blogging which allowed me to grow my following and increase my engagement, something that brands look for when it comes to partnerships.
I knew CF was only going to get me so far however, so I continued to look for opportunities to build my resume on my own, including other internships and I reached out to smaller business owners for freelance work/partnerships. At one point, I even shadowed a family friend on the launch of her clothing line, which gave me even more insight. The more experience you have, even its unpaid, the better employee you'll be and the more confident you'll be.
BE WILLING TO WORK HARD
From all my experience, I was able to figure out that I love digital marketing and I enjoy working with brands and creating content. So instead of waiting for more opportunities to be handed to me through CF, I used the skills I had learned (and googled the rest) to put together a media kit (more on this to come!) which I sent out along with hundreds (literally hundreds you guys) of emails to PR departments and various smaller and local brands that I was interested in working with. At the time I had right around 1K followers (maybe a little more) so I knew getting paid to post and working with big brands was probably out of the question, and honestly didn’t really want to accept payment until I had a better understand of what they needed from me. I pitched collaborations, giveaways and product reviews with smaller companies that fit my brand which helped me gain experience and learn what companies liked and didn't like when it came to partnerships. Starting out, I posted about products that were gifted to me by the brands I worked with, but from the very beginning I made sure that I tried out the products first and only post about the ones I’m truly interested in. If you look at sponsorships as a way to get free stuff and make “easy” money, you’re looking at it completely wrong. Something I’ve learned firsthand is, you need to truly have a passion for the products you’re posting about or your readers will see right through it.
Bloggers and influencers (both macro and micro) are the new face of marketing, especially when it comes to digital marketing and it is our job to create unique, engaging and compelling content that fits the brand’s aesthetic and meets (or exceeds) what they’re looking to get out of the partnerships. The blogging world is becoming extremely oversaturated so its more important than ever to make sure you have a niche, in other words figure out what makes you different than everyone else and make sure you’re constantly producing the most creative and engaging content you can’t. Never settle.
REMEMBER THE END GOAL
As exciting and fun as it is getting to test out new products and styles, it's still work and the focus needs to be on how you can help market the brand and their products. It needs to be a collaborative partnership which benefits both people, (but I always make sure the brand is benefiting more) or they probably won't want to work with you anymore. Nowadays, theres tons of influencer networks out there which you can request to join when you build up your following (most have 5k or 10k minimums) and have proven results with past campaigns. One of my favorites for bloggers just starting out is Infleunster. Theres also Heartbeat, Social Native and The 8. I work hard to build and maintain relationships with the brands I partner with, even to this day.
The point of this is, there's opportunities out there, no matter what industry you're in, you just have to make them and never, ever take no for an answer. Research, make connections and reach out to those connections and learn from them. If you wanna be a photographer, contact a local photographer and ask to assist them. If you wanna manage a store, find a local business owner and ask to shadow them or intern so you can learn what its like. When it comes to sponsorships, It's all about goal setting; acknowledge that you're not going to start out getting campaigns with your favorite brands right away, and you're going to have to be willing to put in the work for free before you can start getting paid sponsorships. You're capable of doing whatever you set your mind to, just be willing to put in the work and make connections because nothing good ever comes easy!
Thanks for reading and I hope this helped answer some of your questions! If you have more questions about what I do on a day to day basis be sure to check out my post about what I’m currently doing. Feel free to DM/message me anymore comments, I’ll be glad to help.