Working with Brands: My Litmus TestApril 26, 2022
I have partnered with brands in a paid capacity since around 2012. Through the years, I have worked with well over 250 companies in the lifestyle space. As a result of working with Fortune 500 companies and small mom-and-pop shops and everything in between, I’ve developed quite a few opinions about what I look for when deciding whether to collaborate with a brand. Here is my general litmus test for this purpose.
Am I compatible with the brand?
For me, campaigns are much easier to execute when there is already a strong compatibility with the brand. Am I inclined to spend my own money there? Do I find their product / service both useful and affordable? For companies I’m already familiar with, the answers to these questions are usually pretty straightforward and obvious. For companies that are new to me, I will usually do a search for them first to see whether I would be interested in their offerings. Regardless of how much money they are offering me, if I don’t find their clothing appealing or if they don’t sell something I would eat, I won’t work with them. Plain and simple.
Does the brand follow best practices on influencer campaigns?
This one is a bit of a touchy subject for me, because I’ve seen so many other bloggers fail to follow ethical practices when promoting products – and because I’ve had brands ask me to abandon some of these ethical guidelines.
- Dofollow links are simply a specific attribute applied to outgoing links; on sponsored or paid content, Google does not want to see dofollow links. Best practices dictate that such outgoing links should be designated as “nofollow.” This is to prevent link farming, a practice in which companies pay for a lot of incoming links to artificially improve search engine rankings. I use this plugin to do it for me automatically. Easy peasy.
- Disclosing that content is paid or sponsored is also a legal requirement. I always make it abundantly clear if there is any paid relationship between myself and a brand.
If a brand does not agree to the above practices, it’s an automatic no from me.
Am I in alignment with the offered rate?
I have reached a stage in my professional career, where I am not willing to sacrifice my sanity for any amount of money. Furthermore, I do have certain rates that I’ve established for common campaign deliverables. If a brand does not have the marketing budget to meet my rate, then unfortunately, the partnership likely won’t happen. Sometimes it’s possible to still work with the brand if they are willing to accept fewer deliverables.
If you are first starting out, you will have to determine what your hourly rate is, as well as how long it will take you to complete the required work. My rate now is significantly higher than when I first started, but I am also delivering a significantly higher-quality final product.
Is the timing right for both parties?
Unfortunately, timing has sometimes been the cause for not moving forward with a brand deal. I have had to turn down awesome collaborations because the timing was just not compatible for both parties. Sometimes it’s because the campaign would span a time period, in which I already had too many personal life commitments. Sometimes I’m already working with a brand competitor and the campaign would span an exclusivity period that’s already in place. Sometimes I’m going out of town and simply cannot complete the campaign requirements before leaving.