Reaching Out to Brands & Marketing Budgets

Hi everyone! How are you? I’m so happy a lot of you loved my recent post all about taking content creating more seriously. So many of my beautiful readers and followers are creatives themselves, and I love chatting with you about it! Some of you mentioned that you’d like to see a post that goes more in depth about reaching out to brands and discussing marketing budgets. That’s what I’ll be doing today and I hope it brings more transparency to this crazy “influencer” world. There are ways to reach out to brands that is both professional and straight to the point. A couple terms that I want to mention and define before we jump in, because I’ll be using them often. These are terms that I had to learn the definition of on my own and figure my way around the correct professional lingo:

Deliverables: What you will be providing to a company. For example: a brand may ask for one Instagram feed post and 2-3 story posts as “deliverables.” Others may ask for one blog post and one Instagram feed post. A brand generally knows what they’re looking for right off the bat, but you are open to negotiate if you feel the need to.

Marketing budget: How much money that is allotted for a brand to spend on marketing (i.e. working with content creators like you!) I’ll be upfront with you guys. Most brands do not have marketing budgets and will expect you to work on a gifted basis. While I personally believe content creators should always be paid for their time, I will still take unpaid collaborations if I genuinely like a brand and think my audience could benefit from it.

Gifted collaboration: When a content creator participates in a collaboration where they provide quality content to a brand in exchange for product, clothing, food, etc.

Rates: The amount a content creator charges a brand for content. For example, one could offer a certain amount of money in exchange for an in feed post and stories depending on follower count and engagement rate.

Now that we’ve covered a couple of those terms, I want to give you guys a background on how I started reaching out to brands and participating in paid and gifted collaborations. My first collaborations were with small beauty brands, specifically for lashes and nail polish. I was completely blown away that a company wanted to work with me and actually send me product! Of course I don’t regret those collabs in the slightest because they were a kicking off point for so many other opportunities. However, I knew diddly squat about brand collaborations as a content creator at that point. My earliest collaborations were a learning curve of me figuring out what specific terms meant while also finding my niche and aesthetic as a blogger. I’m hoping this post can help shed some light for anyone that’s just starting out and will prevent you from making some mistakes that I made.

Collaborations You Should NEVER Agree To

Another one of my early collabs involved a clothing company. Let me set the stage for you. I received an email from them requesting posts on my Instragram and stories in exchange for clothing. HOWEVER, I would have to purchase these clothes myself and was given a discount to purchase. I’ll tell you why collaborations like this are problematic, especially when you start gaining traction and a genuine audience. Essentially, I was giving this company multiple sales of their products, free marketing material, AND exposure to my audience. To put it bluntly, I was not benefiting whatsoever by participating in this collaboration. Granted, it was a great learning experience but if you get right down to it, there’s nothing I was gaining. I was paying for the clothes, driving to a location (I actually shot the product in San Diego at the time), spending gas money, and using my time to edit and post the content. That simply is unacceptable and you must have standards for yourself as a creative. Even now I will be approached by companies that expect me to buy a product and promote it all over my page. Disclaimer: in no way do I mean this to come across as ungrateful or negative in any way. I simply want you all to understand that it’s okay to have standards, take pride in how hard you work, and be honest with how much time you’re putting into a collab. It’s simply business. 

How to Reach Out to Brands Professionally

When I first started out, I had no idea it was actually okay for someone to contact a brand for a collab. I assumed all the YouTubers and Instagrammers I loved were being sought out by a brand for partnerships. It can go both ways, fam! A great way to reach out is through email, which you can usually find on a brand’s Instagram page. Another great way is to direct message the brand on Instagram showing your enthusiasm and letting them know you want to collaborate. Usually if they’re participating in collabs, they will respond with the email of their PR person, marketing manager, or social media manager.
Be sure that you are genuinely interested in a company. Show your excitement, interest, and history of how you’ve used a certain product or how long you’ve been wearing their clothes. Genuineness will always create more successful collaborations. I am quite picky with the collaborations I take part in and prefer to work with brands that I’ve already been using. It’s also vital that you explain what you’re all about and include your social media handles of course! I also like to mention the deliverables I can offer (i.e. Instagram posts, stories, giveaways, IGTV’s, unboxings, etc.) Here is a very simple template that you can start out with. Remember that these emails will be different depending on how you feel about the brand and what you want to offer.

Hi __________,

My name is _________ (insert Instagram handle here) and I was recently directed to your email. I absolutely adore (insert brand name here), especially (insert specific product or style you like here). I would love to set up a collaboration and would be able to post on my feed and stories. I was also curious if ______ has a marketing budget for this type of collaboration? If so, I’d be happy to send over my rates! If you’d like to discuss any giveaways, discount codes, IGTV’s, etc. I’d definitely be open to that as well. I’ve attached my media kit to this email for your reference. Thanks so much and I look forward to your response.

(Insert your name here)


I’m sure a lot of you have questions about rates. I know I did when I first started working with brands! Rates are calculated based mainly on your engagement rate (i.e. how much your audience is saving, liking and commenting on your posts.) Ultimately, you decide your own rates depending on how much work is going into a specific campaign. Some collaborations will require a video be posted, (which usually takes much more time than a feed post or story), so you would charge more for that. The Instagram Enagement Calculator allows you to plug in your Instagram handle to figure out how much you should be charging for comment. This is simply meant to give you a ballpark amount of what you can charge, again at the end of the day it is up to you and what the specific campaign is. If any of you have further questions, be sure to comment down below or send me a DM on Instagram!

I hope this post was helpful to those of you looking to get more involved with brands and content creation! Be sure to subscribe to my blog to keep updated on further posts about blogging! Hop you all have a fantastic Monday! xx


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  1. June 15, 2020 / 7:13 pm

    These are awesome tips 🙂

  2. June 16, 2020 / 11:05 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Sage! I’ve never thought to team up with brands as I don’t really use Instagram. Is it really a necessity so that they would agree? 😊

    Again, I love this! 💗✨

    • sagepetersen
      June 17, 2020 / 3:01 pm

      Hey girl! So glad you enjoyed. Brands will also offer collaborations on other platforms such as blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. as long as you have decent engagement. However when it comes to collabs, Instagram brings a lot of unique opportunities, so I’d highly recommend that platform!

      • June 17, 2020 / 7:55 pm

        Alright, that’s noted! Thank you so much! <3

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