Product Sponsorship: A company gives you a product of theirs for free, in exchange for an agreed service from you such as an unbiased product review.
Brand Deal: A company pays you to advertise their product or service. Usually you get a free product along with it.
Whether you are a brand new blogger or a long time YouTube channel creator, a great way of getting new stuff for free and sustaining your online business is product sponsorships and brand deals.
In this blog, we break down what we have done in the past to successfully score product sponsorships. We also consider 7 ways you can get your own sponsors for your platform. Finally, we take a look at how to land brand deals, the cream of the crop.
How We Successfully Scored Product Sponsorships
The lesson from our past success is simple: start from the beginning…as in, when you start blogging/vlogging, at the same time start asking for sponsorships. We landed our first product sponsorship when thetickettotravel.com had virtually no readers. LifeStraw sent us the LifeStraw Family when we asked to review it in Nepal. Later on when we switched our focus from blogging to YouTube video creating, we asked a handful of companies for various products we offered to review and ended up with the Planet Rush Nomad Solar Battery Charger, Sail Video System’s 3rd Person View Camera Mount, and 2 pairs of the RodeMic’s newest compact shotgun mics. We also have a tentative upcoming arrangement with a backpack company.
Some companies can be contacted through email through their contact us page. Other companies have a complicated Sponsor Submission Form, which is glitchy and a pain. We had zero responses from any companies that used the form, whether yes or no.
We contacted several more companies, some cordially responding “not right now,” while some others, like I said, just never answered back.
For you brand companies out there: the way you respond to sponsorship request reflects on your overall customer service. And honestly, when someone graciously sends you something that is absolutely free, you want to express your appreciation to that company. That’s how the system works I guess, the whole motion behind why sponsorships are a successful means of advertising.
7 Ways You Can Land a Sponsorship
1. If You Don’t Ask, You Won’t Receive
Nothing bad happens from asking if they’ll send you a product to review. Their is no long-lasting emotional baggage or some kind of blacklisting that leaves permanent negative effects. They can say yes or they can say no. But if you don’t ask, they will never say yes. You have to be a pretty big fish if companies start approaching you to feature their stuff.
2. Keep in Your Niche
Asking for angling gear for tuna fishing, while your platform is a Minecraft channel? If it don’t fit, ain’t no one gonna wear it. Niche products for us would include travel gear, trekking equipment, budget items, hardy long-lasting products, camera equipment, etc. Resist the temptation to ask for something that you want to buy but can’t afford, and yet has nothing to do with what your platform is about. Someone with a cooking channel will not be working with the same companies as us. Don’t make an awkward connection. If it actually succeeds, it will look tacky to your followers.
3. Concentrate on New Products
Companies are on the lookout for people who are willing to use and advertise their products when it is a new product. If they are well established and everybody already loves and knows about their product, reasonably, what service can you offer them? The RodeMics and the Solar Charger we got were quite new products, within a few months of release. The backpack company we are working with now are still in development stage. That’s the time they are really looking for help, beyond that, they may just be looking to expand their net.
4. Present a Solid Proposal
“Hey, we love your product! Why don’t you send us one? We’ll review it and stuff!” Does that sound tantalising? Not really, no. If you don’t have any idea how you’re going to review their product, your proposal may sound a bit like that. Of course, there is a balance between wasting excessive time writing a proposal when the company may not even bite and copying and pasting the same request for sponsors to a dozen different companies. So, at least give them some specific ideas you have that you could do with their product that will peak their interest. Remember, many companies get a lot of sponsorship requests all the time, so to succeed, you want to stand out.
Another note on this: it doesn’t hurt to write a follow up email to a company, especially for products that you really believe in. This helps the company to see that you are more than just a guy writing mass emails to hundreds of companies to get free stuff and never to follow through on his word. Remember, there doesn’t come any written contract or agreement with how you will use their product, so a lot of trust is involved, and that comes after developing relationships. So be personable and legit, along with respectful and businesslike. We got our 3rd Person View Mount sent to us after a bit of a relationship was made and a few more pitches from our end. But it helped them to see we are serious, and interested in their product specifically and not just a bunch of freebies.
5. Tit for Tat
If you are a pretty small fish as far as blogging or vlogging goes, you may want to concentrate on smaller sized companies as well. Like, are we surprised that our request to work with Samsung was declined or that AirAsia still hasn’t got back to us? Not really. Larger companies often use television commercials, billboards and Internet ads to advertise their products. Smaller products will use bloggers, “unboxers,” and social media to get the word out. Surfing kickstarter.com projects might be a way to find some up and coming innovations that work well with you.
6. Don’t Sell Yourself Short
When making a proposal, do not appear desperate or make promises that they find it unlikely for you to fulfil. Give them a solid proposal concept and express confidence that it would be mutually beneficial if you worked together. If you promise too much, you will have a hard time carrying through with it. Give your time a monetary value and compare that with the worth of the product to get a balanced perspective. For instance, if it is a $30 product and your time is worth $10/hour, a review blog or video is all you should probably offer. A complementary shoutout on social media couldn’t hurt either.
7. Stick To Your Word
The problem with writing multiple companies custom written proposals is that it can be easy to forget what you offered. So go back to your Sent box and take a look at what you told them, and then go through with it. When you are all done, or after fulfilling part of the deal, let the company know. You’ll probably get an extended audience from them when they share your blog, video, etc. on their social media network as well.
Progressing to Brand Deals
Most of the above suggestions won’t matter as much with brand deals. This is because, with brand deals, companies usually already have in mind what they want done and they are advertising that they are looking for someone to promote their product or service. But, as you will be competing with other creators, you will have to pitch why you are the right person for the job and what take you slant (is that real English?).
As far as YouTube creators and social media users go, famebit.com is a widely used resource. But you need at least 5,000 subscribers or followers to qualify…
But generally, a YouTube channel takes about a year to organically develop an audience of 5,000, and by that time, you have a rep and relationship of trust with a core group of followers who will respond well to any promotion of products you are paid to include. And social media is generally full of your friends and “friends” who respect your opinion as well. If you are a blogger only with no video content, your websites associated social media will be what famebit.com will look to.
So, to wrap everything up in a compactly smushed together tin foil ball, product sponsorships are a good way to go right from the get-go, while brand deals are where it’s at after you have an established audience.
We hoped this helped! Maybe you have an idea to add to the 7 ways to land a sponsorship, or some experience with brand deals you can share. If so, leave a comment below. You can say hey, or thanks too, those are always welcome. Any questions, as well, leave us a comment. Connect with us on social media and subscribe to our YouTube channel and our email newsletter as well if you haven’t already.