Step 1 - The Approach
As I have been blogging for six years I have built up a contact list of PRs, agencies and companies who approach me to work with brands. They want to put their product in front of my wonderful and engaged 250K followers. In the beginning I made sure that I had my email across all social media so they could get in touch with me easily, now I work with a management team who get sent these emails. On average they may get between 10-20 emails a day with perhaps one or two being relevant. Relevant to me is that it is a brand I would use, my followers would like and I wouldn't mind receiving payment in exchange for my work. We are asked to work for free continuously. Almost as if this is just a hobby and not my career. We very politely decline (mamas got school shoes to buy!).
Step 2 - The Negotiation
So a brand has got in touch and wants to work with me. My manager checks in and sees if I would like to do it before he goes any further. The information I need to know from them is what are they promoting, what are they looking for (e.g I won't put #ADs on Facebook or on my blog so need to be upfront about that), the deadline and how much the fee is. This process can often take a bit of back and forth before you come to a compromise both you and the brand are happy with. This could take minutes...or days. This year one brand took six months. Which is fine. As more often than not the PR agency is dealing with the brand and they have certain criteria they stick to. It is not uncommon for a brand to say "no" at the last minute. So for me managing my budget in a job where payment is not always guaranteed is a constant juggle.
Any excuse to use this photo of me and Mark working for Matalan this year!Step 3 - Staying True To Yourself!
This step is the most important and the hardest to do. Staying true to yourself. As someone who has to work to ensure that we have money for the important things in life. It can often be tempting to flog any old thing to make a quick buck. I would advise against this. Each product I promote is something I love, done in a way my audience will enjoy. I have in the past walked away from big money deals where they want me to be something I am not. It's hard. It's awkward but you are allowed to say "no" and something bigger and more appropriate will come along soon. Promise.
Step 4 - The Brief
A brief is something that you are sent to help you produce your content. Often alongside a contract. It is VITAL to check your contract. Sometimes clauses are put in to make you stop working with certain brands. Sometimes things slip in that you have not agreed to. If you're unsure. Get a friend to read over it. My management team now do this. Read through the brief fully and ensure that it is something are comfortable with and can reasonably do in the time frame given. For me as a Mum to two small children 24 hour turnovers are impossible. Alongside a brief you can often be expected to have a conference call with a huge team somewhere else in the world. Or even a full day's meeting in London. All for one photograph that will be seen by your audience for 10 seconds as they commute to work, or scroll on the loo.
Step 5 - Creating The Content
Now you have your deadline and what you are expected to do it's time to create the content. It could be a photo shoot at home, or you have to be out and about making a video which needs editing and sent over via We Transfer. Everything must be approved by the brand. This process can sometimes be done within an hour. Other times it may take weeks. Your beautiful video may need to be changed several times. Your photo may not be liked and have to be completely retaken. This is a totally normal part of the job and sometimes your wonderful vision is not exactly what they want.
One of my most popular posts of 2019 was this AD. I was proud and nervous to share it!
Step 6 - Posting the #AD
For every #AD I post I like to have a post either side of it (in the case of instagram several posts either side of it) that is not sponsored. Non of my lovingly curated audience want to see 50 ads in a row. So each #AD really means at least two extra pieces of work to be factored into the process. On my YouTube channel my #ADs are on top of all my other content. My audience is my boss and I want to keep them happy all the times. My general rule of thumb is two insagram ADs a week, not consecutively. Same for instastory ADs and two YouTube ADs a month. Different people do different things. But this way I can keep my followers happy, whilst still making a living.
Step 7 - The Fall Out
There is unfortunately a small proportion of people who are not a fan of sponsored content. They think that it should be possible for creators to continue to make videos or write blog posts free of charge. But for many of us this is just not plausible. You the follower are able to enjoy all the content for free. In the middle of the night breastfeeding, on the bus on the way to college or tucked up in bed on a Sunday morning. The only thing you have to do is sometimes your eyes have to see a product. And hopefully you will know after reading this that the #AD has been talked about in detail with teams of people, has taken time to create and has been perfected over weeks to make sure it's as good as it can be.
Step 8 - The Admin Bit
After you've created the content and posted the #AD you then need to reply to comments that people have left about the product (I always am SO grateful when people take the time to comment or like on ADs...it really helps!). Respond to any negative ones and provide the brand with some stats on how it did. You need to send over links, analytics and an invoice (I could write a whole other post on how to get paid! But that's not for today).
Working with Walt Disney World in 2018 on unpaid content was a match made in heaven!
Step 9 - The Result
When I work with a brand and we really produce something good together it is an amazing feeling. I've worked on some campaigns that have been such a pleasure. People have seen my #ADs and bought products they loved, or approach me and say "I bought the same dress as you and adore it!". I've had DMs telling me that families have gone on holidays solely because we went on holidays and had a great time. Which proves all the hard work is worth it.
I am lucky enough to be in the position to have an amazing, flexible carer that enables me to be with my children. But this is not a hobby. This is how I earn money for my family. You are welcome to ask me questions about my job. You are of course always able to think to yourself "Jesus she's a bloody jammy cow". You can even see an #AD, roll your eyes and scroll on by. But hopefully now you will understand that it does take a lot of work, negotiations and sometimes the most awkward email exchange to get to this point. Sadly nobody gets money for free. Which is a shame as the world would be pretty great then wouldn't it!