Pitching To Brands - An Artist's Point Of View

Unless you've been living under a rock this past week, you will have no doubt heard about the drama between a hotel owner and a blogger who pitched a collaboration via email and was then taken viral and made to look like a desperate scrounger.

As a blogger and small business owner, I feel I have gained some valuable information and lessons over the past couple of years from both ends of the spectrum and I've kept it no secret that I've often been approached by other bloggers who have bluntly asked for some freebies from my shop.

In my very early days of blogging and running my shop, I did a products swap with somebody else and also sent out no more than two parcels to bloggers who had promised me a very fancy sounding level of exposure and being new to this world at the time, I 'fell for it' and was only left feeling disappointed after being promised so much. Two years down the line and although I put an end to sending free parcels out, I have definitely learnt about the things I should have asked from the bloggers like stats, their ideas for sharing my work within a post and I would have also requested to see examples of their previous collaborations with other brands and photography style, to properly make sure my work was a good fit with theirs.

The messages I've been receiving over the last few months have been down right rude, grabby, uncomfortable and a little desperate sounding. Hear me out. I always respond to emails with polite explanations that as a small business, I cannot send free products out simply because I can't afford it and also can't rely on exposure as it doesn't pay the bills. I also thank them for their interest and go on to explain that if they liked what I did but weren't quite set on buying anything, a simple like, follow, comment or word of mouth telling friends and family would be brilliant and very much appreciated. I have in fact had shitty, nasty responses back from a few individuals who thought they'd try and tell me that they didn't work for free and that sending 'samples' was a form of payment.

Obviously this felt odd on so many levels because not only was I not the one approaching them asking them to feature my brand in a blog post, they'd also made it about them not working for free yet would accept freebies as payment. One girl even had the nerve to tell me that a blogger couldn't 'forge their career' without being sent some free samples and couldn't afford to buy all of the products required to create blog post content. I'm sorry but who do you imagine pays me for my hard work as a freelance illustrator if you're asking for it for free? You're also promoting a brand you 'love so much' to your followers yet wouldn't pay for that brands products yourself? 

Another experience went along similar lines, except when I sent them my response and thanked them for their interest, they replied with 'it's my policy to only feature samples on my blog, not paid for products.' Oh how I laughed. The funniest thing was this girl was in fact one of the two I had sent products to when my business first started and although I recognised her despite her rebrand, she didn't recognise me and that just went to show me how much she 'loved' my work.

I know for a fact I've just been very unfortunate with bloggers approaching me because some of my loveliest blogger pals are always doing brand collaborations and go about it in a totally different manner. I would also expect a professional email sent to my business rather than a casual Twitter DM saying 'hey, do you work with bloggers? mwah x x'. I've been sent links to the most professional looking blog post reviews of my shop from customers who have paid for their orders out of their own hard earned money and didn't expect so much as a discount let alone free sample and I couldn't be more appreciative to these people for supporting what I do.

I myself have worked with brands in the past and have been lucky enough to receive some gorgeous products and I'm extremely grateful for every single one, but I have only approached brands I know are looking for people because quite frankly and especially after the drama from this week, I'm terrified to pitch an idea out of the blue to a brand. I do believe though that you should only work with a brand you have a genuine interest in and would support regardless of whether they got back to you or not. As a small business owner, I also understand the value of a simple retweet or comment, someone telling you they love what you do and this is support in itself, you don't have to spend a penny to support those who inspire you and those who produce content or products you adore.

In my early blogging days, I reviewed a lot of products I had paid for with my own money and most of my reviews now are things I've bought myself as since changing my blog to be more art based, it's not as common to find brands to collaborate with. As a blogger as well as freelance illustrator, I feel I can absolutely understand that pitching is exciting, fun and can help you gain more experience and develop your skills but above all I believe in a professional approach and not being in this just for the freebies, otherwise you're in it for the wrong reasons. It's also important to recognise when you're approaching a small business as opposed to a big brand who have a dedicated PR team who focus on influencer relationships because they are the brands who can afford to pay bloggers for their hard work or send a product to review as well. Small businesses often aren't able to work in the same way as this so as an influencer the best thing you can do is like, comment, retweet, share, tell everyone about what you're loving and if you'd like to, place a little order because even the smallest of orders makes all the difference. If you have amazing ideas for working with another brand then I feel by all means go for it, share your ideas, try to build new relationships and gain some experience because you never know where it might lead! 

Thanks for reading,

Ellis x

No comments

Popular Posts