How to Turn Gifted Collaborations Into Paid Campaigns

April 22, 2021

3 things to check before you start asking brands for money! + what to say when a brand reaches out to you!

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3 things to check before you start asking brands for money! + what to say when a brand reaches out to you!

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3 things to check before you start asking brands for money! + what to say when a brand reaches out to you!

3 things to check before you start asking brands for money! + what to say when a brand reaches out to you!

So you want to start monetizing your blog but not sure where to start? You're in the right place! Are you a micro-influencer and unsure if brands will pay to work with you? (Hint: THEY WILL!) Grab your notepad and let's go! My micro-course, Pitches to Riches, has all of the information you need to start pitching and negotiating paid brand deals (even with under 10k, yes!), but this post is a great place to start.

If you're ready to start being paid for the content you create then keep reading!

I'm not a mega-influencer with 1 million followers telling you how easy it is to get paid sponsorships, and I'm also not in a super specific niche! I'm a micro-influencer with under 10k followers, just like a lot of YOU! I run an influencer community called The Blogger Brunch and I have helped so many women over the past 5 years start earning money from their side hustle! I've been blogging for about 8 years and have been self-employed for around 5 years (wow!) and I love sharing my life on my blog but also love sharing blogging strategies to help other women grow! If I can do it, so can you! 

I'm not a super model and I'm not doing anything crazy, but I have learned how to pitch, negotiate with brands, and run my blog like a business...because it IS one! 

I shared a Reels video on Instagram (maybe that's how you found this post!) and shared photos from PAID brand campaigns I've worked on. PAID as in cash. Not gifted, not "for trade".... cash deposited into my account or a check! Let's get a couple things straight before diving in: 

Collaboration vs. Sponsorship: A collaboration is an exchange for a gifted product or for trade (i.e. store credit, etc.). A sponsorship is a paid (in cash) campaign.

Doing something for TRADE or GIFTING is a great way to start! We all have to start somewhere! Frankly, I would have some questions if you started your blog and then the next day are pitching for money... you haven't even had time to develop! What are you even offering the brand?! So if you have never partnered with a brand in any way, you should start with unpaid collaborations. Yes. It's still important to only partner with brands that you love or really use in your life; now is the time to build trust with your audience and find out what kind of value you can deliver to future brand partners.

If you feel like you've done your fair share of unpaid collabs and you're ready for cash, keep reading!
There are three things you need to show a brand before they'll ever consider a paid campaign with you!

Brands have a marketing budget. What are you going to share with them to show them that YOU are worth spending dollars on? PS. If they tell you that they don't have any budget to work with, you can politely decline the collaboration and move along. (UNLESS you were kidding yourself and you are still in the unpaid zone while you build credibility...then you should consider and negotiate other terms, which we will discuss another day.)

OK. Three things to check before you start asking for $$$: 


What are you able to do for the brand? If you have 5k followers, how is your engagement? Are your photos high quality? Will the brand really benefit from partnering with you? Remember, your goal is to earn money AND to serve your audience and your brand partners. Think about how you are doing that. If you're not, then make a change!


You might be sharing cute fashion items or your favorite spots for brunch, but that doesn't mean you don't run your business professionally. Brands are businesses and they are used to dealing with other businesses. They pay dollars to other vendors because that's expected. Now you have to show them that you expect it as well. Do that by responding with complete sentences, keeping your emails short and to the point, and being polite. When a brand reaches out to me, they find out very quickly that I'm an experienced female entrepreneur who knows what she's doing, not a 22 year blogger who is looking for "free stuff."

Along the same lines, if a brand reaches out to you with "hey. want to collab?" LOL NO. You should expect professionalism from brands you work with too! If they are large enough or experienced enough to have a marketing team or PR agency reaching out to influencers, then you don't want to work with them anyway. Here's a bonus tip: if you get comments or DMs using the words "collab" or "ambassador," you can disregard those as spam. Period.


How do you expect brands to find you if you're not discoverable. Include your email address in your Instagram bio. On your blog contact page, have your email written out - don't just have a contact form! 

Use hashtags! Hashtags aren't dead! I got a paid sponsorship 2 weeks ago and I asked how the brand found me...HASHTAGS! They work...use local hashtags and niche hashtags so brands who are searching for influencers have a shot at finding you! 

Practical tips to make this happen: 

If a brand reaches out via DM, push them to your email immediately. The way I do this is by saying something like: "Hi! Thank you so much for reaching out! I would love to hear more; please email me at __________. Thank you!" BOOM. Done. If they are any kind of serious about a partnership, they will email you (usually within a few minutes). Email is the best way to communicate about business. You can easily attach documents and now you have that contacts email address.

Now you're ready for the FINAL TIP!


If you want to get paid, you have to ASK FOR IT. I know it seems so simple, but most bloggers are so afraid to do it!! SO I'm sharing my secret on how to do it and make it as painless as possible.

You have to ask IMMEDIATELY what the budget is so the brand knows you are serious.

Don't patty cake around and wait until you've exchanged five emails to get up the guts to ask about being paid. NO!!

You MUST ask immediately. Or else you have just slashed your chance at earning ANYTHING.

Here's how: 

"Thank you so much for reaching out! I would love to hear more about what you're looking for and what the budget for the campaign is."

BOOM. Are you kidding me?! That was too easy.

The brand will respond to you in one of two ways: 

A. We don't have a budget for this campaign.

Maybe they do, maybe they don't! Brands are businesses and that means they have a budget. You might not be worth their budget, or you might just need to prove your value a little more. Here are a couple ways you could respond to a brand who doesn't have budget.

  1. Safe traditional response: Thank you for letting me know! Please keep me in mind for future campaigns.
  2. Push back response: I understand! Do you have any room to negotiate? Here's a link to a campaign I did last month for xxx and it was a huge success because of xyz. If you have any wiggle room I would love to partner with you to share your product xxx and drive sales for you too!

B. Here's what we are looking for....what would be your rate for something like that? 

This is a great response! They are open to working with you and paying you! Now all you have to do is find the best balance of deliverables and budget for both of you. This is when it comes in handy to have a set baseline rate or package that you offer. That's your starting point, then you can negotiate from there.

I could talk ALL day about this and the importance of bloggers being paid, but this is the first step! You check yourself, then you ask!

Ready to go deeper? Check out my micro-course, Pitches to Riches, for all of the information you need to start pitching and negotiating paid brand deals! It's only $37! Check out my podcast, The Blogger Brunch Podcast for more free resources about content creation and entrepreneurship! 

DM @thebloggerbrunch with questions!

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