Please note: This blog post contains affiliate links, which help pay for the upkeep of this site. That being said, I will never, ever promote anything I am not 100% in love with!
I get a lot of questions about how to get paid work with brands, social media sponsorships, and get invited to join ambassador programs. I've worked on both sides of the fence now (putting together influencer campaigns for brands, and now as an artist creating content) so I thought I'd share some tips on how to get the attention of your favorite brands.
1. Create Content for Free
I know, I know, you don't want to make stuff for free when you're trying to earn a living. But, you've got to show people what you can do before you can expect them to hire you. Think of it as building portfolio pieces specifically aimed at them.
Most of the brands I work with reach out to me after seeing my content on social media. And the best way to get their attention is to show them that you can do something unique and awesome with their products.
So far, I've had more brands reach out to me about my time-lapse videos than anything else I've done. You can learn how to create professional time-lapse videos using only your phone, in my new online class here.
A couple of content ideas include: filming an unboxing of their product, creating a tutorial, showing their products being used in a new way, incorporating them into your artwork etc.
2. Tag Brands
Whatever you do, please, please, please don't tag brands (or individuals) in social media posts that aren't relevant to them. There is nothing that will get you blacklisted and blocked faster!
But, if you are doing something awesome using their products and it is something you know they'll want to see, then absolutely give them a shoutout in the caption, and tag them in the image or video where you can.
To give you an example, I was really loving my new Tombow markers a few months ago so I started tagging them in my posts. Most people who use Tombow Dual Brush Pens are hand-lettering artists, so seeing their products used to create fashion illustrations really caught their eye. They asked if they could share some of my content, naturally I said yes (they have significantly more followers on their accounts than I do), then shortly afterwards they invited me to be a senior ambassador for the brand.
I have a similar story for Starbucks. They saw me creating artwork on their holiday red-cups and paid me to create content for their holiday commercial! And it was the same for a paid campaign I did with Famous Footwear, getting free tickets to multiple fashion shows and events, getting paid for live sketching at stores and so many other opportunities that have come my way!
3. Make Sure They Can Use Your Work
This doesn't just mean giving them permission to use it, but try to put yourself in the brand's shoes and think about what they are looking for. Don't use other brand's products in your shot (certainly not products from a competitor, and don't show anyone else's logo). You might have created a killer video that they'd love to share, but they won't be able to use it if you had a competitor's product on your desk the whole way through.
Brands have all sorts of legal requirements they have to adhere to, so the easier you make it for them, the more they'll enjoy working with you.
Use the correct product name in your caption. If you aren't sure, look it up on their website. For example, I love using Tombow Fudenosuke Hard Tip Brush Pens, but it's an easy name to misspell, so I look it up often and always double check that I have it correct!
4. Be Professional
This point is two-fold. Answer correspondence quickly and professionally, and if you say you're going to do something for a brand by a certain date, DO IT. They might have a whole campaign that has been planned out for months, and you delivering content late could have very big consequences for them!
And the second part is to know your obligations and requirements as an influencer. There are very strict FTC guidelines on how you share content, and what you need to disclose. You definitely don't want to get fined for doing the wrong thing! And just to be clear, adding #spon to the end of a sponsored post does NOT cover you!
5. Create High-Quality Content
Make sure your photos and videos are top notch. Even if you're taking all of your photos and filming all of your videos on your phone (like I do), there is no excuse for poor lighting, crooked shots, etc. If you'd like to learn how to create and edit professional time-lapse videos on your phone, check out my new class. The video below was completely filmed and edited on an iPhone.
So, what sort of brand work can you expect to get?
Here's a list of just some of the partnerships I've done with brands recently, click on the links to see specific examples:
Paid work created specifically for a brand's campaign. (Commercials, print ads, social media, etc).
Paid to re-use content I had already created.
Paid to create artwork live at an event or in-store.
Sharing my content to their social media and/or website and providing a shout-out pointing back to my social media accounts or website.
Social Media take-overs (for a day, or sometimes a week)
Collaborating on the creation of a new product.
Free products for me to use.
Free products to give to my followers through a contest or give-away.
Invitation to a brand's affiliate program, where I earn money for promoting their products.
Tickets to events, shows, back-stage tours, and conferences.
Introductions to other brands, for additional collaborations and projects.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, my time-lapse art videos attract more attention and have brought me more paid work than anything else I've done. Learn how to make time-lapse videos of your own artwork, using your phone!