Collaborate like a pro. DOs and DON’Ts when striking deals with brands

And here comes the day when your first brand collaboration request hits a three-pointer to your inbox hoop. You scream SCO-OOOOO-RE, hit the reply button and say YES to everything finalizing the deal with a happy sigh. The first collaboration request can be an exciting adventure, but experience only knows how not to make it an overwhelming bargain.

A full case of terrible mistakes can be made when signing a brand-ambassador agreement.

Forewarned is forearmed.

I’m not greedy – take my mistakes and turn them into your experience. Learn from those who err, I say.

Let’s sort out the DOs and DON’Ts and turn this article into a cheat sheet for those who dream to build a blogging empire advising the audience only the best products.

So that’ll be the first DON’T:

Don't be an ambassador of everything and nothing

From my article dedicated to flourishing your IG (I do hope you read it), you must already know that aesthetically pleasant feed and sophisticated style is what definitely get you one step closer to the audience recognition. Use the same philosophy when agreeing to represent the brand. If the product doesn’t match your taste, it’ll serve no good the engagement rate. Missing the target audience because you can’t determine the right product to promote is a huge DON’T. Keep it in mind. In other words, don’t sell meat to vegans.

Don't bargain

There are a lot of young brands on the market. Frequently, they have no idea what to do with the influencer when they email the collaboration offer. Even if you are at a loss as well, take the initiative and set the terms. You must be confident and precise in conditions you demand. Double certain in rates. It’s not a farmers market. Make sure that the brand also understands this.

Do the homework

Be ready to defend the price for the work. Be ready to defend your rights as a content creator, copywriter, and influencer. Be ready to defend your audience. Before you respond to the brand, do the homework:

  • Do the audit of your IG page to understand the engagement and other indicators. Find the app to your taste. I use HypeAuditor. It’s an excellent app for the brands too. Using it, you can audit any account you want. First three accounts are free.

  • Determine the price per post. That’s an interesting one. I bet you never heard of this, but there is an actual formula on how to determine the cost of your post. Now that you conducted the audit and determined your ER (engagement rate), it’s simple. Multiply the number of followers by ER. That’ll be the price per post in US dollars.
  • Learn as much as you can find about the brand (especially customer reviews). Promoting something, you must be sure it’s not a fraud. Also, that’ll be a disappointment if you find out that the product is of poor quality after you stroke a deal.
  • Create a draft of your collaboration proposal. Very few brands reach you with an actual step-by-step instruction on your future collaboration. Usually, you’ll be asked of the terms you work on. So again, do the homework and put all the conditions in your draft that could be adjusted to any request. Give a possibility of choice. Don’t propose one solution, offer several and adjust the price accordingly. I.e., I have at least three promo kits with different offer types of advertising the product. Remember, it’s always about the money. Create the promo kits to cover all needs varying the cost from the cheapest possible to the most expensive all-inclusive. Let the brand decide.
Be responsible

Once you shook hands and received a payment (or a free product), do what was promised within the preassigned time frames. Don’t let the brand down. After the work is done, reach the brand and make sure that they are satisfied with the result and they have no complaints.

Is a signed contract even a thing?

It is a tricky one. But this is where we can dwell for a moment on a case of mine. Please, remember that I am no lawyer and I can’t give legal advice about signing the contracts with brands. But I am more than happy to spread the story and share my experience so you can draw personal conclusions. 

The request to sign a contract before implementing the work is a common situation in brand-ambassador relationships. Usually, they are of a standard form and interpretation and don’t have potholes. They serve guidance to the influencer and determine the monetary relationships along with the deadlines.

Until once I received a contract for a review that held a non-standard condition. I negotiated with a marketing agency (Hashoff Marketplace) that acted on behalf of their client (Scribd). The contract indicated that I will be paid twice – before posting and 30 days after the post is life, half of the asked price for each payment. Under the terms of the contract, I had to create two posts and two stories in support of the product, the subscription service. This condition put me on my guard because my rule is money up front. I did my homework – learned about the marketing agency and the client – and found nothing that could make me doubt in their honesty. So I accepted the terms and signed the contract. I broke the rule “Don’t bargain” but only because it all looked very trustworthy. Needless to say that I wasn’t paid in full and remain so.

The thing is, no matter how strictly the contract conducted or how credible the brand or its representative appears, there always will be a breach – a chance you won’t be paid or the photos can be used without your permission or proper credits. And the last thing you will resort to is to sue the company. As for me, a contract is just a contract. Signing it changes nothing unlike being determined in your values and beliefs.


  1. Alexia

    This is such a great post! Thank you for this, Alisa, I will be sure to use your advice in any upcoming collaborations (one of my 2019 goals is to collaborate with a brand, I hope I manage) 😄. Happy New Year! ✨

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s