Blogging Advice

Working With Brands as a New Blogger: What To Watch Out For

Let’s be real for a second here. Times have changed in the blogging world. Where 5 years ago, it was all about writing for yourself and blogging for a hobby and now, making money through your blog and blogging as a job is a far more normalized and accepted concept. And working with brands as a new blogger can be exciting times.

Working With Brands As a New Blogger

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Before I crack on, I just want to PSA that blogging as a hobby is cool if that’s what you want to do. I’m not going to get into the hobby blogging x job blogging debate here. Just stating an observation that blogging as a job is more recognized and popular now. We cool?

I remember the first sponsored post I was offered. It was for the brand Quorn and I was just gobsmacked that I was being offered MONEY to post on my blog. This was back in 2016, where I had probably less than half the followers I have now. It was exciting stuff. Lil ol’ me was moving on UP.

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But there were a lot of things I had to learn about working with brands as a new blogger. When you’re a bright eyed and bushy tailed new blogger who’s just started receiving emails from brands about sponsored posts or product reviews, it can be all too easy to get caught up in it all and start saying yes to everything.

Without really looking at what’s being asked of you or offered to you.

Turning my blog into a job was the best decision I’d ever made. And I’d always encourage and cheer you on if that’s your goal too. It’s important to remember that it’s not a quick buck and it’s not easy (although by all means, not the hardest job in the world). But it’s definitely worthwhile.

So if you’re a blogger and that sounds like you, here’s a quick guide of things to look out for when working with brands as a new blogger:

Know your worth and be wary of them under-paying you

Knowing what to charge is tricky. It’s still tricky for me now. And I don’t have a set rate really, I’m always open to negotiating with a brand or PR to find a happy medium for us both. But if a brand is offering you a tenner for a sponsored post of 2000 words, 4 insta shout outs, 6 exclusive images and your first born…

Or not paying you at all and offering exposure

What’s worse than being paid pennies? Not being paid at all. So please, I beg of you, make sure you discuss a budget BEFORE any work is done or anything is agreed. Believe it or not, some brands do genuinely believe that exposure and back links pay the bills, who’d have thunk it. The only exception to this I believe is if it’s a charity.

Asking you not to disclose paid for content

Dodgy, dodgy, doggity, dodge. Avoid at all costs. You’ll need to educate yourself on the legal requirements of working with brands and disclosing collaborations to your readers. And it’s pretty black and white that no disclosure = illegal. So if a brand is asking you to not disclose a sponsored post, run for the hills my friend.

And maybe name and shame on Twitter, if you’re sassy af.

Asking you to buy the product yourself and they’ll refund you

Why? Now this just sounds shady doesn’t it? There should be absolutely no need for you to buy a brands products off of their website, Amazon or any other marketplace and for them to refund you afterwards. That’s just not how it works. Even if they will genuinely send you the money after, it all seems a bit… shifty to me.

Asking you to pay for postage of a review item

If you’re collaborating with a brand on a product review that they have asked you to review, then they should be covering postage of that product. It’s pretty simple. But I don’t see this one a lot, thankfully but still something to be wary of if it ever arises. The next one however…

Offering you discounts on their products as part of an “ambassadorship”

Goddamn the amount of times I’ve seen brands offer “ambassador programs” or collaboration “opportunities” and they offer you a discount on their products in exchange for shout outs, reviews or blog posts. Please do not fool for this. This is not a collaboration. It’s called being a customer.

Bad word of mouth

You will definitely see and hear about some dodgy brands and companies around the blogosphere. It’s up to you to use your common sense and say no if they approach you if you’re unsure about them. And if you are approached by a company, it’s always worth doing a bit of research into them before you agree to anything!

Do you have any horror stories of working with brands as a new blogger? Are you aware of these points I’ve mentioned? And do you have anything else you’d add to this post? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

106 Comments

  1. Britt K says:

    The ‘ambassador programs’ scam is easily one of my biggest pet peeves! I am not going to pay to advertise your brand, that’s not how this works!

    1. Exactly! That’s called being a customer haha x

  2. Thanks for this, Jenny! This is such good advice and great to bookmark!

    Daisy xoxo | TheDeeWhoLived

    1. Thank you x

  3. Loved this post Jen. Its so hard especially as a new blogger with a small following to know how much to charge. I feel like i dont want to undersell myself but also dont want to sound silly! Thanks for the tips xxx

    1. Totally agree. Even I find it hard to find a happy medium.

  4. Great post. Gonna bookmark it in case I need it in the future. Thanks for sharing ❤️

    1. Thank you x

  5. Yes 100%! When I was first starting my blog 3 years ago, I wouldn’t really tell anyone that I knew in real life because of the people I did mention to in the beginning, they were just like but why? But those same people are the ones who started blogging at the beginning of the year – so yes 100% it’s become more normalized and accepted concept for a hobby!

    I was contacted by a few brands in the past to work with and one thing that was huge for me: remain true to myself. So that meant I was passing on a lot of opportunities because I knew that if I wasn’t being sent something, I wouldn’t personally get XYZ – it’s so important to remain true to yourself and what you stand for.

    I am aiming to get a domain next month to make my blog more ~official~ and I always worry about when I begin contacting brands what to charge and what the normal rate is!

    Of the brands I’ve been in contact with I always mention that I will be disclosing that I am working with them and that ends in one or two ways: Yes of course! OR ghosting!

    I was once asked to buy the product like they were fully expecting me to buy the product and review it on my blog but fully wanted me to pay for it myself, they didn’t even offer to refund me – I jumped that ship and fast!

    One thing Twitter is the best for: searching for brands before 100% committing to a partnership!

    1. Glad you jumped that ship! I’ve been ghosted a lot too whenever I say I’m disclosing fully!

  6. I know so many bloggers who need to have a read of this! x

    1. Hope they do! x

  7. This is so helpful. I am so new at this …I refused a couple of companies wanting link to my blog.

    1. Why did you refuse them?

      1. One was Gut Dr…paying 2 cents a view
        I would like something connected to my content.

  8. These are some really helpful tips, I recently got an email saying I would get a 80% discount on their items for an ambassador programme?! What’s the point. There are definitely dodgy companies out there and I’m still new to it so this was really helpful! X

    1. Ugh that’s called being a customer with a discount!

  9. This is so helpful! Don’t even get me started on the Ambassador discount Instagram DM’s…

    1. DON’T hahaha!

  10. Thankyou for writing this post, it’s so interesting to read all of the different things with brands. I’m completely clueless when ur comes to it. There’s some really great tips here so thankyou ! X

    1. You’re welcome! x

  11. While I’ve not had a brand ask for me to not disclose, I have noticed that they hugely promoted the posts of bloggers that didn’t disclose (I presume through ignorance of ASA law) and not mine XD
    I kinda was left with the impression that the brand wouldn’t ask you to break the law, but wouldn’t make sure you didn’t break it either.

    1. Ugh that’s so annoying! Would love to know what brand this was!

  12. Katie werthmann says:

    Im nervous to transition my blog to paid actually because of this stuff! Like the scams and “ambassador” emails and things. I admire how clearly you state thats called being a customer! I roll my eyes at those things but i never thought of it as “customer” before lol like hotels.com- sale rate anyhow. Pinned.

    1. It’s just important to be vigilant and question anything you’re not 100% on!

  13. A Cup of Wonderland says:

    Very interesting – I’ve written freelance elsewhere but not on my actual blog. I think another thing to add to knowing your worth is with some companies asking for a deposit before as they protects both them and you.

    1. That’s a good idea – although I’ve never done that personally!

  14. Oh my gosh, ‘ this is not a collaboration. It’s called being a customer’ made me laugh so much! Instagram is the worst for this. I don’t know how some brands get away with it! Loved this post & I would have found this SO helpful in my first year of blogging. I remember when I was quite new to blogging a tyre company emailed me… so irrelevant to my site haha! Xx

    Jazmin

    https://www.jazminheavenblog.com

    1. It’s important to be true to yourself. I think with a lifestyle blog you’re much more open to different things. But like, advertising tyres on a beauty blog or something like that is a bit… eh?

  15. That is so interesting thank you so much for sharing!! I actually fell from some sketchy propositions, like they gave me discount codes and made my pay the shipping! but I learn from my mistakes and I am happy I came across this post! I am actually really scared to start contacting brand myself, do you have any advice for that?

    1. Awh I’ve been there too and fell for things when I first started. It’s easy to do, especially if you’re not aware of any of this! I’d highly recommend Kirsty Leanne’s Pitch Perfect eBook! She covers EVERYTHING on pitching in that!

      1. Ah thank you very much, I’ll check it out!!

  16. I’ve not done a collab yet. But, I kept thinking “are they stupid?” while reading a few of the methods used. Illegal definitely came to mind. Lol!

    Thanks for another great post!

    QuirkyFriend
    MyQuirkyFriend.com

    1. Illegal indeed! Especially not disclosing!

      1. Right!

  17. Its shocking how many expect work for free or my favourites.. pay for postage and fee for product/s.. and they expect you to write for them too? takes the biscuit.

    Mel
    http://www.moonlightmel.co.uk

    1. Haha it sure does!

  18. Thanks for writing, there are some super helpful tips in here! As a new blogger it can be tough trying to determine what is genuine and what isn’t. What I would give to never receive another brand ambassador ‘offer’ on Instagram…

    1. It really can. And ugh I am SICK of those DM’s!

  19. There are so many weird companies out there that want to use bloggers. You have to be so careful!

    1. You really do!

  20. This is going to be so helpful to so many new bloggers. I can’t believe the amount of brands that still have no budget but expect alllll the content from us. It wouldn’t be accepted in other areas so why just because it’s blogging, is it okay to take advantage of us? So frustrating xx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

    1. Totally agree, it’s so annoying!

  21. Great post. The amount of times I’ve been asked not to disclose that a paid for ad – I turn them down every time. I had one last week who wanted it free for exposure, he said he doesn’t pay bloggers, so I told him he won’t be getting a post on my site then. Bloggers also need to be aware of prohibited products if they use Google Ad sense on their sites.

    1. Ugh how do people think that bloggers will accept this rubbish?

  22. Wow. You made it easy

  23. Kayleigh Hazell-Welland says:

    The ambassadorship ones are the most annoying to me! I immediately delete them!

    Kayleigh x
    http://www.latenightsandlattes.co.uk/

    1. Me too – any message that starts with “Hi babe” haha!

  24. Interesting! The one that’s getting me at the moment is campaigns to promote an app – like, I’m all for a gifted collab if it’s a worthwhile product, but a free app… Really? Also I do get the whole “refund collab” – I’ve done it a couple of times as it’s the only way for the brand to get a verified Amazon review (particularly important for authors which is who I’ve done it for), but I think it can be really hard to know whether they are trustworthy or not.

    1. I think in the case of authors it’s a bit different. But I’d never do that for products personally.

  25. Having just written my first paid blog post and being relatively “new” to getting back into the world of blogging, this was just the post I needed! Thank you so much! Absolutely love your content & soul, Jenny ✨💻

    1. Thanks so much lovely! And congrats on your first paid blog post! x

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