Working with brands is a great privilege that we as bloggers, influencers and publishers get to experience.  It takes a great deal of courage and trust for someone to hand over their product or service to someone else and the process is all about education from both sides.
Working on both sides of the industry in PR and Marketing with Media Connections and ThoughtSpotPR, and as Editor of Business Business Buisness and Family Capers, I can understand completely how both brands and influencers feel when it comes to the process.

As Influencers, Bloggers and Publishers, we need to:

Show value to the brand for working with us
As I mentioned before, it can be scary for a brand to put themselves out there and often when they do, they want to know they are getting the right fit. Regardless of whether or not we are charging a fee, as influencers, we need to show brands the value of working with us. This is where a media kit or page can come in handy, and ideally should show:

  1. Your reach (visitors per month, followers etc.)
  2. Your audience demographic (age, sex, what they like to do)
  3. How you will promote the brand (blog, guest post, social media posts etc.)
  4. Some upsell (things like increased promotion, homepage placements, social mentions)

By showing the value of working with you, brands are already relaxed and by including some upsell options, you have a chance to increase your revenue. 
[Tweet “Show value to brands when working with them”]
See if the brand is the right fit for our audience
Just like in business, not every client is the right fit. The same goes for brands, you, and your audience.  So, before we start working with a brand, a quick google search can help answer a few key questions like:

  1. Is the brand something my audience will relate to?
  2. Would I have worked with this brand if they hadn’t have approached me?
  3. Is the timing right for working with this brand? (Getting the timing wrong is no good for you or the brand, so look at your publishing schedule. Will it fit?)

Set clear expectations for the process
[Tweet “Whether it is a review, a sponsored post, or a giveaway, clear expectations are what make working with a brand work the best.”]
Whether it is a review, a sponsored post, or a giveaway, clear expectations are what make working with a brand work the best. They are not mind readers and neither are we, so make sure things are clear like:

  1. Deadlines – you might be a night owl but missed deadlines muck us all up so make sure they are clear.
  2. Costs – are you charging for the opportunity and if so, how much and what does it cover?
  3. What is included – this is a BIG one. Make sure you are clear on what is included the promotion.  And then if the brand wants extras, detail what will be involved to meet them.

Grey areas are not something you want for a long term working relationship with brands so, if you set these things out yourself first, it will make things easier for all involved.
Not be afraid to approach brands our audience would want to know about
The people behind brands are just that – people – which means they are flawed like the rest of us, but also approachable, so just do it! There are sites out there like Media Connections, SourceBottle, Catablog and more that make it easy to start working with brands and I encourage you all to visit the Media Connections Review Me page and apply to work with one or two of the friendly PR’s and Brands in there.
And Finally
Don’t take on too much.  Work with a few brands and get things right and then aim for a few more.  You need to keep sharing with your audience too as it is you they came to follow in the first place.