Lessons Learned From Off Brand Partnerships

As an influencer, part of my job is to work with brands. Over the last 5 years, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to brand partnerships.

Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans

Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans Styling A Black Blazer With Denim; Levi's Jeans

“Maybe that wasn’t the best partnership to take on.”

Yup. I’m here to admit that I’ve taken on some collaborations that reeeeeally weren’t on brand for me. In the past, I’ve agreed to a few partnerships that were mostly about the money. When you’re a new blogger, it’s TOUGH to say no to someone who wants to pay little ol’ you. I honestly don’t blame anyone for taking on a partnership that wasn’t the best fit for their brand…especially when you’re just starting out. Everyone is going to make mistakes in the influencer world. It’s too new, too objective, and quite frankly too confusing.

For me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned when it comes to “not-so-on-brand partnerships” is that you just realize they aren’t worth it. Once you build a brand you’re in love with, you’ll see that no amount of money could get you to take a partnership that doesn’t make sense. Right now, I’m in a good enough place where I don’t feel the need to accept off brand partnerships. Occasionally, you might see a collaboration that seems off. But in reality, I try my best to really think about how this product fits into my lifestyle (even if it’s in an unconventional way), and if my readers MUST know about the product. A lot of “off-brand” partnerships have actually become brands that I know and love!

“I want my readers and followers to trust me.”

Well, I got news for ya honey. If you’re taking on partnerships that don’t make sense for your brand, your readers are going to see right through it. Maybe 4 years ago, readers and followers didn’t realize the difference between an on brand sponsorship or an off brand sponsorship of their favorite influencer. But now….they’re smart as hell. If you’ve had people following you since the beginning, they’re going to have a pretty good idea about the things you love and hate. If you’re not going to do it for your brand, you at least owe it to your readers/followers to promote brands and products that you TRULY love. This is the only way you’re going to keep that loyalty. And honestly, HONESTY is the best way to grow.

“At the end of the day the brand has the final say.”

I’m lucky enough that 98% of my partnerships have been extremely successful and pleasant. I’ve built really amazing connections through the brands I choose to partner with, and it makes me want to continue to do this type of work for my blog. BUT then there’s the other 2% of partnerships that aren’t super great. I recently had a partnership with a brand that asked me to re-shoot the content I had already provided to them. It turned out that they weren’t clear enough about what they wanted in their original creative brief. Okay. Fine. No big deal, so I re-shot the content. And followed the new creative brief/contract TO A T. Long story short, the brand ended up “going in a different direction” with the campaign. No biggie, it’s not like I put time, effort, and money into this project. Of course it left a bad taste in my mouth, but at the end of the day, 1 out of many brand partnerships going wrong AIN’T THAT BAD.

I also needed to realize that at the end of the day, the brand has the final say. I’m here to represent THEIR brand. And if they don’t feel like I did a good enough job, then they have every right to pass on the project (luckily enough for me, we were in contract, so I was still paid for my work — ALWAYS sign a contract!!!).

There’s nothing like running a business that brands want to work with. It’s SO fulfilling, SO fun, and SO rewarding. Yes, it’s a ton of work, but it’s something I’m so passionate about. It’s amazing to have this creative outlet where I can share what I’m loving with my loyal readers and followers AND get paid for it. No, I’m not a Fortune 500 company, but at 25 years old, I still run a damn business. And that’s something to be so proud of. My business is such a big part of my life, and I’ve grown enough to not let off brand partnerships jeopardize what I’ve built.

If you’re a blogger, what are your thoughts on this topic? Have you accepted off brand partnerships that you maybe wish you could take back? Did you grow from it? And if you’re not a blogger, what pisses you off the most when you see your favorite blogger do an off brand partnership?

photos by allie provost

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