In episode 420, Megan chats to Marley Braunlich about how to stand out to brands and establish long-term partnerships with the brands you love.
We cover information about how important it is to demonstrate genuine interest and knowledge of brands when reaching out, why you will create a pitch but be ready to revise it as you gain experience, be proud of the work you include in your portfolio, be sure to find the human touch when sending your information out, and know the value in over-communicating, creating quality work and deliver early or on-time.
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Bio Marley has been food blogging for a little over 1 year. She started working full-time for an SEO agency one month later. During this time, she grew her Instagram audience to 13k followers and started working with brands to earn a side income while the blog matured and she continued to pour into the blog. Marley has learned how to successfully land brand deals and form long-term partnerships. She also grew in understanding SEO and applied these learnings.
- Practicing pitching gives you ideas of where to tweak your message, gives you confidence, and helps you learn what questions to ask.
- Using Reels can help you grow your Instagram and therefore get people checking you out, from food bloggers to brands.
- Send out DM’s and emails to brands and clients.
- Create a tracking sheet to track how many pitches, points of contact you have done, and information harvested as well as follow-up emails.
- Share what you admire about them, and the services you offer, and ask what their marketing goals are.
- Share a link to your portfolio.
- Don’t share rate cards or media kits early on.
- Be genuine and engaged when getting the first points of contact and follow up within a few days.
- Over-deliver to your client.
Click for full script.
EBT420 – Marley Braunlich
Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
It is saying a lot when a conversation actually causes me to think that I should work with brands. I don’t like working with brands, but this conversation with Marley Braunlich from Baked Abundance actually put that thought in my head. Whether you work with brands or not, definitely give this episode a listen. You’ll get so much from it. Marley talks about how to stand out to brands and get repeat clients, and then she also gives a lot of tips about how to land your very first brand deal. So no matter which camp you’re in, you will find value in this episode. This is episode number 420, sponsored by RankIQ. Enjoy.
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Megan Porta: Marley has been food blogging for a little over one year. She started working full-time for an SEO agency one month later. During this time, she grew her Instagram audience to 13K followers and started working with brands to earn a side income while the blog matured and she continued to pour into the blog. Marley has learned how to successfully land brand deals and form long-term partnerships. She also grew in understanding SEO, and she’s applied those learnings. She is now leveraging AI to grow her business and streamline writing so that she can save time and create more content. Hey Marley, so good to have you back on Eat Blog Talk. Welcome.
Marley Braunlich: Hi, Megan. It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me again.
Megan Porta: Yes, so good to talk to you again today. Of course, we’re wondering if you have a second fun fact to share before we get into our topic today.
Marley Braunlich: Actually, I do have another fun fact. It’s really hard to come up with these sometimes, but this one correlates with our episode today. Over the years, I’ve just had lots and lots of hobbies. I have taught myself how to crochet, to make jewelry. Use Procreate for digital art. I even started an Etsy shop during the pandemic and I was selling stickers and digital prints and earrings and lots of different things. My Etsy shop still is open, but for the last year and a half, food photography has really been my passion, and that seems to be what’s finally sticking. So I’m very happy about that. I’ve met so many amazing people through food photography, and I’m really glad that I finally have nailed down one hobby that I really like.
Megan Porta: Awesome. So you’re creative at heart. You are one of those people that just enjoy creating no matter what it is, it seems.
Marley Braunlich: Definitely. I always have shiny object syndrome, so I need to reel that in a little bit. But I love all things that are creative. Food photography and food blogging have been my most recent passion. I really enjoy it.
Megan Porta: It stuck for a while. So is your Etsy shop still going strong, or is it not really?
Marley Braunlich: I still do get some sales. It’s super random. I swear I make 10, $15 a month through Etsy, but I just left it open because I felt bad closing it since I still got a couple of things but most of my products are digital, so I don’t have to really worry about it.
Megan Porta: Hey, that’s two cups of coffee a month, so keep it up.
Marley Braunlich: There you go.
Megan Porta: Yes. Okay. You’re here today to talk about your experience with nailing down some long-term brand partnerships after you started digging into your food blog. So talk us through your story about how you started more as a passion project. Was this, by the way, a creative endeavor that you didn’t know if you would keep going or not when you started?
Marley Braunlich: It was. That’s why whenever I started, I knew about the feast theme and some other best practices for food blogs. But I wasn’t sure, just knowing my history with different hobbies, if this one would stick. So I just went with a very basic theme to start. I started an Instagram but wasn’t posting to it yet. I was just experimenting, doing photography, even with just my phone because I didn’t know how committed I would be to this. But it really did just start as a passion project. I just knew in the back of my mind that if I ever wanted it to be an income stream, I could make it happen, and at least it was possible.
Megan Porta: Okay, so how long did you go on just seeing it as a passion project?
Marley Braunlich: I would say probably for about three to four months. I was just playing around, making different fun recipes. I didn’t know anything about keyword research. I was very new t food styling, and editing and my early photos are not something I like to look back on. I’m like, oh my goodness, what was I thinking? But it’s cool just to see how far you’ve come in a little time just with learning and trying new things. So I think about three to four months was really my experimental phase.
Megan Porta: Then at what point did you think, okay, I’m going to actually try to make money with this and make this a long-term project?
Marley Braunlich: So it did definitely take quite a while. I technically launched my food blog in August of 2021, and I always knew that I wanted to grow it and just see what could happen. In that very first year, I really didn’t experience any growth on Instagram. I had less than 500. Followers for quite a long time, but around, December and January of that next year, I knew that I wanted to work with brands, and even though I had a very small follower account, I didn’t want to let that stop me. So I started working on a pitch email and just gathering contacts. That way in the future, I would be set up a little bit already.
Megan Porta: All right. So how did it go once you decided you wanted to start working with brands? What was the first thing that you decided you needed to do to get that to happen?
Marley Braunlich: So the first thing I definitely focused on was just the pitch email. Then I also tried putting together a portfolio. I was not using Pixie set or any other tool at the time, so I just mocked something up in Canva. I’ve changed that now, but that’s just how I started. So I think that’s another thing that’s important to keep in mind is, whenever you’re starting out, nothing’s going to be perfect and you’re probably going to look back and be like, why did I do that? So you know, you just learn as you go. But I think the very first pitch emails I was sending were actually to bloggers because I thought that could maybe be a good place to start. Since I didn’t have any experience working with brands yet, I wanted to see if I could work with some bloggers. I did have some good conversations, but nothing that ever panned out. So I just kept collecting emails and putting everything in a spreadsheet. That way later I could keep track of who I’ve reached out to and then continue to grow my Instagram.
Megan Porta: So you said that you sent some pitch emails to bloggers just to do freelance work, and freelance photography, correct?
Marley Braunlich: Yes.
Megan Porta: Okay. And none of that panned out, but did it give you confidence? Okay, I can do this. I can actually track down people that I respect and send them emails and just have a conversation with them.
Marley Braunlich: Definitely. It gave me confidence and I also think it helped me tweak my pitch email and work out some of those initial kinks of navigating conversations, learning what kind of questions to ask, what kinds of images are important, or what other services are important to food bloggers and food creators. So I think that was a really nice way to start. I think if you’re still struggling to work with brands right now or you do have a small following or you’re just getting started, working with food bloggers could be a really nice way to get started there.
Megan Porta: So what happened after that? After you did your experiment with reaching out to food bloggers, then you moved on to brands.
Marley Braunlich: So I started posting reels and I was able to grow my account to just under 10K in a very short amount of time. So this is all, I think, just completely luck. I don’t know what happened with my algorithm on Instagram, but at the beginning of 2022, I really did start to grow my account. I don’t think that you need that to land any brand deals. I just think it helps on the surface if someone is coming to look at your page and look at your Instagram. If you do have some followers, I think some brands do value that. Then you can get sponsored content instead of just freelance partnerships.
Megan Porta: Totally. Yeah. I hear this all the time. It’s such a debate. Do I need to focus on Instagram? And then people dig in for a long time and they don’t see traction, so then they leave. I see bloggers on both sides. Some believe that they need to just have all of those followers and they get awesome brand deals from it. But then there are people who don’t, people who have very few followers, but brands still are attracted to them.
Marley Braunlich: Yeah, definitely. I think it depends on a lot of different factors. Even just your quality of work or if you’re doing more freelance work. I don’t think you need those followers at all. I don’t know. It was really interesting. For me personally, I feel like just since I got lucky in this way with actually growing it through posting reels, I was like, okay, I’ll just like focus on Instagram for a little bit now that it’s working for me and we’ll just see what happens with it. But if I would’ve gotten stuck, the under 500 followers forever, I definitely would’ve changed my strategy and moved on to Google, SEO, web stories, and Pinterest for sure. So I think it’s very unique and depends on your own experience. That’s just how it worked out for me.
Megan Porta: I don’t think you were lucky, Marley. Give yourself a little bit of credit. You’ve said that a few times. I’m like, wait a second. Luck always comes into play for a lot of us occasionally, but it’s that imposter thing. Oh, I don’t know. It just happened. I don’t know. But I think that you made really smart moves and you should give yourself a little bit of credit for that. You knew to dig into reels and you did it consistently over time. That right there is something that most people don’t do. It was more than just luck. It was being smart and being consistent in my opinion. Just want to point that out.
Marley Braunlich: Thank you Megan. I appreciate it. I appreciate it. But yeah, I ended up landing my first brand deal around April, or May of 2022 and it was right after my 25th birthday. So that was my only birthday wish that year was to just get your first brand deal, you can do it. Once you get your first one, everything moves so smoothly after that. It just really does become a lot easier.
Megan Porta: Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s a confidence thing or something else?
Marley Braunlich: I think it’s partially confidence. I think it really is just learning how to talk to people and negotiate and, be very clear with your questions and what you’re offering. You just start to really refine your process after you’ve landed your first brand deal.
Megan Porta: It’s like you open up the floodgates and things just start flowing. Once you do it once, then it becomes so much easier. So if people are listening and they’re interested in pursuing brand deals, either their first one or maybe doing more long-term partnerships, do you have any tips for them to pursue this?
Marley Braunlich: Definitely. I have some tips just to land your first brand deal, and then I have some other tips on how to stand out to brands and get repeat clients.
Megan Porta: Awesome.
Marley Braunlich: But I’ll just go through a couple for your first brand deal, first. Starting off, really just DMing brands on Instagram. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but just trying to get some emails and some contacts. I actually put this in a really big Google Doc spreadsheet. That way I could just go back and then I have some checkboxes in there, did I reach out to them yet? How many times did I reach out? First pitch email, second pitch email. How many follow-ups? I was trying to really keep track of that just cuz it can get a little crazy whenever you’re starting to send out pitch emails. Then you really just want to continue to revise your pitch email and make sure that you have, what you admire about the brand in there, more information about your services, what you might have in mind for a partnership, and then also always ending it with a question about their marketing goals or content needs.
Megan Porta: That’s a good one. I like that. Then how, just out of curiosity, how long do you keep your emails? Do you keep them pretty short and sweet?
Marley Braunlich: I definitely keep them pretty short and sweet. Having that little blurb about, this is what I admire about your brand, and like this is who I am and this is what I do, it does take up a little bit of extra space, but I do try to keep it as short as I can and there are some other ways that you can make your pitch email stand out like including relevant images. So if you’re pitching an ice cream company and you happen to have some ice cream shots, insert those directly into your email so they can see you have experience in that industry.
Megan Porta: Ah, okay. That’s a great recommendation. So if you put things like, let’s say you’re pitching photography. If you put photos in your email, do you also lead them to a portfolio page or something like that?
Marley Braunlich: I always link my portfolio. I try not to upload too many attachments and I also have stopped sharing a media kit unless they really request one. Then I will update mine and send it over. But I try to stay away from metrics and rate cards early on and just focus on the quality of my work and just lead with the images. Let them speak for themselves. Show that I’m really genuine and engaged in their company and what they’re doing, and just try and learn more information about them first. Then if they ask for any of those other documents, I will provide them.
Megan Porta: So you focus on the quality of your work, but do you ever focus initially on let’s say you’re crushing it on Pinterest, for example? Do you put that in your email right away or do you wait on that as well?
Marley Braunlich: That could be a great strategy. I think sometimes for the first one, I will just keep it basic. That way it takes a little bit less time. It really just depends on the brand. If it’s a brand you don’t really have a relationship wet with yet, you might just want to get your foot in the door. But if it’s someone you’ve already pitched in the past or you’re just trying to really move the needle and get something to happen, I think including examples of really good metrics or like you mentioned, if you’re killing on Pinterest right in the email. So I personally, I’ve done little screenshots of some of my reels and then it includes the view count and so you can show this is what some of my past sponsored content looked like. Even if it’s not sponsored and you just have some really good metrics.
Megan Porta: Do you ever include video? You said you included a screenshot. Do you ever actually put a video in your emails? I
Marley Braunlich: have not started to put a video in, but I do have that on my list here as a good way to get noticed in a pitch email. I learned this from Candace, from Eat More Cake by Candace, and she’s been talking about the importance of including video in your pitch emails because it adds a human touch. Personally, I think not everyone wants to hop on a discovery call, which is what I’ve found personally. When like putting that out there, I don’t think everyone always has the time for that, but including a video definitely could make you stand out because I don’t think a lot of people are doing it right now.
Megan Porta: There is an awesome member in my mastermind group, shout out to Elo, Cooking with Elo. She’s so awesome. One thing that she is starting to do is, reach out to brands, she includes a really fast, quick, easy recorded loom video. So I think she’s staying under 30 seconds maybe, but just a super quick intro. Here’s who I am. Clean background. I don’t remember what she goes into, but caters it to each brand and then sends them the Loom video. I think that’s a really low barrier thing for them to oh, I just click on it. I think she’s telling them in the email it’s not going to be a huge investment of their time. I don’t know how that’s panned out. I think she was just getting started with it, but I thought that was such a good idea just to include a really short snippet of you just talking to them. Because when you make that, as you said, human touch, human connection, I think that can go a really long way.
Marley Braunlich: Oh my gosh. Definitely. I love that. Whenever I start pitching again, I’ve been taking little breaks. I’m updating my website, but once I start pitching, video is going to be something I’m adding to my strategy, a hundred percent.
Megan Porta: Okay. So you talked about your call to action, so you end with what questions? Does it vary depending on the brand?
Marley Braunlich: It does vary. Most of the time it’s just something about, I’d love to learn more about your marketing goals. What products are you focusing on this month, or what are your current content needs? Something like that. I always like to ask about the products that they’re focusing on if they do have a wide variety of different products. Currently, I’ve been working with Navitas and they’ve been amazing to work with. I always double-check and say are there any products right now that you guys are promoting in the next couple of months? Or what are you focusing on? So then that way I can create recipe ideas that include those products.
Megan Porta: So you’re asking them something about them, their brand, and not what they want from you. I like that. So you’re asking for information about yourself instead of what you want from me sort of thing. I think that’s really smart. Okay, so talk about consistency, because I know it’s really easy to put a pitch email out there and then just hope that they get back to you and then after a few weeks or a week, you’re like, where are they? Why haven’t they written me back? So how often do you reach back out and how consistent are you with that?
Marley Braunlich: Initially, I started sending follow-up emails about a week after my initial email. Since I’ve changed my process a little bit since I started, sometimes I will even send a follow-up email three days later. Because I think sometimes those really long gaps in between, not only did maybe they’re forgetting about you, but I think it’s easier for you to forget as well. So if I’m waiting too long in between, life gets in the way. I completely just forget to go back and send them another follow-up email. So sometimes I’ll send the first email on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Mondays and Fridays I try to stay away from it, but it’s okay if you have to send it out on those days. You also can just schedule it in Gmail or whatever you’re using and it’ll send automatically in advance. So I like to do that as well. But every couple of days, I’ll send a follow-up and then maybe I put a little bit more time in between each one. After the second or third follow-up, I think if you’re not hearing back and it’s radio silence, trying out that video content could be really nice. Just to see if something else catches their eye and maybe they click on that. I think some tools you can actually see if they’ve watched it. So that could be another valuable reason to try video.
Megan Porta: How often do you just get radio silence? You don’t hear back at all?
Marley Braunlich: So that I think is one of the most disheartening parts about trying to work with your very first brand. There are lots and lots of times when you’re not going to hear anything back, and sometimes it might take the brand six months to a year to actually respond to you. I was trying to work with a company last year and I had been reaching out to them since I had started pitching and I never really heard anything. Then finally in Q4, I got a response and I was like, oh my gosh, what the heck? I’ve been reaching out to you guys for so long, this is amazing. We ended up having a partnership. Never give up, but sometimes it just takes a little bit longer and then you might find another better opportunity along the way.
Megan Porta: Why do you think it takes so long? For that example that you just gave, why in the world did it take that long?
Marley Braunlich: I honestly don’t know. Just since I’m not on the other side of it. I don’t know if the contacts email box was just super, super full or if, after so many times they’re like, okay, who is this person? I need to see what they’re about or what was going on there. But I think also if brands already have all of their content needs fulfilled and they’re already working with enough creators and they don’t need anything, I think they probably might just ignore a lot of those emails rather than take the time to say, sorry. We’re all good for now. Thanks for reaching out. Just taking those couple minutes, I think they don’t want to do that. So if they already are working with people, which I feel was the case with this instance, that might be another reason. So a lot of it’s even just timing too. You might just reach out and it just might not be a good time.
Megan Porta: Yeah, and you made a good point. You don’t know what is going on their end. It could be a number of factors. So don’t take it personally. Just be consistent on your end. Keep it up. Even over the course of months and months, it can pay off as it did for you.
Marley Braunlich: Definitely.
Megan Porta: So do you have additional tips for getting that first brand deal?
Marley Braunlich: That was pretty much everything for getting your first deal. I think just wrapping that up, definitely being consistent, being very proactive, and showing that you truly care about the brand. If you’re not really hearing back from them via email, maybe start engaging with them on Instagram more. Leaving lots of comments or sending messages through stories. Just not forgetting to send those follow-up emails because eventually, you’ll hear from them, whether it’s a yes or a no. You just want to make sure don’t leave them hanging and you stay consistent.
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Megan Porta: Love it. I think those are all such great tips. Now, do you have tips about how to stand out to brands and get those repeat clients that we want so badly?
Marley Braunlich: Yes, definitely. Getting repeat clients is so important because as you can tell, it takes a lot of work just to land that first client. So turning that first deal into multiple deals, just makes it a lot easier on you. You have an income you can rely on. You start building this relationship with the brand and you understand what they want. You can anticipate their needs a little bit better. So getting repeat clients is definitely the goal. I do have a couple of tips. I’ll go through a couple of them. But the first one is just to overcommunicate. It’s always better to overcommunicate and ask questions and get more clarity before starting the project. Personally, I would rather ask the brand questions and double-check on the use of a certain ingredient or what the styling should look like first. That way I can avoid doing a reshoot or delivering images that aren’t spot on.
Megan Porta: Oh gosh. Yeah, that’s the worst ever having to redo your work. So I love that over communication. Sometimes it feels awkward, I feel like. Do we really need to talk about this in such detail? But the answer is yes. Marley?
Marley Braunlich: Yes, you do. A perfect example of that would be, I recently was working on a smoothie bowl and I was like, what kind of toppings do you want this to have? Do you want it to be more complex like these images? I like to include some example shots that I’ll find from Pinterest. A lot of smoothie bowls are styled very beautifully with coconut flakes and nut butter and all these different ingredients on the top, but they really just wanted to be simple. So they asked for only two ingredients on the top, and I was like, oh, okay. That’s surprising. That’s not what I would’ve done naturally. So I was really glad that I asked first.
Megan Porta: Oh gosh, yes. I love that. Maybe you’re getting to this, but do you put contracts together initially, right up front or do you do all of this communication and then put a contract together?
Marley Braunlich: Once I can tell that we are probably going to get a partnership, that is when I will start on my contract. I have a template that I use that I’ve changed a little bit over time after I’ve done more research. I’d like to have it checked out even further to make sure I’m not missing anything in there. But I’ll start to work on the contract once the brand kind of verbally says we’d like to move forward with this package. Or we start talking about what recipes we’d want to do.
Megan Porta: Okay. Okay. What’s another tip for just making sure that you stand out?
Marley Braunlich: One other thing that kind of is similar to my first tip would be to be transparent with where you are at in your process. Then when the client can expect to receive your work? So again, this might feel silly or like you’re communicating with them too much. But I always like to let them know Hey, I’m getting started on recipe development. Hey, I’m getting started on this. Anything else you want to share before I do the final images? Then okay, I shot the recipe, here’s the portfolio or the images that you want to select to edit, and then here’s when you can expect to receive all of the final assets.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I think that goes along with the overcommunication, right? Just staying on top of it. Do you track all of this in the sheet that you have?
Marley Braunlich: I would be really excited if I did. I definitely do not track any of this.
Megan Porta: Wish I could say yes.
Marley Braunlich: But yeah, I like to just send an email even on the weekend if I’m thinking about okay, like this week I need to reach out to this person, let them know what I’m doing, and then just send over emails quickly. I try not to get caught up on sending, like the most professional thought-out emails because sometimes that can just take so long to craft this perfect email and read it like 10 times before you hit send. I feel like it doesn’t always have to be that deep and I will just say, Hey, here’s where I’m at. Anything else? Just send something over really quickly so they can also respond quickly as well.
Megan Porta: Do you ever offer extras on top of what you promise them?
Marley Braunlich: Yes. That is one of my ways to stand out. Personally, I’m more lenient with this. Some photographers I’ve talked to are a lot more strict with providing any extra deliverables. I like to provide sometimes one to two extra images. I still keep it pretty small cause I don’t want to say here are 10 extra images. It’s going to look a little bit odd with your pricing, but I’ll provide one or two extras. Sometimes if we’re doing a shoot and there are multiple products in there and the client can only choose five images and one of the products is missing from the final delivery, I’ll just go ahead and add that one in because I’m like, oh, you didn’t get to pick one with this product in it. I’m just going to send this one over to you as well. Another great way to send an extra deliverable is repurposing a video clip you already did for them and just making a shorter five-second video that you’re just repurposing from your original content.
Megan Porta: I am a huge believer in over-delivering when you are establishing a relationship. I do this in my masterminds or any program that I’m trying to get up and running. I love over-delivering because people are always so surprised. They’re like, oh my gosh, really for me? I think that goes such a long way. Even if it is just one to two images like you’re saying. Do you find that it’s pretty well received when you give that extra?
Marley Braunlich: Definitely every time I’ve ever given any extra content, they’re always really appreciative of it and they’re like, oh, we really appreciate that. Thank you so much for sending over that bonus. I think that another important thing is that you should always mention that it’s complimentary or just use some language that indicates that this is out of the norm for you. Usually, that extra content would come at a cost, but you’re happy to provide that for free or as a bonus, some kind of language like that.
Megan Porta: So they’re not just oh, was this an accident? She put two extra images on here. Yeah, you have to point that out. Okay. What else do you have that makes you stand out?
Marley Braunlich: So one other thing that I did last year that I think just helps you build that relationship and stand out, are any kind of thoughtful messages or personalization you can add. One thing we talked about earlier is doing maybe a little personalized video so you can just say here’s who I am excited to work with you. Another option would be maybe a holiday e-card. I sent that out to all of my clients and people I was just talking with that we were maybe talking about partnerships for this year and nothing was set in stone, but I sent everyone a holiday e-card and just said, thank you for talking with me this year. I was excited to learn more about your brand. Can’t wait to see what happens in the new year or something like that.
Megan Porta: People love that stuff. I personally love it when people just kinda randomly send me an e-card or a note in the mail. Isn’t that the best thing ever when you get an actual note in the mail? I think that goes such a long way.
Marley Braunlich: Yes, I love sending letters. I still send cards to all my friends and family for birthdays or Valentine’s Day and things like that. So if you do have your client’s address or maybe it’s a local business you’re working with, I think a handwritten card or a thank you note would go a really long way. Then if not, you can resort to that e-card.
Megan Porta: It’s almost shocking when I get a handwritten note in the mail. It’s oh my gosh, someone actually took the time to get out a pen and this cute little card and put my address. It’s such a special thing. So I totally agree. Get that address, write a handwritten note, and it will go such a long way. Then what do you think about just going with the flow, are you just like an easy-to-work-with person and do you feel like that goes a long way as well?
Marley Braunlich: Yes, definitely. I would always say be easy and fun to work with. Come to the table with lots of new ideas, and show that you’re excited about doing the work and that you really enjoy it. Every time I deliver any assets to the brands I’m working with, I say, this was so delicious. I give them a little bit of information about how the recipe tasted and how much my family enjoyed it, or how much fun I had putting together the shoot and that I’m obsessed with how the images turned out and things like that. Really just showing that I had a good time and making sure you’re easy to work with. You’re not delivering things late, you’re not forgetting to do something and then they’re asking for it. Just really being super upfront and also delivering any of your assets early is amazing.
Megan Porta: Oh I love that so much. Do you get shocked replies like, oh my gosh? You’re early.
Marley Braunlich: They definitely will notice, thanks so much for getting this done on such a short timeline or something like that. They do notice things like that and I think it just makes it easier for someone else, because you just have to remember the person on the other side of the screen is just a regular human, just like yourself. They’re just trying to do their job and build out, a content strategy and make sure they have all their ducks in a row. So just helping them do that is really nice.
Megan Porta: I think delivering assets early is such a great way to make yourself stand out and set yourself apart from others. Because I think. It’s really unusual to do that, and it’s so easy. If you just put two days or whatever it is on your calendar sooner than when you need to deliver it, that can go such a long way.
Marley Braunlich: Exactly. I always pretend that it’s due earlier than it is. I’m like, okay, it’s actually due on this day. Plus you really want to give yourself a couple extra days, because even if it’s due on the first of the month, the final assets are due on the first of the month. Not just the proofs of your images. Then maybe it takes a day for them to choose them. Then it takes you a day to edit them and then you have to get them back. So sometimes it ends up being after the due date. So really giving yourself some extra days is really helpful.
Megan Porta: From their perspective, if there are two content creators and they produce both, really quality work. One delivers assets on the schedule they set and the other delivers early, they’re probably going to go with the person who delivers early consistently. So I love that. I never think of stuff like this. It’s so simple. Do you have other tips to just stand out to brands?
Marley Braunlich: I think we covered most of them. Just creating quality work I think would be the last one. But that’s not really a surprise. I just think, create work that you’re proud of. Then that way when you see it on that brand’s social media or website, you want to feel good about it. You want to feel that it reflects your abilities. If someone else notices that it’s your work, you don’t want to be embarrassed by it or think oh, I could have done better. Or, I didn’t leave myself enough time and I had to rush that one. I don’t like how that looks on their site. I’m not happy with that. You just want to be happy with your work and create quality work. That way they enjoy what you’re providing and you feel good about it too.
Megan Porta: I love it. Okay, so you’ve got a brand who loves you, you’ve done all these things to make yourself stand out. Then how do you approach this, let’s work together over time. Do you like to present an idea and then have them sign a contract? Or how does that go?
Marley Braunlich: Definitely. So most of the time I’ve been working with brands in three-month increments. So we’ll decide on three recipes for the next few months, just right up front. Then that will go into the contract, and then that way you just can adjust your pricing right away if you need to. If something’s a really complex recipe. But really working on the three-month increments has been the most popular among the different brands I’ve worked with. Then once you’ve worked with a brand for your first deal, you know you can offer a bundled package or an exciting idea that could lead to a long-term partnership. So I typically will offer a couple of different bundled options. Some with video, some without, and just see what they’re interested in from there.
Megan Porta: Then after a partnership is done, let’s say you do a three-month partnership and it’s finished. How do you do follow-ups? Do you follow up with stats or what do you do from there?
Marley Braunlich: Yeah, definitely. Certain brands I’ve worked with are very interested in the metrics and that’s very important to them. Other brands I’ve worked with don’t really mind about the metrics and they really just want the content for things like their email newsletter and really the content is king rather than how it performs on social media. So you have to see what’s important to the brand first. But I think it’s always nice to send out a little metrics, report card. Sometimes we can’t control the algorithm and I definitely have had a couple of sponsored posts not do as well as I wanted. So in those cases, you can just think about, do you want to share these stats or not. Really, if I have anything that just kills it on Instagram and I’m like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe that video got so many views and this is crazy. I always share things like that. If it’s something that could have been a little bit better, it depends. You can either say Hey, I know that these are the metrics you wanted and you expected, we didn’t really hit that this time. Here’s what I can do to try again. Maybe that’s reposting the video two, or two weeks later. Maybe it’s doing an additional carousel post for them, complimentary, or something like that. So there are different ways you can navigate the metrics piece.
Megan Porta: Is there anything else people should know about just carrying on that long-term relationship and then moving into other long-term relationships?
Marley Braunlich: I would definitely go back and follow all of the different tips we’ve already talked about on how to stand out with brands and just land different paid partnerships because all of those tips are going to help you when you’re trying to form a long-term partnership. Also, I try not to give it a lot of time in between the three-month increments. I don’t want to just wait a month and be like, oh, hey, we haven’t done anything last month. Do you want to do another three-month partnership? At the very last recipe, when I’m delivering that, my next email’s basically what else do you need? So what do you want to do for the next three months? So you keep rolling into the next one, has been the best strategy for me so far.
Megan Porta: Is this exhausting? I feel like it would be so much, depending on how many brands you’re working with at a time, it’s so much work because it seems like the relationship you have, with someone you want to be good friends with, or you just have to be on your toes all the time and delivering your best self. Is it tiring?
Marley Braunlich: I think it’s more tiring to pitch to brands you’ve never worked with before. I think the long-term partnerships, I just feel a lot better about them. I feel more confident in the relationship that we’ve formed. In the back of my mind, I’m like, oh no, what if they don’t need my content anymore and I’m just going to have to move on from that? That’s always in the back of my head because it can happen. Things change, budgets change, different people are coming in and there’s a different competition and stuff like that. So that’s something I worry about. But really working with long-term partnerships has been pretty fun, honestly. Not too overwhelming or tiring because you feel more comfortable talking with that person. You know that they enjoy your work, and as long as you really find those good clients, I think you’ll be happy. But sending out all those initial pitch emails and looking at all the follow-ups, that is the most exhausting part for sure.
Megan Porta: So it’s really the courting of the brands that is the most exhausting, you would say?
Marley Braunlich: Yes. Yes, for sure.
Megan Porta: Okay, so I’m sure that in this process and all of the brands you’ve reached out to and worked with, you have learned some lessons. What are the top one or two lessons that you’ve learned through just making mistakes?
Marley Braunlich: Awesome. Yeah, I have made definitely quite a few mistakes and I feel like that could be an entirely separate episode on its own. But one thing that I’ve done that I have noticed time and time again, doesn’t get me the result that I need to get or want to get is sending your rates too early. So if you just, if someone responds to your pitch email and they immediately ask, what are your rates? How much do you charge? What are your prices and you send them back immediately, I did this early on just because I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I was like, oh yeah, sure, here you go. Here’s a rate sheet and here’s my media kit, and here’s all of those basic things. A lot of the time you don’t hear back from them because they’re just price shopping and they’re just comparing your prices with somebody else, and they’re just looking for the lowest cost work they can find. So sending your rates too early is going to probably lead to you getting ghosted.
Megan Porta: Okay. All right. Any other big mistakes that are just glaring in your head that you need to let out and share with us?
Marley Braunlich: I’ll try and think of a couple of others. Just one thing that I learned also from Candace was that sometimes you might want to include an expiration date in your quote. That way it’s not locking you into the same pricing six months or a year later. So that also happened to me where early on in the first three months of pitching, I sent somebody my rates. Six months later, they send me a message and say, oh yeah, we’d love to do package two. I’m like, oh no. Oh gosh. Because by then I learned what to charge and what my worth was. I’d already worked with another brand. So I was really starting to navigate pricing in general. This isn’t terrible, but it’s not what I would’ve quoted them today. So had I included an expiration date there, I could have been like, oh, that was my pricing six months ago. A lot has changed since then. Here’s what it looks like now. So that can be a really useful thing to know when getting started.
Megan Porta: I love that. So think of it like food in the fridge, it has to expire, right? Just being upfront like, oops. Sorry, and then you don’t have to backtrack. I do like quarterly pricing. You don’t have to explain any of that. It’s just very clear and upfront. Back to that over-communication thing that you talked about earlier. All right. This is so great. I feel like we’ve touched on some really novel things that we’ve never covered here on the podcast relating to working with brands. So thank you, Marley. This is such an incredible conversation. Is there anything that you feel like we’ve missed before we start saying goodbye?
Marley Braunlich: I think that’s everything.
Megan Porta: Amazing. I loved this conversation. You almost had me convinced to go start working with brands. As much as I hate it, that is saying a lot. So thank you for joining me. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you again. Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Marley Braunlich: I have some words of inspiration. It’s a little long, but I feel like it goes well with our, what we talked about today. So I have, don’t be afraid to try something new because as I mentioned, I’ve tried a million different hobbies and finally one has stuck. Everything you’ve done has led you to where you are now. So your path is unique. Even if you wish you could have been at this moment in time years ago, you’ve gained so much valuable knowledge and wisdom about yourself, your goals, and your business along the way. So try to let go and just enjoy the journey. That’s something I struggle with, but I’ve been trying to be a little bit better at.
Megan Porta: Oh, it’s so hard to do that, isn’t it? Yeah, it’s the simplest concept, but when you actually try to put in action, it’s so hard. But yes. Love it. Great way to end. We will put together another show notes page for you, Marley. So if you want to look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/baked abundance2. Tell everyone again where they can find you online and on social media.
Marley Braunlich: You can find me on Instagram at Baked Abundance, and my website is bakedabundance.com. I’m recently on TikTok and I’m at Food With Marley over there. Then if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to send me a message on Instagram, or you can sign up for my newsletter series specifically for food bloggers and content creators where I share more information about working with brands, finding paid opportunities, updating your portfolio, SEO tips and all the good things.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you for offering that. That’s super generous of you. So take her up on that everyone. Thank you again so much, Marley, for being here, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like-minded peers. I will see you next time.
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