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What Do Brand Collaborations Really Look Like?

November 2, 2022

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I received a comment a while back that inspired me to write this post for all of you. The question I got was:

What does the actual brand collaboration process look like? What can you expect as an Influencer who is just starting brand collaborations?

Here is the breakdown of a typical brand collaboration process from beginning to end.

Step 1: Negotiation

Now, this is assuming you’re already in contact with a brand to collaborate. (If you need tips on that first, read my post here on where and how to find brands to collab with.)

You can also reach out to brands to get that started, which you can learn how to pitch to brands right here. There are also my free pitch templates right here.

This section will primarily be focused on the discourse when they reach out to you.

Always Ask For Their Budget

When you get a DM or email from a brand wanting to collab (and you want to collab too), you can reply by saying something along the lines of:

“Yes, I’d love to partner with you. As of right now, I’m only accepting sponsored opportunities. What’s your budget for this campaign?”

If they brought up a specific campaign, ask about their budget on that.

What To Discuss While Negotiating

The negotiation process can last at the very least from that day (not likely) up to a few weeks.

There’s a lot that you have to agree on when you’re going back and forth. You don’t want to just say, “Yes! Let’s sign a contract!”

Before accepting any offer, you’ll want to discuss things like:

  • Deliverables
  • Brand expectations
  • Content topic ideas
  • Posting schedule
  • Content format/platform
  • Ownership
  • Exclusivity

Once all of that has been discussed and agreed upon, then you can move forward to talk about what payment will look like. And payment looks different for every brand.

Some brands will pay a 50% deposit upfront and other brands pay only when everything is posted and completed as per the contract and they receive your invoice.

If at any point, the brand you’re talking to doesn’t want to discuss any of the above topics, it may be best not to move forward. For more tips on what to look out for when working with brands, check out my blog post.

If you’re both in agreement and the method of payment is confirmed, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Communication

The most important thing in the entire process is communication. You want to be communicating with the brand every step of the way.

Let me give you an idea.

So let’s say the contract is signed and they send you the product. As soon as you get the product, send them an email saying you received the product, and so on.

Communicate every step, even if you feel like you’re overcommunicating. That will make you stand out as an Influencer. 

You want to show them that you know what you’re doing, you’re a professional and you want them in the loop. They should never have to question your ability during any step of the process or if you’re even real or a ghost.

Communication is a great way to nourish a relationship with them. You never know if they will want to work again in the future for a bigger project or open doors for you to work with other brands or teams.

Step 3: Creation

Now that you’ve received the product or service, it’s time to create the content. And while it’s simple, it’s not as cut-and-dry as just “making the content”.

You need to know what you’re saying, the deliverables, what the brand is looking for, etc.

Basically, the brand will send you something called a Campaign Brief. This will be a doc or pdf of what the campaign needs from you.

This may include:

  • What you’re promoting
  • What you should say
  • The call-to-action (CTA)

You need to know all of this beforehand in order to create the content.

Having these things clearly communicated makes the approval process much easier.

Step 4: Content Approval

After you’ve created the content, most brands want to approve the content before you post it. This means you need ample time between when you create the content and when it should be posted.

If I have a sponsored post scheduled, I need that content to be filmed, edited, etc. at least 7-10 days before the post date.

Some brands even have requirements of when you have to send the drafted content. For some, it can be 10 days. For others, it can even be 2 days! Be sure to look out for that in the contract.

Now, once you send your completed content, two things can happen: they approve, in which case you’re good to schedule, or they don’t approve. If they don’t approve, it’s time to make some revisions.

Making Revisions

The need to make revisions is something that you can include in your contract. You can put in the contract that the first revision is free, but any revision thereafter will cost XX amount of money.

This can be very beneficial to include in your contract, that way brands don’t take advantage of your time and require you to make edit after edit after edit.

I’ve had to do that before, where a brand was super nit-picky. I completed everything the way they wanted me to, but then they changed the campaign and wanted me to create entirely new content. BUT I didn’t have anything in the contract that said they had to pay for revisions.


And I’m not it’s this way with all brands. Most brands are understanding and respectful of your time and creativity. But just in case you work with that one brand that isn’t, make sure you’re protected in the contract.

Once you’r\ve made the revisions and they’ve approved it, it’s time to schedule the post!

Step 5: Posting

When you post, you’re not just posting. Go through the contract and the campaign brief to double and triple check you’re posting everything you agreed to post.

Make sure you’re including the hashtags that need to be there. Tagging the proper brand. Use the paid partnership tools. Disclaim the post is sponsored. Follow community guidelines. Use the right link.

Once it’s posted, email the brand. Let them know it’s live and send them the link to it.

They should then respond with a thumbs up or possibly a reminder in case you forgot to include something (a hashtag, the correct link, etc.).

Then, you wait. For what?

How the post performs.

Step 6: Analytics

After you post and email the brand, it’s time to wait about 24-48 hours (24 for stories and up to 48 for pictures and videos that don’t “expire”).

Then, gather the analytics of the performance of that post up to that point and email the stats to the brand.

This can be a great way to determine whether it’s a good fit to collaborate again in a future campaign or not. If the analytics and insights look good, you can let them know you’d be interested in another partnership!

If the analytics aren’t ideal, that’s okay. It’s just a lesson that they may not be in an industry you should partner with in the future. And they learned they should seek partnerships with Influencers in other niches with different audiences.

Since you kept the communication up and you followed the contract and the campaign brief, it’s not anything you did that resulted in not-so-desirable results.

Either way, you did the work and must get paid accordingly. That leads us to the next step: payment.

Step 7: Payment

In the same email you send the analytics in, you can also attach the invoice for the project.

Sometimes, brands will pay without you sending an invoice. Most of the time, you will have to send one. And you won’t get paid until you do.

Somewhere in the contract it might say, “Influencer will receive payment up to 30 days upon receiving the invoice.” In other words, “We won’t pay you when the post is live. We’ll only start the payment process once you send the invoice.”

So pro-tip: Read the contract!

Now, how do you make and send an invoice?

You can easily make one using Paypal since a lot of companies use it to make and receive payments. If not, you can design your own using Canva, which might be more time-consuming, but can add an extra layer of professionalism and branding.

Once it’s sent, you can officially expect to receive your much-deserved payment! Congratulations!

How Long is the Brand Collaboration Process?

The entire brand collaboration process can take a long time.

From receiving an email to receiving payment from the brand, the process can take up to 3 months… sometimes longer. It all depends on the brand and how quickly they want that turnaround time.

Sometimes brands want you to post something within 7 days and are willing to pay for the quick turnaround. Other times, the brand’s campaign might be a ways out, but they want to start the process early.

Depending on how long the agreed partnership is, whether it’s a one-and-done deal or monthly posts over the span of a few months, the whole process can be from 1 month to 6 months.

So there you have it. There’s what a brand collaboration looks like from beginning to end and how long you should expect it to take.

Don’t expect each one to look the same, but you now at least have an idea of what it takes.

If there’s anything else about brand collaborations you want me to cover, let me know in the comments! I’m always happy to respond and talk to my readers.

Follow your joy!

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