I get daily requests to be a vendor for a giveaway, or from someone asking to be a brand rep for us. Seriously, every single day. I love it, because this means our name is getting out there and people are aware of us. In reading over these requests, however, I have learned that most people have no idea what a brand rep is for a company, or how to ask for items for a giveaway. Getting free things is super fun, but in reality, nothing is free. There is work involved to earn that prize.

What a beautiful photo! It showcases the product perfectly, with gorgeous background for added interest.


So how does someone ask for items for a giveaway?

Before you even draft an email to the company, you need to do some research on them. Find out what they sell, read an About Me page, look them up on various social media sites… in short, LEARN about the company.  When I was asked to donate “a bandana or something,” and I hadn’t even listed bandanas in the store yet, that was an instant turn-down, along with a polite reminder to do research on a company before asking for a handout. It’s also common courtesy to follow that company on social media sites. Show them that you really do love their products, and aren’t just looking for free handouts.

You have to ask for something in order to get it.

The initial communication to the company is your first impression. This needs to be grammatically correct and spell checked. Introduce yourself, tell the company why you love their products, and be clear in both what you want and what you have to offer in exchange for the free item. If you want a specific item, please ask for that, because nothing is more frustrating to me than having someone ask for a donation, only for them to say, “I was hoping for a collar instead.” If you really don’t care what you get, it’s fine to be more vague, but clear communication up front helps both parties know what to expect going forward. Businesses like less communication to make plans, not more. If we have to ask and clarify things multiple times, it gets to be too much work. I’m busy running a business, and while I love interacting with customers, I don’t have hours to devote to one email conversation.

Tell businesses what you have to offer . Show us that you’re worth investing in by sharing your social media stats and/or how many daily visitors your blog brings in. Tell me where you’ll be sharing about our business and how many times I can expect this feature. Tag the company in all the promos so they’re aware you’re working for them, and can repost you. Be clear in terms of a giveaway such as when the contest begins and ends, and when the company can expect to be notified of a winner. Asking to use a logo and product images makes a company very happy. We know that you really want to promote us, and not just use our products to gain recognition for yourself. It’s nice to think that you chose us because you love our items, rather than the fact that you asked three dozen companies and one finally consented. Even if that is the case, show your gratitude by promoting the company that went out of their way to help you. Businesses spend a lot of time and money branding themselves, so logo use is very much appreciated.

When promoting your giveaway, please be sure to use high quality photos. Dark, grainy photos are not helping either the brand or the blogger. Find a way to promote that giveaway every day, if you can. Post on Twitter one day, Facebook another. Pinterest it, blog about it, upload to Instagram. Snapchat, YouTube, IG stories, Facebook stories… there are so many ways and places to get the word out. If you only have one or two social media sites, be creative in finding ways to promote. If you have a photo of your dog on Facebook, somewhere in the caption simply add, “don’t forget about our contest open now on the blog to win a free collar….” It doesn’t need to be spammy, but make sure you reach as many people as you possibly can. This is why businesses offer items for giveaways. If you don’t earn exposure for them, they’ll be hesitant to donate to you again.

I request to have all winners get in touch with me, because I like talking to potential customers, but if this is not offered, you’ll need to do the work yourself. When a winner is chosen, get information such as sizing needed, address, contact information and anything else that a company would need to know. It’s also not a bad idea to feature the winner on social media with the item once they receive it. Ask them for photos, and coach them on how to take good ones, if need be. Following up with a thank you note to the business is polite. Little touches go a long way with a future relationship.

So what does a company look for in a brand rep?

Brand reps are people (or dogs, in my case) that advertise for businesses in exchange or free items. Your social media numbers are the first thing scrutinized. A large following is very good, but even better is good engagement. If you have 45,000 followers on Instagram, but only get 70 likes per photo, that’s not good engagement. If you have 1,700 followers but get 290 likes per photo, you are in touch with your followers and they’ll see and hear what you have to say. In this case, the smaller account will be preferred to the larger. Accounts with just a few hundred followers, unfortunately, have little to offer a company in the way of advertising. Your reach is just not large enough.

Accounts with profanity, distasteful photos or are spammy with nothing but reposts of giveaways and model searches are going to be turned down. Viewers prefer content to advertising, so be aware of what your page looks like and clean it up. Go back and delete old reposts of contests entered that have been closed. Have a larger number of good quality photos than ads and reposts of giveaways or memes.

Photos are a make or break deal. When you are a brand rep for a company, your job is to showcase their items in an engaging way. A dog standing in the middle of a large, empty parking lot is not going to be a good model for the collar he’s wearing, and seeing a close-up of the collar on the neck of a dog without being able to see the head attached to it is not going to gain viewer interest. Be creative in your approach. Using different angles and thinking outside the box is good. If you’re featuring dog food, lining bags up in front of your dog is boring. Instead, photograph your dog at the table, with the bag on his plate. Show him eating from his bowl on the floor, and have the bag nearby. If he’ll hold a bag of treats in his mouth, you’re golden. Show the company that you are worth investing in, with both photo content and quality.

Use different angles to get good photos.

Companies have requirements for brand reps to earn free items. Each company will differ, but these requirements can include things like a set posting schedule, sharing sale flyers and giveaway announcements, make occasional purchases, conduct giveaways, engage with customers on social media and answer questions, and/or have a link to their website on your social media page. Your job is to make others aware of that company, and show them in a good light.

Good communication is key, too. Let the company know what you like and don’t like about their products. It’s awkward to tell them that something isn’t working, but that’s what helps the company to grow and better themselves. Feel free to offer suggestions for things you’d like to see added, or improvements you think they could make. A good company will welcome these ideas, although they may not be able to act on them all. Along with good communication is being a good social media follower. Be active on the company’s social media pages. Comment, like, share and interact in any way that you can. These likes and comments tell algorithms that a page is popular, and that page will be featured more often in people’s timelines. Actively following the company also means you’re well informed of all that’s going on with them. You can’t effectively represent a company that you’re not familiar with.

Nothing is free. Companies are happy to give free items out on a daily basis if it means more exposure for them in the long run. Your job is to bring in more paying customers, and you’re going to have to work hard to make that happen.

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