Here at Willa, we kind of specialize in the creator/brand relationship since we work with both sides: YOU get paid Superfast and they still get to pay on their terms! We want everyone to feel great about the creator/brand partnership even earlier in the process, though, so here are some of our best suggestions for how you as a creator can build those positive relationships.
If you have a question, haven’t heard from your contact (or anyone) in a while, or aren’t sure what’s going on with the status of your campaign, ASK before you assume negative intent. It might be a simple explanation like someone out of the office, a staff change, or a miscommunication. When you come at someone assuming they’re ignoring you on purpose or insinuating that they’re not doing their job correctly, it creates a lot of unhelpful negativity in the relationship–EVEN IF you’re 1000% correct about what’s up. Check yourself in your communications and question whether your tone comes across as genuinely asking what’s happening or more accusatory, and adjust accordingly.
In the early stages of a partnership, you might not have developed that strong personal relationship with a contact just yet. Making sure you always address someone by name (especially in cold outreach!) and taking the time to get to know them beyond the transactional details of your work relationship goes a long way towards their willingness to help you when the time comes. Who are you more likely to support in a crisis or forgive for a mistake–someone you personally know and like, or someone you feel like is just a random name on a page?
The number one rule of thumb when you’re running your own business (as all content creators are) is to own your commitments. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. Proving yourself with actions that speak to your accountability and responsibility establishes a strong mutual sense of trust and respect between you and your brand partner. Flakiness, forgetting things, and having to constantly apologize for missing or rearranging meetings is the quickest way to get yourself crossed off a partnership list.
That sense of trust and respect we were just talking about? Yeah, it’s a two way street. That means you need to establish your boundaries with yourself so you know when to call it quits. Being unsure about where you draw the line in terms of how you’re treated in a brand partnership (or any relationship tbh) makes it more likely that you’ll end up in a situation you really do not want to be in without any idea how to extricate yourself. Good q’s to ask as you sort through this ahead of time: how many postponements will you wait through? How long will you wait with no response before reaching out again, and how many times will you reach out before giving up? Plan for worst case scenarios, and you hopefully won’t end up there as often.
Brands clamoring in your inbox to be your partners sounds like a dream come true, right? Once you’ve found a certain amount of success, you’re likely to have your choice of partners to work with. We want this for all creators, and we have a word of caution if you feel like you’re approaching this level: trying to find a balance between staying loyal to those who helped you get where you are and making the most of your success by taking advantage of new opportunities can be pretty tricky. Make sure you’re carefully considering a choice to leave a partnership rather than making instinctive decisions on the fly. Loyalty is another one of those things that goes both ways, and if you constantly jump around or make trades for higher rates, you might find yourself regretting the steader work of longer-term relationships.
This brings us to our final point, which is also just a good basic life lesson. Always be gracious to your brand partners and to anyone you do business with. If you are choosing to move on to a bigger opportunity, letting go of a relationship that isn’t meeting your needs, or questioning whether someone is keeping up their end of the bargain, doing so with a kind and grateful attitude can be the difference between losing the relationship and preserving it for the long term.
In the end, taking steps to intentionally manage your relationships with your brand partners can go a long way towards building your business’ success and making you a creator everyone wants on their team.