13 bloggers and influencers tell us what they love (and hate) to see in brand pitches

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Lyzi Unwin
Content Producer
Fervent blogger sharing signature Studio Cotton advice & small business stories
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This article and all others on the Studio Cotton blog are written by humans. Please enjoy our opinions, expertise, advice, experiences, and typos.

It’s not the first time we’ve told you how much we rate working with bloggers as a small business – I’ve shared tips for approaching bloggers from my own perspective as a blogger of 10+ years at Being Little, as well as a list of 6 local Bristol bloggers who love collaborating with small businesses.

In short, working with bloggers can help drive more traffic to your website, up your search engine optimisation with backlinks, reach new audiences, increase your social media following, and ultimately make more sales. Plus, you’ll get some lovely photos that you can use (with permission) and something fresh to chat about on your socials.

You can read a little more about how it all works in this very helpful Instagram post that Aime posted recently.



But y’know, lately I’ve been wondering… what do my peers in the influencer world think about working with brands?

Though I’ve had countless conversations with other bloggers and influencers about their pet peeves working in this industry, we thought it’d be helpful for small businesses who are interested in influencer marketing to know what to definitely do and what to totally avoid when pitching to bloggers.

So I asked my mates! Here’s a list of what bloggers and influencers want to see (or not see) in a brand pitch.


1. Include personality and authenticity

I love when brands reach out personally, and they’re humble, really clear on what they’re requesting, and open up to me about their brand: why you started your biz, who you are, where you’re from. Having context and a dash of personality really makes a brand stand out in my mind (& inbox).

Be genuine! It sounds simple, but when I have an ongoing dialogue with a brand that goes beyond the partnership (& they’re not continuously sending me discount codes and sales comms), I’m more emotionally invested and connected with the brand. And then I’ll probably do anything to help them.

Sophie Saint – @saint.thrifty


I totally agree with this, and think being personable really helps your cause as a small business. We all want to feel a connection to other human beings, and by sharing a little about your small business, you help bloggers to relate to you, warm to your brand, and want to go that extra mile with the collaboration.

Sophie is a Bristol based blogger and influencer with a focus on sustainability and buying only second hand clothing. After starting a travel blog with her sister back in the OG blogging days, she’s branched out on her own to focus more on personal style and sharing the dark side of fast fashion – her awesome reels have been getting a lot of attention, and rightly so.



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A post shared by Sophie Saint (@saint.thrifty)


2. Set clear goals for your collaboration

What I love to see the most in a pitch is a really solid idea of the goals. I think vague briefs easily lead to disappointment. When I know exactly what deliverables are wanted, and whether the client has any particular favourite images, or something I did that inspired them to reach out, then I feel much more confident at nailing the collaboration.

On the flip side when it’s just “oh, we love your content, can you do some stuff for us?” it can be too easy to take a bit too much creative licence and deliver something outside of the expectations. It doesn’t need to be stifling and rigid, it’s just a good conversation to have with any collaborator!

Sam Binstead – Samuel Binstead / @bysambinstead


It can be tricky to strike the balance between being too vague and too rigid with a brief for influencer marketing, but having photography examples, a mood board, or numerical goals for a project is super helpful for content creators.

Sam is a slow fashion photographer and dabbles in a little Instagram influencing, sharing his slow fashion approach, small makers, and sustainable style tips. I’ve enjoyed following him ever since meeting this friendly northern lad in Sheffield – his photography is gorgeous, and I love his dedication to slower living and reducing consumption.


3. Spend a little time to save time

I love a personal approach, not just someone who’s checked out your latest social media post. Moreso, spending a little time to get to know the person who the brand is approaching – obviously I know that takes time, but often projects that I’m approached for just don’t fit me well (from a style POV, brand positioning, ethical ways or my own values, or if it clashes with something I’ve worked on previously), and could be avoided with a little care.

If you monitored a person’s account for even a week (if they were semi-regular at sharing), you’d get an idea of they were right for the project you’re working on, or not. And that’s ok too – they might be perfect for something down the line. I’d say I’m a very personable person, so I respond well to a similar approach – but some others have different ways of working, and if you can figure that out, then it could save time.

I also like to know as much detail as possible in the first email, as this can cut down the amount of backwards and forwards.

Matthew Spade – Buckets & Spades / @mat_buckets


It really does show when a brand has put their time in to finding the right bloggers for their influencer marketing. Maybe it can feel like a little too much effort, and you think it would be better to copy and paste your email and send it out to hundreds of bloggers… but really, that’s wasting a lot of your time as well as the bloggers’ time.

You’d be better off spending that time researching a blogger in the right niche with the right audience – which is so much more valuable.

Mat is a fashion, design and lifestyle blogger in Lancashire, sharing his outfits, travels and super cool home, amongst other things. He also shares photos of outrageously pleasing packaging on his other Instagram account, @bestofpackaging.



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A post shared by Matthew Spade (@mat_buckets)


4. Trust the blogger with a flexible brief

I like it when the brand is quite flexible with you in terms of creating content etc – knowing what works best for you and your followers, personally for me at least.

I’ve had a few requests before from bigger companies who want X,Y and Z, but know it’s not necessarily something I would do (ie. talking stories) but would still push for it, rather than seeing how they could adapt to get the most natural way that works for yourself, whilst still benefitting the brand.

Katy McPhedran – Little Winter / @katymitten


The fun thing about blogging is that you really get to know your audience, while they get to know you too. It’s pretty obvious when an influencer has had to stick within the confines of a brief, rather than being given creative control. As experienced bloggers, we know what our audience likes and responds well to, as well as having our own personal preferences of how we want our content to look and sound.

Katy writes a lifestyle blog, with a focus on family life in London. She shares daily life, dreamy home interiors, lovely little holidays, and a fair amount of cute cat pics too. 



5. Show some appreciation and understanding

I really love when brands show genuine appreciation for the content you create, and understand the time and effort that goes into creating it. It’s never nice to feel like your work is undervalued or not considered important when it comes to budgets. I’m always open to compromise on collaboration terms, but the outcome needs to benefit both parties fairly 🙂

Alice Tulip – Black Tulip Beauty / @alicetulipuk


There’s a notion that being a content creator is stupidly easy and not a real job, when actually it takes a lot of time, skill and effort. In reality, most bloggers are doing their own admin, photography, writing, editing, social media management, building a captive audience, and more. And dontcha think everybody deserves to feel valued and be compensated appropriately for their work? I sure do.

Alice is a Bristol based blogger creating content on the subjects of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. She’s got such a playful sense of style, and her blog and Instagram are both full of colourful, bold and fun imagery.



6. Use a more personal approach

I love it when small businesses take the time to actually look through my content before they approach me.

So many times I’ve been approached by brands that clearly wouldn’t be a good fit (a meat box when I’m vegetarian for example), or even a statement talking about something like school runs when we home educate really turns me off straight away. It’s clear no effort has been made to actually know what my content is about.

A little bit of common ground goes a long way – a personal touch is important!

Fritha Quinn – Tigerlilly Quinn / @tigerlillyquinn


This is a huge pet peeve of mine too, and I’ve received so many impersonal emails and invites to press events that are on the other side of the world. I’ve also had a lot of press releases in languages I don’t speak – I’m still not sure how I ended up on those email lists. Opening a relevant, friendly and personal email is a real pleasure.

Fritha is a Bristol blogger writing about her family life, fashion, travel, and loads more. Her blog and Instagram feature colourful and cute photos of family friendly things to do in Bristol, their home education journey, and their beautiful home interiors.



7. Avoid inappropriate pitches

I don’t like when people slide into your DMs or send you an email, and it’s very obvious that they haven’t done their research. Not just the usual copied and pasted messages, but when they’re trying to offer you a product which is not your style at all.

I get a lot of people asking me to be an ambassador for sportswear and gym gear – I could probably do with going to the gym, but I don’t promote fitness or clean eating, and I don’t have any sponsorships with gyms. 

I also get the occasional invitation to promote weight loss supplements and teas, and I’ve also had an opportunity to promote a tanning product with the word ‘skinny’ in it, and I just thought straight away: you don’t know me at all. This is not the kind of thing I’m going to promote to people, and it’s not the kind of thing I would buy for myself.

I’m really keen to only ever promote things that I would and do use, and that I feel confident in other people using.

Grace Latter – Almost Amazing / @_gracelatter


It’s worth researching whether your collaboration pitches are going to come across as inappropriate – I’ve received so many emails for family-related things when I don’t have any children, which could be seen as super insensitive and upsetting for some people. You want to make connections with likeminded bloggers and their audiences, not burn bridges.

Grace is a beautiful human being who is big into self love, empowerment, embracing the body and all that comes along with it, and she’s also a blogger. She’s a real joy to follow, and someone who simply oozes love and kindness.

She also has a whole highlight on her Instagram profile called “no thx” full of inappropriate pitches from brands – worth a look if you want to research what not to do!



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A post shared by Grace Latter (@_gracelatter)


A few bonus loves/hates from bloggers and influencers

“The wrong name 🤣 clearly copied and pasted!” –
Torty Newman for Piglet the Sausage Dog

“Love genuine specific references to previous work I’ve done. Hate when it’s clearly just for diversity.” – Fiona Riches at Sound by Fiona

“I want to know the budget.” – Gem Morson at The Mother Cooker

“Hate being asked to share press releases for absolutely nothing in return.” – Elly Deakin

“Hate when I say I’m interested, but they don’t reply back – what was the point in pitching to me?” – Joseph Kent 

“Hate long lists of requirements, especially for a free item or nothing at all. Also, constant follow ups every day – I might not check that email for a week!” – Hayley Howells at Ceriselle


Basically, most bloggers want to see clear, concise pitches from small businesses, with a bit of human realness. It’s not difficult to make influencer marketing work for everyone involved – all you need is a little time and flexibility to get some juicy SEO goodness for both your small business website and the influencer’s blog.

Oh, and if I’m not using this blog post to plug my own influencing gig, then what am I doing? I’m always happy to chat to small businesses about potential projects, and I have a shiny new website coming soon 😉  – for now, you can catch me over at Being Little, or on Instagram as @lyziunwin.



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A post shared by Lyzi Unwin (@lyziunwin)

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