Working with brands can be an incredible way to add another income stream to your business. However, dietitians often have a number of questions – including, how large of a following do you need to work with brands? How do you get connected with brands? How to price yourself when working with brands? What do I need to know with regards to code of ethics and working with brands?
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Working with brands can be a great way to ‘level-up’ your nutrition business. However, it often leads to a number of questions with regards to pricing, getting connected and Code of Ethics. In this guide, we are going to explore it all!
What does “working with brands” mean?
Working with brands as a dietitian might include any of the following:
- Having a brand pay you to create content for your platforms (could be social media content, blog posts, podcast episodes, etc.)
- Having a brand pay you to create content for their platform (ie. you act as a ‘nutrition expert’ on their platform and create social media or website content for them)
- Featuring a brand or product in a recipe that you create
- Getting a promo code from a brand that you can share with your audience
What’s the benefit of working with brands?
- It helps to diversity your income stream, so you aren’t just relying on one source of income for your business
- It can be a great way to earn money as a side hustle on top of your 9-5
- It can be a great way to add more value to your audience
What’s the downside of working with brands?
- If the brand isn’t a fit with your overall brand, this could erode trust with your audience
- Some brands look for a large audience and metrics (although this isn’t always the case, as discussed below)
- Getting brand opportunities takes consistency and is often a numbers game (more connections made = more opportunities that come your way)
So now, we’re going to explore some of the commonly asked questions when it comes to navigating sponsored content and working with brands.
Can you work with brands even if you don’t have a large audience on social media?
Yes! More and more brands are looking for dietitians or nutrition experts who have a strong relationship with their audience, regardless of the size.
Particularly if you have a specific niche that is a key target audience for the brand, it’s a great opportunity for brands to gain visibility to their target audience without having to spend tons of money on traditional advertising, like Google or Facebook ads.
Sometimes, when we think about brands we would want to work with, we only think about the large corporations and companies we are most familiar with. However, think about all of the small to medium sized food companies that you see on the shelves in your grocery store. They are all looking for opportunities to work with partners, and likely don’t get approached as often by RD’s looking to collaborate.
What are some tips for getting connected with brands?
Reach out and pitch yourself! Although this is a numbers game and you may not receive a response from the majority of brands that you reach out to, you never know where the opportunity could lead. Here’s a few things to include in a pitch:
- Showcase your knowledge of their brand
- Your experience (BRIEF – only 1-2 sentences, it’s more about THEM than it is about you)
- Pitch a few creative ideas for partnership
- What’s in it for them (why should they work with you? How is it going to benefit their business?)
- Links to your platforms and website
Follow up, follow up, follow up. If you don’t hear back from the brand, keep following up until they either give you a “sure!” or a “no thanks!”
Make sure to check out The RD Link and set up a profile to get direct access to brands.
How do you come up with rates?
In our Pricing Guide for Dietitians and Dietetic Students that is included in our Basic + Business membership, we discuss how to price yourselves for these opportunities.
Although there’s no specific rules, you need to consider a few options:
- What’s your project rate per hour?
- How long will it take you to fulfill your end of the bargain?
- How big of an audience do you have?
- How much experience do you bring to the table?
- Can you price as a ‘bundle’ instead of a one-off opportunity?
It may take a few tries to find a pricing strategy that works well for you, but that’s okay, it’s all part of the learning opportunity! We suggest approaching brands with “package rates” vs. pricing for a one-off instagram post. Why not come up with a “package” for them that adds more value and includes multiple channels? – ex. An instagram post, a blog post, and an IG Live, get creative!
What are some things that RD’s need to consider with regards to Code of Ethics, disclosure and working with brands?
Through our research from Colleges around Canada and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the United States, the biggest considerations with regards to code of ethics include:
1. Ensure that you stand by the product you are promoting – professionally, ensure that you would be comfortable recommending the brand to your clients and that you yourself use it in your daily life. Keep in mind that each person’s definition of “standing by a product” may be different and there are no hard and fast rules for this.
2. Always disclose when you are working with brands – this also aligns with the requirements of social media platforms that you MUST disclose very clearly when you are partnering with a brand. As a good rule of thumb, there should never be a question as to whether something is sponsored by a brand or not, make it very clear to your audience if you are being compensated for a post/your content. It’s better to over-disclose than to under-disclose. People are used to seeing sponsored content nowadays and want to ensure that the sources in which they are seeking information are transparent and honest.
3. Any communication about the product or brand should always be evidence based – this goes for any claims or communications that are being made about the product. If the company wants you to say something that you don’t believe is evidence based, make sure to push back. It’s important to recognize that you come to the table with a unique expertise, and no opportunity is ever worth eroding your trustworthiness as a professional.
With so many RD’s and dietetic students on social media, we’re seeing more and more opportunities for dietitians to build businesses and work with brands that they support and trust.
Dietitian Success Center is THE professional development resource for dietitians and dietetic students. Our mission is to make it easier for dietitians and dietetic students to build expertise. We do this through evidence based online nutrition courses, community and ready-to-use client handouts. Plus – we give you the tools to start and grow your dietitian private practice!