I had so much going on in my brain and other things to share during the recaps that I didn’t even want to start diving into the take aways during specific sessions until now.
In an attempt to keep things easy to read and straight to the point, this post rolls off the first of many you can expect to see over the next couple of weeks. My hopes are to pass on the valuable tips and tricks I learned from the pros and apply what I didn’t already know to my own blog and work!
And hey, even if you aren’t a blogger you could still learn a thing or two. The information below is coming straight from success stories in both marketing and entrepreneurship after all!
On the panel:
Whitney English, blogger and celebrity journalist in L.A. (hello, dream job)
Through one form or another, they have all had plenty of experience approaching brands and selling themselves (and in some cases selling clients) to brands. I will close with my own personal tips at the bottom, but let’s start with the details from them, questions and answers style.
How to Approach Brands & Sell Yourself
All panelists contributed towards answers in each area, but let’s start with the biggest points I picked up from each of them.
(Photo credit: Live and Diet)
Whitney on how she started working with brands, how she approached them, and if they approached her:
She started small by doing reviews that weren’t sponsored, then joined networks like FitFluential and Sweat Pink that connected her with companies. She didn’t really reach out to many brands at first, and eventually some big names found her.
Now she works off of an equal balance between pitching herself and responding to brands interested in working with her.
• Check back with brands. Even after the campaign is over, make sure companies are happy with your work and let them know you are interested in working together again.
• If you sign up for or commit to something you aren’t excited about anymore, take a few pictures and move on. Don’t be overly ecstatic just because it’s a review.
• Don’t try to be somebody else. Be yourself and what your blog represents. Small or large, the brand wants to know you are excited about working with them and their product.
• If you follow a brand and they follow you (on social media), ask if they would be open to working with you. It doesn’t always have to be formal pitch. Even a quick sentence or two on Twitter’s Direct Messenger could break the ice for future opportunities.
• (On pitching to smaller companies): Explain the business side of it and that you are willing to work with them long-term. Introduce the idea of sponsored content and posts if they aren’t familiar with paying bloggers for what they do.
• Everything is about relationships. If you start working with a brand and went the extra mile, a company will remember you and keep you in mind for future campaigns.
• Over-deliver. You are competing with so many other bloggers in the business. Do something different that makes you stand out!
• Don’t say yes to everything. It’s not wrong to work with multiple brands, but just remember to be authentic in your words and reviews and only sign up for what makes sense.
• Be polite, but don’t be afraid to correct agencies and companies who don’t understand what you are trying to portray or your content.
• You are an expert in your space. Brands are coming to you because they like what YOU do. Build on that.
Q&As with All Panelists
What are companies looking for in bloggers?
• Numbers and reach, but not always. Don’t be discouraged if you are a considered to be a “smaller” blogger.
• Are you talking to a specific niche? Does what you do make sense for their target audience? It’s all about finding the right fit. A brand wants to do things with people and bloggers who fit their focus.
Tips on campaigns?
• Preserve the integrity of your brand! Don’t spread yourself too thin. Sometimes you have to turn companies down if they aren’t the right fit.
• Show brands that there is a long-term relationship you can have with them. Develop and foster relationships with contacts you get the opportunity to meet or even communicate with.
• Stick to what you said you were going to deliver. Then go above and beyond. Learn to create graphics.
• Be on time with your deliverables.
• Show your personality and specific take on things. You don’t always have to be serious on campaigns. Do something out of the ordinary to push out interesting content.
• If you don’t like a product or have a negative review, you’re probably better off contacting the company directly and discussing the issue before you post it. You don’t always have to have all positive feedback, but think about what you are doing and saying.
On Brand Ambassador programs:
• Be careful with automatically saying yes to being an ambassador for a company. If you have a ton of logos on your site, you might get overlooked for future opportunities.
• If you become an ambassador and don’t do the work, your name might get passed around in agencies in a negative way. Remember, don’t spread yourself too thin!
• Be over-selective. Only do what you believe in. Brands and readers won’t believe your word on a product if you constantly deliver sponsored posts.
On Media Kits:
• They are great to have, but not always used.
• If you have one, make sure to include all of your stats, press and sites you’ve been on. Don’t just include social channels.
• Some bloggers have Press pages that also display this information.
• Sometimes agencies will do their own digging to see how your posts are performing and how engaged you are with your readers.
On Social Channels:
• Instagram is HUGE. Get on it and use it as a micro-blog. Engagement rates are much higher there. Some brands will exclusively work through Instagram on campaigns!
• Twitter is probably second to Instagram, but also very important. Engage and use hashtags often.
• Make pin-able images for your posts! It’s so much easier to share.
• What not to focus on: Facebook fan pages. Brands don’t usually ask to work with Facebook pages or stats.
(Funny they mention that, I feel like everything I post there gets sucked into the land of non-views!)
• Think about the way you operate on a day to day basis. Everything is mobile. People don’t always have time to read blogs, but they will scroll through Instagram or scan over Pinterest.
• The younger generations are very into quick messages like snapchats and vines. Use videos if they make sense. Get creative with videos and keep them short.
• 2007-2011 video and vlogging has changed. These days, successful videos seem to be big productions.
• Bloggers set the market, not brands.
• Be careful of having a “standard rate”. There are times where that won’t work for a company, and it might not be worth giving up on. They will think you aren’t flexible.
• Rates and budgets change. There isn’t a rule about what you should and shouldn’t be making on a specific campaign. Tell them “this is what I typically get paid, what kind of budget are you working with?”
Advice for new bloggers:
• There is power in numbers. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and work with others. Get to know other bloggers. Support others and participate in hosting and writing guest posts.
• The same thing that draws brands to you is the same thing that drew readers. Keep your tone authentic and the information interesting.
• Be creative! Everything doesn’t always have to be a review. Come up with fun things, events, and fresh ideas to pitch to brands.
• Brands want to sell products. Approach the smaller companies by explaining what you can do to drive traffic to their site and get the word out!
• Sharing and engaging in content will help you gain followers. Talk to everybody and follow people back as much as you can.
Everything they said above and then some! Great advice right?
To close, I will throw in a few of my thoughts and tips under this category.
• Don’t say yes to everything!
They mentioned this above, but I truly think it’s one of the most important things I can stress. As a blogger, you essentially make your own brand and that brand is YOU. Only pick up work that compliments what you are about. Don’t be afraid to (politely) say no to companies or queries that don’t fit your overall goal or message for your site or lifestyle.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.
I have a hard time with this one, and it actually took a lot of convincing from my blogging co-hearts for me to finally start upping my numbers and rate for sponsored work. But I’m so glad it happened.
When collaborating with companies, I am very straight forward about the fact that blogging is how I make an income and that I am happy to do reviews and giveaways that represent my blog for a sponsored fee.
Of course, my rates are always negotiable and depending on what the product is or how interested I am will also determine what I will exchange my work for. I make sure to stress this if it is with a company or product I really want to work with.
I did my first sponsored campaign about two years ago, so there comes a point where you value more than “free stuff” for your work! Yes, there are times where I lose out on great products or campaigns, but at the same time I am finally starting to get paid what I value my time to be worth. You’ll never get there if you don’t ask for it!
• “Bigger” bloggers don’t always get everything.
I used to begin the reasoning for my pricing of “since I am still a newer blogger” in conversations, and I eventually realized that some brands don’t really care about your numbers. Obviously some do, but not all of them.
In the past, I found myself surrounded by big names in the blogging world and wondered how I got hired for the same gig. Come to find out, they liked the extra thought and effort I put into my campaigns and how engaging I am with my readers. I brought something different to the table and because I had a smaller audience, that allowed me more time to do so. You just never know!
• Just be YOU.
Blogs are personal spaces. Brands see them as a great way to advertise because the reviews come from people who have an audience who feels like they know the person reviewing their product.
I used to think I had to be “serious blogging Heather” when typing up reviews, but I let that go over time. I still offer the information I need to, but always make sure to include a personal twist, silly photos, or innuendos with my thoughts.
It might seem lame, but that is exactly how I am if you talk to me in person. I’m informative when I need to be, but rarely serious. I finally let it show through my work, and have never been happier to accept inquiries.
Be true to you!
Previous FAQs on Blogging Posts
See you in the morning with a couple of recipes!