Live Blog: The Business of Blogging

In the world of social media, there’s lots of people who will try to “blow smoke up your ass” especially when it comes to making money. And there really is no way of knowing who’s telling you the truth unless you’ve worked with PR for a while. So Leah Segedie, of Bookieboo LLC is going to help us sort it all out.

Leah: Sitting for long periods of time drives her insane so we should all stand up, put our hands up, rotate them, wiggle our tooshies and do the hokey pokey.

And if you’re sitting in the back, get your ass to the front of the frong. Come closer. This is a discussion, but you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. But if you want to, now you are closer to the mic, see?

We’re here to talk about the business of blogging.

Leah, also know as @BookieBoo has several sites: Momavation, which has 180,000 Tweets and Fitcation, a site that does fitness vacations for moms by application only. She is a “mom blogger” (by the way, mom bloggers don’t like to be called “mommy bloggers” because mommy is what their children call them). Pioneer Woman is one example of a mom blogger who has found great success.

In doing this, Leah works with brands and received a paycheck from them. Blogging is her business. This is what she does for a living so she knows what she is talking about!

So, this session is about the business of blogging. Bloggers want to get paid for what they do because they believe they provide a valuable service.

Bloggers can make money, but we’re just now getting organized to do so. We should all really get together more as bloggers to discuss blogging.

So that’s why we’re hear, to learn the business of blogging. If anyone has an opinion to share, please do! Please talk as much as you can and give feedback about your experience. We are all equals.

Opening question from Leah: Who works with brands? Who has done giveaways? (Quite a few audience members raise their hands)

People whose hands are raised know something about the business of blogging. She didn’t know about anything when she started six years ago.

Now, who has been paid by a brand? What did you do for them?

Audience member: She’s been working with a brand called Real Health. They found her. She is blogging for them on her site, following her “real health” for a year. They chose her because they wanted a real person perspective.

Leah: Brands want real people because they are relate-able. Creating content for brands is one way of business blogging. Creating Tweets, Facebook posts, etc.

Audience member: Last year a brand found her. They asked for a blog post, several Facebook posts and Tweets and a sidebar ad. She initially refused the offer because their offer was too low. The brand responded by coming back with a counter-offer: less Facebook posts and Tweets, no sidebar ad. She accepted and was happy that she stayed true to herself and din’t “blast her readers with ads.” She said “I did what I wanted to do, keeping my readers in mind.” She ended up doing a promotion she felt benefited her readers.

The brand also gave recommendation for how to write posts/Tweets and what voice to use. She tweaked what they gave her so her communications remained in her voice.

Leah: Notice she didn’t change her voice for the brand. If they come after you, they like your voice. Everything is negotiable. Don’t just accept what they offer. Negotiate!

Same audience member: It took her a while to get comfortable talking to these companies at a time when there weren’t a lot of fellow bloggers to talk to about this stuff.

(applause)

Leah When PR comes to you they are coming for your voice. They don’t really want you to change your voice too much for their brand because then you lose your audience. Just because you are not a squeaky clean blogger (language, etc.) doesn’t mean you’re not going to get opportunities.

Audience member: In fact you get more opportunities. The right businesses will come you. She reps three coffee companies. They want her authentic voice. She brought a brand of coffee protein called Click to her audience at a time when it was unknown. Now it is huge. Brands come to her because they want to reach her people. Sometimes she works with them for a price, sometimes not. Some companies have offered contracts worth many thousands of dollars.

Leah: Authenticity is awesome.

Audience member: Brands come to him because he’s a real Joe. Working with sports brands and they have sports types, models, etc. but they want to work with him because he’s a real person. He negotiates with the brands but also researches them, sends emails to get to know brands.

Leah: RESEARCH! Google is your best friend. Vet your opportunities.

Who does free work for brands? Raise your hands. (A few people raise their hands). There is nothing wrong with that. Some people will say they never do it but she personally believes the most important thing is that an opportunity be mutually beneficial. She’s worked with some brands for free that have gone on to get her paid opportunities. This also builds experience for your resume/portfolio.

Audience member: Does not have a blog per se. Company does content partnerships for link-backs. The link-backs are more valuable than income from content generation. Sometimes one partnership can be used to gain other partnerships. Don’t necessarily think of it as giving things away for free. Sometimes it’s your one chance to get yourself out there.

Also, go after brands that you like. There’s a lot of bloggers. The chance of a brand request landing in your email inbox is slim. Put yourself out there. Many doors are opened simply by asking.

And think of your reader. What is this brand offering your reader? Stay true to yourself. If a brand is not a good fit for you, it’s probably not a good fit for your readereither.

Audience member: He gets pitched at least once a week. Tells brands there’s a 33% chance he’ll even try your product, 33% chance he’ll like it, 33% chance he won’t like it.

Leah: Brands don’t necessarily get the feedback they need on their own. Social media provides that. They NEED specific feedback: what you did/didn’t like about the product. This is why they reach out to bloggers.

Question: What if you worked with a brand in the past that you agreed with but now don’t agree with them anymore?

Answer: Largely depends on what you don’t like about them now. You can go back and update older posts if need be. Just be honest with your audience.

Audience member: Don’t forget that there are other ways you can make money while you are working on breaking into brands. Affiliate accounts, guest writing, ads, etc. If you’re using a product, link it through Amazon Associates. Don’t fee bad. There is no shame in linking products you use so long as you’re upfront with your readers.

Leah: Bloggers thinking outside the box tend to be the most successful.

Audience member: Her food blog used to host an event every year and it had ok attendance, but events are hard to make profitable. When she noticed her blog following was mostly not local, she decided to create a self-branded resource that they could purchase that would give the same experience as the event. Even though the event might have been considered a fail, the product was very successful.

Leah: The lesson there. Listen to your readers. Learn from yoru mistakes.

Question: Is there anything wrong with getting someone to ghost write posts for you?

Answers (from audience): Yes! Your blog is your voice. Your readers trust that it is you speaking. If you have limited time, consider scheduling posts ahead and employing content management, re-broadcasting popular posts when it is relevant. Consider not dating your posts so they stay relevant longer.

Leah: Speaking of dating posts. How often are you all posting? How often should you post?

Audience member: If it feels like work, you won’t do it. Have your days to blog, days to live. Or take breaks by working on other aspects of your blog like your sidebars. They are an important part of your business too.

Audience member: Keep an eye on your metrics. To know how often you should post you need information. How long do people spend reading your blog pages? What is your bounce rate? What pages are they reading?

Leah: So far as amount of time blogging, number of posts, etc., she believes in self preservation first.

Question: But is taking a blog break blog suicide?

Answer: Not always. You can take a short break, change your schedule. Your life is more important.

Question: Do you tell people you are taking a break?

Answers (from audience): Sometimes, when working with brands, you have an obligation to keep your blog going because you are contracted. In those instances you plan for breaks by scheduling posts ahead. Sometimes emergencies happen and you just have to take some time off. When that happens, you may just have to accept that you’ll have to work to make up ground when you resume posting.

But word to the wise (from the audience): Do NOT simply duplicate content (make two posts on the exact same subject). But compilation posts with updates/commentary are o.k.

Leah: We’ve run out of time but if folks want to hang around after the session, Leah will answer questions. Thanks for coming out!

This session was captured by Nikki of Bariatric Foodie, who hopes to go even further now into the business of blogging with smart strategies in hand!