How To Be The Blogger Brands Want to Work With

For bloggers looking to increase their income the answer is rarely about finding a new ad network or signing up for latest affiliate program. Brand work is on the rise and companies are starting to see the value in aligning with bloggers who fit their target demographic. – by Jamie and Alyse

Session begins:

Working with a brand is a lot like dating. The first date – how to get your pitch noticed.

Trying to “date” brands – define relationship, marriage, find how to love each other. You really have to sell yourself, explain how your brand works with them. You want that brand to feel connected with you immediately. Explain how you use their product and how you can amplify what they are doing.

Be a stalker – do your homework. Make sure you are true and authentic to yourself, that your brand is set and you are confident with it. You wouldn’t date someone you wouldn’t Google first, why enter a professional relationship without making sure you match? Google the brand’s press releases, make sure their direction works with yours. The more you stalk and learn, the better the chance they’ll open your presentation/pitch.

You + me = chemistry. Show what you have in common. i.e.: I’m a runner and I participate in this, I’m in a running group and I will share your stuff with this many people, etc. Give them numbers. Show them that you’ll work FOR them and that you have a long term vision. Address their points and how you fit into that equation. Maybe if they’re not making great instagram posts, show how you can help them if you are the Instagram master! Show that you have what it takes to represent their brand.

Pitch perfect – show your value, give specific values and back it up with case studies, blog numbers, anything that makes you look the best fit to work with them.

How to get email addresses so you can contact the brands you want to work with –sign up for newsletters, google PR person, or try common emails such as info@, contact@, pr@, etc. Facebook business pages usually have an email address.

Question: Do you think we should have media kits ready?
YES. Have backup materials, etc – numbers, something you’ve done that you’re proud of, put SOMETHING together to put in their face. You know more than you think and probably more than they do.

Give a little bit – BE…Enthusiastic, Proactive, Responsive, Timely

Example:  You just got a new rock climbing bag and you LOVE it, pitch one thing (reviewing the bag) and then give a little. Get the products on your own first and do the reviews. Do a little to get a little. Don’t pitch back to back.

Don’t be boring in your reviews! Put some thought into it, make it sound like the product is important to you and your life, that you’re passionate about it and excited to share with your readers. As a reader, you should be inspired by your own posts! In your next post – give a few extra shout outs. For free. That’s an extra way of showing love and that you’re in it to win it, not wham bam thank you ma’am and peace out. Truly support them, love them, want to work with them, and figure out a way to integrate them into your life. Use that brand’s hashtag in your posts/social media, etc. If you love it, just keep using it. The more you brand champion, the more likely they’ll contact you rather than going through their emails and reading pitches from people who don’t show they love the brand every day.

Questions: How do you handle disclosures?
Add disclaimers – “I was provided these products but all opinions are my own.” CYA. When in doubt, add it in. As bloggers, sometimes we are passionate about things/products and we use them every day and there’s no contract with the brand, definitely add the disclosure and say that you love them.

What brands are looking for in a blogger.
It’s not full time for everyone – some people are part time. But the brands are professional and they’re trying to make sales, etc. Be professional at all times. Treat it like a career. Honor commitments and deadlines – it reflects poorly on you, and the middle men if there are any, if you don’t. It’s more than about just the free stuff. Treat it like a business.

Communication points: Keep them over informed. Send an email with next steps, let them know that you’re on it, you’re there, keep them informed where you are and what your processes are. Marketing people are putting their necks out for you but they have to report to somebody about you. Make sure you stay in contact with them so they look good and are willing to come back to you and pay you more next time.

Over deliver on what you’ve promised. Tell them what you think you’ll be able to do and then blow it out of the water. Send them your social shares, your blog posts and when they’re going to go live, etc. Don’t expect them to hunt down your links/shares because they don’t have the time. They’ll see you if you send and over deliver and over communicate.

Back to dating – don’t be a one night stand. Invest in the relationship. Participate in the brand’s other initiatives. Act like a partner. Participate even if you’re not going to get paid. Show them love through the year, the season or the period of your relationship. The more you do that, the more you become a brand champion, the more other brands will want to work with you. Define the relationship: come back with a vision, this is what I can continue to do for you, show them what you’ve accomplished and what you can do moving forward. Follow up after a review and maybe say,  “hey I think next time we should do this – Twitter chat, Instagram campaign, etc.” Come up with ideas so they know you really want to work with them in the future.

Show them the money. What to report and how.
How to measure the work that we do – at the end of the day, you never know who you’re really reaching or touching. Collect numbers on blog views, instagram likes, page views, etc. Favorite tools are GroupHigh, Hashtracking, and Gleam. Share stories like “My mom’s whole running group went and bought this, tried this, etc because they loved it so much!” Send back stories and analytics so that it gives them a way to relate to your audience, etc. Ask for feedback regarding what you’re work has done – sales improved, link clicks, etc. Go back to them with a solution if you’ve received negative feedback or didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. Be smart about it, think strategically, and offer suggestions or solutions for the future.

Question:  More and more of us are filled with cold pitches in our email boxes, how do you handle brands you’ve never worked with that are contacting you?
Great question. Do your homework. Make sure it’s going to be a good fit before you sign on. If you don’t want it, say no. Manage your expectations. Be honest, and say you’re skeptical, and that maybe you don’t think it’s a fit or you’re not interested. If you’re not sure, say you can send it to try but you need to try it before you buy it. Relationship building again. Don’t burn the bridge because they sent you a bad pitch – be nice, they’ll show back up somewhere later. They are humans behind those computer screens, too. Or tell them you can’t commit but you’re interested so … let’s date?

Question: how do you handle dealing with a product you’ve received that you think is crap? Or if they tell you that you’ll have to write something good about the product if you accept.
You can’t expect everyone to like everything. Be honest. Brands will appreciate the honesty. It’s okay to say no. At the end of the day, it’s your brand, too. You have to protect the things you’re going to do and what you believe in. Stay true to yourself. If you truly don’t like the product and you’ve committed to a blog post, review, etc, goes back to your own personal brand. Maybe write a fair review – give pros and cons. Or, let them down gracefully. Talk to the brands and ask about doing a negative review. From the brand’s perspective, they will probably appreciate the honesty and not accepting the money for writing a review if you’re not going to write a good one. If you’re still going to write a review, be creative – use guest posts, etc as a way to get around the negativity. Videos of others using the product, or using their words.

Comment: offered the opportunity to blog for a local race, offered products, all or nothing, no choices. One product was Sketchers shoes, found to be not supportive, had to write a review and make it positive regardless of personal opinion. “Hey, this pair isn’t for me because of this but if you’re looking for “this” then this shoe might be fore you, etc.” More of a neutral position and Sketchers loved it and promoted the post.

If you can’t find anything positive to say at all, then you need to make a decision but if you can do something like that, then definitely try. It’s not one size fits all so not everyone is going to love every product. Gives brands the opportunity to send you something that might actually work with you.

Comment: send potentially negative reviews to brand and ask if they want you to post it or not. Show them you value your relationship with the brand.

Question: If you’re new to the business side of it and have a bite on a pitch, how do you then translate that into a dollar amount for getting paid?
Good question. Decide how long it’s going to take you, how much your hours are worth, how important is this brand to you and how much do you want to develop the relationship. When you’re really new, it might behoove you to do something for free and build the relationship and show that you have the chops. Be honest with yourself, know your worth and your price. Set the price honestly. It’s a tough decision – metrics are mostly intangible – social media followers, etc. Be honest about the time you’re willing to put into it. Baseline pricing for a review – free to $50, to start. Especially if you’re new.

Comment – ask if they have a budget, get an idea of their willingness to pay, etc.

Be willing to negotiate. Do product reviews of stuff you already own and love and build your worth and get your numbers where they really need to be. Often times, low or middle brands are mystified on what to pay bloggers. Be confident in your numbers; brands are looking to you for more of a guide. Sometimes it just takes hopping on the phone and talking to them. Be a sales person, show that you are more than just a person behind a computer screen pumping out brand/product reviews.

Brands want to work with real people writing real things that will touch real people.

This session was captured by Jennifer Stevens of A Hungry Runner where Jennifer shares her love of food, nutrition, and fitness.