In 2018, the blogosphere has drastically changed, compared to just a few years ago. Working with brands can be quite daunting at the beginning, I certainly felt very overwhelmed when I first started out. I’m always learning and blogging is such a new (but growing) industry that there are always new trends and different types of collaborations. Recently I created a quick blogger outreach guide for both bloggers and brands, which may be of interest. I could probably write a whole series on this topic alone, but for now I am going to try include everything I can within this guide. I’m aware I have been incredibly fortunate to work with a number of brands on a variety of different campaigns, so I thought it would be helpful to try share my own knowledge of working with brands.
The basics of working with brands – types of collaborations/blogger outreach (an overview)
Brand Events – Events such as these are generally hosted by brands themselves (or their PR agencies). The event will usually include a product showcase, so this could be food, an actual product launch, a specific attraction, etc and offer food/drink during the event. Most brand events I have attended, give you a goodie bag as a little extra. It is usually expected you will write a blog post about your experience/the product/event.
Local Blogger Events – These are usually organised by a local blogger network, which is usually established by blogger(s). I will include more information about these later in this blog post.
Product Reviews/Gifting Campaigns – Typically, these campaigns are unpaid, as you are usually receiving the product/service as compensation for the purpose of doing a review on your blog/YouTube channel.
SEO Campaigns/Link Placements – This is known as link building. SEO agencies can sometimes be quite sneaky and they will try convince you to place links to their clients in your blog posts, for free. Therefore, the agency and their client benefits, but you don’t get anything in return. I would personally advise against this, but it is honestly up to you. I personally choose to only work on paid SEO campaigns.
Paid Campaigns – Brands themselves, or agencies representing them, will usually approach you and offer to pay you a fee to take part in the campaign. For example, very popular/well known vloggers are currently getting paid ££££££ (a lot of money) to appear in TV adverts. An example of a paid campaign I have took part in, was for a well known fast food chain who paid me to experience behind the scenes of their store/restaurant and create my own special burger (which they were promoting as part of the campaign).
Before you start approaching brands…
This may sound a little blunt but, please don’t start approaching brands if you haven’t established a following yet. You don’t need to have hundreds or thousands of followers, but I would suggest that you need to show you are influential. If you don’t have much/any influence, you won’t have much to offer when working with brands.
What is the purpose of collaborations?
The purpose and aim of collaborations is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between yourself and the brand.
Looking for brands/businesses to approach
I could probably write a whole blog post (or even a series) on this subject, as there are many do’s and don’ts. I may actually write a post on this alone in future, but for now, I will try to explain everything as best I can without blabbing on for ages.
There are three main ways to contact brands: networks, reaching out to brands directly, and the brand approaching you.
Each option has it’s own pros and cons, but they are all great ways of making connections with brands. After a while, you will probably establish which way(s) work best for you and your blog.
Blogging networks – what are they?
Blogging Networks – There are SO many blogging networks, so I would advise to look around, feel them out and see which ones you prefer. In the time I have been blogging (5 years), a few have gone bust and shut down, which is sad as some of them I really liked. These networks serve a purpose of getting bloggers and brands to connect with each other for specific campaigns. These networks generally take care of the financials (they also get a cut of the fees). After you have signed up, any effort will be solely needed for applying to brand campaigns. High profile brands do tend to often use blogging networks.
Local Blogger Networks – Local blogger networks are usually created by a blogger/group of bloggers, to organise blogger meet ups and share collaboration opportunities. In 2016, when I moved back to my home city of York, I founded the local blogger network – York Bloggers. The purpose of the network is to connect bloggers, brands and businesses in the York area, to encourage collaborations.
Pitching – what is pitching and how does it work?
Writing a pitch is important as it’s your opportunity to shine. Alongside your pitch, it’s always handy to have a media kit available to send to the brand if they request to see it. You want to avoid wasting the brands time, so try to make sure you include the most relevant information in your pitch. Start of by sending a polite introduction email and just take it from there. Don’t pack your initial email full of stats, but instead include some of these key points:
- Introduce yourself, your blog and the topics/niche your blog covers
- The reason for contacting them e.g. you may have had any idea for a look book style post, or a gift guide, etc
- Examples of which product/service may be suitable for your idea
- Suggest to them that you would be happy to send your press kit over to them if they would like to see it
- Politely end your pitch by thanking them
Important things to remember/additional notes
Not ALL brands are worth working/collaborating with – Some brands and businesses will try to use you, your blog and your influence to gain coverage without offering you anything in return. If they are seriously interested in working with you, their email will be personalised to you and you will be able to tell if they have actually even looked at your blog.
Be aware of potential red flags! – You will become more aware of these as your experience grows, but they can use sneaky tactics to try take advantage of uninformed bloggers. I myself experienced this when I first started blogging over 5 years ago.
Payment isn’t everything – It’s important to remember that a brand having no budget, doesn’t make them the enemy. Sometimes there can be no budget and the PR will be just as frustrated as you are, they will just be following what their client has requested. I have previously worked with brands unpaid, which has then resulted in paid collaborations with them in future. Don’t burn your bridges just because a brand doesn’t have a budget on this occasion.
Know your worth! – If you are unhappy with a proposal or feel uncomfortable with what they are asking of you, don’t be afraid to say no and turn an opportunity down. Weigh up the pros and cons each time. It’s important you also don’t undersell yourself.
p.s. Nothing annoys me more than bloggers who burn brands (e.g. accepting any product they can and giving no coverage) and also, brands who undervalue bloggers. I actually wrote an open letter to brands who undervalue bloggers, which you can read here. As bloggers, we do work very hard and we do deserve to get something for our effort, time and hard work. Whether it’s in the form of monetary payment or on a gifting basis when working with brands.
I’m not by any means “the blogging guru” but I thought it would be useful to share what I’ve experienced and learnt from working with brands. As blogging is forever evolving, if you have any additional suggestions or tips – please do leave them in the comments section!