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Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Marketing Yourself

 

marketing-yourself-theme-week.jpgAre you a blogger who has thought of maybe doing some sponsored work on your blog, but are wondering where all the opportunities are? Do you see other bloggers collaborating with brands and think there must be some magic list you need to be on to have these opportunities land in your inbox?

Well there might be lists you can get on. But one of the best ways of getting yourself on a brand’s radar is to make the first move and to speak to them yourself. Be the person who starts that conversation about collaboration, and you’re well on your way to creating and cultivating long-standing blog-brand relationships.

But where to begin? Ah, let me help.

First Things First:

What do you represent?

Who are you? What is your blog about? In order to sell yourself to potential sponsors and advertisers, you need to know what you have to offer. What is your niche? What are your blog’s topics? Who are your readers? What is your essence? If you were to describe your blog to someone, what would you say? What kinds of things do you like to write about, and what kinds of things do you like to feature? Narrow down who and what you are.

What do you want?

Think about the types of brands you would like to partner with. Think about the ways in which you’d like to do that (We covered options in the earlier Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog post). Think about the products and services you use and love every day, and would have no trouble recommending. Think about what your audience would benefit from.

Get all your ducks in a row:

Ensure you look consistent (and reasonably professional) across all the social media outlets you use. Maybe think about repeating your branding across all sites for continuity. Update them regularly, and ensure the information about you is current. Check your LinkedIn and make sure it’s up-to-date and informative.

Make A Move

The next step once you’ve done a little housekeeping, is to start the conversations. Reach out to brand representatives on Twitter. Find out if they have hired a PR agency, and who to speak to there. Find a contact in the brand’s marketing department, and target them. It’s best to find an actual person in charge of marketing decisions (and budgets!) rather than just throwing all your info at their social media and hoping something will stick. Pick up the phone and say you’ve got a great idea about collaborating with them, state your case simply, and offer to back it up with your media kit.

Things to keep in mind to make the best impact:

  • Make it all about the brand. Too often I see posts that centre on what the blogger needs rather than what they can offer a potential sponsor. If that makes me tune out, imagine how it looks to someone who is considering finding legitimate and professional-looking bloggers to partner with. Detail what’s in it for them – they want a return on investment, as anyone would, and are looking for an attractive package that helps them get the word out about their product.
  • Make it easy for them. Nobody wants to fish around for extra information you should have included in the initial stages. It’s likely they’ll pass on you in favour of someone who has provided everything they need to know in order to make their decisions. They might like you and intend to follow up, but get caught up elsewhere and forget… make it easy for them to choose you by giving them a well-thought-out plan, several options for campaigns, the obvious benefits to them, and perhaps an example where you’ve done something similar before and how well it went. Pretty much the only thing you want them to have to do after reading your pitch is say “yes”.
  • Be positive. Your language and how you frame your pitch is incredibly important. Negative language is never going to be as convincing as a positively-worded pitch. Never run down competitors – theirs or yours.
  • Be personal. Let the person know you’ve been interested in their brand for some time. Maybe mention in your opening email that you’ve held a membership at that gym for years, or you took that soap with you to the hospital when you had your baby.
  • Be observant. If you follow your contact on Twitter or elsewhere, mention in your email their photos of their recent trip to Croatia were beautiful. Or you hear they’re coming to Melbourne next week and you recommend that little place on Lygon street for excellent coffee. A little friendly conversation about something you’ve noticed will be a welcome change to the standard pitches they receive a hundred times a day.
  • Be organic. If you have blog buddies who have done work with the company, don’t be shy to ask for a contact, or an introduction. Do the same for other bloggers who might like to work with companies you have affiliated with. There’s much to be said for good blog karma – it gets you much further than being competitive, secretive, and sneaky.
  • Be human. Remember there’s an actual person on the end of these conversations. Especially when they say no. Don’t get snarky, or petulant. Say thanks and maybe another time. Don’t burn your bridges!

Get Your Pitch in Their Hands:

Get together a brief media kit, type up a succinct, positive pitch, and email it to your brand. If you have a mega-huge campaign in mind, maybe take it one step further and send them a press release. There are plenty of examples online you can look at (I wouldn’t fill in the blanks of a template here), and customise to suit yourself. Find the person you to whom you need to send your pitch directly  (by calling the brand’s information line, or asking whoever is manning their Twitter or Facebook accounts), and send it off. Or call them, explain your idea, and follow up with emailed information.

If you don’t hear from them, send them a follow-up email about a week later and ask if they received your initial email. Do not be a pain here, and keep your language friendly. Don’t ask them to make a decision on the spot, rather just serve as a discreet reminder you have contacted them. Maybe make an effort to chat on Twitter if they’ve been posting there.

Be Social

One of the easiest ways to get on brand radars is to interact with them on social media (with the added bonus of a higher chance of them having heard of you when it’s time to pitch!). If you’ve written about them on your blog, tag them in your tweets or Facebook status about the post. Tag them in your Instagram pictures showing you using the product, or how much you enjoy it. Comment on their status updates about the things they’re posting. What marketers are looking for is conversations around their product or service – facilitate that conversation. Be part of it.

Be Natural

It’s good to be keen, but don’t be desperate. Your readers only want your legitimate recommendations, and brands want people who recommend their product to be believable. Weave product mentions into your regular writing and build your readers’ trust. Don’t be one long advertorial – when you’re trying to market yourself as an expert in your area, or as a major influence in the brand’s target audience, it has to be infused with your personality and your humanity. That’s what gives blogging the edge over traditional forms of advertising. Do it well.

If you have any questions, I’m all ears – what would you like to know about approaching brands and marketing yourself to them?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

 

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Comments

  1. Priya Ranjan says:

    Liked the ideas of increasing visibility and online presence with the brands. Good post. Thanks!

  2. Ovais Mirza says:

    All those previous posts also interesting about partnering with brands theme. I too believe that branding is really important to build up long term relationships with our customers.

  3. Hi Stacey,

    Excellent post.

    I love the branding point, to explain what’s in it for the brand. Nothing reeks desperation more than someone out for themselves. Most bloggers approaching brands, or anybody for that matter, fail because they don’t stress the benefits of the partnership or more accurately, how the partnership would benefit the other party.

    Remember folks; outside of a few enlightened people on earth we all dig knowing what’s in it for us. Sure we’re altruistic, and good natured, and kind on some level, but PR firms and brands are endlessly pitched by selfish, inward-thinking bloggers, looking to pay bills or make a few bucks.

    The smart bloggers, the relationship builders, are the ones who explain FIRST to brands how the partnership would benefit the brand, to make a serious impact. Most PR folks are not used to this tact and perk up immediately. Then you’ll have a potential prospering opportunity for both parties. Win-win, and skillful self-marketing going on here.

    For example, I’d stress how my 8,000 to 10,000 or so page visits daily from targeted readers would put their advertisement in front of a bunch of targeted, hungry eyes. This would increase their visibility and at a very reasonable price. I’d also do some background research to ask a few questions about the partner; this worked wonders for me back in my job days, as I almost always landed a job offer by simply asking the 4 or 5 pertinent questions about an employer that other interviewees failed to ask, since they weren’t prepared.

    To become interesting, be interested. It’s what I build my blog and brand on, and hopping from paradise to paradise over the past 3 years through my blogging exploits it’s working kinda nicely for me.

    Excellent stuff here. Since my new “blogging tips” blog is right up your alley, I’ll be back pretty much daily sharing my thoughts to add some sweet value here. Thanks Stacey for sharing, as always.

    Ryan

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Ryan! It’s the best way to stand out.

  4. Steve says:

    I found this post very interesting and helpful. Thank you!

    I would like to hear about how brand sponsorship affects our relationship with our readers. If I receive any type of “consideration” from a brand (Including advertising fees), then my readers should understand that when I recommend the product. I feel I have an ethical obligation to disclose, even if the relationship has nothing to do with the strength of my recommendation.

    My credibility is important to me. So is being forthright with my readers (notice I didn’t call them “customers”). It seems to me that any responsible article(s) about blogger-brand relationships should address our responsibility (to our readers) as bloggers.

    Maybe this should be the subject of a future article on Problogger?

    – Steve

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      So pleased to hear it was helpful!

      I agree (as do most bloggers, to be honest) that the need to disclose the relationship alongside a recommendation is of utmost importance. It really is the minority that think it’s unimportant, or they can get away with duping their readers. In the US it a legal obligation to disclose, and while my only experience is Australian, bloggers are doing disclosure pretty transparently despite not having a similar legal obligation.

      I think you’ll find too, that credibility is important to the vast majority of bloggers. Without it, they wouldn’t be the influencers they are. They want to be taken seriously, they want to be honest, and they don’t want to piss off their readers. The bloggers who will shill anything for a buck rather than cultivating relationships with brands they are proud to recommend are in the minority. The responsibility you speak of is one that isn’t mandated by anyone (and therefore people who don’t care can continue not caring whether we think that’s disgraceful blogging or not) and seems to be innate with the ones who want to get it right. Responsible article or no, it isn’t something we can force on anyone else! You either blog that way or you don’t.

      The post previous to this one touches on this topic a little: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/07/02/partnering-with-brands-theme-week-ways-to-collaborate-and-earn-an-income-on-your-blog/

  5. Chucho says:

    Social maybe is good, but to really represent yourself as an authority person, you have to rank well in google.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      That depends on what you want to get out of blogging!

  6. Really great post. So many bloggers fixate on what they can get for free or why they aren’t getting paid for something, rather than focusing on what’s in it for a brand to work with them and being able to show a brand why it’s worth spending their marketing budget on aligning with them when there are so many options out there. The more people become professional about blogging, the better for all of us :)

  7. Hey Stacey,

    Great work, these tips must be helpful. I love the #2, ‘be social’ is a great way to spread your word quicker for branding.

  8. I am confused on how much we can charge per post or banner, etc. Is there any guidelines for this?

  9. Any advice if I’ve gone about brand partnership backwards? I created a party for my daughters — and blogged about it — based on a local tradition that is commercial and annually reoccurring. I did it just because this tradition was special in my husband’s childhood and now is special to our kids. But now I wonder if I missed an opportunity? Do you have a suggested approach for monetizing that post for this season, or is it too late since it’s out there for free? Thanks!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      My only advice would be to show that post to prospective advertisers and sponsors and say you are able to create similar ones with their products. I wouldn’t try to monetise that post, I would use it to show people you are keen!

  10. Marquita Herald says:

    Just FYI – so I’m 2 sentences into the article and a screen pops up blocking it with what I believe is suppose to be a video in the center – except there is no video there’s just a black box. There was another smaller black box in the upper left hand corner and a message that is counting down when I would return to the page. I finally saw the “close” on the left side of the page and clicked it. Outside of the fact this has got to be THE most annoying pop up I’ve ever come across, it doesn’t work. I have followed Problogger for years so this was a shock and disappointing.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      So sorry to hear this Marquita – we don’t have any popups installed, so are looking into the issue.

  11. Hey Stacey,

    Very informative post. I’ve just stepped on sponsoring blog posts. Now the problem I’m currently facing is deciding the asking rate. I mean I can’t decide how much should I ask for a post. Can you provide me some tips to help me out. Anyway thanks for this lovely post. :)