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What You Need to Know About Your Stats if You Want to Work With Brands on Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Louisa Claire of Brand Meets Blog, a blogger outreach agency marrying brands with the bloggers who want to work with them. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by last week’s Partnering with Brands theme week, this might give you just the inspiration you need…

When bloggers start working with brands they tend to be full of excitement about the opportunities that come with it. 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses is how to determine the ROI (return on investment) with bloggers. For every dollar they spend on marketing their business, they are looking for a corresponding return. Sometimes this comes in awareness and they will measure it based on reach only, other times they are tying it to sales. To work out the ROI they look at how many people they reached through blogging and compare that number and the cost involved with how many people they would have reached through traditional advertising or PR activity. We are also increasingly seeing agencies also compare potential blogger reach with how many people they could reach via targeted Facebook advertising. 

The whole way it works is complicated and, to be honest, a bit nonsensical because unlike with traditional media where you can know how many people bought the publication but not how many people actually read the bit about your business, you can measure exactly how many people clicked on a link about your post, how long they spent reading that post and what they did after they read it (comments, clicked away, clicked on a link to the business etc…). And of course, with bloggers brands are not just getting eyeballs on them, but a personal introduction through a trusted voice.

Unfortunately many bloggers have bought into this idea that what matters most is the number of hits your blog gets. The holy grail of blogging is more people looking at your site today, than yesterday and seeing that number going up and up and up.

What I would like to suggest is that bloggers who want to experience success working with brands and earn a solid income from it, need to focus not on having the most people visiting their site, but the most relevant and interested people reading. If you can begin to understand where your readers and visitors come from, what they do when they come to their site and what that means about their interests then you can ensure you work with brands that fit not only with your own interests, but with those of your readers. Of course, having this information isn’t just useful when working with brands, it actually gives you great insight into what is and isn’t resonating with your readership generally – golden!

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The impact of search

The amount of search traffic your blog gets from places like Google and Pinterest has the potential to significantly impact how you understand the nature of your blog readership and the influence your blog has. I think this is a big one given the recent rise of highly searchable industries like health and wellness, and of course, Pinterest. 

If you blog regularly about things such as a meal planning, recipes, birthday party ideas,  fitness, beauty etc… then you are most likely going to generate a solid amount of search traffic. Some bloggers might even find that a large percentage of their traffic is going to one specific post every day. 

Let’s look at some numbers to understand this: Let’s say your blog has 50,000 users per month but 25% of your traffic goes to the amazing recipe you wrote about pumpkin and lentil soup. A further 25% of your traffic is coming to other posts you’ve previously written meaning that though you have 50,000 users a month only 25,000 are truly likely to see the latest post that you have written – that post you wrote for a brand, for example.

Now let’s consider where those users are coming from – are they local to you or global? If you’re trying to appeal to brands and advertisers in your country then the geographic location of those users will be really important. 

Can you see how if you told a brand that you had 50,000 users that you might create a situation where the brand was disappointed by the results that came from working with you? If you had told them that you had 50,000 users overall but 20,000 that were relevant to them as a brand then they would have been able to go into the working relationship with you with appropriate expectations and likely have been delighted by the results.

There are a couple of other things you can take notice of that will give you the edge when working with brands.

Take the time to understand your Uniques vs Pageviews (or Users and Pageviews as they are now called in Google Analytics)

I think that bloggers are sometimes afraid of their stats – that they aren’t “good enough” or need to be presented in the best possible light in order to be appealing. It’s true that stats matter to brands, but it’s equally true that many brands understand that a bloggers true value is in the personal connection they have with their readers and they are open, even eager, to understand how working with bloggers can help them.

The key point to understand when looking at your stats is that if you look at your pageviews in isolation you will get a skewed (but probably attractive) picture of your blog traffic and if you look at the uniques you will get an equally skewed (and what might feel like a less exciting) picture. The truth is that these two numbers hold a lot of information in them when you look at them together.

I’ve previously written a more comprehensive overview on the issue of Unique Visitors vs Total Pageviews which will help anyone struggling to understand the significance of these two numbers being view together.

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Bounce Rates and Pages per Session

Bounces rates relate to how many people leave your site from the same page they landed on (ie they only look at the one post) and Pages per Session shows you the average number of pages that your readers look at when they visit your blog.

My experience tells me that bloggers with strong communities and influence have a high ratio of pageviews to users and sessions. That is people who visit their blog tend to look at a lot of posts while they are there – giving them a lower bounce rate and a higher page per sessions figure. If you’re not getting at least 2-3 pages per session on your blog right now then my suggestion would be to stop focussing on increasing your pageviews and start putting some energy into increasing this number – not just because you want to work with brands but because you want to form deeper relationships with your readers.

If you’ve spent the time getting a good understanding of how your uniques and total views per month work and what your bounce rate is then you’ll be able to give helpful information to brands that demonstrates your influence and value to them and I can tell you this, it will give you a great advantage when you start talking to potential brand partners. 

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Putting it All Together and Getting Started

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You have decided to work with brands on your blog to create a little income. Congratulations! You’re joining hundreds of thousands of others doing that very thing, and more than likely having a great time doing so. You’ve read all the advice, and you’re keen to get started. Let’s put it all together and get the wheels in motion.

Step One:

Just like we discussed in the post about media kits, get your ducks in a row. So that means knowing what you and your blog stand for, what you’re comfortable monetising, and you’re in the right headspace to do so. It wouldn’t hurt to have a pretty slick About Me page, a page for potential sponsors and advertisers to find information (a “Work With Me” or “Advertise” or “Sponsor” page) and consistent branding across your social media channels. You can get a logo cheap as chips these days, and makes you look just that little bit more professional and ready for action.

Step Two:

Make a list of the brands you love and/or would wholeheartedly recommend to your readers. There will be times when you will be contacted by brands, but until that day comes, be proactive. Reach out to your favourites (remembering to make contact with people in charge of marketing, rather than generic email addresses or social media accounts, if you can) with your pitch and your media kit. You can specify what kinds of collaboration you’re interested in (Nikki discussed those here), or see what they have in mind. It’s always a good idea to go in with a few ideas of your own.

Step Three:

Reach out to brands, small businesses, or other bloggers and let them know you have advertising spaces available. Sweeten the deal with a 10% off if they sign up that month. Offer discounts for advertising packages (say, 15% off if they buy in three-month blocks), and let your newsletter subscribers (if you have them) and your social media followers know that you’re open for business. Maybe think about doing a swap deal with other bloggers so you both have some advertising spaces filled, which is always a good look. Re-read this post about what size ads work well, and where to put them. Have a look too and see if any of those ad networks would be useful to you (I know plenty of Australian bloggers who also use and recommend Passionfruit Ads), or go about installing Google AdSense to get your advertising off the ground.

Step Four:

Keep doing your thing. Write great posts from the heart. Participate in the blogger community. Be kind. Share your posts on your social media outlets. Share others’ posts. Chat to brands, and let them know when you’ve featured them. Get yourself on lists that are open to brands and PR reps looking for bloggers to work with. Enter competitions. Buy ads on other blogs. Stay true to yourself. Be passionate. Learn your craft. Value your reader. Blog like you don’t care about the money. Try not to get too caught up in the monetisation rat race. Remember why you started.

Step Five:

Once you have made the first forays into monetisation, by all means branch out. You might like to have a look at this post Darren wrote recently about how he makes his income (spoiler: it’s many different streams that roll into one river). The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Go! Do!

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.

 

Partnering with Brands Theme Week: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

 

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You will have noticed this week we have learned how to reach out to brands for advertising and sponsorship on our blogs – and the best way to sell yourself is to have all your details in a handy, professional media kit. It shows that you’re serious about partnering up to create an both an income for you and awareness of brands, and gives potential sponsors all the information they need to decide that you’re the blogger they’d like to work with.

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A media kit is a snapshot of your blog’s vital details, packaged up in a reader-friendly download. It provides potential sponsors a one-stop shop of information they use to inform their decisions about with whom they will partner. It not only has an overview of you, your blog, your reach, and your prices, but it is an essential selling tool for when PR representatives plead your case to the decision-makers in charge of their budgets. A media kit is like an extended business card you may send to anyone who needs to know more about you and what you do.

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This can differ from blogger to blogger, so pick and choose how much information you feel you need to supply (less is more, ya know what I’m sayin’?). Often a one-page overview is useful, but there are times when advertisers or book publishers or other interested parties need to know more detail about your blog and what you provide.

The most common items are:

About you:

  • Your name
  • A profile shot
  • Your blog URL
  • Your tagline (if you have one)
  • A brief introduction/overview of you and the blog. Keep it short and punchy. The likelihood is that the person you are sending it to has already looked at your blog and your About Me page. Keep this one down to a few lines.
  • Regular post topics or features that would appeal to brands

About your readers:

  • Statistics snapshot – unique browsers, monthly pageviews,
  • Your demographics – who is reading your blog? Gender and age range is good to include here.
  • Newsletter and email subscriber numbers
  • Followers across social media sites – namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest (Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube if that’s where your audience is at)
  • Optional – Alexa ranking, Klout score, Google Page Rank, if you feel they will help your case

About your services:

  • Advertising spaces available, and prices for each (including discounts available for longer-term packages, etc), not forgetting RSS feeds and newsletters
  • Sponsored post rates
  • Inclusions (extra incentives!) around social media for advertisers and sponsors. Do you offer shout-outs and freebies for advertisers? Let them know!
  • Sponsored social media update prices
  • Conference sponsorship packages and prices
  • Ambassadorship packages and prices
  • Affiliate details
  • Giveaway or review admin fees
  • Your policies on review products
  • Advertising spots/options to sponsor podcasts
  • Mention (if appropriate) that you are open to any ideas the brands or advertisers have for collaborations
  • Payment specifics and terms

Your previous brand partnerships:

  • Write a brief overview of the kinds of products and services you like to feature on the blog
  • Link to a few of the larger campaigns you have completed that did well and you enjoyed
  • Write a list of the other brand names that have been featured

Testimonials:

  • Include a few carefully-curated positive reviews of your work, or a couple of lines from people and brands with whom you have worked
  • Add your press features, or where you’ve been featured on other blogs

Contact details:

  • Your name
  • PO Box or address for people to send items
  • Email
  • Phone number (if appropriate)
  • Social media links
  • Skype details

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By all means hire a designer to create you one, if you like – but it’s quite simple to gather your information, a few images, and make them look great on paper. You can make a very simple one using Word (and then converting to PDF), or use any one of the image-creation sites out there. PicMonkey is easy to use (here is a great PicMonkey media kit tutorial), as is Canva, and Ribbet. PowerPoint is quite user-friendly, and can turn out professional-looking media kits in no time, you can use Pages, Photoshop, or even google downloadable templates. You could also search Etsy or similar places for either a downloadable template you can buy, or have a custom one made.

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Each person’s media kit needs are so different – you might find useful info at the following posts:

Tips for Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog // Amy Lynn Andrews

Blogger Media Kits: When You Don’t Have Much Traffic // Katy Widrick

How to Create a Media Kit that Rocks // The Blog Maven

Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog // The Well

5 Big Problems With Your Media Kit // Brand Meets Blog

And you can get inspired with these media kit examples:

ClickinMoms Click Magazine

The Art of Simple

Bloggers Bazaar Pinterest board of media kit samples

The Blog Maven – 20 Media Kit Examples

Best Blogger Media Kits – Katy Widrick

Before you go:

  • Update your kit often. Every three months is average
  • Make it customisable – especially if you get someone else to create it for you. Make sure it’s easy for you to update it on your own
  • Make it easily accessible. Consider having it as a download on your “work with me” or “contact” page. It saves email back-and-forth, and makes it so much easier (and faster!) for potential brands
  • Think of printing – ensure your kit is of a high enough resolution to look good when printed
  • Think of collaborating – don’t be afraid to make a list of dream collaborators, and be proactive in approaching them. Offer your media kit as a simple start.
  • Be positive. And remember, if your numbers aren’t anything to write home about yet, you might like to mention your growth instead. Something like “doubled twitter followers in a month” sounds positive and encouraging. And is true!
  • Be consistent with statistics. There are many ways of capturing this information, but Google Analytics appears to be the standard, and is quite accurate.
  • Watch your language. While it’s great you write your blog with your own unique voice, this is the time to be professional (and a little quirky, as needed!). Keep it slick.
  • We are visual creatures – break up big chunks of text and eye-swimming numbers with bright images, easy-to-read but interesting fonts, and lots of white space.

Have you seen a great example of a media kit lately? What do you have in yours?

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.

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Ways to Collaborate and Earn an Income on Your Blog

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Today we welcome Nikki Parkinson, from Styling You, to chat about brand work on blogs. Nikki switched a 20-year journalism career for forging a path online with her fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog. One of Australia’s best, she’s won numerous awards, travelled the world, and created a business she loves, right from her kitchen table. She’s actively worked with brands right from the start, and has enormous knowledge to share.

So you’ve been blogging for a while and have built up a solid readership and community because you consistently deliver useful/inspirational/entertaining content?

There is a fair chance if you have included a contact email address on your blog that before long an email from a brand, a PR or digital marketing agency, will land in your inbox.

You will either be surprised and delighted, or offended, that your little blog has been noticed by said brand.

It’s the surprised and delighted among you that I’m keen to talk to, because that first email could be the start of a potential commercial relationship.

That first email signifies that as a blogger you need to get very clear on your publishing guidelines.

Maybe you already mention brands as a matter of fact in your content. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, that all changes when someone is potentially asking you to mention their brand.

Only you can decide how you respond, but having a brand-publishing checklist in place will help you to make the decision that is right for you.

Brand publishing checklist

1. Is this a brand you already know, love, and use?

2. Is this a brand that you are confident that your readers either already know, love, and use or would like to know, love, and use?

3. Is this a brand that you could work in to your regular blog content in a way that is seamless? Not in a non-disclosed kind of way, more in a way that would not be out of place to what your readers expect from your style of content.

4. Does aligning yourself with this brand conflict with brands you’ve previously aligned yourself with?

5. Do you feel excited at the prospect of potentially working with this brand or does it give you an icky feeling? I know icky is not a technical term and can’t really be defined, but intuition or gut feeling is a great thing to draw on in this situation.

Working with brands

The PR pitch

Most – but not all – approaches from a brand or its agency will be for “earned” mentions on your blog. This is the traditional way that brands and their PR agencies have worked with mainstream media.

The idea here is that the PR is pitching you an idea that has some kind of newsworthy content or relevance to your blog’s audience. They are simply pitching and you do not at all have to publish anything just because they have emailed you. You may, however, find that what they are pitching could work as a part of particular blog post you’re working on, or have planned for now or in the future.

This is not something the brand would pay you to do. It is your choice when and if you choose to include the pitch on your blog. The same applies if the brand has sent you a product – unsolicited – to consider using or mentioning on your blog or social media networks. You are in no way obligated to feature the product.

Relationships

Many of my now paid commercial brand alignments have come from building relationships with brands directly or through their PR agencies. I’ve incorporated their products into my posts and have built up a relationship with that brand. The brand trusts what I do on the blog and they can already see how my readers respond to their brand.

I didn’t go into those early earned PR relationships thinking that one day I would be able to get a sponsorship from that brand, but I did start my alignment with those brands based on the five things I listed above on the brand publishing checklist. This ensured that the relationship was one I felt comfortable with from the beginning.

More and more PR companies are also including budgets for paid blogger campaigns as part of their contract with the brands they represent, so how you respond from those early approaches is becoming more and more important.

Also know that a PR pitch cannot specify to you when and how you publish content about the brand. They can’t tell you to use a certain hashtag, they can’t tell you that you need to publish a certain number of social media posts, and they can’t tell you what day you need to publish. They would NEVER ask a journalist to do the same because the only content in mainstream media that can be guaranteed is paid for – and it’s called advertising.

I see this approach happening more and more. And as a former journalist it really disappoints me. It gives the good PRs a bad name and assumes that the blogger will happily do as they are instructed without any remuneration for exposure to that blogger’s audience.

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Events

One of the trends for ways in which brands engage with bloggers is through events. These events are either hosted by the brand and the brand’s PR invites selected bloggers to attend or the events are hosted by third party brand-blogger consultants who are contracted by brands to get bloggers along to the event in the hope of potential exposure.

Either way, a blogger’s decision to even accept an invite to an event can be seen as a brand alignment. Even if that blogger doesn’t publish any social media or blog posts, the blogger could be photographed by the brands or event organiser and therefore associated with the event and seen to be endorsing it.

Once again it comes back to the brand publishing checklist above. Consider if you are happy to be associated with the host brands or brands in any way before saying yes to attend.

And, like a PR pitch, a blogger should not be coerced or expected to post anything in return for attendance at the event. The should be free to do so if they want to, not because they’ve been invited. Just as a journalist would do.

Paid brand alignments

At some point in your blog’s growth you need to take stock and put a value on the time you put into your blog and the readership you have built. Once you’ve established a set value for your blog, I suggest you review this every six months or every quarter depending on the scale in growth of your readership.

Your readership is your currency when it comes to being appealing to brands. Brands mostly want to see the numbers. The number of unique visitors to your blog is the main number they’re looking at. Why? Because it’s the number that most equates to the numbers game of mainstream media. It’s the equivalent to circulation figures in print media and ratings numbers on TV and radio.

Clever brands and agencies will also look beyond the numbers to engagement and influence. They will also look at the demographics behind your numbers – particularly if they’re wanting to connect with readers in certain locations or of a particular age or sex.

When I talk to bloggers about valuing their time and their blog’s audience, it seems quite an arbitrary thing to suggest – and in many ways it is – but increasingly, bloggers are sharing what they are getting paid for brand alignments and this helps us all to establish that value.

I suggest that $150 should be the minimum payment for a sponsored post – and then bloggers should scale up according to their readership and influence.

Why $150? If you are working as a consultant then the minimum hourly rate is usually about $100 an hour. Most sponsored posts take longer than an hour and a half this to create and compile. For 5000-10,000 unique visits to your blog a month, you could charge $1550. For a blogger with 30,000-50,000 unique visits a month, $3000.

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Ways to earn money from brand alignments

Sponsored posts: This is the most common form of commercial alignment between bloggers and brands. It works most successfully when the blogger is given creative control to write the post in the same way they would write a non-paid post to their readers. Keeping the authenticity of your voice is key – as is being upfront to your readers and labelling it as a sponsored post at the top. This is not a legal requirement, but it is practice that is very much worth embracing. You want to keep your readers, not dupe them. Being upfront has seen me grow my blog readership since I started writing sponsored posts – not have it disappear.

Social media posts: Being paid by a brand to promote their product or message via social media can be part of a sponsored post campaign or separate to it. One blogger talent agency has been reported as charging out up to $750 per brand mention on an Instagram image. With the growth of Instagram, particularly for fashion bloggers, this has become an attractive alignment for brands looking to harness its power.

Ambassadorships: Ambassadorships are the strongest way in which a blogger can align with a brand. They usually represent a long-term commitment between the blogger and the brand – six, 12 months or longer. This is a win for the blogger in regards to steady income, but it’s an alignment that needs to be fully considered before making because of the longevity of the association. A word of warning: many brands will try and “buy” bloggers as ambassadors with product only. Be careful with this because once you’ve received the ambassador title, you’ve more than cemented your alliance with that brand and don’t leave the door open for a commercial arrangement.

Television commercials: Bloggers are being included as the “talent” in television commercials and infomercials, usually as part of a wider sponsored post and social media campaign. This has come because audiences are proving more responsive to “real” people as opposed to celebrities or actors.

Blogging for a brand on their site: All bloggers know that good, solid content builds a blog’s readership. Brands have also realised that they too need good solid, relatable content on their sites to increase readership, brand awareness and sales through their sites. Who do they turn to? Bloggers who can not only create that content but bring an audience with them to the brand’s site.

Reader events: a win-win for bloggers and brands is when a blogger can offer something of value to their reader either through valuable/useful content or a giveaway. When that giveaway includes a chance to meet the blogger and attend an event that will add value or entertainment to the winning blog readers, then it’s proving to be a successful way for a blogger to align with a brand.

Event appearances: As I mentioned above, a blogger’s attendance at an event is a sign that the blogger is endorsing the brand. So it’s little wonder that bloggers can now obtain an appearance fee to attend an event. Often a certain number of social posts using a specific hashtag may be attached to this commercial arrangement.

The bottom line

Your blog hasn’t just appeared from out of thin air with a solid, influenced, and engaged audience. It’s taken long hours at the keyboard, dedication to your blog’s topic, and an extreme passion to communicate and connect with your readership.

You need to remember that whenever there is an opportunity presented to you to work or align yourself with a brand. Make good choices, disclose those good choices, and create brand content that still represents who you are and what your blog is about.

Do all this and your blog will continue to grow, as will your blog-business income.

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Advertising 101

We kick off this week’s theme with Juanita Nessinger of Vertical Online Media – a total guru when it comes to all things advertising!

You’ve started your blog, put in many long hours into nurturing it, growing it and building a following.  Congratulations!  Now you’re thinking, “Is it possible to actually generate revenue from this?”  

The answer is a resounding YES!

Let’s talk.

Choosing your ad unit sizes

I like to share with friends that are new to advertising to familiarize themselves with IAB.net. This is the Interactive Advertising Bureau website and the standard for all web advertising.  Once there, your new best friend on this site is going to be the “Guidelines and Best Practices” dropdown menu.  This area shows you all of the standard ad units and their creative guidelines.

I highly recommend utilizing the following ad sizes on your blog, as they are the most standard, and will benefit you in you the long run when starting to monetize your site:

  • 728×90 (Leaderboard)
  • 300×250 (Medium Rectangle)
  • 160×600 (Wide Skyscraper)
  • 300×100 (3:1 Rectangle) This unit is no longer as common, but is a very good size if you want to have multiple smaller partners on your site that you will sell yourself or put on a sales site such as BuySellAds.

728×90 Example:

728x90

300×250 Example:

300x250

160×600 Example:

160x600

300×100 Example:

300x100

Deciding where to place your ads

Now that you’ve decided what ad sizes you will utilize on your site, now you need to decide where you want place them on the page.

As shown in the example above, the 728×90 performs best, and is most aesthetically pleasing, when situated at the top of the page, either centered over the content or flush left.   You can also utilize this Leaderboard unit in the middle or bottom of your blog posts. Do remember though, you don’t want to overload your pages with ads, so I don’t recommend having any more than two of any size ad on a page at a time…three if the ads are a smaller unit, such as the 300×100 unit.

The 300×250 unit is a versatile unit and can be used on the right hand side of your page, or within your content, with the edit wrapped around the ad.  

When making the decision on placement for the 300×250 unit, you should note that on average, this unit will perform best placed within the content.  This is a definite plus if you are monetizing on a Cost Per Click model (CPC).  Your readers will tend to click more often on ads when placed within the content.  Conversely, if your priority is the reader experience and not necessarily the revenue, it is recommended that you place these units on the right hand side of your page.

Your 160×600 and 300×100 units always work very nicely on the right hand side of your page.

Start Monetizing Your Ad Units

Now that you’ve decided where your ad units will be placed on your page/s, it’s time to decide HOW you’re going to monetize the traffic to your blog.

The most popular, and realistically, most simple way for you to start monetizing your Blog is to utilize Google AdSense.  AdSense is a very quick and simple way to get started making money from your blog.  It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.  All you need is a Google login of some sort, you paste their code into your dedicated ad spaces, and provide them with a valid postal address so that you can get paid! It’s really that simple!  

Once you have this set-up, Google will place the highest-paying ads in your category on your site.  Depending on your blog’s content matter, you can expect to receive anywhere from $.50 per click to upwards of $3.00 per click.

Please know that there are also a multitude of advertising networks of whom would be very happy to work with you, but if you are just getting started, AdSense is truly going to be the easiest, and most reliable, for your needs.

Additional Monetization Options

If you have a highly-trafficked blog, or a highly-targeted niche blog, you may want to sell your ads directly, with the aid of an Advertising Marketplace such as BuySellAds or iSocket.

If you don’t want to be at the mercy of Google and want to sell your ads directly on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) and/or a Flat Fee basis, then an Ad Marketplace may be just the thing for you.  

Utilizing a marketplace allows you to set the cost for your ad inventory as opposed to simply accepting what Google or an Ad Network is going to pay you for your inventory.  Please do note that Advertising Marketplaces do take a percentage of each sale made through their service. Regardless, in selling directly, you will want a backup for inventory that is not sold, so again, signing up for an AdSense account will only benefit you to back-fill any and all remaining inventory.

Selling Directly

Selling your ad inventory yourself isn’t always as easy at it may seem. You will need to be very adept at articulating your audience, all of your site statistics, traffic, unique users, pageviews, etc., as well as any and all demographic information that you have on your audience.  Please look for the post coming later this week on The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit.

Establishing relationships with larger brands, and their Ad Agencies, can be a very time-consuming venture and there is never a guarantee of being selected to be on their ad plan. Also, do note that you will usually be required to fill out a full RFP (Request for Proposal) from the ad agency.  These can be a little more than daunting if you are new to advertising, so you should take that into consideration before opting to sell your inventory yourself.

Advertise Link on your Blog

Regardless of how you decide to monetize your blog, once you start the process of monetizing your blog, you should have a link on your site that shares with potential partners their options for advertising on your site, how they can get a media kit, if you have one, and highlight your monthly traffic, unique users, and your best Top Line demographic information you have for your readers.

If you do not have demographic information on your readers, putting together a basic Reader Survey through SurveyMonkey is free and easy!

In Closing

Congratulations on being ready to make the leap into making money from your blog!  If you have a decent-sized audience, and/or a highly targeted audience, there is no reason you can’t start monetizing your traffic.

Again, if you are just getting started, and the advertising arena is new to you, I highly recommend utilizing AdSense.  Start with just a few ad units on each page, you can always add units as your traffic grows and your audience becomes more accustomed to seeing ads on your Blog. 

Don’t be afraid…getting started is easier than you think! 

I hope you’ve found this helpful and please know that I’m here to assist.  Please feel free to ask any additional questions within the comments section, or you can reach out directly by emailing me at [email protected]

 

Theme Week: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering with Brands

Untitled design

For all of you who have considered (or are already) partnering with brands on your blog, this week is for you. We give you the lowdown on:

  • advertising on your blog – whom to approach, what kind of advertising works best, where to put ads for best visibility, etc
  • working with brands – staying professional, your unique voice, sponsorship, ambassadorships, affiliates, etc
  • creating a media kit – what you need to include, how to create it, samples of excellent media kits
  • marketing yourself – creating pitches that get noticed, using the right language, whom to approach
  • where to find advertisers and creating an online profile

As always, we hope you find it useful. We’ll also get together at the end of the week and chat about what we’ve learned and what we will try going forward.

Each day will have a new post, so keep checking back. We’ll also add the links here, so you can bookmark this page and refer to it whenever you need.

Partnering with Brands Theme Week:

Advertising 101

Ways to Collaborate With Brands and Earn an Income on Your Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Media Kit

Marketing Yourself

Putting it all Together and Getting Started

See previous theme weeks here:

Content Week: How to Consistently Come Up with Great Post Ideas for Your Blog

Beginner Blogger Week: Everything You Need to Know When You’re a Newbie

Finding Readers, Building Community, Creating Engagement

Creating Products: How To Create and Sell Products on Your Blog

Five Things to do with Your Blog Posts After You’ve Hit “Publish”

 

How to Plan an Editorial Calendar: Webinar

Wondering what is the best way of setting up an editorial calendar? Itching to know what kind of posts work well, and what you should have more of?

In this webinar (available in full on ProBlogger.com), you’ll see how Darren and the managing editors for both Digital Photography School and ProBlogger.net (that’s me!) prioritise content, work out what topics are the most useful and the most popular, plan ahead, and keep their sites fresh and interesting.

There are case studies, stats, and breakdowns of content types, as well as Darlene’s (DPS) and my top three tips for creating engaging content. You don’t want to miss it!

Blogging Like a Shark: 10 Secrets to Bootstrapping Your Blog into a Business

This is a guest contribution from Matthew Capala of SearchDecoder.com.

Shark bloggers are experts in their field of choice. However, they rarely call themselves experts or gurus. Skilled blogging pros, such as James Altucher, establish their authority on social networks and search engines by creating immensely authentic and valuable content, establishing strong connections with their readers.

1 - James Altucher 2

James hardly resembles a shark, but make no mistake. Think more in terms of a “pool shark” versus a voracious eating machine. Shark marketers are at the top of the promotional food chain but not because they use force or deception.

2 - shark definition

In today’s competitive times, bloggers need to bootstrap intelligently to stand out from the scores of new blogs and brands with million dollars content-marketing budgets. Your objective as a bootstrap blogger should not be praying all day for one kill. Your aim should be the top of the food chain.

3 - predotorty shark

Predatory Marketing Tactics Dont Work Anymore

Shark marketers rarely if ever address themselves as “experts.” This crowd is too busy helping and connecting to pat themselves on the back. Think of yourself as a center of distribution. As you disseminate more helpful content to a growing number of people an inflow of leads, opportunities and money flows in to you.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of bootstrapping is not based on using free marketing to spread the word about your brilliant idea. According to dictionary.com, bootstrapping means “relying entirely on one’s own effort and resources”.

Play to your strengths by leveraging your time and talent. Growing your blog usually requires a minimum injection of capital to build momentum, combined with persistent, intelligent labor. For example, hiring a designer may be a good idea – online readers tend to judge the book by its over before they commit any attention to what you are saying.

5 - time money talent ven

Unlike the monstrous, ferocious predators which roam the infinite online seas, whale sharks don’t need to use predatory tactics to promote their businesses. They use great content marketing to attract the visitors to their blogs like a magnet.

Today’s intelligent buyer will be repulsed by hard-charging, competitive marketing tactics.  Operate on a creative plane of thought to attract people like a magnet. Shift from a competitive to a creative mindset and you will win big on the Internet.

Stop stalking. Start connecting. Turn your marketing into a conversation.

6 - magnet

Market with a Magnet

Web users are tuning out marketing noise. Click-through rates are dropping like a brick. Visualize marketing with a magnet instead of the old, worn out sledgehammer advertising approach. 

7 - sledgehammer vs magnet

Use pull marketing to employ the principle of attraction versus the old school push marketing tactics that turn off today’s sophisticated consumer. Create value to become valuable.

8 - Own your ZMOt

Own Your Zero Moment of Truth

80% of consumers search for a product or service before purchasing it. Ranking your blog on Google for quality keywords can turn your blogger status to a rockstar overnight. 

Place a heavy emphasis on nailing down one of the top positions on Google for your desired keywords or key phrases. Keep in mind that only 15% of search results are the old-school ’blue links.’ Estimated 85% of Google search results are social media, videos, images, maps, and the knowledge graph. Fish where the fish are.

Increase your click-through rates by designing attention-grabbing page titles and headlines. Include thought-provoking or funny images in your blog posts to stand out and boost engagement. 

Owning your zero moment of truth inspires you to increase organic search engine click throughs by improving your ad creative writing skills. It’s a win-win.

9 - personal branding

Personal Branding Is Branding

Beginner bloggers often ask me: How do you draw a line between your business name and your personal brand?

You don’t. It’s one and the same.

Steve Jobs built Apple, not the other way around. You have built your own company, You Inc. However, being a blogger is much different from being a CEO. The first is a hobby, the latter is a job.

Consider using SlideShare to tell your brand’s story, including the problems you are solving and why people should care about your brand. Readers like eye candy. Creating a visually appealing tale forms an emotional bond with your target audience.

 

10-media company

Every Business is a Media Company

Blogs serve as one-stop shopping for any website visitors. Post articles, reviews, podcasts and videos on your blog to brand your business. Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors and B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month, according to Hubspot. 

Yet many businesses fail to achieve desired results blogging. They fail and give up on content marketing because they don’t operate like a media company.

11 - optimize blog content

Frequency is key to success. Blogging regularly encourages your audience to know, like and trust you. Build your blog on WordPress for increased functionality. Use plugins to capture subscribers and improve your presentation. Position sharing button beside each blog post to leverage your presence. Sharing buttons like the Floating ShareBar can increase sharing by up to 30%. Details matter.

Open your blog to guest posting and build strong business relationships. Join blogging communities, such as Triberr, to build solid relationships with fellow niche bloggers.

12 - startegy

Win Your Battles Before the First Shots Are Fired

Understand the difference between content marketing and content strategy. Content marketing is the creation and promoting of content to attract a targeted audience. Content strategy is the creation of scalable and repeatable content for a built-in audience. Content marketing is like baking a cake while content strategy is similar to owning a bakery. 

13 - cake bakery

Developing a content strategy requires intensive planning. Create content based on researched user needs, deliver this content through various mediums such as video and podcasts and promote along channels which resonate with your target audience.

14 - healthy heartbeat

You Need a Healthy Heartbeat

A healthy, vibrant blog looks similar to a healthy heartbeat. Imagine the steady, predictable ticks on an EKG meter measuring your heartbeat. Engaging through social media channels like twitter and Facebook creates tiny ticks. Sharing Infographics, videos and blog posts creates a larger spike which creates a big impact with a small hit. PR and branded content creates massive spikes. The large hits which make big impacts target news outlets and other large audiences through macro content campaigns.

15 - Heartbeat

Build your inbound marketing campaign on being disciplined. Work your system on a daily basis. Set up a content calendar. Starting at a calendar can inspire you to create content even if you don’t feel like working. Use this motivational strategy to hold yourself accountable.

16 - lead genertion

Invest in Lead Generation at the Outset

Create in-depth, thorough content you could sell for a handsome profit and give it away for free. This approach might seem counterintuitive to bloggers looking to monetize every click, but karma ensures that the value you offer will return to you in some way, shape or form. Use your free giveaway as link bait. 

Build your email list through this exchange of value. In return for your helpful, free giveaway subscribers will gladly offer their name and email address. Use tools like “Pay with a Tweet” to increase social sharing. Users can access your free giveaway by tweeting your giveaway link. This expands your presence and gives visitors a quick and easy way to access your free product.

17 - be interesting

To Be Interesting, Be Interested

Successful shark bloggers follow the teachings of famous behaviorists, such as Dale Carnegie. They generate interest by expressing interest. 

Expressing genuine, heartfelt interest in other bloggers will result in similar reaction towards you. Focus on helping others who need help. Engage in genuine conversations, add value wherever you show up and answer questions to gain the trust of your target audience.

Use social media tools like Topsy to find your audience. Run searches to connect with interested parties through twitter, blog commenting, and everything in between.

18 - marathon

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

Take a big picture approach to blogging. Each seemingly tiny step taken leads to solid if not spectacular results in the long term. If only you don’t give up to see it.

Work your way through temporary frustrations by visualizing yourself achieving great things. Professional athletes employ this technique. Clearing your inner world can motivate you to succeed. 

Shark bloggers are a driven, dynamic, and focused bunch. However, they combine high-octane enthusiasm with a significant dose of planning, tools and preparation to stay focused and play a long-term game. 

It might not be easy to be positive every day when you grow a blog from its infancy but doing so can provide you with immense returns in the long run.

Good luck!

Matthew Capala is an inbound marketing strategist, personal branding coach, Internet entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author. He is an Adj. Professor at NYU and Head of Search at Lowe Profero. His free personal branding e-book, Away with the Average, has been widely praised. A leading voice in the start-up community, Matthew founded SearchDecoder.com, a venue for SEO ideas for entrepreneurs. You can find him on Tiwtter at @SearchDecoder.