Blogging has become big business. Every day there are new blog-brand partnerships popping up across our feeds, in an attempt to provide a relatable and engaging way to tell a brand story. With many brands reducing significantly (or even eliminating) their press and television advertising in favour of working with digitally savvy influencers, there’s a crazy amount of money entering our once rough-and-ready industry. More and more of us are able to take a once-loved-hobby and turn it into a full-blown career, with sponsored content and collaborative opportunities allowing us to keep the free content coming to loyal readers on a daily basis. It’s now an aspiration of many to turn their little site into something that’s paying the bills, but what do you actually need to do in order to create something commercial and ‘sell-able’ to those with the budgets? Having worked on my blog for over six years (three of them ‘full time’) alongside a career in blogger outreach, strategic digital planning and social media management, I definitely feel like I’m well placed to understand what brands look for – and how I can work with them on a collaborative basis to fulfill their objectives and ensure return on their investment. With campaigns across some of the biggest global names being brought to my readers on a regular basis, I’ve identified five key things that I’ve learned will help sell your blog and ensure you’re part of campaigns that are as fruitful for you as they are for the brand.
It’s all very well bloggers wanting to work with brands commercially, but without real influence the possibility is unlikely. Whether that influence takes place on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or the blog itself, it’s incredibly important to a brand looking to generate sales. Although numbers are important, the likelihood of those numbers translating to purchases is increasingly vital in order for a brand to be able to justify the cost associated working with you. This doesn’t mean you have to have a million subscribers, it just means your audience have to trust what you say and act upon it. My stats aren’t anywhere near as huge as some of the other bloggers making a living from their sites, but what I can offer is influence – because you come back and tell me what you love and what you’ve bought!
A strong affinity and natural fit with the brand in question is vital. A bold and bright makeup brand partnering with a blogger that never steps out of the nude spectrum screams of a collaboration that hasn’t been thought through. Brands want to partner with bloggers that genuinely fit with their offering, ethos and product type – including featuring competitors before and talking about the category in which they fit with passion. (See point below!) There’s little point in a brand connecting with a blogger that doesn’t have any interest in them usually, and readers won’t find it hard to spot what you’ve done just for the money.
When you’re the sole owner of a business, it’s important to get your account management and marketing hat on. Key to delivering an effective partnership is a real understanding of the brand, what they’re trying to achieve and how you can help tick their boxes. Most brands will want the blogger to offer feedback and help shape a brief, rather than coming to them with a finished idea; you should never be afraid of pinpointing the elements that may not work for you and creating ideas that are a more natural fit for your readers. This is what makes you stand out as a partner over others and is really the key to a successful collaboration.
It’s not all about the numbers when it comes to partnerships – it’s about engagement. From likes and comments, to shares and views, brands want to see that your content has resonated with your audience; if you’re receiving 500k views but generating little over two comments per post, your engagement is incredibly low and not necessarily going to garner the results that a brand needs. On the flip side, if you only have 30k views but every post has ten comments then you’re doing really rather well! Sometimes it’s much more fruitful for brands to partner with smaller bloggers with an engaged audience, rather than opting for huge sites whose followers only want to know when the next meet-up is.
Above all, brands want to see passion from those they’re collaborating with. Whether that’s enthusiasm for the campaign, excitement about the category or a genuine love of the product, passion goes a long way; it naturally spills over and creates a portfolio of content that the brand will be proud of and you’ll want to share. When I’ve collaborated on something I’m really excited about, I’ll talk about it as much as possible and keep driving traffic back to the post; this benefits both parties and ensures a result you’ll be pleased to share with the brand when it’s over.
In the interests of ensuring anyone interested is equipped with the information they may need to turn a hobby into something more commercial, I spoke to some of my PR colleagues about what they personally look for from a blogger relationship – and what convinces them to part with hard cash. Unsurprisingly, their comments reiterated my own understanding and proved there’s so much more to a great partnership than just big numbers.
“For us to work with someone commercially they need to be the right fit for the product and produce the right creative content that fits the brand. It is essential that they have also supported the brand in the past as we want to work with someone that has a natural affinity – and we want partnerships to be as genuine as possible. The engagement/comments that the influencer gets on their content is key to us, we don’t just look at the numbers. As the creator we want your suggestions and direction on what you think works best for your audience; we’re open to new ideas as the creator is the expert not us!”
ANON, GLOBAL BEAUTY GIANT
“REN builds relationships with influencers progressively and steadily. This is largely to establish an ongoing relationship so that some integrity can be then seen in the reviews. A genuine on-going interest in REN and its products play a key factor when selecting blogger partnerships, as the campaign will in turn resonate more with the reader. Of course, the end goal is to have a high reach in awareness as well as translate into sales.”
DAKSHA CHIKAL, REN
“At Virgo Health, we always prefer to work with bloggers that we can work collaboratively and flexibly with when seeking or developing a commercial relationship. This is vital to ensure we build a fair agreement from the outset, have an open and honest partnership and hopefully, a longer term brand connection. The blogger’s level of influence and reach figures are of course very important to be able to justify the work with our clients – but we also look at their blog status, equity and integrity. In other words, does the blogger’s values and content on their posts fit in with our brand’s purpose, product and audience? Are they regularly posting and are they authentic, genuine stories? Have they featured any competitors recently and will they plan to again? Are they active on social media with a strong following?”
REENA PATEL, VIRGO HEALTH
“We look for a true brand fan, someone who already engages with us and has used the products historically out of choice. I would look at sponsored work if it was content that I knew we were going to use to promote across multi platforms; the bloggers we work with have a collaborative approach, immersing themselves in the campaign so that they too can suggest ideas that can work across their platforms. The blogger should also have a demographic of followers who suit the personality of the brand and are either being used to recruit new consumers or provide loyal consumers with content. We also look for individuals who wish to have a long term investment in the brand; the relationship should be nurtured so that it exists outside as well as inside the parameters of the paid for piece of work.”
ANON, GLOBAL MAKEUP BRAND
So there you have it. I hope it helps and gives you something to think about, particularly if you’re considering making the jump into full-time blogging. Remember: you’re your own best marketeer, so make sure you’re selling yourself effectively and setting yourself up to win.
Are you a brand, PR or digital marketer? Please do share any additional thoughts or things you look for when seeking blogger partnerships in the comments below.
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