One of the hottest topics in the bloggersphere right now is undoubtedly sponsored content. As we digital influencers continue to thrive, to find our feet and realise the potential we hold, more and more brands are choosing to swap their traditional media frenzy for a more collaborative approach. I’ve written recently about why we should all be supporting our fave bloggers sponsored content, and suffice to say the response was reassuringly positive – the majority of you agree that creatives making a living from their passions and skills is something to be celebrated. But if you’re a blogger, it can be tricky to ensure you pull off an awesome collaboration that your readers love just as much as your regular content, rather than a slightly awkward and cringey post that seems very out of place. So how do you create kick-ass content that you know your readers will love every single time?
WORK ONLY WITH BRANDS YOU LOVE
When an influencer works with a brand they wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole, it sticks out like a giant beacon that says ‘did it for the dollars.’ It’s incredibly important that every collaboration has integrity and is believable, or it won’t just impact you negatively in the short-term – but the long term too. I make it my mission to work only with brands I genuinely love and use, or those I’ve been introduced to and think you’ll be really interested in, as it’s vitally important to put your name behind those brands you’re proud to work with. It can be tricky to navigate the offers of slimming teas, teeth whitening and travel insurance, but in the long-term it’s just not worth it.
FIND A NATURAL HOOK
Sponsored features don’t always have to be 500 words on the science and ingredients behind a product, or the history of how they developed their boot leather; they can provide a great storytelling platform. Finding a really natural hook or interesting way of positioning the brand will generate a much more engaged response from your audience, while the brand sits naturally within the rest of your site and content. (An example of this is my post on investment makeup pieces.) Making it sharable also helps hugely, as both readers and the brand themselves will be more likely to share across their owned social platforms – which in turn brings more traffic back to your site.
MAKE IT EVERGREEN
A term I used more often than I probably should, this basically means content that doesn’t date or isn’t seasonal. Google loves it because it’s something that people are actively searching for, while the post continues to be shareable for pretty much forever more. Most of the time it’s easy to turn a really seasonal idea into an evergreen one, you just need to think about the things people will still be interested in twelve months down the line – for example, ‘my fave eyeliners right now’ could be flipped around into ‘the best way to create a winged liner and my fave tools to help you. (An example of this is my post on contouring and a pro makeup artist’s top tips.)
STILL BE HONEST
There’s a massive misconception that just because cash changes hands that bloggers can’t be honest; and that’s totally wrong. Brands come to us because we’re not afraid of sharing our thoughts and opinions, so it’s natural for those thoughts and opinions to be shared whether it’s a paid for post or not. It’s important to share the pros and cons, what you like and dislike, and even how the product may appeal to different people in different ways – the benefit to the brand is increased awareness, an honest insight, sharable content and a future ambassador.
TAKE SOME AMAZING SNAPS
Great pictures can tell a great story and allow your readers to get to know what you’re talking about in a visual and aspirational way. They can really help set the scene and allow them to imagine themselves using and loving the product; you should spend as much time on the presentation and imagery of your sponsored content as on your regular content, so it’s something you can both be proud of and use as an example when negotiating future collaborations.
ALWAYS DECLARE APPROPRIATELY
The most important thing when it comes from sponsored opportunities is knowing your legal obligations and being as transparent as possible; the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) have laid out clear guidelines on how influencers should declare their financial interests, so it’s non-negotiable. You must always declare that a post is paid for or ‘sponsored’ in a clear and visible way (I still see so many major bloggers hiding declarations or labeling in such a subtle way it feels like they’re trying to hide it from their readers,) so your audience feels comfortable and trusts you completely. We work hard to build up an audience, so losing them because of a rubbish non-declared collab is just not worth it. Do your research and don’t work with brands that ask you to break the rules.
Personally I’m always learning from collaborations and adjusting how I work with brands, hopefully ensuring every sponsored feature offers up information and recommendations that you love. There’s no one right way or wrong way, but creating sponsored content is a skill like everything else in the blogging world – but I hope my tips have helped.
If you’re a blogger whose undertaken collaborations, do you have any other bits of advice to ensure it’s always a representation of your best work?
In the picture: Elizabeth Arden Gelato Lipstick (£22.00) and Gelato Gel Blush (£28.00), both of which are beautifully light and cooling on the skin. Perfect for summer and adding a flush of colour.
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Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.