A little late on the upload today! It's taken a little time to adjust from being a student / blogger to just being a plain ol blogger for the next few months. What is all this free time I have!? is this what it feels like to have more than three hours sleep a night? It's like a whole new world to me.
Anyway, as you can tell by the title, today I'm going to be doing my Tip Tuesdays post on how to work with brands and PR companies as a blogger. As always, it's a lengthy one (I haven't even written it yet, but we all know what I'm like) so grab a cuppa and brace yourselves for some serious word vomit: internet edition.
So this week's #fblchat was all about working with brands, and it dawned on me that there might actually be a bit of a knack to actually getting yourself out there and collaborating with different companies. Obviously it goes without saying (but hey, I'm gonna say it anyway) that blogging isn't all about freebies - but these days so many blogs are built on sponsorships and collaborations that I feel it's kind of imperative to at least talk about the right and wrong ways to do it.
Be the best you can be
In 2013 there were apparently around 153 million blogs online. I don't even want to think about what that number might be now. Can someone say competition? Gulp.
Anyway, think about all of those blogs, and then try and name all of the 'best' bloggers on the planet. Maybe not literally, but you catch my drift. What I'm trying to say here is that - out of all of those millions of bloggers - how many of them are really, really great? Probably not 153 million. So the first step to working with brands is making sure you up your blog game, whether you're just starting out or even if you've been doing it for years. Basically you want your blog to be the best it can be before you go reaching out to brands and PRs.
Okay, so just take a minute and think about the amount of PR people there are in the world compared to how many bloggers there are. It must be pretty freakin difficult to scout out who's who in the internet world, so why not get rid of the middle man (whoever that guy is) and say hello first? All it takes is a quick email or shout out on social media and who knows, it could be the start of a beautiful relationship!
Do your research
When contacting brands it's so so important to at least do a little research into who you're going to be emailing. More often than not, brands will employ a specific person(s) to do their marketing and blogger outreach. And guess what? Those people have names, and they'd like you to use them! In the past I've spoken to so many people in the industry that have admitted to ignoring (or even deleting) emails that are obviously just a copy and paste jobby, so if you want to stand out from the crowd be sure to do your research. If you're not already signed up to LinkedIn, make yourself an account and start connecting with some of your favourite brands, or even just do a quick search on Twitter and reach out to them that way. It can be time consuming, but it makes a world of difference to the person you're messaging!
Now it's time to actually strike up a conversation between you and the brand. Now, by all means, get a little chatty (I say this because I'm awful at remaining professional in emails/life in general) but make sure you're still concise and to the point. Introduce yourself (and your blog), mention why you love the brand and - most importantly - clearly state how you'd like to work with the company. Again, think of those 153 million blogs. Just imagine how many emails these companies get each day just like your own! When your contact is reading your email they're going to want to read as little as possible, whilst knowing as much as possible about you and your blog. I always make sure to include my Media Kit (and sometimes my rate card!) in each collaboration email, so that the brand can quickly skim over my general numbers and analytics. Don't have a media kit? I've written an article on how to make a blogger media kit here. Smooth Steph, real smooth.
Man, free things sound pretty great, don't they? Which they are. Of course they are! But not everything in the world is suited to everyone, so when you get offered something that's not exactly your style don't feel like you have to accept just because it's 'free'. In blogging, no product in exchange for blog-time (my internet version of air-time) is technically free, so try to make sure it's going to be worth your time to post about it. I tend to go by my own personal mantra that (if money wasn't an issue) if I wouldn't buy the product myself (even if I was rich!) then I won't accept it for free. I've had people ask me before if saying 'no' has ever had a negative impact on my chances of getting sponsored again by that company, but if I'm honest it's probably helped me more than anything! It shows brands that I'm serious about my blog, as opposed to just using it to get free stuff!
Don't you just get green with envy whenever you see bloggers going away on trips with brands? Or when they get amazing campaigns that blow up all over social media? It doesn't just happen randomly. In fact, the majority of these bloggers have built long-standing, secure relationships with the brands over time, so when big opportunities crop up, these bloggers are the first to know. Building relationships is something that just happens over time - there's no real way to force it to happen - but one great way of staying in touch is by doing just that - staying in touch. Sometimes I'll just say hello to an old contact if we haven't spoken in a while, or I'll send out little Christmas e-cards in December to let them know that I'm still thinking about them! It can be pretty difficult to stay on top of all of your email contacts, but if you make the effort you'll be surprised at the benefits it can reap!
Offer your services
Okay, so this maybe sounds a little more sexual than intended, but I couldn't think of another punchy sentence to use..anyway. When you think of collaborating with a brand, chances are you probably think about the things you can get yourself. Don't worry, we're all a little selfish at times, but it's important to remember that there should be something 'in it' for them, and not just yourself. It's so easy to forget that these 'free' things are paid for by some body, even if that payment is just a percentage of the RRP. If a brand gives you something (whether it be payment, a gift, an opportunity) be sure to thank them like you would anyone else giving you a gift. Blog about it, make a video about it, post about it on social media! If you have your own little 'niche' that makes you stand out, use that to get the word out about the brand. It pays to be nice, people.
So with all that in mind..how on earth do you actually go about emailing someone!? Realistically, there's no set way. And since we're all bloggers here, feel free to stand out in your own way that suits you. Show your personality, pack your email full of information and - as always - keep it to the point. Here's a (very basic) email structure to hopefully get you along your way. Hope this post helped some of you!
- Introduce yourself (1-2 sentences)
- Talk About your love for the brand (1-2 sentences)
- Propose the idea of collaborating (1-2 sentences)
- Attach / link to your media kit
Do you have any tips for working with brands?