In a world where we are getting bombarded by content every minute of every day, it’s increasingly difficult to find sources that you can trust. Amidst this chaos and confusion, blogs are emerging as one of the most trust-worthy sources – namely, because of the people behind them. Millennials are looking for authentic influencers to provide them with credible information, and the “real girl, real world” image that bloggers have makes them ideal. It’s no wonder, then, that small and big brands are turning to the blogosphere to spread awareness and gain traction. The question is: there are a lot of blogs – and a lot of brands – so how can you make your blog stand out from the crowd and work with brands in a way that benefits both of you?
The first step to building successful relationships with brands is to have a very clear understanding of your own value proposition. This will help you understand which brands you should work with, what you can offer to them and how you should position yourself in their eyes. Your value proposition must include an overview of your audience, how you engage with them and what makes you different from others. It must address the question that every brand will ask before working with you: what’s in it for me?
Once you’ve understood your value proposition, put it together in a media kit. In a nutshell, a media kit is a document which contains any information that a potential partner or sponsor would need to know about you. If you want to build your partnerships with brands, having a media kit is simply non-negotiable and while it might take a bit of time to put together, it’s worth it. While the media kit must cover information about you and your traction (if you’re not tracking your engagement, you’d better start, pronto!), it must be infused with your personality and style. Copying statistics from your Google Analytics tracker is not going to cut it.
Start by gathering all the information you need for the kit (which is no mean feat!) and then you can work towards assembling it in a compelling way. An important aspect of the media kit which many miss out, is testimonials. No matter how attractive the data points look, the truth is that nothing is as attractive as having other people talk you up. So, make sure you drop an email to everyone you’ve worked with and have them send in a genuine, non-salesy testimonial. It will work wonders for you.
While it can be tempting to work with any and every brand that approaches you – don’t do it! You must be very selective in choosing which brands you should work with. They must resonate with your audience and blend into your content in a way that does not feel uncharacteristic or out of place. Applying a filter to the brands you work with will ensure that you maintain the quality of your content and therefore, your engagement with your readers. It will also open the possibilities for future collaborations with newer and bigger brands. Remember, when it comes to your blog, social media and other platforms for engagement – your audience always come first. Keep them happy and engaged.
At this point, it’s important to mention that you should try not to fall into the trap of brands who send out generic, blanket emails to a bunch of bloggers. You can always tell which brands have made some effort to get in touch with you, and which haven’t. Brands that really want to work with you will take out the time to send you a personalised, thought-through email that shows they’ve read your work and understand you. Those are the best kinds of brands to work with.
Fast-forward. When have sparked a relationship with a brand, ensure that you iron out the details so that both parties are very clear about what they will receive from the partnership. As a blogger, think through what kind of content you will produce for the brand – written copy on your blog, short videos for your YouTube channel, a set of social media posts or something else? It’s important to understand what your strength is (for example, you might have a successful blog but a much more successful YouTube channel with more followers and engagement), what will work best for the brand and where the brand message will resonate the most with your audience. Remember that sponsored posts should never, ever feel sponsored so focus on making the posts as relatable as possible.
One more thing that many bloggers forget: you are legally bound to disclose your relationship with the brand to your audience. On social media, many do this with a simple hashtag (#ad) and on blogs, you will often find a disclaimer at the bottom of the post. Do not – I repeat, do not – forget to be transparent with your audience. Not only can you fall into legal trouble if you don’t disclose it – you could also risk losing or alienating your followers. People turn to bloggers because they’re transparent, authentic and real – don’t ever lose that.
And now, for the burning question: what’s the right compensation? The truth is, there is no right compensation. It depends from blogger to blogger, and brand to brand, but remember that simply doling out free favours to brands will exhaust you and burn you out. You should charge brands to work with you – it’s a fair exchange for the passion and the effort you put into the content you create. Having said that, some brands may want to work with you in exchange for products, or others might suggest an initial trial before determining the compensation, and there is nothing wrong with that, if it works for you. If working with the brand will help you further your blog and your business, go for it! At the end of the day, it’s a call that you will have to take. But remember – never shy away from asking for what you rightfully deserve.
Finally, remember that there is no hard or fast rule. You will keep evolving your approach as you work with brands, each one different. Keep learning, keep evolving and keep blogging!