When I first started blogging. I had no idea what I was doing. I started during a health scare so I could record family life and over the following years my blog organically developed to become my career. I have decided to do a few posts on blogging basics to deal with a lot of the questions I get asked and to get some great tips from fellow bloggers. Today we are looking at working with brands.
Once of the most common questions I get asked is “how do I start working with brands”?
I am going to admit that when I first started blogging I had no idea that brands would want to work with me. It really was a different world back them and it took over a year before a PR company contacted me on behalf of a brand for a review. Things have certainly changed since them and nowadays I get hundreds of approaches a week.
Top tips for working with brands
Firstly it helps to understand the who you are working with as you will get contacts from lots of people. You have PR agencies working on behalf of brands, SEO agencies working on behalf of brands, direct contacts from brands themselves and digital agencies. Some agencies are locally based such as Essex Web Design Studio who offer web design in Essex in addition to local PR and digital services. Others deal with specific areas of Public Relations, such as food PR and some companies and brands will have multiple agencies. It can sometimes be difficult to ascertain who is doing what. So do not be afraid to ask.
In fact, do not be afraid to ask if a big theme for me. If you are unsure of anything, then ask. I try to make sure that I have a good understanding of what is required of me. Budget not high enough? Then ask for more or offer an alternative solution. Sometimes it can be easier to have a chat on the phone to clarify things.
Know your value. Fee’s can be challenging to discuss, but by having a set idea of what you would like to receive it will help. I have a minimum amount I will accept and also a minimum review value. Kate from Crafts on Sea agrees. Her advice would be “Make a media pack. It’s so much easier than retyping all your stats all the time and if you’ve already got your fees typed out it means you don’t feel you need to justify yourself so much or go in a lower price if you’re having a doubting yourself kinda day.” I love the advise from Emma from The Mini Mes and Me gives “If their budget is a lot lower than you would normally accept then offer additional services. Instead of a sponsored post you can share imagery via social media, include products in round up posts etc and still receive a fee”. Dave from The Dadventurer knows all too well the imporatance of knowing your worth ” It’s flattering when brands get in touch and want to work with you, but that doesn’t mean you have to say yes. Choose the opportunities that best suit your blog, represent what you want to convey, and most importantly, what you can physically complete”.
Do not be afraid to say no! There have been times when I have said that the budget was insufficient incentive and you know what the brand has come back in a years time with a higher budget. Listen to Claire from Emmys Mummy’s wise words “Don’t just accept everything and anything offered. If you wouldn’t use or it doesn’t fit you can decline. Explain why you are saying no and they will remember your honesty and email again in future”. Emma agrees that it is best to not over commit yourself.
Always be polite. I think this is really important. I try and respond to all emails I get. I have some canned responses set up and I send them once a week to any emails I haven’t responded too. Even if a proposal isn’t for me I politely decline and send my details. Lucy from The Parenting Game agrees that communication is key and suggests ” Let them know what’s happening, especially if something goes wrong, they will really appreciate being kept informed”.
Joanne from Opposable Thumbs has some fantastic advice for any blogger looking to start reviewing products. She advises “Ask to go on their mailing list for press releases before you ask for stuff. It’s more professional to do it like that. Connect with the brand on Twitter & Facebook too. Try not to make so the first time they hear from you, you’re asking for products”.
Be yourself – this is a common message from everyone I ask about working with brands, both from bloggers and brands. From a brand perspective, they see your blog as an extension of you and they are looking to work with you! “You might not be the biggest blogger so promote your strengths… Give them a reason to work with you” is the sage advice from Heledd at Yummyblogger. Emma from Life according to Mrs Shilts advises “Be honest with them (brands). If you don’t like a product or service you’re supposed to be reviewing be honest and tell them. It may open other doors in the future and will stand you in good stead with them”. This is Echoed by Kate from WitWitWoo “personality counts for a lot, don’t be afraid to be yourself, but remain professional. Stay calm, don’t lose your temper (even if they push your buttons), and stay in touch, even if you’re not after something – it’s about cultivating relationships” It is about cultivating relationships. PR’s switch agencies and I still work with some who I worked with at a different agency seven years ago. Lorraine from Baby Pebbles confirms the importance of relationships “have a well mannered friendly approach. Keep everyone well in the loop (updated) and keep in contact to keep relationships up.
Do you have any questions or tips for working with brands and establishing mutually beneficial long-term partnerships? Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below or contact me on twitter or The Mad House Facebook page.
I also have a great board over on Pinterest filled with freelancing and Blogging tips and ideas.