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Brands and bloggers (Part 2) – tips for bloggers who want to work with brands

21 October 2013

Recently, I wrote about why brands might consider working with bloggers to promote their products and services.

Today I’m going to write about what bloggers should expect about working with brands.

I’ll start by disclosing that I have worked with a range of brands on my food blog, The cook’s notebook, including Lurpak, Australian Mushroom Growers, Adriano Zumbo, Arnotts (with Vita Wheat), Wholesomeness and Finish Quantum.

Some of these have been paid posts, some were paid in product, some have been done because I love the product and want to help promote it, some were written when I was too naive to actually realise that I could get paid! However, all of them were products that I wanted to support and that I was happy to write an honest opinion about. Not all were overly positive. And that’s OK.

For me now there is a list of things I consider, and I would encourage other bloggers to consider, when working with brands or their PR firms.

  • Don’t exaggerate your numbers – this doesn’t help anyone, least of all you should they ask for a screen shot of your Google analytics page! Yes, numbers are important, but knowing who your readers are is even more important.
  • Always be polite and ALWAYS reply to an invitation, whether it’s to an event or to receive a sample. If you receive an unsolicited sample, fire off a quick email to say thank you. If the invitation is for something that is completely out of sync with what your blog is about, take the opportunity to explain what it is you do blog about, with a few examples. You never know who else a PR firm has on their client list.
  • If you are serious about working with brands then make it easy for them to contact you. Have a clear About Us page. Have an advertising/PR section on your blog about what you will and will not accept. Write a media kit. This should include a description of your blog, a description of your readers and who they are, the URL, your stats (unique visits plus page visits), key social media stats, and what you offer. It should also include a ball park figure you expect to be paid.
  • Have a clear disclosure policy on your blog. This post by Food Bloggers Australia provides a good example for Australian bloggers of what should be included.
  • Know the value of your blog. This may change over time as you gain/lose readers. This post by Lorraine Murphy of The Remarkables Group provides an excellent summary of the fees they charge for their clients. It certainly gave me a good starting point for being aware of the value of my blog. 
  • Don’t feel you have to say yes to a brand just because they ask you to write a post about their product. Many brands will assume you will do it for free for the gratitude of being asked. And some people will. Think about what you want your blog to represent and what your terms and conditions are. I personally say no to many more brands than I say yes to, and that’s before the money conversation. I also reach out to brands that I want to work with. I also promote a lot of brands for free because I love their product – and this is mostly unsolicited promotion – I genuinely love the product.
  • Make sure your product fits with your blog. There are brands I refuse to work with because I loathe their products and what the company stands for. No, I’m not naming names, but if you read my blog you could probably work out which type of brands they might be! Having said that, if they approach me I will politely decline. There are other brands I won’t work with because their product has nothing to do with my blog topic. Again, I’ll politely decline if approached.
  • Know what the brand expects of you before you agree. And be comfortable with that. If you have any questions, if you can’t post within the agreed timeframe, if you get the product and really don’t like it but don’t want to write a negative post, then communicate all that to the brand. Believe me when I say they will be grateful.
  • Write your own post – don’t just copy and paste the media release. That’s just lazy blogging and won’t win you any friends.
  • Send a link to the brand once you’ve posted. They will definitely want to see what you said.
  • Brands might approach you with a pitch to work with them, but then decide you’re not the right fit for whatever reason. Don’t beat yourself up over it! Just thank them for considering you.

Are you a blogger working with brands? What are your top tips? 

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