I love that since Blogopolis two weeks ago and since five amazing Australian mummy bloggers returned from the US’ biggest female blogging conference, BlogHer 2011, that there is ongoing talk about bloggers working with brands.
And I’m not talking about the working-for-a-free-lipstick-kind-of-work.
A blogger is an independent publisher. We are not paid a wage to blog. We blog just because of the fun of it; we blog to market our business; or we blog because we are part of the relatively new digital media wave. Or all of the above.
You have a choice
And as part of that wave, bloggers have a CHOICE. I’ve locked caps on the word choice because I know there are many, many bloggers out there who never want to work with brands on their blogs – for paid advertising or otherwise. And I wholeheartedly respect that.
For those of us who CHOOSE to work with brands and promote advertising and advertorial content on our blogs, it’s a whole new frontier, with few guide posts, except perhaps what is happening in America.
Perth Blogger Sarah Pietrzak from Ah, the possibilities! said of US bloggers in this blog post written while at BlogHer 2011: “The bloggers I spoke with today have a keen sense of self worth and clearly mapped out values as to what they will or won’t do on their blogs.”
She said that brands cared about the bloggers they worked with, building a relationship with them. That relationship might start with a conversation on Twitter but it will also involve a lot of research before contacting the blogger or bloggers in question.
Work with brands that feel “right” for your blog
She said: “If you are interested in monetization or collaboration, when the right partner comes along, you should take the leap.” She also gives some great tips for building mutually beneficial partnerships.
One of those tips was understanding your blog’s influence and audience engagement to help set your advertising or advertorial rate:
“For example, a typical rate is $10 CPM, or $10 per 1000 (page) views. Notice I wrote typical. These days advertisers are considering more than just site traffic when looking at media buying. If you have average views but a lot of Twitter followers, a high Klout score, and a high level of engagement on your blog, you may be a more attractive candidate for a partnership than a blogger with a high level of site traffic, but low engagement. Ultimately, you set prices according to your traffic, influence, and how much you are willing to be paid to surrender space on your blog. In the end, if an advertiser really wants to work with you, they will pay what you ask, within reason.”
Value your blog space and readership
This “valuing” of what your blog space and readership can offer a brand or advertising agency is important to try and get your head around.
It’s something that Melbourne fashion blogger, Phoebe Montague, aka Lady Melbourne, raised on the Editorial vs Advertorial panel we sat on at Blogopolis. She has her talent manager at Nuffnang handle approaches from bigger brands but sets her own rates for working with smaller, independent and up-and-coming brands.
How you determine the value you place on YOUR blog and its readership is up to YOU. If you’ve only been blogging for a short time and want to monetise your blog through advertising, I’d look at smaller brands and businesses within your network. The relationship you start with them at this time could end up being a mutually beneficial one that grows as both your blog and their business does too.
If you’ve been blogging for some time and have a large readership and social media following, you can bet your bottom (advertising) dollar that brands are already looking at you.
Are you ready for that email or phone call? Do you have a media kit ready to email them – or downloadable on your website? (Perth blogger Glowless has one and she’s shared her tips on how to create a kick ass one for yourself!)
Do you have Google Analytics installed on your blog so that you can supply up-to-date statistics when brands ask for them (these the stats that most brands will ask for)?
Are you prepared to stand behind the sponsored post and advertising rates – the value – you placed on your blog?
Then, and only then, are you ready to work with brands on a paid basis.
PRs versus marketing managers and media buying agencies
One of the things I wanted to make clear from my position on the panel at Blogopolis was the difference between what a PR company is engaged to do on behalf of a brand and what a marketing manager or media buyer can do. (I also blogged about it here.)
PR companies are engaged by brands to achieve FREE publicity for that brand. They do not generally have a budget to pay bloggers – or any journalists – for sponsored or advertorial posts.
They will email you media releases relating to the brand – they are a potential source of information and ideas. Sometimes there is product available for review, sometimes that product is a loan item for review, which you have to send back, sometimes you’ll get invited to events.
It is once again your CHOICE if you decide to write about that brand or product. You’re the publisher, remember? If you’re not interested, then politely say no. Establish your own disclosure policy and stand by it.
A good relationship with a PR agency can, however, lead to an “in” with a brand they represent. The brand is already aware of you if you have written about them on your blog.
The brand would receive a monthly report from the agency as to all the free media coverage they had achieved on behalf of the brand – this report is often the reason why PRs ask to see your media kit. They want to be able to equate any coverage back to a dollar value for their client.
The PR agency may also be prepared to recommend you or introduce you to the marketing manager behind that brand. And this lead is where you have the potential to create a relationship that potentially leads to paid sponsorship or an advertising agreement.
Big brands work with – and are guided by – media buying companies as to where they spend their digital, TV, print and radio advertising budget. Advertising agencies like Nuffnang work with these companies on behalf of the 3500 bloggers on its books.
Some of the Editorial vs Advertorial panel’s ideas that were retweeted at Blogopolis
If you already work with brands or plan to, what guidelines have you set in place as an independent publisher? And don’t forget the importance of content in all of this talk of monetisation. Remember, without engaging content, you don’t have engaged readers and you don’t have a blog that’s attractive to advertisers in the first place.
Oh, and here’s the YouTube link to the segment on George Negus (except George is looking like he’s using the same face cream as Warnie). The Twitter stream was throttled as Australian mummy bloggers got behind their own. So proud! Hands up if you Tweeted through this segment on Monday night?