Is there room for advertising on your blog? #nnb2011

Nikki ParkinsonLife 50 Comments

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.

(See below for the segment which aired this week on 6.30 on TEN featuring two of those bloggers, Edenland and Woogsworld.)

... and yes, I've already bought my ticket to BlogHer '12. Well, it IS in New York!

… and yes, I

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

One of my fave US fashion (and blogging) bloggers, the gorgeous V at Grit & Glamour, blogged this week about The perks and pitfalls of product placement.

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.

Editorial vs Advertorial panel at Blogopolis 2011

Editorial vs Advertorial panel at Blogopolis 2011: From left, Phoebe Montague (Lady Melbourne), David Krupp (Nuffnang), Nikki Parkinson (Styling You) and Arnold Aranez (The Gadget Guy). Photo: Danimezza

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

Editorial Vs Advertorial: blogopolis 2011 tweets

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?



Comments 50

  1. There’s no doubt about it that in fashion and beauty the relationship with a brands starts via their PR company (or in house). Hi Jenny, I’m glad the post was timely. you have definitely filled in lots of the gaps that were left for me after that particular session. I’m not sure that it’s a case of some brands not valuing bloggers, more that they don’t necessarily understand what we do and can bring to the media table.

  2. Gosh I never ever thought about brands and having them advertised on our blog site. Interesting. The BlogHer 12 in New York sounds amazing. I so would love to be in a room full of like minded people. I love blogging, and connecting with other bloggers online. As a Mum who homeschools four of our boys while on the road, its great to connect wih other Mums so that I dont feel so alone.

    Thanks for the great information. So would have loved to be at Blogopolis two weeks ago. It sounded like so much fun!


    1. It’s not for everyone, Lisa. For me I now approach my blog as like a mini media publication. I have a large readership and brands are interested in connecting with that. Much the same as a print magazine.
      And I cannot recommend a blogging meet-up or conference enough. I’ve been to two conferences this year, another booked for October and BlogHer12 next year – they inspire me to blog better.

      1. Hello Nikki,

        Thank you for reply. You say that you are going to one in October this year? Where is that going to be, and how do I find out the information about the blog conference.

        Really would love to go to one!

        The one in New York next year – where would I find out about the information for that one?


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      It is inspiring, Annabel but I’m sitting here really in awe at the power of blogging. A campaign I started yesterday driven by the emotion of seeing the Morcombes on TV has gone viral with people all around Australia and the world wearing red today. THAT’S why I love blogging. We have the power to make a difference.

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  3. Thanks so much for the link Nikki. It was a really interesting conference and BlogHer certainly taught me a great deal in terms of blogging and branding. I think you will absolutely rock it in NY next year x

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  4. Thankyou so much for this nikki! you have definitely filled in lots of the gaps that were left for me after that particular session. I have had so many questions about the or/working with brands stuff that I have been unsure how or who to ask without looking like a fool… you have answeres quite a few of them here. I have pretty clear vision on the types of brands I would love to work and suit where I am headed with my blog but have been very unsure about the starting points. Tatum xx

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  5. Fantastic post!

    I got alot out of Blogopolis including the Editorial vs Advertorial panel. I think that all blogs, no matter what they decide need to at least think about it and make a informed decision on where they stand with brands. For me I know I got a few things on my to-do list from both that talk and your post to help take my blog to the next level.

    Thanks heaps!!

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  6. Ahhhh. This is (one of the many reasons) why I rate your blog. Thanks for making what is, for me, quite a confusing aspect of blogging so much easier to understand. Love your work.

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      Thanks Linda, that is the aim with each of my Saturday blogging posts. Things I’m learning (it’s never ending!) and things I’ve already learned that I think other bloggers would benefit from knowing.

  7. The answer is no, if you mean advertisements in the header, footer, or margins area. There are two reasons for this:

    1) Simply not how I operate. I don’t want anything on my blog I don’t personally have a long acquaintance with. Should one of those brands suggest an advertising relationship, I can only say “maybe,” with a strong leaning towards “probably not.” For brands that I have absolutely no history with? No way.

    2) I do not blog every day. Sometimes I don’t even blog every month. Any income generated by advertisements will be an incentive (read stressor) to constantly generate new content, even when I don’t feel like it. You what we call that? A job. Blogging isn’t my job. I’m a teacher. I love my students. That7s my job. I don’t want to be a professional blogger.

    Now, as for reviews of products? As long as they read the fair compensation manifesto and agree to allow me full editorial control and include the FTC required disclosure statements, sure. I’ll do that.

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      Hi Kionon, that is my point exactly. In the Bloggerverse we have a choice; blog as a hobby or as business. My post today is aimed at bloggers who either already take some advertising/sponsorship or want to make that part of their blogging future. I totally respect that that’s not everyone’s wish.

      And I think it’s really fantastic that the US has mandatory disclosure laws for products received and reviewed – it’s something that I think would be a good step here in Australia.

      I make my own disclosures on blog posts where I’m writing about product that has been sent to me for review consideration.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Great info that you have included in this post..everything you stated is very true and you were right on point. I think sometimes as bloggers we sometimes sell ourselves short because I’m very guilty of doing so. But this is a great resource and I have some things that I definitely need to work on..Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  9. Blogs didn’t exist when I wanted to “do something” with my writing, so I started my own boutique magazine for Aussie Christian women, Footprints, back in 1998 – & still going strong! It was also the mag I wanted to read, but couldn’t find :-).

    Nowadays the mag has grown to include a social media presence – Twitter, Facebook, and of course a blog. I do feel a bit “different” though because my main emphasis of course is the mag, rather than the blog but there are so many similarities …

    I was scared off advertising early on when I was approached by some very strange people/products (raunchy lingerie – not quite right for our mag!) – it’s only in the last couple of years that I have accepted ads in the magazine, for 2 main reasons: a. it helps fund the magazine making it cheaper for our subscribers, and b. I realised part of our “mission” is to help our readers get the word out about their product/service and connect with others. So a win-win all round really!

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      Hi Janet, in 1998 not everyone was on email! It’s great that you’ve able to grow from a magazine and build on that through a social media presence.
      And yes, as a media company, advertising does indeed help fund a magazine. It’s the formula that traditional media has used since it began.
      Keep doing what you’re doing – it’s working!

  10. Couldn’t agree more with your comments here and at the conference about choosing your brands and having a good relationship with a PR rep. I’ve been lucky enough to develop this with one brand I love and have finally met the marketing department, in person! While I’ve tried the same approach with others, they just don’t appear to value bloggers yet, or focus on specific niche blogs. But just because I’m not a fashion blogger, doesn’t mean I don’t love fashion brands and would not be interested in working with a couple. Same with food, tech, etc…

    Thanks for a great post, Nikki. You always seem to have your finger on the pulse of the blogger community and write exactly what is needed.

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      Thanks Dorothy and that’s great about the relationship you’re building. I’m not sure that it’s a case of some brands not valuing bloggers, more that they don’t necessarily understand what we do and can bring to the media table. Time will change all that. In the meantime, finding ones who do “get” blogging and bloggers, is the key.

  11. Fabulous as always, Nikki. Since hearing you on the panel I’ve put a lot of thought in to worth & value… I still don’t have my answer but it’s the thought that counts, right? My mother always says so. Thank you so much for the link loving to the infamous media kit, it was great to get a mention at the conference & the trickle down effect has been pretty cool to watch. I need to wear a skivvy though to support my massive head 😛

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  12. A great and thorough post! So far most of the brands only contact me (through their PR agencies) for reviewing their latest consumer products as a sort of marketing/advertising as well for them.

    At times you also have to accept and reject the offers, based upon what you want your blog to be. When you are still “small”, it’s natural to accept every offer you’ve got but I guess as you grow along, you learn to filter them and more focus towards what your readers want in between

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  13. Excellent post Nikki. You have hit the nail on the head. It is about choice. And once you have made that choice the key as you say, is to find what you are comfortable with and that compliments your blog and style. I am in the early stages of developing a media kit and will look to advertising spots when the time is right. Again thanks for sharing your wisdom and expertise in this area x

  14. Hi Nikki, my hat off to you on a great post that brings together lots of great resources to make one mega useful post! I’m looking to work directly to build meaningful relationships with brands but have been interested by instances where the Marketing Manager has referred me to their PR contact. Lots of food for thought here and I’ll be revisiting my approach, putting together a formal media kit is number one on the list – thanks again!

    PS: Love your comment form – may I ask what widget you’ve used? I like how it allows selection of the blogpost I’d like to link (I’ve linked to my wrap up of nnb2011 – an overview of what I learnt from experienced bloggers like yourself!) and Twitter handle, very nice!

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      Thanks so much Cheryl. It’s interesting that you’ve been referred back to the PR. I’m thinking that there is still a lot of education with brands to happen. The marketing manager might not be switched on to integral advertising and sponsorship opportunities and would be happy to work with you but via the PR for free coverage? There’s no doubt about it that in fashion and beauty the relationship with a brands starts via their PR company (or in house).

      Re my comment form: It’s a customised wordpress comment form (so I have the reply function) and then I’ve added two plugins – CommentLuv (latest version offers commenters choice of last 10 blog posts to attach) and the Twitter handle one is called TwitterLink Comments.

      Over to read your post!

      1. Hi Nikki,

        It is very tricky, when emailed that they would put me in touch with PR, I did have to hold back from saying “but we could have a great relationship and do some clever things together!”

        So in the meantime it’s back to the drawing board on my approach, I really must get that media kit together…

        PS: Thanks muchly for the widget sharing – I’ve updated mine too now, so thank you:)

  15. I am so proud of Eden and Mrs Woog. I know they had an absolutely fabulous time and I wish I was in their niche to have really enjoyed BlogHer like I wanted to.

    I like that Australia is stepping up and getting smarter with building our educational options, but I just want to really stress that there is so much on offer in the US in regards to education. If you have a bit of cash to invest in learning how to really grow your blog, go to BlogWorld Expo. Take what you learn from there, bring it back to Australia and share the knowledge.

    Top post as always Nikki!! xox

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      Thanks Kimmi. I actually like to think and work beyond my niche. My readership is largely busy women and mums who need fashion and beauty advice in a hurry – real world advice. That’s what I’ve built my readership on and why BlogHer will work for me. I’m after the same target audience as the bloggers who attend this conference.

      And yes, BlogWorld is on my goal list too – New York wins for 2012!

      1. Oh I agree you totally work beyond your niche. You are a super savvy lady with hands in many pies hehe. I think I worded my comment really badly, I didn’t mean ‘you’ as in YOU, I meant ‘you’ as in to any people reading the comment who think BlogHer wasn’t sounding like it would be for them.

        Ahhh I will shut up now. This sunburn is making me crazy!

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  16. Another great insight, thanks Nikki! And yes, I was tweeting up a storm as I waited (impatiently) for the dynamic blogging duo to appear on our TV screens – if nothing else the trending made them realise just how socially influential mummy bloggers actually are 🙂

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