There are just 40 days until the Digital Parents Conference.
As I was skyping this week with Maria Tedeschi, the session coordinator*, I cast my mind back to 12 months ago. And specifically what the Australian blogging landscape looked like then and what it looks like now.
And I thought, WOW. So much has happened in such a short time.
New bloggers have blitzed onto the scene, offering fresh takes on every niche. Existing bloggers have built new levels of reader engagement and traffic.
On the other side of the digital fence, many brands – big and small – have dipped more than just their big toes into our little sector of the digital world. They are working with bloggers and valuing them for their influence and reach. That’s paying off for the clever brands, which are seeing good returns on investment for this new word-of-mouth marketing. And it’s paying off for bloggers, who are seeing a financial return for the blood-sweat-and-tears investment they’ve each made in their blog.
As other brands watch these partnerships and collaborations unfold from the sidelines, more are taking off their business shoes, rolling up their tailored pants and stepping into the big bloggie pond. Some of them are doing perfect dives, others performing more of a canon ball or belly flop manoeuvre.
In less than two months this year I’ve been lucky enough to receive some incredible approaches that will see me working side by side with a number of huge brands in 2012. (I can’t wait to share those with you. You know how hard it is for a blogger to keep quiet about anything don’t you? It’s like someone’s gaffer taped my Twitter account!)
Yes, I’m humbled and I’m blown away in equal measures because with these collaborations comes clarity around my brand and my business.
It’s helped me to have confidence in the value I put on my brand. And not lose sight of that confidence when offers from brands, framed as “opportunities” and “content” for my blog land in my inbox.
Overall, it’s helped me to have confidence in my abilities as an independent publisher – because that’s what we all are – and to set my own publishing guidelines. Guidelines that I’m very comfortable with.
It’s not about looking over the bloggie fence and following what someone else might be doing. It’s about you. And what works for YOU. YOUR blog. YOUR rules.
You see, what works for me, my not work for you. What I say yes to, you might not go anywhere near. What I say no too, might be perfect for your publishing guidelines.
If you don’t have any guidelines in place and are wanting to build your blog into a business, it’s time to do that now.
To help you set your own independent publishing guidelines – or rules – and get clear on them, here are 6 key questions you need to think about BEFORE you send off that sponsorship proposal or put together a media kit. Or even BEFORE you respond to that doozy of an “opportunity” that’s sitting in your inbox.
- What is your niche?
- What sets you apart from others in that niche?
- What are your current traffic statistics?
- How many followers do you have on social media networks?
- Do you have more than just numbers – do you have engagement with your readers?
- Do you have influence through that engagement?
Can you easily answer these questions? And explain those answers easily when asked. Are you ready to stand behind your blog and your brand?
If so, you’re ready for the next step: putting a monetary value on your blog’s brand.
This goes beyond calculating the price you would put on your blog real estate through sponsored posts and banner ads (have a read of Nicole Avery’s brilliant post on this).
And yes, the “going beyond” bit gets tricky. But it’s a worthwhile process as it’s the value that YOUR brand – your readers, engagement and influence – can bring to another brand, that can make it super attractive.
It’s all such new ground for Australian blogging.
For me, I really thought about those six questions above. I talked to other bloggers and I talked to people outside of blogging who do similar things with their brand in other media.
I set my value. I wrote it down. And I’ve stuck to it.
While I was at it, I changed my mindset.
This was the key.
This year I’ve had some semi-attractive opportunities sent my way – and some downright unattractive ones too – but I turned them down because I would be offering more of my brand than they would be offering me in return.
I had to be able to walk away from brands which didn’t place the same value on my brand that I had. And I had to do that without regret. Without thinking about whether I would be missing out on things other bloggers were doing – and tweeting about!
And I have.
And you know what? It feels REALLY good.
Are you clear on your own publishing guidelines? Have you put a value on your brand and your blog? Are you confident to stand firm on your blog’s value?
* I’m moderating the Blog to Business session at the Digital Parents Conference. Joining me on the panel are Renee Mayne, Laney Galligan and Emma Ashton. We’ll be offering you key action points to position your blog (and brand) as a business … should that be something you’re keen to do, of course!