I don’t work with brands. It’s a personal choice and I’m happy with it. It’s not because I have a deep-seated aversion to it. It’s not because I think that bloggers who do are not ‘authentic’ or ‘honest’ or whatevs. It just doesn’t work for me and my blog. I blog for different reasons. I know why I blog. It’s not to write reviews and sponsored posts. (If you’re not sure why you’re blogging, then it’s probably a great idea to sit down right now and write down some reasons.)
Having said all that, and having worked in publishing, dealing with advertisers and PR people and all that goes with that, I have a couple of things to say about working with brands.
Firstly, I never get upset when PR people email me with a review or sponsorship request. Yes, it’s quite clear from my blog that I don’t do them, but you know what, they’re just doing their job. They’re trying to reach as many bloggers as possible in the hopes that something will stick. It’s not the most efficient approach, but PR people are learning how this all works, just as bloggers are.
If you get an email that gets your name wrong, or offers you a product that really doesn’t work with your blog, simple send back a polite email thanking the PR person for their interest, explaining that it’s not for you ‘at this time’, and wishing them luck with their campaign. It’s a small world. Networking begins everywhere.
Secondly, the bloggers who are working regularly with brands are offering something different. They have huge followings for a reason. They are not interchangeable with the next blog. They are setting trends, not following them. They don’t copy. They never write posts wondering why other people are doing better than they are – and they never have. I know because I’ve been following them for years.
Your blog is your calling card. Yes, be authentic and raw and honest and all those other great things, but be aware of how you’re presenting yourself. Brands are represented by professional people. They like to work with professional people. Be professional. It does matter.
On that note, feel free to blog as raw and honest and authentic as you like, but pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Again, it matters. It really, really does.
Lastly, build it before you hope they will come. Before you even consider approaching brands, spend some time blogging your heart out, building your community, working out what works for you and what doesn’t. Blogs with great foundations have something to offer brands. Bloggers who work regularly with brands now have put in a lot of free hours to get to that point.
A blog can happen overnight, but a blog community? That’s a whole different kettle of fish. And never forget that your community is what the brands are after. Those are the people you ‘influence’. That’s what a brand is buying when they pay you for a sponsored post or review.
And when the time comes, make sure you’re really happy to give that influence away to that particular brand.
Have you sat down and really thought about why you blog? If you are blogging to create a business or a little money on the side, have you thought about what your blog and community have to offer brands?
Allison Tait is a freelance writer and author who blogs at Life In A Pink Fibro. She worked on staff at magazines such as Vogue Australia, CLEO and House & Garden, and has been writing features for magazines, newspapers and online for more than 20 years. She blogs because it is one of the few places left to her where writing is not work.
Editor’s note: As regular readers know, I DO work with brands and include sponsored posts and advertising on my blog. I’m upfront about that and all sponsored posts will always be labelled as such. I didn’t start out that way but I’ve always worked with PR agencies in the fashion and beauty industry since my time as a journo. This never stopped when I entered the digital world. I just kept writing about fashion and beauty – and they just kept emailing me ideas. Not all ideas are good ones but I will always reply if the email is addressed to me personally. If it’s a good idea, I’ll either email the PR back straight away or I’ll file away in a folder for later.
For many PR people it’s been an easy transition into the world of digital. For many more, they still don’t really know what to do with us.
I actually don’t need PRs to source content for my blog – the ideas about what to write about are all around me – even product specific ones like the dress that Mrs Woog bought this week and the sales snowball that resulted from our posts. We alerted the PR as to what was happening after we’d published and the site had crashed but we’d had no prior conversations with Seed. Wonder what they think of us now … a couple of crazy ladies who managed to sell them out of their black tube maxi dresses in two days?
There is no doubt that a blogger – or group of bloggers – can have an incredible influence over their readership. I don’t take this lightly. I respect my readers and work from the primary aim of writing fun content that is useful and contains information that helps women feel good about themselves. I also only recommend products I’m happy to put my brand to.
And on that note, Jacki James from digital agency Zuni wrote this week about bloggers influencing her spending habits and how blogs and businesses can create than influence for themselves. Her husband might not be so happy with me but I thank-you Jacki. I do.
Have you blogged about blogging on your blog this week? Want to link up your posts here?
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