Many bloggers have the specific wish, if not intent, to make money from their blogs. Others come to this goal later. Either way, I think it still takes time for these bloggers to get the ‘lay of the land’ – so to speak – and discover what is working (or not) for those who are making money. Historically, connecting with brands – either directly or via a PR agency – has been a major area bloggers have leveraged for gain, whether by short-term campaigns or long-term partnerships (or ambassadorships). If you are new to blogging, or are starting over, I have a few tips I can offer. While I’m not a marketing or PR expert by any means, I seen a lot over my time and have a lot of experience.
1. First – focus on building up your blog to a point that brands will find attractive
What’s that ‘point’, you ask? Honestly? It’s a good question and highlights one of the realities of the blogging world: statistics can be very relative. It used to be that the bigger audience you had the better chance you might have of snagging attention, however, while that’s still important, I think it’s almost as important to have an engaged audience: if your posts have lots of comments, or your social media posts are shared and show a wider reach, that is very good too. I think it depends on the brand (or what campaign they’re running) as to what kind of preference or combination of these factors they will most desire.
One thing I will add: never underestimate what kind of asset YOU are. Call it your ‘Personal Brand’ if you want, but if you yourself have some sort of profile then use it. Whether that profile is within your own niche or field or expertise or if it has grown to attracting media attention, then – believe me – you will catch attention. Brands might not be breaking down your doors yet, but you might make your way on to PR mailing lists or you’re asked for a media kit. If this happens, you’re on your way.
Takeaway tip: People really like numbers. I understand that. So when I’m asked for a baseline number for website traffic – in spite of everything I said above! – I believe it’s usually said that 3,000 page views per month is the point when you can begin thinking about this more seriously.
2. Be prepared – help brands to work with you better
I mentioned media kits above, and I won’t go in to those here – Louisa at Brand Meets Blog has a good post on them as does Stacey over at Problogger – and they’re a must, honestly, if you really want to work with brands.
(At nine pages long, my media kit is longer than what is ‘typically’ recommended, however mine reflects the history of this blog, which is about personal journey and narrative, and its length has never been an issue.)
Sponsorship proposals are different than media kits and they’re what I’m more interested in. In my opinion they’re a better persuasive document and therefore you’re more likely to get the attention of the people who hold the purse strings if you get those right. I will focus on how to put one of those together in another post, but I just wanted to make the point by writing either, or both, you will have to ask yourself, “What am I willing to do? What am I not willing to do?” That could be by forming boundaries by ruling out brands or industries that don’t align with your morals or lifestyle to placing a maximum on the amount of times you’re happy to share their message on social media, to solidifying no-go zones. For example, if you have a ‘no photography of your children’s faces’ policy, that could be a problem for some brands if they want a picture of your kids brushing their teeth if it’s for a dental hygiene campaign. Or if you’re vegan, many shoe brands will be an issue. Getting clear, and being clear up front, saves uncomfortable situations later. Trust me.
Conferences or events can be a great way to meet people who you are looking to make contact with – they often have exhibitor or sponsor spaces set up where you can talk with brands. While the people who work on them are rarely the big brand or accounts managers or such, they will often have their contact details or will offer to forward on an email. This is why business cards still have their place – definitely keep passing them out. I would advise you not to be too aggressive with the way you go about it, though: I’ve had business cards shoved up my nose on occasion. And select carefully: only approach brands you really feel a connection with.
4. Don’t wait for them to come to you!
I’m all for contacting blog advertising agencies and blogging talent agencies to introduce yourself and see what happens next. I’ve been part of blog advertising agencies in the past and I made a little money, but I had a problem with one and it soured my overall impression, so I left. This was because it was quite clear that the strata was all that mattered: there was the ‘best’ and there was the ‘rest’. Call me grumpy, but I have no tolerance for that kind of thing. So I struck out on my own and immediately did better: by negotiating for myself, I got better pay PLUS I was able to make important contacts directly.
If there is a brand or business you admire and would like to work with? Contact them! It’s probably best if you start locally, or within your city. Apple might work with you, sure, I could be wrong, but let’s have a Plan B, yeah? My year-long partnership with Savers remains one of my favourite blogging experiences and that began with a reach-out email I wrote.
5. Remember to stay focused on YOUR game
This really is important and doesn’t fly in the face of everything I’ve just said. If you stay focused on what you are doing, good work, solid content, making inroads, that is what matters.
I’ve said this before – it can be hard to be that person not invited to an event or not invited to speak. I’ve been that person once or twice! However, letting your ego take hold is dangerous and, believe me, when I’ve shaken off that fug and gotten back to work that’s when things really start to happen. (I wonder if that happens to anyone else or just me?) It’s imminently more rewarding and productive.
I hope this has helped. In sum: establish yourself, get ready, network, put yourself out there and keep working. If you have no idea which PR places to contact, you can always Google “PR agencies melbourne” or “PR agencies Sydney” etc. based on where you live. Another tip of finding them can be to see which ones the ‘bigger’ bloggers in your niche are following – used to be on Twitter, but Instagram is a big growth area now. And if you’re not on those places – sign up.
Image source: Tax Credits