After six years of blogging and a solid three years of using my influence to market brands to my audience, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. I want nothing more than to pass that knowledge onto other influencers so that you too can work effectively with brands.
We’re diving into the specifics of what you need in order to successfully work with brands as well as having an open conversation about bloggers shaming bloggers when it comes to sponsored work.
IE 15: How to Effectively Work with Brands
Before I get into today’s topic, I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I shared some about my beginnings in business is Episode 1 and about the power of purpose, so be sure to listen to that if you haven’t done so already.
Humble Beginnings in order to Work with Brands
I grew up in a very blue-collar, middle-class family. I was one of the first in my family to go to college and actually graduate from college. I got my Master’s in Elementary Education and Literacy and became a teacher. I moved back to my hometown and began to teach in inner-city classrooms. But about 2 years ago, our family moved to North Carolina.
A lot of the guests I’ve had on my show have come from a long line of entrepreneurs, but I did not. None of my family is entrepreneurial. Teaching was a great career for sure, with summers off, benefits, etc. But it wasn’t my life passion and that began to be very clear after I started my first blog, The Melrose Family.
Blogging for Influence
That blog was completely my hobby, to take my mind off of the stress of being in a classroom where I couldn’t meet the needs of all of my students, nor could I teach effectively with the class sizes being what they were. I also used that blog to rediscover some passions I had let go when I became a mom. So I dove headlong into the world of bloggers and influencers, determined to make a difference through my blog.
At that time, brands were beginning to take notice of bloggers; specifically, how well we knew our audiences, the sheer size of our social media followings, and the voice and reach we were able to have. They knew that if we recommended a product, our audience would very likely go out and purchase that product.
When we moved to North Carolina, I gave up teaching for blogging because my income from sponsored posts had exceeded my very adequate teaching salary that I had in New York. What I discovered very quickly was that running my own business was becoming a passion for me.
Reaching Out to Others in the Blogging Community
The more I wrote for my blog, the more I found other women just like me; working full-time outside the home but wanting deeply to own their own business and have the freedom to attend events at their child’s school or to just manage their own time. My desire grew to help these women achieve their goals.
Last fall, I created my new space, Jenny Melrose, and launched my first course, Pitch Perfect Pro. This is a program that teaches influencers how to reach out to brands, what to say when they do, and how to go about the entire process; from the beginning with the pitch, all the way to the end, of reaching back out to the brands when the campaign is over and securing long-term contracts with them.
But the question many of you have asked me over and over is what you need to know and do to get started working with brands. That’s what I want to help you with today.
Know Your Audience in order to Work with Brands
The very first thing you must know is your audience. You need to go into your Google analytics and see what percentage of your audience is male vs. female. What percentage is within certain age ranges? Where are they from? What kind of content are they most interested in?
If you are a lifestyle blogger like I am, does your audience come to you for recipes, crafts, or household projects? You have to be able to speak to these things so that when you approach a specific brand, you can give social proof from your specific audience.
Be Authentic in Your Content
I hear from so many bloggers that they hate doing sponsored posts. Why? Because they aren’t being authentic in the creation of the content. They feel like they just have to say exactly what the brand wants them to say and there’s no room for creativity. But this should never be the case!
The whole point of working with brands is to take that product and apply it to your life. You have to put your own unique voice behind the product. Use it to solve a problem for your audience. It is your responsibility to find a way to make it work, whether you’re writing about cooking ingredients or garbage bags.
A great example, actually using garbage bags, is a post I was writing for Glad trash bags. I needed to find a way to reach my audience with why they would want to use Glad trash bags. So I created an easy fish taco recipe and talked about how nice it was to not have to smell the fishy trash because of the Glad trash bags.
You don’t want to take on sponsored content but then lose your audience. Make sure what you write is the truth and that it works for your family and your audience.
Can You Over-deliver?
Before I talk about this, let me remind you that I always get a contract and know exactly what the conditions are that I need to complete for the campaign. So how do you over-deliver when you’re working with brands?
Let’s say you usually Pin any new content to 10 different boards on 10 different days, but you are only contracted to Pin once for the sponsored content. Why would you not go ahead and Pin that content like you normally would? I can’t overstate the importance of treating sponsored content exactly like you would your normal content.
Know Your Worth when Working with Brands
Have you ever been contacted by a brand and asked to work for them for free or only in exchange for product? I hear of this happening more and more. But is it wrong?
Some bloggers throw out tons of judgment toward those who take these opportunities. But who are they to say what’s right for someone else? If this type of campaign works for you and your family, you should feel free to do it. This is your business. If you have the chance to do a post in exchange for something that your family could really use or enjoy, don’t let shaming from others keep you from doing it.
Let’s get real for a minute; not every company has a huge budget to work with bloggers. So if they offer to send you a $300 stroller in exchange for one Instagram post, is that one post going to kill your business? No!! If anything, it gives you hope that they may contact you in the future when they do have a bigger budget for sponsorships.
This is the time to do what I just talked about and overdeliver! Take a gorgeous photo of the product, share it on your social media, and do everything you can to ensure it gets the same exposure as your regular posts do.
When figuring out what to charge for sponsored content, I highly recommend you check out the site, Social Blue Book. When you enter your Google analytics and your social media numbers, it will show you a range of rates that you can charge. Keep in mind, this is just an overall idea of what you can charge.
If you’ve been blogging for a long time in an extremely tight niche, which makes your numbers look smaller, you can probably charge more than what it tells you. Or maybe you feel like the numbers are too high and you just want to get your feet wet working with brands. In that case, dial the numbers back some.
You Have to Pitch
Listen to me, stop sitting there waiting for brands to contact you for sponsored posts! If you really want to work with brands, you have got to put yourself out there and pitch yourself. If you’re in some kind of network of bloggers where you’ve put in your information and now you’re just waiting for that email that’s going to get the ball rolling for you, you are wasting your time. You are a needle in a haystack.
When you pitch the brands that you actually know, love, and use, you’re going to stand out to them. This allows you to pitch to your strengths, not just your social media numbers. If you have never pitched yourself and you just don’t know where to begin, be sure to sign up for my Pitch Perfect Challenge.
Be sure to grab our FREE Pitch Checklist HERE!
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