Have you recently received your first outreach email from a brand or agency for campaign opportunities? Are you squealing with excitement yet at the same time feeling a bit nervous on what’s the best way to respond and get it across the line? Here at Search Factory, we’ve dealt with various national brands and blogger outreach campaigns, so you can count on us for some tips on how to best approach working with brands. We’re also proud of our multi-talented team – quite a few of our Content Marketers actually wear both hats, running their own blogs! Being on both sides of the field means that we get some real insight into basic blogging etiquette. We know everyone loves a good list, so here it is, the list you need to read before starting your brand talk.
1. Be Professional
I put this as the first point and it might sound self-explanatory, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to be professional at all times. If you want to build your blog as your business, treat it like a business from day one. This has been the recurring theme from the Problogger conference for the last few years. Even if you’re offering to review a product for free, you’re still engaged in business activities, as the brands approach you for their return on investment.
Most bloggers blog during their off hours and have a full-time job or other commitments on the side. However, don’t give yourself excuses for not posting an article by the agreed deadline, or not running the campaign report as promised. You’ll tarnish your blog’s and your own reputation by doing that. Having a reputable blog is essential, as the marketing industry has quite a high staff turnover rate. Chances are that you’ll have your bad reputation spread by word of mouth across the industry in no time at all.
This all comes down to being realistic with your workload, managing expectations and having good time management skills. How possible is it to deliver what the brands have asked for by deadlines? Is there any room for negotiation? Could you propose an alternative delivery date if what they suggested was not realistic? Are there any tasks you could outsource to help you meet deadlines? What are the tasks that you could re-prioritise to make room for the campaign that you’re dying to get on board?
Being professional touches all different aspects of blogging. Perhaps all you need is to invest in a more reliable server and email system so that your server won’t go down when the campaign is running, or your email won’t bounce when the brands need to be in touch. On an extended holiday and can’t access emails? Set up an out of office auto reply like you would at your job. Received an event invitation and not able to attend? Shoot through a short email and decline politely. Obviously, they are some spammy marketers who don’t do their research before outreaching and send you a totally irrelevant pitch and don’t even get your name right. Even then, I’d suggest dropping them a quick line to ask for your name to be taken off their contact list (this way you don’t get annoyed by them again!). Of course, then there are those emails from spammy outreach services that were obviously generated by robots and don’t make sense at all – I’d ignore these and click ‘Delete’!
2. Read Campaign Brief Thoroughly and Ask Questions
First of all, you need to have a brief from brands regarding their expectations and guidelines. If you don’t, go ask for one before chatting any further to make sure both parties are on the same page. Don’t ask what’s already been outlined in the campaign brief – that simply shows you don’t read emails carefully and is the first strike against your professionalism. Instead, think of important questions to ask that aren’t covered in their brief. Do you know what the campaign objectives are? Which other blogs have been approached? Are there any offline marketing activities that you could tie in or get story ideas from? Are there any other supporting digital activities that you could add value to? You might be able to pick up other associating tasks just by asking! And most importantly, what are their budgets? Are they willing to meet your set rates? Negotiating payment with brands can be intimidating for new bloggers, yet don’t leave it till the last minute, as it can be time wasting for you and the brand. We’ll cover the topic of talking money with brands in the coming blog posts here.
3. Invest in Quality Images, Multimedia Content and Proper Tools
Again, if you want to be treated like a business, invest like a businesses would. What are the tools you need in order to fulfill or exceed expectations for the campaign? We can’t stress enough the role of visual content play in storytelling. In most campaigns, it is a given and an expectation that a blogger will be able to shoot with a Digital Single-lens Reflex (DSLR) camera (or have great photo editing apps on your smartphone) to produce quality images in association with an editorial or reporting from a brand event that they’re invited to. Mastering video shooting might not be for everyone, but think about the platforms you could use to produce short video clips, such as Vine and Instagram. These two tools are very user-friendly and are free. Do you run giveaways with brands? Consider investing in paid giveaway widgets such as Gleam and Rafflecopter (basic free account also available), which give you added features and advanced analytics for reporting purpose.
4. Give Feedback and Share Insights
One thing that makes a blogger stand out from the rest of the crowd is giving constructive feedback proactively. The idea of blogger campaign is still quite new to most brands and agencies, and honestly, some bloggers are far more experienced in brand campaigns than the brands themselves. If you’ve been involved in a similar campaign previously and thought the way it ran was much better, give your feedback in a positive and constructive manner. For example, think about how can they improve the brief to make it more efficient. How does their budget compare to other similar brands? Is there any other marketing component they’ve overlooked? Is this the best time of the year to run this message via your blog? Although not all of the feedback will be taken on board, the agencies in particular will appreciate your insights as these are what they’re required to report on in their end of campaign reports to the brands – you’re helping them out with their job and giving them good reasons to come back to you for their next campaign.
There you have it, our top tips for newbie bloggies trying to get on to the brands bandwagon. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope this help you make a smooth start to your blog-monetising journey.