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How to Work with Brands as a Blogger

As I mentioned, I was at the Healthy Living Summit conference this year to be a speaker on a panel about working with brands as a blogger. A number of you said you’d find it helpful to hear what we talked about, so I thought it would be useful to do a dedicated recap post highlighting some of our main points!

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There was a great group of people on the panel with me.

Bloggers:

Brands:

Here I am with Ashley, Theodora, and Lauren after the panel was over:

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Overall, I think the panel went well! We had a pretty packed room and a number of people told us afterwards that they found it helpful, which was great.

Here are some of the highlights that we touched on:

  • Only work with brands you believe in.
    • There will be other cool opportunities that come up — don’t take an opportunity with a company you don’t believe in just because it’s a fun one or because everyone else is doing it. Stay true to you!
    • If someone pitches you for something you aren’t interested in — respond politely and say thank you for reaching out but you are not interested at this time. Often those pitching you are PR firms that might work with other brands you are interested in later, so you can add that while you aren’t interested in this brand, you would be open to other opportunities in the future and to please keep you in mind for those.
  • Don’t be scared to reach out to brands. The worst they can say is no!
    • When you reach out to them with partnership in mind, be specific with what you want and treat it like a professional business proposal.
      • For example: “In exchange for xx (e.g. money, or product, or sponsorship to a conference), I will give you xx (e.g. x amount of tweets, x amount of blog posts, x amount of facebook mentions), and THIS is why it will be beneficial to you (e.g. I have xx amount of impressions on my blog per month, xx amount of twitter/facebook/instagram/whatever followers, many of my readers are ____ (female, xx age, athletes, moms, whatever) which is a great target audience for you because ______, etc. etc.)”
    • Networking with brands when you attend conferences is also a great way to facilitate future partnerships — a lot of my partnerships have grown out of an initial meeting in person at a conference or event.
      • Even if you don’t have a specific pitch/partnership idea in mind, after the event, send the brands you are interested in an email saying it was great to meet them and to please keep you in mind for future partnership opportunities.
    • If you often pitch companies that you don’t know/have a relationship with already, having a media kit may be helpful in quickly giving them an overview of who you are and what your blog is all about. I haven’t made one but I’ve been meaning to for awhile now!
      • Media kits usually contain information like:
        • Contact information and a photo
        • Short summary of your blog, title, blog address
        • Links to twitter, Facebook page for your blog, any other social media sites
        • Website stats (monthly pageviews & unique visitors (use Google Analytics to find this out)
        • Any partnerships/press coverage
        • Services offered and rates (e.g. for ads, sponsored posts, product reviews)
      • For more on media kits, Katy Widrick is a great resource — check out her blog post on making a blogger media kit.

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Photo via Lauren — I’m in action on the far left!

  • Reach out to local companies.
    • Smaller companies may not be willing/able to pay for content or product reviews, but building a relationship with them still can be beneficial in establishing yourself in the local scene (and in helping to support small, local companies you believe in!).
      • In addition to local brands, local exercise studios/gyms are also often open to partnerships — e.g. free membership in exchange for blog advertising/promotion. Don’t be afraid to pitch yourself using the tips above. Be sure to show what’s in it for them!
      • You can also try reaching out to local media for writing opportunities. In the past, I wrote a twice monthly blog post for Chapel Hill Magazine (when I lived there, obviously) — it was unpaid but a fun way to connect with the local community and get some new readers from the area.
  • Be clear up front what the expectations are when working with a company.
    • E.g. How many tweets/blog posts/etc. are expected in exchange for what they are providing (money, product, free membership, etc.)? Are there any specific requirements for the posts or tweets?
  • Regarding product reviews:
    • If you don’t like a product, be honest. NEVER accept money to say you like something you don’t — be clear with the company up front that your review will be honest but fair. If you really hate a product you try, try emailing the company and asking to try something else instead before you do your review — maybe you’ll like something else they have.
    • End a product review with: “Would I buy this product with my own money?” Yes or no. I’m going to start doing this!

And with all of that said… write your blog like you don’t care if you’ll ever work with a brand or not. Your blog should be for you and your readers — if you’re only blogging because you want free products or money… you’re not doing it for the right reasons. :)

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Please feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments!

Comments

  1. 1

    Thank you so much for the recap!! It’s so helpful to get advice from an experienced blogger. I would love to work with a company I believe in and it’s exciting to have a game plan for making this happen.

  2. 2

    i didn’t get a chance to sit in on this panel so this is such a helpful post! thank you for doing the recap!

  3. 3

    Thanks for the recap, Anne–it’s super helpful!

  4. 4

    Thanks for this helpful post! There are brands out there I want to work with and I’m neve sure of how to approach them since I’m a new-ish blogger!

  5. 5

    Loving all the recaps on the preso’s since I didn’t go this year. This one sounds like a good one!

  6. 6

    Thanks so much for posting this, it was really helpful! And the conference looks like it was a lot of fun!

  7. 7

    Very cool Thanks for sharing these tips. I don’t do any of this yet (my blog is way too small and unread), but I like learning about it still.

  8. 8

    Great summary Anne! This was one of my favorite sessions and was so interesting and informative! I loved the panel for it, so well rounded!!!

  9. 9

    It sounds like good advice — thanks!

  10. 10

    What a great recap Anne! It was such a pleasure to have you on the panel and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honest insight. I heard that so many people benefited from it (including myself). :)

  11. 12
    Adventurer says:

    This is hugely impressive, Anne. I like the “big ideas” you’ve laid out and I like how clearly/concisely you laid them out. That is not as easy as it seems when one reads a list of such ideas. So, very well done! And congrats. This will be a huge help to others embarking on initiatives in the blogosphere!

  12. 14

    Thanks do much for the recap! Great info and as a new blogger; I will definitely be using this info. Wish I could have seen you guys in person. Glad it was a success!

  13. 15
    Key West Crew says:

    Hope your weekend is as fun as ours!!!

  14. 16

    This is SUCH a great recap! You did a Fannetastic job as a panelist ;) I’m not looking to do this anytime soon, but will def refer back to this when I feel ready and more confident ;)

  15. 18

    This was definitely a fantastic session. I thought both sides brought a lot of clarity and insight to the process!

  16. 19

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share such a detailed recap of the session. As someone in media marketing/outreach at a new but growing brand, this was really helpful for me to learn as well!

  17. 21

    You rock!!!
    Wish I was there to loudly cheer you on the from the back of the room. All classy like.

  18. 22

    Such a helpful recap of your presentation. Thanks for sharing – I already thought how interesting this presentation must be when I pointed it out on the HLS schedule, and I am so happy that you made a summarize for all of us bloggers who did not take part.

  19. 23

    When I first started blogging, i did it with the full intent on it becoming so big money maker one day and I hated every second of it. I blog now for me and my posts are better, and I’m so much happier! I don’t get a ton of brand opportunities, but the ones I do get, I really enjoy working with the companies.

    Love what you do and it will show in your work!

  20. 25

    This is a great summary post – lots of things I’ve learned over the year and great new tidbits!!

  21. 26
    kristen @ livinlifeinlouie says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I just started blogging about a year ago, and I am always interested in other blogs and tips. Thanks again!

  22. 27

    These are great tips!

    I’m not quite at this stage with blogging yet, but I do want to take it in that direction. This is all stuff I’ll have to remember in the (hopefully soon) future!

  23. 28

    Thank you for sharing this recap. This sounded like a great conference but I was not able to attend. Your tips about bloggers working with brands are all very helpful!

  24. 29
    Lori at Frugal Edmonton Mama says:

    Great tips. I’ve been blogging for almost two years and Lookin forward to developing relationships w brands!

  25. 30

    I’m new to the ‘working with brands’ concept. Interesting post.

  26. 31

    This is great – concise and good pointers for someone who is new to the scene. I began writing about a year ago and I am launching a blog/lifestyle site in a few weeks, so information like this is immensely helpful.

  27. 32

    This was excellent advice! Thank you for sharing.
    b

  28. 33

    Thank you for posting this. I have just venturing into this whole working with brands and ads on my blog and such. This gives me great pointers and confidence to go into my unknown. Thanks again, will be coming back to re-read these!!

  29. 34

    Great article – thanks for the advice!

  30. 35

    Great post! Definitely helpful for a newer blogger like myself. Thanks for the advice and information!

  31. 36

    Thank you for posting this! I’m fairly new to the blogging world and this advice is really helpful!

  32. 37

    I found this very helpful! I have been wanting to work with brands and companies I personally trust and believe in. Now I know for a beginner like myself it will take time and a lot of reaching out and rejection. Until I finally become a successful brand blogger, but I was wondering when reaching out to companies is it best to reach out to them via e-mail or by actual mail? I feel like mail would be more personal, but then again e-mail seems more efficient to get things done. Thoughts?

    • 38

      Definitely email since you’ll be working with them on things related to social media/the internet! Good luck! It helps to write about some of your favorite companies and tag them on Facebook/Twitter when you share your posts, too, so they notice you.

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