Working with brands on blogs is big business, and for one blogger making a full time living through advertising and sponsorships, there are 100 more who’d like to.
Louisa Claire has been blogging for nine years and runs Brand Meets Blog, where she connect brands with bloggers and trains bloggers on how to work professionally with brands. Having worked with leading brands including Qantas, Kellogg’s, and The Heart Foundation among many, she is passionate about helping brands and bloggers make authentic connections that deliver great value for bloggers, readers, and brands alike.
She’s been around since the early days of brand work on Australian blogs, and has seen the struggles and wins on both sides of the fence – where brands were tentatively taking this leap into new advertising waters, and bloggers realised they had platforms that could become careers.
I recently spoke at the ProBlogger Perth Training Day about the various ways you can monetise your blog (slides and links here, for those interested), and picked Louisa’s very knowledgeable brain about how to get your blog brand-ready. The topic was so large, and her advice so useful, I asked if we could go into more detail here on ProBlogger. Thanks Louisa!
If you’ve just started moving toward this income stream (or even if you’ve got some experience under your belt), then read on – there’s plenty of tips for you to implement today to get the most out of collaborating with brands (read on for a discounted rate on her brand/blog ecourse!).
*Further reading: Make Money on Your Blog by Partnering With Brands
Working with Brands on Your Blog: What You Need to Know
What are the benefits of working with brands on blogs as an income source?
Speaking personally, the positives for me have been huge – I have travelled interstate and overseas as a result of brand partnerships, been paid to write for brands, judge brand competitions and so much more. Just in terms of the experiences and opportunities I’ve had, it’s been fun! For me, fun is huge!
It’s also given me great flexibility as a Mum to be able to juggle little people and school drop offs, upset tummies and all the things that come with parenthood and I’m so grateful for that flexibility. And it helps pay the mortgage, so that’s good too! When I speak to fellow bloggers a lot of these reasons also resonate for them and drive their desire to find a way to make it work for them.
Why do you think it’s such a popular way of monetising?
Because it’s a natural extension of who we are as people! I think that we all love to share the things we love with the people we care about and what better way for bloggers to do this than to partner up with the brands they love and bring them to their readers? It just makes sense!
What are brands looking for when working with bloggers?
Sometimes what brands are looking for at a big picture level is different to what they actually want.
What I mean by that, is that often brands start out looking for reach – this means how many unique views a blog has or more plainly, how many people will see a blog post. What they mostly (really) want is for readers to be moved to act – whether that’s clicking on a link, commenting, visiting their site or more directly, making a purchase – they almost always have a goal that goes beyond simply “how many people will see this blog post.”
The job of the blogger is to help brands see how working with them will lead to that second activity – by showing them that whatever your audience size is, you are able to connect with you readers on a personal level and encourage them to act. For example, you might have a blog with 10,000 monthly uniques, but 85% of those are Australian (or American or UK) readers who have a direct interest in your blog topic. Another blogger might have 50,000 monthly uniques but 50% of their traffic is international and they blog on 3-4 topics so of the Australian (or US or UK – wherever you live) audience maybe only 25% are going to be interested in the topic.
Your job is to be able to explain to brand why your 10,000 uniques are just as useful and relevant to them. (My point isn’t that blogs with big traffic don’t have the same deep relevance as smaller, niche blogs but that the smaller blogs sometimes don’t know how to demonstrate to a brand why their smaller number is actually really good.) Because your goal is to move readers to action, it’s essential to only work with brands that you can truly, authentically endorse and who your readers would genuinely be interested in. It can also be a good idea to consider longer term brand partnerships or a clear focus in the type of brands you work with.
How important are media kits and what would brands like to see on them?
Media Kits are a great way to showcase the best things about your blog in a short, concise way to any interested brand or agency. That makes them an incredibly useful tool for bloggers!
That said, I’d hate for a blogger to be put off responding to a pitch or not initiating a conversation with a brand because they don’t have one – if you can put your key information into an email then that works too. The biggest mistake I see bloggers making with their media kids is making it too long and too hard to find that key information like audience profile and stats.
What are the best ways to make contact with brands?
Bloggers are in such a great position to do this right now because of their experience and comfort level with social media. With more and more brands trying to carve out their own space in social media, bloggers can get in front of them through simple things like sharing their content, commenting, engaging and striking up a conversation. I think if bloggers can keep in mind how they connect with each other then they are on the right track!
Are there particular niches you think work better than others with brands?
At certain times different niches will be “hot” and that will make it easier – health and wellness has been huge recently and it definitely helps if you’re in that niche at the right time.
That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily easier if you blog on a particular niche other than it might be more immediately obvious to you which brands suit your blog. What I think makes a bigger difference is if you have a really clear understanding of who your readers are and what they are looking for because even if you blog on a niche you’re going to have a few core angles that you take on that niche that will impact who you should work with. Your best opportunities lie in working that stuff out.
How can someone who isn’t in an “easy” or “hot right now” niche work with brands?
Gosh, so many ways! Don’t get put off if you don’t have a niche, because in fact you do. Your passion is your niche! And your passion is what your readers resonate with.
Done carefully, your passion can tie beautifully in to working with brands in ways that benefit you and your readers. One of the participants from our course Brandlicious: Your Step By Step Guide To Making Brands Fall In Love With Your Blog, Danielle from Keeping Up With The Holsbys actually identified this for me recently when she said “Brandlicious made me analyse my blog, and who my readers are to best ascertain who I should be working with. It was less about me, and more about my readers. It made me look at things in an entirely different way!”
I get really excited when I see bloggers uncovering this and then seeing what it means for them and the brands they could work with and brands pick up on it too!
What mistakes do you see bloggers making who would like to work with brands?
A couple of obvious ones stand out. The first is making it hard for brands to get in touch with them – sometimes I will find a blogger I’m keen to involve in a campaign but am on a tight timeframe and because I can’t find their name/email/other relevant contact information I have to skip them over. It’s always a shame when a blogger misses out on something that could have been great for them for a simple reason like an email address.
The second is when bloggers inflate their stats or don’t look closely at what their stats mean. If you tell brands that your stats are something more than they are then the brand will almost certainly be disappointed by the results. You’re much better off being upfront about your stats and giving examples of how readers engage with your blog and with other sponsored content so that they can have realistic expectations and end up thrilled with the result!
Where do you see the blog/brand relationship headed in the future?
I don’t think there is going to be one path for brand/blogger relationships but some of the things I expect is that brands will look at long term blogger partnerships and ambassadorships.
I also think that bloggers who know how to present like a business and consider the brand objectives and ROI as part of their approach will be in a better position to seriously monetise.
Already we are seeing that brands are interested in Facebook and Instagram as part of a blogger’s community, and that they are also looking at users who are influential on those platforms even if they don’t have a blog. These will be things bloggers need to consider in terms of what they focus on and how they could partner with brands in future.
Louisa has offered ProBlogger readers a discount on her new online course Brandlicious. Head here for the reduced price, and to read more about how to get your blog brand-ready.
Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.