Blog Clinic: How to work with brands
Bloggers are collaborating with brands in a myriad of different ways and the days of just running adverts or sponsored posts are long gone. In this week's Blog Clinic, we offer some tips for how to successfully work with brands.
1. Decide who you want to work with
Working with lots of different brands might look very exciting, but before you embark on collaborations be clear about your goals. Some bloggers decide they won't work with certain brands - for example tobacco companies if they don't smoke. Others choose not to work with specific companies because they'd love to work with a brand's major competitor and don't want to reduce their chances. It's all personal choice, but worth thinking about strategically.
Similarly, if there are brands you love - perhaps you already adore their products, or you think their ethos is inspirational - write them all down in a wishlist of companies to work with. You might not be ready to approach them all immediately, but it's good to have a reference point of your goals to come back to.
2. Build up your blog
Brands recognise that teaming up with bloggers can be really beneficial - but they want to work with the right bloggers. They're looking at more than just stats when making their choices. High social follower numbers and consistently good traffic are all appealing - but building up a loyal following is crucial. Having an engaged social community on one platform is also great - you don't need to be brilliant on Pinterest for example if you've got a loyal following on Instagram. Brands like to see that you're involved in a two-way conversation with your readers - whatever channel that is on. The more trust your readers have in you, the more valuable you are to a brand.
3. Don't sacrifice your own brand
Think carefully about running pre-written content and pre-supplied images. If it doesn't feel right for your blog, don't do it. If you've spent years building up your voice and presenting a look that is very much yours, accepting payment for someone else to appear on that space might not be for you. Again, this is personal choice but something to think about before running that infographic or post about online gambling.
4. Do your research and make your pitch
Many brands are proactive in seeking out bloggers for campaigns, but it's still worth pitching to a company you want to work with. Having a media pack is useful not not essential. Once you've identified who you want to work with, have a think about what you can offer them. Be creative, consider what makes you and your audience valuable - what can you do that another blogger can't? It might be that you're going on holiday next month and you'd love to put a new line of waterproof clothing through its paces. Whatever it is, explain it clearly and concisely in your pitch. Include recent traffic and social figures and a plan for promoting your campaign across all channels.
5. Think beyond the blog
Blogs can often be a springboard to other forms of work with brands. If you're contacted about something that isn't right for you, politely decline and keep the relationship and conversation open. It could lead to regular work hosting twitter parties or Instagram takeovers. Many brands are on the lookout for people who know their market well - and parent bloggers fit that bill. Could you write regular blog posts for a brand, or perhaps run their social pages? Bloggers are experienced content producers and social media users and these are valuable skills, particularly when combined with a good knowledge of a target audience.
6. Look for networking opportunities
Get to know other bloggers so you can share tips and advice. Join in with networking activities such as twitter parties where you can get to virtually meet bloggers and brands - and try to get along to networking events. There's no substitute for meeting people face-to-face and having a conversation about how you could work together.
7. Join the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel
We regularly help brands find bloggers to work with on campaigns. We then share your content - this might be a review or a sponsored post - and liaise between you and the brand. You retain editorial control on your posts and must disclose any compensation you've received.
8. Back yourself
Have confidence in your blog, be approachable, professional, and reliable - and believe in yourself that the work will come. If you've got any questions or need more advice - get in touch with the Mumsnet Bloggers team and we will try our best to help.
9. Follow the rules
If you've been paid to write about a company or insert a link into a blog post, Google requires that you use a no-follow link. Read more on what kind of link to use and why, in this post on follow links here. Also, if you've worked with a brand on a post, or if you've received a product to write about or share with your followers on social media, you must disclose this. You could do this by stating that the post is a review or paid or sponsored post, either in the title, or at the bottom or top of the post. Be upfront about this so your readers understand the relationship between you and the brand. Be honest too in your post - your readers will appreciate you sharing your personal opinions, and that is, after all, what they come back for.