As requested, here is a quick summary of the Hayley Carr talk from the #Blognix14 blogging conference held on Saturday 14th June 2014.
How to Negotiate Brand Collaborations by Hayley Carr aka London Beauty Queen
I recently attended Blognix as both a blogger and a speaker. I was there not only to soak up new ideas, advice and experience from others, but to share my own experience and knowledge in a specific area: working with brands. I’ve been running London Beauty Queen for just over four years now, having started it as a hobby after working in the beauty industry for many years.
I was lucky enough that it grew considerably within the first year, opening myself up to lots of brand collaborations and exposing me to hundreds of beauty launches; since then this has only increased, allowing me to make the site my full time job in 2013. Although I do offer consultancy, training and freelance work on the side, my blog is a significant source of income thanks to the brand collaborations I take part in.
At Blognix I was able to share my experiences and knowledge in order to help other bloggers benefit from something similar. Here are the key elements of the presentation I have – I hope you find them as useful as others did on the day!
Brands and PRs are well aware of the massive influence blogs and bloggers themselves have over consumers. Blogs can create a cult following, sell out a product and even help to gain listings within retailers. With the decline of magazines, blogs provide an even greater opportunity of reaching a key audience that is relevant and targeted.
Blogs are also able to provide greater detail than other media channels, telling stories or really explaining product benefits. So, how do we capitalize on this influence? We can try to monetize our sites and collaborate with brands in mutually beneficial ways. Here are my top five tips for working with brands:
1. Make Yourself Sellable
First things first, you must find your selling point – why would a brand want to work with you above someone else? Design, positioning and content is also vital; ensure your blog is a place a brand wants to be seen and where there is an obvious link. Ensure you have an engaged audience as brands will only work with ‘influencers’; their end objective is to create buzz, make sales and raise awareness. Social Media is a crucial part of this mix: these channels are an extension of your blog and almost as important.
2. Develop A Media Kit
A media kit doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to include all your key stats and information. Add any key achievements, award wins or activity that’s worthwhile mentioning (i.e. ambassadorship). Decide on the activity you want to ‘sell’ and have any relevant costs pinned down, so it’s as easy as possible for brands to understand and present costs to the relevant person. Make it easy to understand, aspirational and a representation of your blog too; it’s a piece of marketing material after all.
3. Identify Opportunities
Change the way you think – every email is an opportunity or the opening line of a conversation. Is what they’re asking beyond a normal review or outside of your usual blog boundaries? Ask if there’s scope to run a competition/giveaway (or even budget to support sponsored content,) but only when there really is a great link or idea you can capitalise on. Remember: do the work for them and make it as easy as possible!
4. Pull Together Proposals
Once you’ve got interest from a brand or PR, clearly state the cost (where relevant) of the activity they want to undertake and outline all the key elements involved. Provide an indication of expected results/output so they can be clear what they’re investing in and what the objectives of the work are. Why not use previous examples to illustrate ideas and provide context? It all helps to build a clear picture in the brand’s mind.
5. Give Them What They Want
PRs and brands aren’t complicated – they want a few simple things to make any activity worthwhile. Giving them simple coverage illustrated with numbers and stats works a treat, as well as agreeing to provide email addresses or data (but know the legal implications of this!) at the end of the campaign. They want to know how engaging the activity was, how many comments/tweets/likes it generated and any reach figures you can provide. All this goes far in justifying the activity to the end client or stakeholder.
Working with brands is never simple; it’s a complicated business and there’s never one magic answer to any question – every blog and brand is so different. However, there are a few things to bear in mind: Not all opportunities have to be paid for – what other incentives are there or ways in which you can work together? Don’t forget to negotiate – what can be compromised, on both sides? You can also park things and revisit them later; now may not be the right time, but you could work together on something great in the future. Most importantly, aim for repeat business; give brands or PRs a reason to come back and work with you again. That’s when you know you’ve done a great job.