I went to an ‘eSchool’ in 2010, run by a very prominent advertising agency here in Brisbane. The last segment of the two-day long crash-course in all-things-digital was a Predict the Future Q&A with the Digital Director.
I recall asking about blogs, as my employer at the time had just started writing a corporate blog instead of a staff newsletter. The Digital Director, who shall remain nameless, predicted that blogs were on the way out. No one read them, bloggers were talking to themselves in a rapidly emptying vacuum of people headed to YouTube.
Wrong, blogs are respectable
So he was EPICLY WRONG (but also a bit right at the same time in reference to YouTube and video content) as evidenced by the enormous growth in blogging over the past four years. According to WordPress stats, over 409 million people visit more than 15.8 BILLION pages each month.
Not only has blogging exploded in terms of volume of content, but also in terms of influence. In the public relations and digital marketing world, blogs have become hot property and some of their creators are now household names earning very respectable incomes from their writing.
That’s awesome news if you have a passion for writing and have been toiling away building a following and writing insightful, helpful blogs for the past few years. You and several thousand others…..
Most publicists and marketers are now allocating product and cash spend budgets for blogger outreach. We’re willing to pay you for your time, your opinion, and your influence with a particular target audience.
So how can you make a good impression with a PR and convince them that your blog is the right place for them to spend some of their marketing budget?
Here are three things that I look for when scoping out potential bloggers to work with for our clients
1. Be contactable
On your Contact page, publish a message indicating if you are willing to work with PR people and marketing agencies. If you have signed up with a blogger agency like Nuffnang or have secured an agent to help you negotiate sponsored posts, that’s cool – provide a link or an email address for your representative so the marketer can talk directly with them.
Include a Contact Form if you don’t want to publish an email address, that’s fine – we all know how much spam a published email address garners. If you’re open to receiving unsolicited products, you may like to include a postal address (a PO Box is usually the safest way to do this). There are a small percentage of PRs who will just send you ‘stuff’ with no introduction, but this is pretty rare these days with tight budgets and high postage costs!
If you like to attend events, indicating what city, or state you live in can also help escalate your name to the top of the invitation list for exclusive launches, parties and events, especially in the entertainment industry.
Lastly, make sure you have links to your social media accounts on your contact page – Twitter and Facebook particularly, but Instagram and Google+ are also fast becoming important for particular market segments.
2. Have a rate card
Like researching a magazine or website for advertising campaigns, a marketer needs to have a general idea how much you charge for a sponsored post / product or experience for a PR campaign. If you don’t already have a rate card, you need to get one!
A good publicist will have already done their research and will have identified that your readers fit the target audience for their specific product (ok, a few won’t, and will just be scattergun trying to get any kind of exposure they can – you should definitely say no to those requests!). Your rate card is the justification of statistics and information about your blog that will help the PR convince their client that your blog is the right partner for them.
What to include in your rate card
- Unique sessions (from Google Analytics)
- Social media accounts (links to all)
- Post engagement (or social engagement)
- Availability of link outs to brand websites or stores
- Reader demographics – have you run a reader survey?
- Previous examples
If you’ve worked with brands in the past, either as a product reviewer, or part of a larger blogger campaign, pop a link or screenshot to some examples of your most successful posts. Make a note of the topics, or post types that garner the best interaction on your blog and, if they are different, on your social media channels.
A good PR will be willing to work with you in whichever format works best for you and your readers – don’t be bullied into a post, review or competition that you don’t feel comfortable about.
Not sure what to charge? Here are two different bloggers explaining how they work out the value of their sponsored posts for a brand / advertiser:
These equations are where knowing your audience statistics and engagement rates will really help you determine how much you can charge for a sponsored post.
A note about negotiation
Sending products for review and invitations to experiences is a very common way to achieve PR for a product or service. In some cases – travel, homewares, entertainment – the value of this experience or product is quite high, into the thousands of dollars.
You may like to consider negotiating a different cash component to your sponsor fee if you expect that you will keep the reviewable product and use it regularly, or if the experience is a service or trip that you would have actually pay for, had you not been invited by the brand. While brands can see the value in sponsored posts and don’t mind paying for influence and leverage, reviewing has long been a ‘fee via product’ campaign, so being willing to reduce your cash fee may give your blog the edge when the brand is weighing up who they want to work with. A little bit of give and take goes a long way when building a potentially long term relationship.
3. Be Bold. Be proactive
Don’t wait for us to call you – if there’s a brand, a product, an experience you KNOW your audience is interested in, don’t be shy – find out who runs their PR and marketing and send an email!
A proactive blogger who can show evidence that their audience is keen on knowing more about a particular product or service may well be able to secure an exclusive or a jump on the launch of a new item, while the PR team continue researching the rest of the blogosphere.
It’s also a great way to show that you are serious about your blog as a business and building your influence (and not just a freeloader – I’m sorry, but there are some people out there who just want free stuff. But if you’re taking the time to read this blog, we’re sure YOU aren’t one of them).
Be ready to send a rate card and those examples of previous successful sponsored posts if you’re pitching to be part of a paid campaign.