How To Work With Bloggers (Brands This One's For You)

The culture of our world has shifted drastically in the past decade. Blogging and social media have made their way to the forefront of the marketing and advertisement market. In fact, 84% of consumers make purchases based on reading about a product or service on a blog.

So with bloggers having so much power in today's world it is honestly appalling how often brands neglect to work with us in the proper way. Seriously, the stuff I've seen and heard is honestly jaw dropping to the point where we, as bloggers, can't just turn a blind eye. So here I am, writing this post not for my readers or my blogger followers, but instead for the brands who are "so excited" to work with us.

Now understand this is not to sit here and be a venting, ranting post where I bash companies I've worked with. I'm here simply to deliver the different stages I feel so many companies need in order to get THE MOST out of the bloggers they want to work with and for bloggers to feel VALUED within the collaborations. So, let's get to it.

Stage One: The Research

Research is so important in any aspect of our lives. Whether it's specific, library textbook research or googling around before making a purchase, doing research helps us navigate our everyday lives. So it's astounding that companies are making decisions to work with bloggers without doing any research at all.

Let me ask you this, would you hire an employee without looking through their resume, contacting former employers or confirming credibility with references? More than likely not. 

So, why would you blindly hire a blogger as a temporary employee for your company? 

Don't believe a blogger is an employee? Well, you normally interview them through a series of emails back and forth on the specifics of the position, contract them on those agreed upon terms, pay them in monetary form or in certain cases with product/services and they provide labor to get your business out there to their audience. That sounds like an employee to me.

RELATED: A Small Blogger's Guide To Pitching

As a company looking for more employees take the time to investigate what you're getting yourself into. Everything about a blogger matters, because they're essentially being the face of your company and if the messages don't align the benefits will not be what you had in mind. Utilize your resources and really find the right blogger to take your company to the next level.

So how do you effectively research a blogger?

  • View ALL of their stats - When I say all, I mean all. Look at their unique monthly visits, their social media following, their ENGAGEMENT and more. If you're just looking at that 10k number on their Instagram page but not actually looking at how many of those thousands engage with their content, you may be disappointed if it turns out to be a small fraction. 
  • Figure out WHO they write to - You can't effectively sell/promote something if you're sending it to the wrong audience. Find out who your blogger is writing their content to and who's actually responding. 
  • READ a blog post...or two - Hearing the voice of a blogger is so important. If you're promoting professional workplace product through a blogger who has an immature tone or poor grammar, they may not be the right fit. Read what they produce so you have an idea what they'll produce for your business. This can also gain insight on things they do/do not support. 

These three simple tips can make the most difference in navigating your choices of bloggers and these would honestly take a short amount of time. I've heard it all - from hair straightener companies reaching out to bloggers with dreads to luxury exotic car brands reaching out budget bloggers, it just doesn't make sense. Don't be that company. Do your research and thank me later. 

Stage Two: The Conversation

They say that the first impression is crucial to any relationship because it literally sets the tone, sends an image and says a lot about you. Whether it's a networking event, job interview or talking to your crush, that first conversation will leave a lasting impression on the other party.

This is no different with starting the conversation with bloggers, so STOP with the mass emails.

We KNOW when an email is genuine and when it's just a mass email sent to anyone and everyone. If it's not personal to us it's more than likely not going to be successful in getting us on board with your campaign. Curating the right wording and formulating the perfect conversation is imperative to making a blogger feel valuable to your company and making it worth their while to work with you.

Now the research that you did already comes into play here. Tailor your email to the blogger specifically instead of just swapping out the person's name at the beginning. WE CAN TELL. So even if you just add a quick sentence that's personal to our blog it let's us know you took the time do do some research. And no, saying "we check out your blog and we love it," does not count as personalizing an email. Your email pitch to bloggers should tell a story. In order to tell the story you need show the relationship between the two parties.

Here's an example of the difference between a mass email and a tailored email:

"Hello, my name is Victoria and I am from X Company which is all about x, y and z. We checked out your blog and love it! We'd love to send you free product to review for your readers. Please let us know if you'd be interested in collaborating."

"Hello, my name is Victoria and I am from X Company which is all about x, y and z. We've checked out your blog and love the way you do a and b. We think that our product that is meant for c would perfectly align with you doing a and be, so we'd love to send you free product to review for your readers. Please let us know if you'd be interested in collaborating." 

Changing just a few things around makes all of the difference in explaining who you are, why you're reaching out and why you believe this blogger would be an excellent pick for your product/service.

Stage Three: The Exchange

Now that you've thought about this collaboration, drafted the perfect email and got the blogger on board, it's time for the actual exchange. Whether you're shipping hair extensions to be reviewed, providing complimentary dinner or providing access to an exclusive event, the exchange between a company and blogger can make or break the entire experience.

One of the biggest problems during this stage is communication.

Whether communicating the specifics of what the blogger will receive or communicating to a restaurant staff that a blogger will be attending for a comp meal, communication across the board is so important. I'm in no way saying that companies need to treat bloggers special, but let me tell you there's nothing worse than showing up at an agreed upon event/venue and everyone looks at you like you have three heads since no one communicated you'd be there nor is the point of contact in, (yes, this actually happens). All that does is leave a bad taste in a blogger's mouth AUTOMATICALLY before you even get to the actual exchange.

The same thing goes for sending products to bloggers. If you say you're shipping the product out on X/Y/Z, do exactly that. If there's special instructions for how to utilize the product to get the best results, disclose those instructions. If there's any issues, delays or problems with the order, send us an email. Communication is key in any relationship and what you're doing is cultivating a relationship with this particular blogger, whether it's short term or long it's still a relationship nonetheless. If there were issues with a regular customer/employer of yours you'd communicate changes, so please do the same with us.

One other tidbit I have to add is that during this process A BLOGGER SHOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY FOR ANYTHING. The little things like paid parking passes, waived entry fees or even shipping and handling costs should be paid by the company. Period. Keep in mind you're asking us to take the time to review a product/attend an event, edit all photos taken and curate a quality blog post or video...that's actual work, so treat us like a business not a person doing a favor for you.

RELATED: Let's Talk About Blogger Etiquette

I remember when I was working with a particular company for teeth whitening. I was shipped product to make molds of my teeth for the custom trays and shipped them back in the prepaid postage. I received an email days later saying they'd printed the instructions wrong on the packet so my molds were incorrect. They said I'd be able to redo them if I paid for postage to receive them and send them back in.

So basically they wanted me to pay for their mistake. As you can see, we ended up not continuing the collaboration. 

Bloggers should not pay for anything, especially company mistakes! If a mistake was made, own it and rectify it accordingly, but do not penalize us. If a lawyer incorrectly drafted a will, would they charge the client to come back in for the new documents? They wouldn't, and if they do that's definitely not good business practice.

At the end of the day the exchange process should be easiest, but little things just snowball into bigger issues than cause the company, which may be amazing, to be viewed poorly by the blogger. You wouldn't want to lose a collaboration with a big name blogger who could bring you so much publicity for your event because you couldn't cover her $10 parking pass, so just think of all these factors during the exchange.

At the end of the day, working with bloggers should be a fun experience for both parties. The blogger should enjoy whatever new product/service/experience they're receiving and the company is getting promotion from a bomb ass blogger, that's why you reached out to them in the first place isn't it?

Bridge the gap between bloggers and brands so that way everyone can be happy and this line of work can continue to be a profitable market for ALL of us. Treat us like a business and we'll treat you like a business, I promise.

Did I miss any tidbits? Share them with me below in the comments so I can add them in!