The Blogging series... blogging for business
Ok so I have jumped ahead with this post in the series but it is definitely one I get asked so much about. I also feel nervous about posting this, nervous that I come across wrong and too 'blunt', nervous that I seem like I am writing for the wrong reasons? I don't know what it is but it's probably the same reason why not many other bloggers open up about this side to it so here I am in the firing line. I hope this is transparent and less 'secret society' it's definitely not that... I think it's the nervousness I spoke of above.
Blogging to make an income, to gain audience awareness, to increase sales, to gain interest...
All of which when creating my blog and posting I wasn't chasing, it didn't cross my mind BUT this did develop with time (a lot of it, I can't stress that enough) and as the readers increased.
I do get emails from people going back to work from maternity in a few weeks wondering how they can start blogging to generate an income instead. I am sure there's many ways but I think to grow an organic (not paid for or gained through loads of 'follow and comment' competitions) and an interactive audience it takes time. In fact it was almost 2 years before I started to get paid for working on campaigns however some of that was due to me not being savvy enough and valuing my own time.
Now I hope to cover Instagram on this too and the #ad phenomenon... my goodness it can stress people out. But let me try and address this from a more factual perspective as well as my own opinion and experience on it.
Social media is the future of marketing.... heck its the here and now! 90% of the time a consumer spends on their mobile device is on Apps and the cost per thousands impressions (a measure businesses use) is at the lowest on social media compared to Television and Print media as they normally have to also create the content themselves before paying for the publicity to the readers or viewers. The other huge attraction is the fact that social media is interactive, you can ask a blogger or instagrammer more detail (if I got paid $1 for every time someone asked what colour of white my white walls are or the fit of the salt water sandals I would be retired by now) you can get personal experience, see the item being used or actually on an 'normal' person and not a celebrity. Also once the advertising is 'ended' people can still seek information so the blogger is still spending time responding. Companies can match their brand to influencers and it ensures that the two are a great match! (I will chat about this later). It's a marketers dream, 'normal' people with an audience that they have actually choosen to follow due to having some connection with that person or using for inspiration.
Where there's masses of numbers there will be advertising. Concerts, magazines, tv, public transport... it's a way that these companies fund a lot of the service they provide and I suppose this can be true of instagrammers and bloggers too.
So why charge for advertising a brand and sharing your experience?
Now speaking from personal experience I would spend up to 4 hours every night replying and responding to emails, direct mails, answering questions (maybe some multiple times) so I do sacrifice any 'down time' I have. When companies ask to work with me and I get paid for my content it's a way of helping to justify the time, don't get me wrong I love helping others, I love the friendships and the conversations but I also really love chatting to my hubby and children (I try to really limit the responses when they are around and as I work this leaves it all falling to after 8pm). There is A LOT of work behind the scenes and commitment in creating regular content, in posting, in responding and keeping that audience so when a company wants you to help them promote a product it is a great way of getting some payment for the hours that go into it.
I regularly read little quotes about small businesses, you know the ones... 'when you are buying from a small business you are not helping a CEO buy their 3rd holiday home, you are helping a mum take her kids on a weekend break' - or something like that. Well, I have supported loads of small businesses and most of the time when you see that #ad on a blogger or instagrammers page it's normally for the same. To help with the uniforms, to save for that climbing frame, to have a day out or even sometimes with the many bloggers that do this full time it's to put food on the table. I highlight my paid posts with #ad or mention it's sponsored so it's up to the reader to scroll on, not read or ignore.. OR 'like' it and maybe not to necessarily 'like' the product but to high 5 that person and support what they are doing, what it means to them and not the CEO of the glossy Vogue magazine that is 65% advertisement (and I still love it because the rest of the content is great). I hope that is true of me and what I would tell other bloggers starting out, interact and provide great content, let people get to know you and the great people, the supporters, the raiser uppers (ok I'm getting carried away) will cheer you on.
Stay true to you and your brand.
So the gorgeous teething ring I got contacted about last week is a great example, unless I am using it to gag my husband then it's not really of any use to me as I have a 2 year old and 4 year old with most of their teeth. The product doesn't fit. If I just saw the price tag and took it on I would loose credibility for being genuine. I decline more than I take on but this is due to many reasons and currently the main factor being time. If you are wanting to blog for business though and generate an income you also can't just wait about for that Mulberry collaboration to come knocking at your door as perfect as that fit may be. This month I have took on a cleaning product advertisement but declined a well known brand of noodle in a pot. I clean my house everyday, ok so it might not be the ideal product to fit into my Instagram feed but I'm a mum and a homeowner... I clean a lot, I use the product loads, I buy it myself and it may not be directly about interiors or parenting but it is linked. BUT since I left university I haven't ate the noodles (I do however use fast food chains regularly so I'm not saying that to polish my super healthy halo) it just doesn't fit, I wouldn't be able to be genuine and honest to say that it tastes like a spoonful of salt or I wouldn't be paid for the content and time would be wasted so that's a decline.
I always ask myself would I go out and buy the item with my own hard earned money. If the answer is no then I decline.
The time that goes into campaigns is normally enough to put you off working with anything other than the perfect fit anyway.
If you do work on a campaign that doesn't suit your brand you can potentially put off future brands from working with you, lose followers and readers...
It's public, it's social media and big brother is watching.
Which brings me on to another thing.... Nastiness/ drama/ judgement.
All of what I would tend to avoid. Never put down others or try to damage their credibility to raise your own (unfortunately I have noticed this being done too often if I'm honest, just because someone doesn't post the same style or type of content as another person doesn't mean it's wrong). Women don't really want to listen to other women putting each other down (I honestly believe it says more about the person talking) but also brands do not want to be related to that either, they don't want to take the risk at paying to be linked to things that may bring negativity. Companies also don't follow you with their brand name, it's normally the PR consultant with a few followers that have their account for business, to seek great content, to match profiles and suitably. Bare this in mind when 'ranting' about others or putting others down, you don't know who is watching.
I always say you don't need to put others down to build yourself up and it's great we are all different. The world would be pretty boring if we were all the same.
I also think pass on the love, if a campaign comes up that doesn't suit me I always try to pass on who I would think would be great, the small bloggers starting out as well as the bigger accounts. No matter what stage you are at there is someone normally in front and someone normally coming behind you... when reaching up for help don't forget to turn back around! I've many to thank for nudging companies my way so I try to always do the same.
Soooooo some tips to make your blog and Instagram PR friendly.
First of all add your email address to your Instagram and blog. Most companies keep interaction strictly professional, they normally don't correspond through DM or comments.
Post regular content and create a mix and open to a wide range of opportunities. My main interests are family, fashion and interiors but I'll add beauty in too as it's slightly related and I know my readers will be able to relate.
Post regular content. I once read it takes 25 blog posts to start gaining a great reach. When posting a blog add key words that relate to it in the 'options' and then 'tags' bit for example if it was a 'baby bag' blog the tags could be 'parenting, organisation, newborn, hospital bag, baby organisation' it will help readers find your blog when looking for similar content.
Post regularly on Instagram too, up to 3 times a day but normally not over it. If you want to post on Instagram to support a blog the value of content is key. Don't post low quality content for the sake of it, I would rather only post 1 picture a day than snap a really quick picture and post with no purpose for caption (a lot of my pictures are snap and post but I mean just for the sake of posting content). Ideally photo quality is to be high if you want to attract working with brands as remember they are investing money in this and want to ensure that their products are showcased well. I added a little post here on how I edit my pictures.
How much should I expect to be paid
Ohh... the area no one wants to discuss?? I think it should be actually.. guidelines have started to be a little more transparent, it helps bloggers starting out, it helps us all set a bench mark and it helps businesses when they are approaching bloggers to have an idea on the amount of time and work involved, a rough price and the audience it will reach (just because I have 30k+ followers on insta it doesn't mean each post will reach that number... will be more like 20k and this can be found when you change from personal to a business page on Instagram it will give you 'insights' for each post). Insights will also break down the demographic of your audience, age, location etc... for example on Instagram I know that my following is mostly made up of London, Belfast, Dublin, Ballymena and Kent, age bracket is mainly 25-44 and 92% women. This type of information is always great to know if a company contacts you.
So in the beginning I blogged in exchange for gifts and I would have said that you would need to have a certain number of readers or followers before you can ask for payment but now I disagree. From inital emails with the PR consultant to the posting of the content the process is a lengthy and time consuming one so I think you can definitely put a price on this work and that will normally increase as your readers and following grows, like a pay rise when doing well in a company but that's gained from hard work and long hours... there's no difference here.
90% of time companies will not say there is a budget when reaching out, you can ask this very politely and then if the answer is no you can weigh up how much you would like the product or like to be linked to that company. Sometimes if you get exposure on their social sites it can be a great benefit but you have to weigh it up.
Instagram payment the rule of thumb is normally £10 per 1000 followers and this is taken from infleuencer agencies, however I wouldn't give this as a fee all the time, you can weigh it up, what is being asked, the time it takes, the company etc. Remember this is still very cheap for the reach that the company is receiving... I once had a very large company contact me as they checked where the large increase of traffic to their site was coming from, I was wearing a £12 top that sold out in 1 hour and lots of people add an extra item in their shopping basket.
The Sunday Times recently covered Instagram earners and stated that you can make money from you reach 1000 followers and this is very true.
And I'm going to leave you on this note and the most important. Post what you love, collaborate with what you love, be inspired, get creative and it will never feel like 'work'.
So there you have it. A long, dragged out post I didn't know where to cut down... I hope even if you scanned over it you get something from it. I am finishing this off at 1:42am hoping to help someone out. I wont feel guilty about my #ad in the morning or the potential judgement as I sip my coffee, I worked blooming hard for it! I can't wait to see yours in the future too! Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions and I'll get back asap!