I have been blogging for a little over four years now and I am obsessed. Today on the blog I want to talk about the best way for people (brands specifically) to collaborate with bloggers. When it comes to collaborating with bloggers I feel like I want to talk about the best ways to do that so it's great for the blogger and the brand. As a blogger I get a lot of emails and most emails I immediately trash because of these things. Some of these tips are specific to the initial emails and some of them extend to the actual partnership as well.
Do Your Research
Research is key when you are collaborating with a bloggers that you find interesting. Follow them on social media for a while and really ask yourself a few questions about why exactly you would like that specific blogger to work with you. Bloggers love when you follow them a bit, check out what sorts of things they share on social media, read their blog, and find out details about them.
For example I recently got a package from the lovelies at Darling's Fine Things a boutique in Newport, Arkansas. You may have seen Jamie Darling (the boutiques owner) on my blog The Happy Arkansan. She sent in a fantastic guest post all about keeping your social media clean. Well around Valentine's Day they sent me a beautiful hand-stamped G. Spinelli Sigma Sigma Sigma bracelet. Anyone who knows me knows how important Sigma Sigma Sigma is to me so I was very impressed and touched by this amazing package that they sent me.
Being personable is so important when it comes to collaborating with bloggers. Bloggers don't want to feel like our message was copy and pasted to a million other bloggers. You can have a similar spiel that you send to everyone, but it's important to make a few parts of the email more personal. When I am pitching a lot of brands at once I like to have a scripted email, but I also make sure that I look at the brand, see what I enjoy about them, and insert that into certain parts of the email. The basics of a partnership email can be similar. Here are some things you can do to make things more personal.
Use Their Name
I was at a free webinar the other day and one quote from that webinar was, "A person's name is their favorite word." I think this is so true when it comes to collaborating with bloggers. For the most part, unless you are dealing with an anonymous blogger, I think we all try to make our name a big part of our brand. For instance, all my blog posts have my name at the bottom and I use my name in a lot of my social media biographies. If you can find their name, use their name.
Compliment Their Blog/Mention A Blog Post
The next thing you can do is compliment their blog, and if you want to go a step farther mention a recent blog post update that you loved. Make this as genuine as possible, and don't make your compliment seem copy/pasted either. Tailor the compliment specifically to them as if you were leaving a blog comment in their inboxes.
Tailor Your Plan Of Action To Their Blog
Again, start by doing your research, and tailor your plan of action to their blog. Do they have an awesome post series of small business owners that you'd love to be featured on? Do they have ad space on their blog that you'd be interested in? Do you have a new idea for a collaboration that you'd want them to contribute to? Detail this information so they know what exactly you want to work on them with. This will cut so much time out with back and forth emails and getting you thinking about exactly why you want to work with them.
Have A Budget
Having a budget is so important in collaborating with bloggers, especially when you are asking a lot from a blogger. I am not going to always ask for a budget. I have a lot of different things in my mind that might make me ask for one versus not ask for one. Sometimes, especially when you are asking them to do sponsored posts (especially if you aren't offering product, but sometimes even if you are offering a product). Getting a post done from start to finish (especially if you want lengthy, high quality content) takes a lot of time. Getting the words together, editing, taking any necessary pictures and editing those pictures, and the stuff that happens after a post goes live takes time and needs to be considered. If you are expecting a lot out of your bloggers, expect to pay some amount of cash depending on the blogger you want.
Having clear expectations is so key when it comes to blogging and making sure that what you give in a budget, you get back in return. Make sure that you understand exactly what you get for any money that you give.
Be Available When Collaborating With Bloggers
Communication is key when collaborating with bloggers. Life gets in the way pretty often, especially when you are dealing with emails and communication in that way. I am guilty of this as a blogger, but my goal is to be better at this in 2016. Set a goal for how soon you want to communicate when you get an email back. Set that goal and stick to it the best you can, be consistent so that you can work through all the details of a partnership as soon as possible.
Give Bloggers Freedom
Freedom is so important when you are collaborating with bloggers. Bloggers don't technically work for you, they work for themselves. Obviously you have a contract set up, you want to get posts up by a certain date, and you want the contract to be agreed upon and actually used. At the same time though, bloggers have a higher loyalty than you, their readers and the integrity of their brand. Just because you gave a blogger a free product or a certain amount of money, it doesn't matter. Give your bloggers the freedoms necessary to do their jobs with grace. Don't make them have follow links on their sponsored content or give your products raving reviews online when your product is subpar. Allow them the freedom to be honest with their viewers. Bloggers don't like being pigeonholed to prop a product up or discuss a product that isn't worth their readers time. If you value relationships with bloggers make sure that you value them enough to give them the freedom to do their jobs.
Be Share Happy
As a small business owner (or anyone who wants to start collaborating with bloggers) be share happy. The act of sharing a post with your audience helps more than you think. It gives your audience a chance to get to know your content in a new way and might close some sales that would ultimately be hanging in the balance. Sometimes it's not always about finding new customers, but convincing the people who view your products to make the final leap. This also just builds a great rapport with the blogger you are working with because it brings a bit of traffic to their site. Under no circumstance should you pay bloggers with exposure. Exposure to a blogger is honestly not worth enough money because it's not guaranteed that the exposed audience will stay once the new reader finishes reading the post. As an extra though, sharing the post is such a great way to connect with bloggers if you love the work they did for your brand.