Tuesday, 3 February 2015

BLOGGING: WORKING WITH BRANDS

Når jeg snakker med folk om blogging, er en av de tingene som de alltid finne mest interessant, men også vanskelig å forstå, "blogger freebies/ gaver". Mest fordi de ikke forstår hvordan blogging kan være en skikkelig jobb, og hvor mye tid og krefter du bruker på det, har de ikke forståelse for hvorfor bloggere får betalt og mottar gratis produkter. Som en blogger selv, vet jeg hva folk legger i det, og hvor mange som har blogging som en fulltidsjobb i dag, så jeg har fått en helt annen forståelse for det. Ettersom bloggen min har vokst siden jeg først startet den (opp igjen) i august, har jeg fått en større og større forståelse av businesssiden av blogging, og jeg har vært privilegert nok til å jobbe med noen fantastiske merker og nettverk. Derfor har jeg nå tenkt å dele noen tips og triks med dere, som gjelder businesssiden av blogging/ det å jobbe med produkter/ "freebies":

(Jeg kommer til å skrive tipsene kun på engelsk, siden det blir et ganske langt innlegg. Bruk translate, og heller gi meg en kommentar/ send meg ein mail, hvis du lurer på noe!)

When I talk to people about blogging, one of the things that they always find the most interesting, but also the hardest to understand, is "blogger freebies/ gifts". Mostly because they do not understand how blogging can be a real job, and how much time and effort you spend on it, they do not understand why bloggers get paid and receive free stuff. As a blogger myself, I know what people put into it, and how many that do blogging as a full-time job nowadays, so I have a completely different understanding of it. As my blog has expanded since I first started it (up again) in August, I have got a bigger and bigger understanding of the blogger business, and I have been privileged to work with some amazing brands and networks. I therefore thought I wanted to share some tips and tricks, when it comes to the business side of blogging/ working with brands/ "receiving freebies":

First of all, I think it is important to know why bloggers receive gifts/ samples/ "salaries". When I first started blogging/ vlogging in 2008, the blogging business/ society was on its way up, but not nearly as big as it is today. Since then, thousands of thousands blogs have been made and grown, in addition to the growth of social media in general. In many ways bloggers are now "the new celebrities", traveling everywhere, attending big events and sharing their life with the world. They have thousands/ millions of followers on social media, and their blogs are read by people from the whole world. This admiration of one person/ several persons that we now have more and more of, is for many just a hobby, both blogging and reading blogs, but when you look at it as a business, it is so much more. Browsing through your Instagram feed, or checking out someones newest blogpost, I bet you have more than one time looked at a product showcased, and thought "I love that, I want that, where can I get it?". And this is basically the business of blogging, and this is why bloggers receive freebies, it is really as simple as that. Every time they post a product on their blog/ social media, that product gets a lot of attention, you might say their "5 minutes of fame", and this can result in someone else buying it, which again results in profits. 

So, as you might understand there is a big business in the blogging industry, and bloggers are quite attractive to PRs and companies to work with. As a new blogger or someone who has just not quite understood/ tried out the business side of blogging yet, it can be a bit overwhelming. I have therefore (not at all being a pro, these are just my personal tips based on personal experiences and friends) written up a few of my own tips and tricks underneath here, to get you started, or to simply just give you a better understanding/ some guidelines. 

Set a goal.
When you start up blogging, I think it is important to have a goal/ purpose. Yes, it is easy to look at your favorite bloggers receiving tons and tons of great freebies/ earning "easy money", and think that you want to do that as well. BUT, If you start up a blog solely for the purpose of receiving these "goods", and advice you to stop right now! Blogging takes time and effort, and you will never get anywhere if that is the only reason for you to do it. Start a blog because you want to share your life/ style/ photos/ recipes or something else you might be passionate about, not solely for receiving the "goods".

Looks and numbers.
After your blog is created and published, all the hard work lies ahead of you. It is important to keep your blog updated, posting new content as often as possible, and keeping it as "nicely designed" and navigational as possible. You also need to be good at getting an audience, by for example sharing your blogposts frequently on social media, and building a network by commenting on others blogs and so on. Because when it comes to PRs and companies working with bloggers, two of the main things they will look at it looks and numbers.

Looks being one of the most important things can sound really superficial, but when all comes to all the blogging business often is. When I talk about "looks", this can mean anything from the way you look/ present yourself on the blog, they way your blog looks (design, navigation, style), the way your posts look (blog/post-themes, photos, amount and quality of text) and the way the rest of your social media looks. Be sure that your blog and social media represent what you want it to.

There is also a lot of numbers that can be important to companies, and that are always worth mentioning. Number of followers (both on the blog and other social medias), number of readers (often with proof/ statistics), number of blogposts, number of comments, how long you have been blogging for, how many brand-collaborations you have done before and so on. There is a lot of numbers involved in blogging, and different brands might be interested in different ones, so be prepared to share (and give proof of) different numbers.

Know how to use Social Media.
As a blogger in the 21st century, having simply a blog is not always "enough"/ all. With Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, Lookbook, Bloglovin and so many more different social medias, it is easy to get lost and confused. But, as a blogger, I do advice you to use as many of them as possible, and to use them frequently. You can of course have a few main ones, and then some other that you update every once in a while, but at least you have to know all of them, and to know how to use them. This is not only because it is big and you can show/ share so many different sides of you, but also because it is a great way to network and to get contacts. I have been contacted by brands on both Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which would not have happened if I was not on there. It is also always great to mention when talking to brands/ contacts, that you do have many active social medias where you can share their products/ brand, in addition to on your blog.

..And how to e-mail.
E-mailing is maybe not something you do on a daily basis, now that we have texting, Facebook messaging, Snapchatting and so on. As a blogger, on the other hand, e-mailing is one of your most important tools, and you need to know how to do it. It might sound stupid to mention, but it is so important that I just have to. E-mailing is great for a lot of reasons. One of the things I personally find the most easy about it, is that you can e-mail whenever, wherever. I often spend my mornings on the train replying to e-mails on my phone, if it is not something I need my mac for (like choosing out products from a website and so on). The "whenever" part is also great because of time zones/ differences. I recently for example worked with some brands from Australia and America, where I have day and they have night. I therefore often received e-mails in the middle of the night, but it is no problem, because I just replied to them when I had the time, in daytime. If those e-mails would have been phone calls instead, it would have been a lot more difficult. I also advice you to create your own blogger e-mail, both because it often looks more professional, but also because it is easier to keep track on your (important) blogger mails from your personal mails.

Use blogger communities/ networks.
Okay, so you have your blog (with several posts and readers/followers), you have several other active social medias, and you know your way around e-mailing. Where do you go from there, to receiving the goodies? This is of course where it can be very different from person to person, but I will try to help you get started. A good place to start when building up contacts and wanting to work with brands, is often Blogger Communities. There is really a lot of different ones that you can find on the internet. I have signed up to and tried different blogging communities/ networks, but I have three favorites that I keep coming back to. (Some if these are of course mostly London/ UK-based, but if you live somewhere else, try googling blogger network for your country/ city.)

1. Bloggers Love Hub. I was contacted by Bloggers Love on my Instagram when I first moved here, and I started of as a model for them, and then became one of their VIP bloggers. Personally I think this network has grown so much since I signed up to it less than half a year ago, and it is now a clear personal favorite! You can sign up to join them on their website, and you can also follow them on twitter, where they are very active. What I love about this community is that there is a lot going on, they work with many great brands, they have blogger events that you can attend, and they are in general such a great community. In addition they are so extremely friendly, and anyone is welcome to sign up and join the events/ gifting and so on. There are now follower-requirements, so this is a great place to start up when you are a new blogger. On their website there is also a "gifting-lounge" where you can request brand products/ samples using a simple form, which is a really easy and accessible way to organize it.

2. The Blogger Network. I think this is one of the biggest blogger networks (at least for British bloggers), which of course makes it a great one to join. Everyone can join this network as well, no requirements, and there is a lot happening here. It is more social media like, in the way that you have your own profile where you can add photos and posts, and you can add other people/ brands, and message them. On their front page they also have three categories, "Brands/ Publishers Looking", "Competitions & Giveaways" and "Jobs", where you can brows through different ways of working with brands/ people, from competitions to job opportunities. It is really easy and clear as well, and there is a lot that you can be involved in there, I have just not been too much into it yet to be honest.

3. etailPR Blogger Network. This is the newest network that I have joined, after being recommended to do so by a fellow-blogger friend. On this network you have to apply and be approved to join, but I do not think the requirements are too "hard", I honestly think they accept most bloggers. This network works with a lot of great brands, both big and small, and there is a lot of different work opportunities. Here you can brows through and apply for different "campaigns", which can be everything from a sponsored post, wishlist-post or event, to sponsored/ gifted products. After applying for a campaign, you will be approved or not, and if you are approved you will get more details/ chances to choose samples and so on.
Stores own blogger/ affiliate programs.
In addition to blogger communities and networks, a lot of brands actually have their own blogger and/ or affiliate programs. They are always easy visible on their webpage (most often at the bottom of their page, around or under "contact"), and most often consist of some kind of form you need to fill out. If you are approved by this, you will receive an e-mail with more details. These programs often want you to either showcase products on your blog (gifted), have giveaways, make "wishlist posts" with links or similar. You might either receive gifted products, gift cards, something for a giveaway or just (a small) commission from sales from your links. There are a lot of brands that have these kinds of programs, a few examples are Sheinside, Style Moi (who I work with and are very happy with), Chicnova, Romwe and other similar brands. Another easy way to get started! 

Getting in contact.
The examples of blogger networks and programs is a great place to start getting contacts, and working with brands. Often if you apply for something from a brand, and you do not get it, they still want to keep in contact for future events/ campaigns, and this is always a great way to start a conversation/ "relationship" with them. If you are not chosen to try out their products for example, still be polite and answer their e-mail, saying that you understand, and look forward to working with them in the future. Your name and e-mail will then be in their system, and you never know when they might want to work with you another time! 

When it comes to the idea of approaching brands by yourself, a lot of bloggers have different opinions about this. Some bloggers only work with the brands that contact them, and never contact anyone themselves, while other do the opposite. Personally, I think it can be fine to approach brands yourself, just as long as you know how to do it. First of all, it is important to write a clear and good e-mail, explaining who you are, what you do, and what you can do for them. If you have an interesting idea or plan for a collaboration, explain it to them! The second thing to remember is to contact brands that actually would be interested in you, and that are fitting to your blog "agenda". If you are a fashion blogger, you contact fashion brands, it is as simple as that. Of course if you have some creative ideas for something you normally don't do, but would like to try out, you can tell a brand about it, but just please be realistic. If you are a lifestyle/ food blogger who has never posted a fashion post ever, don't ask for free clothes (which is what most people is always most excited about). Also be realistic when it comes to which brands you contact, if you are a brand new blogger with very few readers/ followers, do not try to ask for freebies from big brands like ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Topshop and other bigger brands. This will not be taking seriously. 

It is also, of course, important that you contact the correct people, and approach them correctly. If you find the website of a brand you like and click on their contact info, there is often a lot of different e-mails there. As a blogger, you always want to use the PR/ media-enquiries one, if they do not have a specific blogger-email (which more and more brands have now). Also be careful what you write as the e-mail "subject" and how you write your e-mail in general, as companies get a lot of e-mails everyday, and you want to be as professional and clear as possible. 


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This has turned into an extremely long post, and to be honest I could still have written so much more about it, so I do hope that you enjoyed it and that it helps a bit. I just want to point out that "freebies" is really not the only important thing in life / blogging, and you should not get too caught up in it. And again, you should never start up a blog only so that you can receive free stuff (!!!). Blogging is truly a lot of fun, and working with brands is always great and makes a lot of good posts, but please don't fill up your whole blog with sponsored products posts. Don't sell out, don't accept anything just because you can get it for free, and always know what you get and what you are supposed to do with it. I could write another post about what you do after getting in contact with brands/ after receiving a sample/ gift if anyone is interested in that next time, let me know! And also please contact me either by e-mail or a comment, if you have any questions about this post!

14 comments:

  1. Wow! That's a lot of information. Thank you :)

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  2. Really informative blog post! :) x
    www.ciarascupboard.blogspot.com

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  3. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    http://bellemelange.net/blog

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  4. cool post dear! kisses

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  5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this from start to finish - highly informative!

    Vanessa xx

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  6. Very useful post, Anita! Thanks a lot for your comment on my blog, dear!!!

    xxx
    http://journal-of-style.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you love, and you're welcome! xx

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