Hello! Welcome back and to my brand new blog home!
This is a post that has been sitting in my drafts for a while now. Every time I sat down to work on it I wondered whether it was worth the risk of upsetting people I know or who follow me. However, what is the point in having a blog if I don’t write about the things that I want? So I decided to take the risk and write the post, here we go…
Do’s & Don’ts for Brands AND Bloggers When Collaborating
We’ll get the basics out of the way first:
Don’t copy and paste emails and change very few details each time. They’ll feel that it isn’t personal and from personal faux pas, I can guarantee you that at least once you’ll forget to change those details and end up with egg on your face.
Be polite, courteous and professional.
If you can find the person you’re reaching out to’s name, use it and not ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, especially if it’s easy to find (or obvious like firstname.lastname@example.org) or you end up looking like this…
If you’re in the blogosphere or work in blogger outreach, you almost certainly heard about the recent Elle Darby fiasco (if not, see here). The real mistake that was made here was that she didn’t research the company that she was reaching out to. Not that it makes what they did to her alright, but they already had a track record of ‘exposing’ people and if she had done more research then this wouldn’t have happened to her. Do your research into the background of the brand or blogger you’re reaching out to. Don’t ask a vegan blogger to promote your leather bag, don’t reach out to a brand who has a record of being mean online.
The next biggest issue that I have come across is content being undervalued. Brands frequently try to get the very most they can out of bloggers for almost nothing. I frequently get emails along the lines of we’d like to send you *£12 top* in exchange for 10 Instagram posts, 30 tweets, 5 blog posts and 2 YouTube videos. Okay, I’m exaggerating but they ask for insane amounts of content in exchange for very little. Tops won’t pay my bills and if I wasn’t creating content for you to share they you’d be paying content designers, photographers, models etc. If you have the budget, be fair and pay people for their time. For the love of all that is holy, do not reach out with a discount code and call it a collaboration.
If you reach out and say that you would be happy to provide xyz for free in exchange for content you’re likely to end up with an angry blogger on your hands. This is essentially the same as your boss saying they’d be happy to give you free money in exchange for coming to work.
On the other hand… Bloggers need to be reasonable. Remember, you’re not entitled to anything and be polite if a brand declines your offer it’s probably not the person you’re speaking to’s fault there’s no product/budget etc. You need to make sure that you’re charging fair rates, there are multiple websites that’ll help you try and gauge this – e.g. this one. Make sure you’re not trying to charge extortionate amounts, but at the same time make sure you’re not massively undercharging or you’re creating a race to the bottom and making it impossible for anybody to make a living in the industry.
If you have specific expectations for a collaboration, set them out before starting the collaboration. Whether this is outlining budget, the product on offer or what you expect in exchange. My favourite way to do this is when brands sent product out and just leave me to create what I like. Usually, I’ll spend a few weeks really getting to know the product and then post naturally if I love it.
On the same thread, please do not reach out to bloggers and say ‘in exchange for a positive review’. They’re going to love all respect for you and decline your offer because they can’t then leave a positive review. Bloggers – don’t accept offers like this and compromise yourself, if you then find you don’t like the product you’re going to be miserable when you have to post about it and won’t be fair to your readers.
Build a relationship with the person that you’re working with and follow up after the collaboration. This is most important from a blogger standpoint, it’s good practice to follow up with links and original images in case they’d like to share on their page. This increases the likelihood of them sharing (more exposure for you) and means that they won’t need to awkwardly chase you.
Remember the social nature of blogging, if a blogger has a bad experience with you it is likely that in ten minutes you’ll be in a group chat with their blogger friends. Suddenly you’ve alienated a whole group of people who could have been valuable customers and marketing tools.
Done well, collaborations between brands and bloggers can be mutually beneficial. Increasing brand awareness and helping the blogger to create a career out of something they truly love. But when these relationships don’t feel mutually beneficial it becomes awkward. If blogger outreach and bloggers work together effectively then we can make the blogging community a better place to work and branded content to be more organic/authentic.