If you’re a blogger hoping to start making money from your site, working with brands can be a really great place to start. Here at Trunki we have a large database of lovely websites that we work with on a regular basis, and we’re always on the hunt for interesting new bloggers to join our little publisher family.
There are loads of different ways that you can start monetizing your site; from hosting ads to becoming an affiliate, writing sponsored posts or doing product reviews. It might seem a bit daunting at first, but remember, there are thousands of brands out there searching for bloggers just like you to create partnerships with. All you need to do is find the right match for your website.
We’ve put together a few quick tips to help guide you through the minefield…
Do it for the right reasons.
Before you jump head first into the world of product reviews and advertising, think about the impact it will have on your blog. If you’re just doing it for the free stuff you’ll end up diluting the value of your content.
Look for brand campaigns that are relevant and meaningful to you and that you think your readers will genuinely be interested in and don’t be afraid to say no to offers that don’t fit well with your blog.
Remember, nobody really wants to follow blogs that are just full of reviews and advertising and chances are, most good brands won’t want to work with these kinds of sites either. So try and keep a good balance between brand content and other articles.
What are brands looking for when reviewing your blog?
Brand managers are probably pretty busy and before they spend time exploring your site in detail, they’ll be looking for a quick indication of quality and clout. Here are 3 key things that they’ll look for first:
Your homepage: Think carefully about the design of your site as it sets expectations about your content. Poor, cluttered layouts and badly formatted images and copy will make your site appear unprofessional and many brands may not look any further. There are lots of free and easily customizable blog templates available on most hosting platforms, so think carefully about the first impression you want your blog to give.
About you: Make sure all your social media links are easy to spot and include a page with a summary of your blog so brands can find out about you and your interests at a glance. If you involve your family or other bloggers in your reviews, include a bit about them too.)
Your media policy and web stats: Provide a PR section outlining your policy for working with brands including your advertising rates if you charge. It’s good practice to include a media pack outlining your basic blog stats, most brands will require this information before they will work with you. Even if you don’t think your following is particularly impressive, a good media kit will make it clear that you take your blogging practice seriously and take it from us, brands love them!
You can download the Trunki blogger registration pack here to see what information we require from our bloggers.
How to Approach Brands.
If you would like to work with a specific brand do a bit of research first. Many brands don’t work with bloggers directly but go through a PR agency so make sure you are speaking to the right person.
Don’t just send a generic email via an online contact form. Start off by having a quick look at the brand’s website. If there are no contact details for a Publisher or Blogger Relationship Manager, give the reception desk a quick call and ask for the email address of the person who deals with online coverage and blogger reviews for the brand.
Personalise your approach when you contact them. If there are any specific products that you feel would be a good match for your site, outline the reasons why. If you can find a unique angle for the review post it will make your email stand out from the crowd. For example, a generic email saying you are a Trunki fan and would like to take part in some product reviews may not be successful, but a blogger who approaches us with a specific product in mind and an interesting situation in which they would like to test it out is far more likely to be successful.
Don’t forget to include your media pack in the email and if possible a link to a recent review post that provides a good example of how you work with brands.
Make it easy for brands to find you.
Once your blog has an established following, you’ll probably find that some companies will start contacting you with opportunities. If you want to make sure that you pop up on a brand or PR agency’s radar, there are a few things you can do.
Internet Search: Making sure your site has good SEO goes without saying, but often brands and agencies will try and save time by starting with blogger listings and directories. Think about what keywords you would use to find sites similar to yours. For example, here at Trunki we might start by searching for ‘parenting bloggers’. Top of the results are several blog directories like the TOTS 100 index and Ebuzzing, which are a great place for us to start looking. Find out what directories are relevant to your blog and see if you can get your site listed.
Blogger networks: Online groups are a great place to network and find out about opportunities from fellow bloggers. Plus, brands will often post directly to blogging forums and Facebook groups when seeking to recruit new bloggers for upcoming projects. At Trunki we also find bloggers through Twitter by using sites like Followerwonk to search keywords in Twitter bios. So think carefully about what you write in your Twitter description. It’s also worth getting yourself on Twitter lists, as many brands and PR agencies will use these to find new sites in relevant niches.
Make an effort to get to know other successful bloggers in your community, engage with their blogs, link to them and follow them on social media. Hopefully they’ll return the favour and this will put your site on the radar of the brands that they’re working with.
Building a lasting relationship.
The best relationships between bloggers and brands are long term ones, so you should always be thinking further ahead than just the current campaign you’re working on.
Many brands will start you off on small projects and once you have built up a level of trust, start working with you on higher value promotions. In most cases they’ll be using a few key metrics to measure the success of your campaign, all of which will effect how likely they are to work with you in the future and what opportunities will be made available to you.
Here are a couple of key metrics that we use here at Trunki to score our bloggers’ reviews:
Social media shares: Sites like SharedCount provide useful information for brands about how a blog post is being shared across social media channels. To maximize engagement think about sharing a post across all your social media channels and encouraging your followers to do the same. Don’t be afraid to line up several Tweets across a few weeks, it’s a good way to drive traffic to your website. Hosting a competition can also be a great way to incentivise sharing, so it’s worth enquiring if the brand is able to provide additional products as prizes.
Referrals: Brands will be monitoring their analytics to track how much referral traffic comes from your blog. So always include a clear link back to the brand website and encourage your readers to click through for more information.
Content: Try and make reviews personal. Don’t just list product features and copy information from a brand website. Think about why you liked it and what situations it would be useful in. It’s always good to include lots of photos of the product in use to demonstrate its features, but think about how to make them interesting and relevant. For example, if you are reviewing a travel product, taking photos of it from different angles in your living room might not be the most inspiring approach. Consider taking a day trip somewhere and making a nice story out of it.
Communication: Finally, this may sound obvious, but if a brand needs to send repeated emails to chase you for information or find out when a review post will go live, this is likely to reflect badly on your ranking and result in the brand being reluctant to work with you again.
Don’t forget, this all goes two ways of course. Brands need good bloggers and if you can build a good relationship with a brand, they’ll want to try and offer you incentives to keep you coming back for more.
If you are interested in finding out how you can work with Trunki, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a quick chat!