brands

Everything you know about gift guides (and 7 brands who want to work with you on them)

Gift guide season is now under way! If you are not sure what they are or how things work, then this blog is here to help! 

Gift guides have long been part of mainstream media but it’s only recently that bloggers have done them. They involve curating lists of ‘gift’ reccomendations, whether by age, gender or interests.

 

What’s the benefit for the blogger?

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13 Bloggers share their tips for brands reaching out

If you haven’t already noticed, The Bloglancer has had a bit of a redesign! Because I spend a lot of time talking to small businesses as a writer, I thought I’d produce content that can benefit both sides of the blog-brand collaborations (for more of this, you can sign up to my newsletter: Join here for my blogger newsletter and here for my brands/small businesses one). So this week, I asked my favourite bloggers to share their advice on brands wanting to work with influencers. From emails to negotiations, here are their top tips…

1.Think Outside The Box! Laura from Mum on A Mission.

My tip would be to think outside the box when working with bloggers. Don’t discount a niche just because they might not necessarily be immediately obvious as your target market. For example, I blog about parenting a disabled child & my readers all have a disabled child. But they would use products which are mainstream products as well as disability/ specialist products. They may just use them in a different way to their intended use. E.g. A baby monitor might be used to monitor an older child who might not be safe overnight without video monitoring due to medical issues.

Also remember that although a niche blogger might be targeting a specific audience about one thing, they might also trust their opinion about other things – e.g. My readers all have a disabled child but if I wrote a post about a weekend away without my child they might be interested in that for when they get a much-needed child-free weekend!

2. Be Polite! Kate from The Less-Refined Mind.

Don’t go quiet if we don’t agree to your first proposal. Trust me when I say we understand the position of a small start-up: most of us are not raking it in ourselves and are trying to put food on the table too. I’ll be far more inclined to negotiate to find a mutually beneficial way to collaborate with somebody who is friendly and respectful; because usually there *is* something that will work. And – though I have my bottom line – as a nice person, I’ll *want* to help if somebody is personable. It also makes me very happy if my work is acknowledged after publication because essentially that’s a thank you and I’m a sucker for good manners!

3.  A personal touch goes a long way, Becky from BekyLou

Always an all time favourite 💕 What's your favourite scent?

A post shared by Beauty blogger 💄Mama To Be 🤰🏼 (@bekylou) on

As much as brands don’t like blanket pitching emails, bloggers don’t like blanket, non-personalised emails either. Take the time to make sure you’re connecting with us; making sure you’re using our names and not just our blog names, mention something you’ve seen on our blog to start a genuine conversation – it all goes in your favour with wanting to work with us and getting a friendly response.

4.Don’t be afraid to talk money (or lack of it!) Emma from Emma Drew Info

I know it might be rude to talk about money, but I would like to know in advance if there is a budget available. Even if there isn’t, I might still be interested in collaborating. By being upfront about whether a budget is available or not it cuts down a lot of wasted time between the two.

5.Make sure it’s a good fit. Faith from Much More with Less 

Focus on blogs where your products might be relevant. I write a frugal, simple living kind of blog – I’m never going to recommend buying super expensive luxury make up, for example. 

6.  Check and double check! Sam from Dove Cottage

I'm not gonna lie, I'm usually an 'in bed by 8.30' type of girl, but deffo pushing the boat out and staying up late tonight for the Dr Foster finale! 👍🏻 Anyone else secretly hoping she knocks him over?! Don't forget you've got until 10pm to enter my competition to win that gorge gold cafetière from @thehouseoutfit (see my last post to enter!) I'll be picking a winner after Gemma bumps Simon off (fingers crossed anyway!) 🤞🏻 . . . . #interiorandhome #interiorinspiration #homeinspiration #homedetails #interiordetails #homewares #homeaccessories #atmine #neutraldecor #neutralhome #housebeautiful #houseandhome #interiorstyle #interiorblog #interior123 #interior125 #pocketofmyhome #interiordecoration #instainterior #white decor #housedecoration #smallspacesquad #interiorstyling #myhomestyle #myhomevibe #hallwayinspo #hallwaydecor #lauraashley

A post shared by Sam 🏡🌷 (@dove_cottage) on

I recently received an email from a brand asking if I’d like to collaborate with them on a product review. They’d clearly had a look at my social media as they congratulated me on recently having had a baby, which was a nice personal touch, however, got my daughter’s name wrong! I wouldn’t mind if it was clearly a typo but the name they put was miles off! It just made me wonder if it was meant for me? 

7. Don’t tell fibs! Jenny from Monkey and Mouse

Bloggers talk to each other so please don’t lie and say that there is no budget available when you have offered another blogger payment. It’s preferable if a brand is honest and replied that they have run out of budget etc. 

8. Get my name right! Paula from Mummy Vs Work

Please get my name right, if you address me as ‘dear blogger’, ‘dear Mummy Vs Work’ or ‘ dear mummy’ you will end up in my trash!

9. It’s not about Freebies! Leanne from A Slice of My Life in WalesDon’t just offer me a ‘free’ product, be appreciative of me and my time, products aren’t free, they are paying for my time.
Be personal and transparent. Tell me exactly what it is you want (backlink, social media promo, etc) and let me know you’re expected timescale.

10.Have a read before emailing, Emma from The Money Whisperer

It always makes me smile when there is a reference to one of my posts – it shows you have read my blog. You’re always going to get a response when you’ve actually made an effort to go on to my blog before sending the email 🙂

 

11.It’s not just about money. Jennie from My Mummy’s Pennies
 If you don’t have a budget then be creative and see what you can offer that would actually be useful to that particular blogger. Actually, read a few posts and have a look at their social media. If you can see they have a holiday or a child’s birthday coming up and can offer something specific that would meet their needs then they are much more likely to want to work together. 
12. Be Patient! Louise from Pink Pear Bear

If you don’t get a reply straight away, please don’t be disheartened, lots of bloggers don’t blog as their sole job and it can take some time to get through your inbox and sometimes emails can get missed. I never mind a (polite!) follow up email if I’ve not replied to something but if you have no reply after two emails, that’s a clear message!

13. And one from me…
Build long-term relationships, Jenna from The Bloglancer and A Balanced Belly

As someone who works as a journalist and runs several blogs, long-term relationships are really important to me. As much as I’d love to, I don’t have time to accept and write a long blog review every single food item I am emailed about as I receive multiple emails a day. However, I am always open to the fact that what’s not a good fit now, might be a great fit in the future and I like to stay in touch! So it’s important to think long-term. Someone might send me a product and agree to me just featuring it on my social channels and I end up writing about it another capacity down the line.

A few small brands and PRs have asked me to meet for coffee or made a real effort to share my blog content and chat to me on twitter (I hang out there a lot @jennafarmeruk). This makes a massive difference to me and I’ll often go back to these PRs if I need something quickly for a deadline.

I hope these tips helped! You can read other content for brands, PRs and small businesses here or join my brand and small business newsletter!

 

10 ways to grow your mailing list quickly

There seems to be a real trend towards bloggers and small businesses developing a mailing list lately and there are many reasons why. It is the perfect way of making sure your content is delivered directly to your reader’s inbox. And, with all the algorithm changes going at the moment, the only thing you can really rely on is your email list.

So what makes me the expert? Well, on my first blog I’ve been slowly growing my mailing list for the last year or so and have now reached 1400. Why did I decide on my mailing list in particular? Well being an information-based site, many readers come to you for information and promptly departed.

Health and food blogs have much higher bounce rates this reason, as readers are less likely to follow and connect with the person behind the blog. While I had a group of loyal readers, I could see that a chunk of my readership was brand new readers each month who didn’t find me through my social media. So, to me, it made sense to try and find something to keep them around.

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Gift Guides and What Makes a Good Engagement (with Prezzy Box)

Hi guys,

I’m back with another brand spotlight today. This week it’s the lovely Fran from Prezzy Box and we chat everything from blogger engagement to gift guides. Before we begin, make sure you enter my new giveaway for a chance to win 1-2-1 blog mentoring as it closes next week. You can also read all the past brand spotlights here

Hi


. Now that’s out the way, let’s get started…

 

Q: Tell me a bit more about your role with Prezzy Box? In what way do you work with bloggers?

I’m Fran, PR & Marketing Exec for online gift retailer Prezzybox.com. As a creative business my role literally goes from getting us in the press, to modelling our products and even chatting on the radio. We work with influencers on all types of projects, from reviews and gift guides of our products to hosting events and panel discussions for press and consumers, running competitions and newsletter partnerships plus so much more.

Q:We met at Christmas in July where there was a real mix of press and bloggers. How do you split your time between these 2 forms of media?

Times have changed for both press and bloggers, with lots of print press also having an online platform now, TV having catch-up online and YouTube, blogs and social media being read daily by millions we have to devote our time equally between the two types, but we do look for the most innovative influencers and outlets to work alongside and try to individualise time dependent on how we are working with them.

Q:What do you think the differences are in these 2 forms?

We find a lot of the time daily print press, TV and even social media can produce immediate results in terms of sales or visits to our sites. Whereas a blog or vlog is a longstanding piece of content that can see results gradually over time, or convince a person to return to our site after reading something 3 months previously for instance – it’s difficult sometimes to monitor but we understand that different audiences shop and engage in various ways.

Just one of the many adorable items on Prezzy Box…

Q:What kind of opportunities do you offer bloggers?

We are very tailored in approach depending on what relationship we have or want to create with a blogger. Openness to ideas is key and we have done everything from your standard product placement to unique events hosted by key influencers. We’ve featured bloggers within our emails, collaborated on product ideas, and even produced exclusive content for reciprocal exposure. We try to be creative thinkers – so if you’ve an innovative idea, feel free to share it!

Q:What do you look for in a blogger you work with?

Passion. Knowledge. Punctuality. Uniqueness.

Make a good impression and be enthusiastic, suggest fresh ideas or have a real knowledge about our brand and values plus the way that you could convey that to a reader then you will stand out.

Someone that’s compatible with our brand is a must, PLEASE don’t email me if you are going to call us Prezzy bop or even our competitors name and not even follow up with the link to the blog post. Also, make sure you know the basics, spelling mistakes and having really low stats but being super demanding will make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. So target brands that fit with your blog.

Q:Are stats everything? What stats do you focus the most on?

Should we step away from google analytics?

It’s not all about quality, it’s about quality too. Stats are of course an important part of engaging a brand with your blog, but it’s not all about how “influential” you are, as I’ve mentioned, your blog must sit well with our brand.

We want people who produce incredible content that captures the attention of their readers. You could be targeting a smaller readership but they might find it more interesting than a rushed piece of content that’s gone out the thousands.

The focus on statistics however is dependent on your main outlet, Domain authority is important for SEO purposes when linking back to us via blogs, but views on a YouTube video is important on that platform.

Q:Lots of PRs seem to be talking about ‘engagement’ but what do you consider good engagement? Is it likes? retweets? comments? How can a blogger ‘prove’ engagement to you?

Engagement for us is how invested people are with your blog and your advice regarding our products or services. Social media isn’t always trustworthy especially with sites like Instagram where people are buying followers or likes and bots can comment standard responses such as ‘great job’.

Whereas likes and views are sometimes more fleeting for consumers, unique comments and shares are usually apparent of those that are truly invested I the content. Or, if there is a link to our site that we can track then this suggests viewers are intrigued the product and have come to potentially purchase.

Proof can sometimes be how engaged WE are in a blog, if we like the appearance and write-ups on your blog then we see a value in it.

Q:Is it too early for bloggers to get in touch regarding Christmas gift guides yet?

This is the perfect lead time for Christmas gift guides – come November we’ve scheduled in most of our blogger collaborations and are thinking about Valentines!

Q:Do you welcome gift guide pitch emails from bloggers? What makes a good gift guide pitch inyour opinion?

Personally I hate it when I get a standard email for ‘I’m now working on my gift guides, please send x…’. What is different about your gift guides, why should a reader take advice from yours over another bloggers? Think outside the box. Last year I had someone feature two different watches from us and another retailer in the same gift guide (not as a comparison) just two watches, two outlets and little review or reason to buy either. We were disappointed.

Q:A question from one of my readers: When sending emails to Prs, is it helpful to include information on things like other publications we write for and about us? Or are you strictly looking for key stats?

Yes, it’s always fab to hear who you’ve been working with, maybe tell us more about those collabs and why they worked. Key stats is great, but we can mostly figure these out ourselves – we want to know about why we would be a good match!

Q:Are media kits helpful? Or do you prefer a more personalised email?

Media kits are helpful (so always keep one to hand) but I tend not to work off this basis, I am inundated with media kits daily and sample requests with no information on what they are intended for or when I will see the coverage. The personal approach is best.

Q:Finally, how can bloggers get in touch?

Simple, fran.prince@prezzybox.com, or any of our social accounts!

 

Before you go...
Facebook group: Pitching Motivation for UK Bloggers………………………………….
Join my mailing list:to get weekly blogging tips and brand ops

My instagram: @jennafarmeruk
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My twitter: @jennafarmeruk
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Info on my ebook all about working with brands: Pitching Toolkit

 

Yes, Bloggers. Sometimes you SHOULD work for free.

Ooh, I do love a click bait title. Don’t worry, today’s blog post is not designed to preach to you the benefits of exposure. In fact, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I am pretty vocal on the subject of not working for free and knowing your worth. However, somewhere down the line, the message has got lost and what I’m seeing is bloggers still not talking sensibly about money, trying to charge for everything, missing out on the opportunity to develop their blog and still undercutting each other left, right and centre. So, today rather than repeating motivation phrases, I am going to give you the dos and don’ts and look at answering the old age question (well since 2010): when should bloggers work for free? As always, this is just my take on it all but I’d love to hear your opinions too.

 

Yes, consider working for free when….

  • Looking to boost your Domain Authority. I do not personally think DA is the be all and end all (and I’m not asked for it all that often) but given that the Bloglancer is brand new, I am devoting 3o mins a day to creating a guest post for other sites. Now, this is one example, where doing your research is absolutely key. Make sure you check potential sites using the MOZ toolbar as I get emails every day for sites with a DA of 1 offering me an amazing opportunity to write for them!

 

  • The opportunity adds at least equal value to you as it does the other party. Writing for free is something most of us get asked to do every day.  Although I don’t generally recommend writing for free, it needs to be thought of as a transaction and it’s only worth considering if what you get back is of equal value to what the other site gets. This is why I have rarely written for brand blogs for free because let me ask you this: have you ever read a brand blog and followed the writer that very instant? Therefore a brand is getting a valuable resource of content (which helps their search engine rankings too) and you are probably receiving little back in return. Instead, especially if you have a product or ebook to promote, I’d recommend channelling your energy towards pitching for freelance writing in online and print media as a longer term strategy If you’re going to do it, make sure it has maximum benefit. Getting featured on online sites (e.g. Get the Gloss, The Mighty, Female First and to a lesser extent, Huff Post) or even print publications, will not only provide a big traffic boost if the content is thought provoking (I once got 1000 extra visitors a day after a thumbnail size feature in the Mail on Sunday) but it’ll be something to pop on your media kit (‘as featured in…) and writing portfolio (should you want to develop a freelance career). Therefore, while the publication is getting free content, you are getting something equally beneficial in return. I appreciate this might cause an angry rant of writers saying you should never write for free and yes, ideally there is nothing wrong at all at being paid from the onset (that is the goal). If your idea is unique and can’t be done by another writer, you should absolutely be compensated.  However, you can also be strategic about it and use it as a starting point- not an end point. As I say, you can also ensure your best post, product or ebook is linked to the bottom of an article to attract readers. A compromise can be contributing to articles as an expert. Use the #journorequest hashtag to search for current opportunities. Doing this lead to me being featured in The Guardian!

 

  • It will actually benefit your readers.  Sometimes, you can put aside the concept of a ‘transaction’ if it’s something really valuable to your readers.  We forget that there are real people reading our blog and the information we provide helps them. Linking to sites is too often seen as ‘currency’. If you follow me over at A Balanced Belly you’ll notice that most of my blog posts have about 20 links in them! Not because I am being paid to promote but because I know my readers are actually looking for the information and/or products. And sometimes bloggers lose sight of that. I have in the past pitched to a supplement company and an accountancy software company that I think have really valuable stuff for my readers but they haven’t had a budget. The difference being is I include them on my own terms (not an infographic) because I know they’re useful for my readers.  This is the similarly the case for giveaways. Although many bloggers do charge for giveaways, if it is a once in a lifetime prize that you know your readers will love you for, then it might be worth it. I remember my site almost crashed when I gave away a Nutribullet.

 

  • You just love something. Which leads on to my last point. Recently on my blog, I did a round up of 14 things I had loved that month. Here, on the Bloglancer, I wrote about how much I loved Response Source.   Both of those times, it was me writing about something I was passionate about with no brand or PR agenda- which is largely what blogging should be all about. The same goes for supporting a charity your passionate about.

 

No, don’t even think about working for free when…

  • Someone is getting more value out of something than you are.  Whether it be monetary compensation or value for your readers, if the person on the other end of the email is getting more value out of it than you, then be cautious. This is why you won’t find any dodgy infographics on my site. If they have emailed you, they already recognise your value so therefore you shouldn’t have to prove yourself by working for free first.  And warning, those who build links will often promise ‘quality content’. If the only thing you are getting out of a transaction is content, then consider supporting your fellow bloggers instead and popping a guest post request on a facebook group instead.

 

  • To undercut others. One of the weirdest exchanges I saw on a Facebook recently was a brand asking about a general costing for a post and a whole host of bloggers comment underneath to the point where people were offering to do it for completely free. Why would you do this? The brand clearly asked about costing and therefore was prepared to pay. Let me tell you this if you are new to blogging: there will always be someone who comes along and tries to undercut you. If your thing is being the cheapest blogger, you won’t get very far with that strategy.You have to stand firm and believe what you can offer is truly valuable and unique because the minute you try to drop your prices to compete, you find yourself just going lower and lower.So, while it is frustrating, it is all about the long game and if you set a value on your work, then believe in it!

 

  • The onus is on you to ‘prove yourself’. If you are pitching an article to an online website or a brand you absolutely love, it makes sense they might want to see what you are made of and it’s clear its something of value to you too. However, far too often, I receive emails offering me the chance to work for free to ‘prove’ myself or with paid work further down the line. Never work for free simply because there’s a possibility of paid work if you meet someone’s approval. You can always redirect them to your blog which has a whole host of articles that show exactly what you can do. 

 

I hope this blog post made sense! As you can see, working for free is a complicated (and wordy!) issue but hopefully these tips will be useful! If you enjoyed this post, please do take a second to share and find out below how you can follow me and The Bloglancer!

 

 

Before you go...
Facebook group: Pitching Motivation for UK Bloggers………………………………….
Join my mailing list:to get weekly blogging tips and brand ops

My instagram: @jennafarmeruk
……………………………………………………………………….
My twitter: @jennafarmeruk
……………………………………………………………………….
Info on my ebook all about working with brands: Pitching Toolkit