making money

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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The only blogging course I’ve Ever Taken (and an exclusive discount)

Sometimes, it can feel really overwhelming with the sheer amount of blogging courses out there. There’s ones that specialise in Pinterest, others that promise to make you an Instagram queen or grow your affiliate income from 0 to thousands in 30 days. As I am only just beginning my journey into full-time blogging, I just couldn’t justify the hundreds upon hundreds of pounds these courses often cost, just to focus on one area of my blog. So it was only a few months ago when I decided to take the plunge and invest in my very first e-course.

 

Somebody once told me that ‘people invest in people’. It’s something I’ve always tried to apply to my own blog- making connections and always helping others. It’s one of the reasons behind changing my social channels to @jennafarmeruk (well, that and my desperation to get a twitter verified tick!). Well, Emma Drew is somebody who I have followed for absolutely ages and when she announced her first course ‘Turn Your Dreams Into Money‘, I knew I had to buy it. I was completely sold before I’d even looked at the course outline! Emma has always taken the time to help and support me (even when she definitely should have billed me for her time)- so I just knew it was going to filled with amazing guidance.

I was lucky enough to be part of the ‘beta’ tester group- which meant I was one of the first people to take the course. So I have taken the whole course and feel I am in a strong position to give an in-depth review.

What Does the Course Cover?

One of the best thing about the course is the huge amount of topics it covers. It begins right at the beginning with a few modules for brand new bloggers (I originally skipped these but then actually returned to them when I launched The Bloglancer) and covers everything from gaining traffic, social media, Pinterest traffic, how to find sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, creating a product, repurposing old posts. The list is endless. Unlike most courses, it’s text and worksheet based rather than videos.

This was a huge bonus for me as there was literally no faffing! I’ve tried free courses in the past and I’ve been put off by the lengthy introductions and waffle- you are often 10 minutes in before anything of value is given. Emma’s course doesn’t set out to be the most visually appealing- instead, it’s almost as if she’s piled up everything she knows and divided it into chunks. They read like short and snappy blog posts on every single topic on blogging you could ever think of.

Did It Help Me?

Yes! I consider myself a fairly established blogger: although I still have a lot to learn, I don’t need to be taught the basics. I was worried at first as the first few modules are for ‘new’ bloggers- but actually Emma still taught me things in this section! From writing a disclaimer to backing up your blog.

My favourite part is that each member of the course gets a free in-depth blog critique. To do this, you simply send your key concern over (mine was traffic and SEO) and Emma will do an in-depth critique via video and send it back to you. Straight away Emma was able to show me my Alt Image descriptions were wrong, my site speed was really really slow and my site layout needed improving! She also suggested a few affiliate ideas for me. I am still working through the advice- but I’ve managed to increase my site speed, apply and earn through a few more affiliate ideas and am now on mission SEO!

I am so glad I purchased the course and I know it’s going to be something I go back to time and time again. Emma has a big supporter of my ‘Bloglancer’ adventure, so I was really pleased when she offered to give my readers an exclusive discount! If you enter the code BLOGLANCER into the checkout-you’ll receive a huge £50 discount off at the checkout! The course is usually priced at £197 but by using my code you’ll get it for £147 instead. Given that many bloggers charge this just for a critique, it’s a really reasonable price. If by some miracle, you don’t know Emma’s blog, do go have a read to as there’s tons of advice on blogging and making money on there!

Disclaimer: As a referrer of the course, I do receive an affiliate payment. However, this discount is significantly more than you can find on other sites and this is the only course I am currently promoting because it really is brill!

 

Help! How much should I charge for sponsored posts?

Today I am going to be tackling the question that I get asked all of the time: how on earth do I decide what to charge for sponsored posts? Most of the time, bloggers seem to pick a number out of mid-air and see if it sticks. It’s so frustrating that it is not talked about enough- it’s something I try to bring up in my weekly PR interviews, but often PRs will too have to vary costings due to budget. The fact of the matter is, no two PRs will charge the same. Nor will two brands offer identical projects. So rather than just giving you a restricted set of costing guidelines, I am instead going to help you figure out a price that feels right for you and the work you do.

 How do I know if I should charge?

Before we begin, I am not necessarily suggesting you should charge for everything you do. I talked about in my ‘why you should work for free post‘ that there are plenty of occasions when this might not be the best option, so go and have a read before we begin.

What to take into account when setting fees

There are many different factors that will affect the fees you charge. Some of these may be vital to one brand and not important at all to another. So, first of all, make sure you are aware of the following:

  • Domain Authority.
  • Social Followers.
  • Monthly Page Views.
  • Niche (this is hugely important. If you’re doing something no one else is doing, brands will pay for that)
  • Special skills- e.g. Photography, Personal Training.
  • The time it would take to create the post (a recipe post- sourcing ingredients and making it) is far more time consuming than an information article)
  • Relevance to your audience (if the brand is the perfect match for your audience, then you are likely going to charge more as engagement will be higher)

How to decide what fee to set.

The next thing is to make certain you understand what the brand is looking for. One thing I see all the time is when a brand requests a certain measure of success, bloggers reply saying ‘I don’t have this but I have xxx.’ These measures are there for a reason so it’s often pointless to offer an engagement measure a brand just doesn’t want.

If a brand is aiming to increase their Instagram engagement, it doesn’t matter to them at all that you have 50,000 twitter followers. Similarly, if a brand is asking for your DA, it’s because more than likely, they are looking to gain links to their site. Therefore, the number of people who actually engage with the post is likely to not really be important to them.

Therefore, before you give a fee, it’s really important to establish what the brand is looking for, by asking questions such as:

  • Is there a particular social channel you’re looking to grow?
  • Would you be looking for social shares or just content?
  • If only providing a product, would you be open to social shares or being featured in a round-up?
  • Would I be required to link back to the site? Are no follow links accepted?
  • Can you give me an idea of what outcomes you’re looking for from the post?

After you’ve worked with brands for some time, it becomes a lot easier to figure out which ones are looking for links and which ones are looking for brand awareness. PRs who are looking for brand awareness tend to pay higher than SEO, and there tends to be a more creative brief involved.

That’s all very well, but tell me how much I should actually charge?

There have already been quite a few posts about this so I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Here are a few:

Sponsored Posts; What Do you Charge? (UK Edition)

What Should Bloggers Charge For Sponsored Posts?

 

Now, neither of the posts can tell you exactly what to charge, but they give you an idea.  I personally think £50 tends to be the absolute minimum for a short blog post regardless of your following.

. So, if you’re new, it could be a useful starting point.  Once your stats grow, any thing from £100-500 seems to be the norm for most bloggers (bar the superstar ones of course!) A method I have seen used is multiplying your DAx4. It’s not too far off but of course, that only works if it is an SEO campaign and I know bloggers who literally have millions of views but their DA is slow to rise- that would be seriously undercharging.

I talk a lot about packages in my ebook and this is something that can help pricing dilemas hugely- because often no two projects are the same. Come up with a series of packages from the very basic (say one social media post or hosting guest content with no shares) to more expensive (1-2 sponsored blog posts with 1-2 weeks of social media shares). 

To make a package it’s good to break down all the different things you offer: Instagram, twitter, facebook, newsletter inclusion, giveaways, photography. Not all brands will be looking for you to do everything, and many bloggers tend to do them all without thinking to charge separately.

That way, the work you do is always properly linked to your pricing. While pricing varies hugely between companies, it’s only fair that it is somehow reflected in the amount of work you do. Therefore starting from your absolute minimum (say £50-100) and then offering additional packages gives brands choices, without fear of over or undercharging yourself. That way, when bands. For example, if a brand came back to you and offered you a lower budget, you could reply with a smaller package: meaning you’re not in danger of doing more work for less money!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this- do leave me a comment below and share your biggest difficulty with charging for a post. Also pop over to the https://www.facebook.com/groups/754573568029592/Facebook group  and join in the chat there too!

 

 

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

 

How I Turned My Blog Into My Job

 

Hi guys, today I am going to be sitting down with you and telling you all about my blogging journey. I started to think about this when I inadvertently stumbled across my first ever blog from a whole 7 years ago! So I wanted to hop on here to let you know about how I turned my blog into a job and that not everyone is a success straight away. In fact, my blog had 7, yes 7, reincarnations- everything from fashion to music to travel until I finally found my match at A Balanced Belly (and hopefully The Bloglancer will stick around too!)

Find a Blog That Fits

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Image source: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com

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The one tool every blogger NEEDS to know about: Response Source

Hi guys!

Just to start off by saying a massive thank you for all the support this blog has got over the past few days since launch day. It’s had such lovely feedback from brands and PRs alike and I am so excited about where this blog is heading. Just a heads up, I’ll be sticking to a routine with this blog, so I’ll be aiming to get 1-2 pieces of really useful content on freelancing and blogging  (like my 8 tips for emailing PRs) up a week (usually Mondays and Wednesdays) and then a PR and brand interview on a Friday (like last week’s with Charlotte from Smoothie PR)Then it’ll all be delivered to your inbox along with other exciting opportunities on a Sunday- which we all know is prime blogger day!

In this post, I am going to have a chat with you about http://www.responsesource.com– a tool that is so useful to brands, journos and bloggers. It’s been around for a while but isn’t widely mentioned in the blogosphere, so I am going to use this post to give you an overview of what response source is and a guide for using it for bloggers.

 

What is Response Source?

Response Source is a website that connects bloggers, journos and PRs/small businesses. It’s free for those in the media to send out requests, while PRs and brands pay a fee to receive all the requests in their inbox. I have used this in both capacities. Both as a freelance writer and blogger putting out requests but also as a small business when trying to promote my book and nutrition services in the media.

How Should I use Response Source as a blogger?

  1. Head over to http://www.responsesource.com
  2. Click ‘send a Journalist inquiry’
  3. Fill in the details of what you are looking for, any deadlines and information about your blog. Then hit preview and you’ll be taken to a page to preview your inquiry.
  4. Once you hit submit, your inquiry will ping its way to literally thousands of PRs and brands. It’ll be sent by a special platform so the brand won’t be given your email initially- they’ll respond via Response Source and then it will forward it on.

What kind of things should I use Response Source for?

Response source is a fantastic way to make connections, seek information about brands and find collaboration opportunities. In the last week, I’ve made connections with half a dozen brands and we’ve figured out a plan to collaborate -all from me sending out a Response Source message. In turn, when I trialed the brand/PR service, I replied to a request which led to a feature about my Instagram in the Guardian.

The key, I believe, to using response source is to use it for requests when you already have specific blog posts in mind. For example, my last two response source requests have been ‘looking for healthy frozen food items for a freezer hacks post‘ and ‘looking for easy to grow herbs for an introductory guide to gardening.’ Why are my requests so specific? Well, two reasons. Firstly, when you sign up to response source as a brand, you pay for each separate category you subscribe to. Therefore, food brands will only receive specific requests in the food category, so generic requests ‘looking for giveaway prizes’ may be less successful. Secondly, having been on the other side of using the system, I easily received 100 emails a day from Response Source when using the trial. Brands do not have time to filter through these so a specific request (which forms the header of the email) is always best.

What should I not use Response Source for?

From what I have heard, Response Source doesn’t allow you to use the service to seek advertisement or sponsorship and I am inclined to agree with them. I talk about this in my pitching toolkit but I strongly believe that the best way to sponsored posts is not just about emailing or tweeting (yes I see you in the hashtags!) that you are looking for paid work. Instead, advertising or review products should fit into existing content you are already planning. Therefore, these services work by helping you build a relationship and finding the right fit for posts you are already planning. Therefore, don’t use response source just to get freebies or paid work. Instead, it needs to be used as a journalist would, with a specific focus and aim.

Any more tips for using it?

  • Plan requests around key dates. Remember PRs are used to receiving requests months ahead of dates so be proactive and send requests out early.A request for christmas content in July will be the norm for some brands.
  • I’ll say it again but use the space you have to be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for.
  • Also add in the description what you’re not looking for- this saves time and also shows brands you aren’t just on a freebie hunt. For example ‘looking for frozen food items, must be gluten free. No smoothie mixes please as I’ve already covered those.’
  • Make a list of key blog posts you are planning and send a response request
  • If you have another business on the side or are looking to get your name out there in the media, consider signing up for a trial of their service for brands.  It will give you a really good insight on how the service should be used and there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there as a blogger for case studies.
  • Create a separate email folder for Response Source emails- that way you can keep them in a file for later should you want to get back in touch with brands.

 

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

 

8 Tips for Emailing PRs

I am always getting asked questions about PRs- how we should approach them, what to say to them and my top tips on working together. I’m lucky in my work that I work with PRs in lots of ways- as a blogger but also a freelance writer. In turn, the shoe is sometimes on the other foot as when my book was released, it was me reaching out to blogs and magazines, asking them to feature my product.What I’ve noticed along the way is that the majority of issues in bloggers working with PRs is down to miscommunication, so I’ve created this helpful guide to try to demystify the process.

 

1. Always find the name of who you’re speaking to. One thing us bloggers rightly hate is when we’re addressed as ‘blogger’, yet many bloggers reaching out to brands will just use a generic email. Take the time to find out which member of staff is responsible for specific brands before emailing.

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EBOOK: Everything you need to know about pitching to brands

Are you a UK blogger who is looking to work with brands but don’t know how to reach out to them?  Would you like to make a steady (or even side income) from your blog but feel like the only guides out there are focused on those with hundred of thousands of views making hundreds of thousands a month? Does it feel like most of the advice you read is from US bloggers and is completely over the top?

Then, learning more about my very first ebook: My Blog to Business: Pitching Toolkit is a must!

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