Personal stories 16 September 2015
Blog Class: Let’s flip the script! How bloggers like to be approached by brands

In Chapter Friday’s Blog Classes, you’ll usually find articles on how to make your blog the best it can be, how to boost your social media presence and how to build relationships with brands. But what about the other way around? How would YOU like to be approached by brands, pr or marketing teams?

Since building a relationship is a two-way street, today’s post is about how brands could improve the way they reach out to bloggers. In six years of blogging, I’ve noticed that a lot has changed. For me, it’s all about mutual respect and trying to find a way to work together that is most natural and therefore most effective.

If you’re a blogger or journalist, or just a creative putting your work out there, I’m interested in hearing what your point of advice would be for anyone approaching you with a request. Something you love or don’t like? Spill in the comments!

Now let’s dive into my 7 pieces of personal advice.

Don’t just assume you’ll get free coverage
It’s quite a common misperception that bloggers can and should provide free coverage, and if you approach them with this angle you can easily offend some of your best potential partners. Like I said, building a relationship is a two-way street. Personally, I’m very selective in terms of the brands I work with, so I know I’ll love the products I’m writing about. In that case, I’ll always go the extra mile and probably throw in some extra coverage. However, if a brand is pushy about me doing a ton of things for them (with nothing in return), I know we’re probably not on the same wavelength.

Respect a blogger’s private space

Our job is pretty much a 24/7 thing, but that usually doesn’t mean it’s OK to get in touch at the most random times and on private channels – as you wouldn’t do with any other relation. I quite often get WhatsApp messages from people that I’ve never met, on the weekend, asking me if I can do them a favour or if I’ve received a mass e-mail about a new product. Just because we’ve once like each other’s photo on Instagram, doesn’t mean it’s not still a work relationship!

Be up to speed
Bloggers have busy schedules, we all know, so take advantage of that. Having a bikini sent to you is always fun, but when your next trip is to Lapland, it’s probably not going to get covered. Instead, catch up on Instagram and write an e-mail in which you inquire about upcoming plans and projects. Be proactive! This way, you’re informed and able to tap into something that’s already planned in a natural manner and are much more likely to end up working together.

Keep it personal, but don’t go overboard
Just as brands don’t like bloggers they’ve never met asking for freebies (not chique!), bloggers don’t like being approached in a very impersonal way. E-mails that start with ‘Dear blogger…’ go straight to Trash for me and 99% of my blogger friends. On the other hand, keep in mind that it’s a professional relationship. There are times I’m being called ‘darling’ by someone I’ve never met, or am filled in on dating drama and industry gossip within the first ten minutes of meeting a brand rep. Juicy? Yes! But probably not the smartest move.

E-mail is the preferred means of communication
For most bloggers I know, e-mail is the preferred way of being contacted. It allows some space to think about a proposal, makes sure we have access to the information on a later point in time and is simply the easiest and fastest. A tip: keep your e-mails short and sweet. If it’s a match, we’ll all be able to tell early on and it actually saves you some time. It’s clear that you have more information, just send that out once the blogger expresses their interest.

Be clear on how you brief
More often than not, blogger collaborations have a super tight deadline. Once you’ve agreed on working together, be very clear on what you are going to want and need from a blogger before, during and after the project. There’s not much that gets on any creatives nerves more than a client changing a brief halfway through the process.

Give a blogger creative freedom
While there are tons of bloggers who are mainly curators of content, most of us do create everything on our own. Requesting a blogger to publish a fully finished article (in the sense of “Here’s our press release, please post it this week, okthanksbye“) kind of completely undermines the work that they do. Talking about how a blog connects with its audience and how a brand could be part of that conversation, leads to a much more meaningful and creative collaboration.

Did these 7 tips resonate with you? Other Blog Class articles might be relevant to you too! Like the one on How bloggers can build relationships with brands, How to discover your special blogging strenths or How to make writing a daily habit.

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27 comments

    I bought this sword and it came razor sharp. It is a beautiful sword and you can tell that it is a good quality sword. I had some questions when I bought the sword and I was impressed by the customer service. They get back to you right away and that’s an important part of doing business to me. I actually bought another sword from Ryan because of it.

    I REALLY enjoyed this post. Some of these tips are actually already something I tend to keep in mind from my makeup business. The freebies and the EXTREMELY personal points of conversation … Hahah. Great article! I will be sure to keep this handy with my new blog! :)

    Clair Holliday

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    Seen a lot of “amen’s” and “you nailed it” here in the comments, and I couldn’t agree more. I think these 7 tips are common sense, and brands/ PR agencies should follow them all the time, if they actually want to create a meaningful and profitable collaboration with bloggers.
    Loved it, so I also shared this post with my readers in my Weekly Reads blog series: http://www.bloggerissa.com/weekly-reads-9-photography-tips-fashion-month-and-hate-online/
    Kisses

    great post

    http://carrieslifestyle.com
    Posts online about Provence, Phuket, Miami…

    Leuk om te lezen en nu ik aan de kant van een merk sta, komt dit zeker van pas.

    :) leuk!

    Amen to that! If I’d receive a euro for every email with a do-you-want-to-work-for-free proposal in it… I’d be richt. But as that’s not happening, it’d be good if brand reps would read this blog!

    You nailed it. I have been in media business as journalist and publicist for 20 years. Now as a blogger. And I appreciate any kind of contact that starts off with exchanging ideas and proposals. Negotiating what works or not. What I really do not appreciate is being send an email with press release to publish. But I feel here in Europe its still early age and brands,small labels have no idea how to deal wth bloggers. So they treat them like magazines or newspapers. Which is slightly different too. Its a business in the making. Best, Sabina | Oceanblue Style

    Thank you for your kind words Sabina. I hope the way of approaching will change in the coming 2, 3 years!

    Hi Yara,

    This is so relevent! I’ve studied Public Relations and now I am deloveloping my brand, it is important to keep in mind bloggers don’t work as journalists. thanks again for the tips,

    Xxx,

    Mélanie

    I love your blog-class-articles so much! Everytime I learn something new about this business.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.
    ♡ Kristina
    TheKontemporary

    Amen Yara, couldn’t agree more!
    Will share this one :) Hopefully they’ll learn!

    Heee Zoe, wat leuk je hier te zien. En dank je voor het delen!

    Great article! I’ve seen a lot of bloggers covering the business of blogging lately, but I definitely find your posts the most helpful. But I also found your blogclass that I once attended so inspiring that I finally started my own blog. En nu genoeg geslijmd ;)

    Hee Jessica,

    Wat fantastisch dat het bijwonen van een Blog Class Event je zo heeft geinspireerd om zelf te beginnen! We gaan in November waarschijnlijk weer een event doen, ik denk alleen op social media gefocust. Wie weet tot dan! En dank je voor ‘t compliment :)

    Good stuff! And my oh my the press releases… “yeah we think your audience would be interested in this content.”. Well how about I’ll be the judge of that. Also I think the misconception is that currently EVERY blogger wants to make money. I’m really just in it because I like to create content and grow my creative skills. Brands shouldn’t feel so insulted when a blogger kindly declines if the proposed assignment doesn’t match with the rest of the content.
    – X Marloes.

    Absolutely! Not everyone is in it for the same purpose (and even if blogging is your business, it’s not always about money either).

    And I agree with the e-mails that go like this: ‘it would be great for YOU to post about our product for free – here’s our ready made article. Do make sure to post it within ten minutes.’. It gets on my nerves a little haha.

    This is really helpfull! Thanks you for writing this interesting article, which helped me a lot.

    http://fashion-hooked.blogspot.nl/

    This is really helpful!
    Thank you very much.

    Celien | The Losing Struggle

    Amazing article Yara! Do you also have a article about how to approach brands as a blogger?

    xxx
    http://www.dominiquecandido.com

    Hi Dominique, absolutely! You can find that here: http://www.chapterfriday.com/2015/09/blog-class-build-relationships-brands.
    I’ll update the post with some links to other relevant previous Blog Classes!

    Love your tips!! These are helpful to many bloggers, thanks for sharing!!
    Xoxo,
    Love from http://www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

    Thanks Trang, that’s great to hear :) We love sharing knowledge and experiences!

    Well said!

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written here. I have a blog myself and (once upon a time) had a semi-successful youtube channel, and used to receive some really awful approaches that were quite demanding and often rude. I now use those experiences to help me reach out to bloggers respectfully and with a lot of thought in my day job (advertising). It’s a lesson a lot of brands could really benefit from. xx

    Hi Maddie, how great that you were able to turn that around and use what you’ve learned! Just putting in a few extra minutes and being a bit more careful of the relationship makes all the difference. :)

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