Today’s post is a little off topic from my usual travel blogs so apologise to anyone who isn’t interesting in the whole blogging bubble! There’ll be a travel post up tomorrow so please come back for that!
I had a comment on my blog recently from a brand wanting to work with bloggers. The only problem was that they’d been stung by a ‘blagger’ who took a bunch of free products and ran. They posted a couple of photos on Instagram and Facebook but didn’t stick to their original (loosely agreed) agreement of writing a review. These were high-end products and would have been a big investment for the brand to gift them to the blogger, so they were understandably annoyed!
I hear about things like this a lot and it makes me so mad. I have a hard enough time convincing people that blogging is a real, professional career and I work hard to do it. And then there are bloggers out there who give us all a bad name and bring the industry standards right down.
Stories like this make brands wary of working with bloggers and they really shouldn’t be because bloggers can bring so much value to a brand. You just need to find the right blogger!
Make sure your brand values align
Finding the right blogger takes a lot of time. If you’re the type of person who enjoys reading blogs then it will probably be fun searching for the right blogger for your brand, but if not it could be a long and tedious project.
Make sure the blogger you’re working with has the same brand messaging as you and is reaching out to a similar audience. Let’s say you sell luxury handbags, there’s no point sending your expensive, luxury products to a blogger who writes about budget fashion because her audience won’t be interested in what you’re selling. Even if the blogger has an enormous audience, it’s still pointless because you’ll be advertising your brand to all the wrong people.
Check their social media following is real
This is something the lady from the comment I first mentioned asked about and asked how to figure out if a blogger has a fake following.
If you’re not aware, it’s really easy to ‘buy’ followers on social media. For as little as £5 you could buy a couple of hundred followers on Instagram. Only they’re not followers, they’re just robots with fake accounts to help boost follower numbers.
Thankfully, it’s easy to see if a blogger’s following is genuine – you just need to look at their engagement and consistency. Look at how many likes and comments each post gets and check that it feels authentic and genuine. If you see lots of comments like, ‘Nice photo’, ‘Nice feed’, ‘Inspiring picture’, then they’re probably spam sent by bots. A couple of spam comments is to be expected so trust your instincts if it feels like too much.
Remember that a blogger with a larger following will probably have lower engagement as you tend to attract more ‘lurkers’ with a bigger following. This is people who are watching what you’re doing but won’t interact in the same way they would with a smaller blogger or personal friend.
Also check to see if they have enormous spikes in engagement on social media. This may suggest they’ve paid to promote a post. Paying to promote a post definitely isn’t a bad thing but don’t expect unpaid posts to perform as well.
Another thing to look out for is comments from the same people – particularly if they’re comments from bloggers. Again, this isn’t always a bad thing because you’d expect a blogger to attract an engaged following with the same people and consistently have comments from the same people. But bloggers often join ‘commenting groups’ where they’ll exchange comments on their blog posts and social media posts to make it appear like their engagement is higher.
Ask for Google Analytics screenshots
Did you know it’s absolutely fine to ask bloggers to send you screenshots of their Google Analytics pages? A lot of brands feel cheeky asking because it’s suggesting you don’t trust the blogger to truthfully tell you how many pageviews they have. But, let’s be real here because a lot of bloggers do lie about their pageviews so you do need to be careful. Or maybe they’re telling the truth about their pageviews but it’s actually only a handful of blog posts that get any traffic which makes it appear like they’re more popular than they are.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a screenshot because any genuine blogger who is telling the truth about their readership will happily share it. If a blogger refuses to share their screenshots then they’re probably lying about their stats.
Agree on content deliverables
It’s fine to ask for specific content to be delivered in return for sending products. Maybe you want one written review on their blog, a video review, 3 photos on Instagram, 2 tweets and a Facebook post? If this is what you want, you need to tell the blogger this before you send them the products.
But be aware that if you’re asking for a lot of deliverables then the blogger will probably want to be paid. Most professional bloggers don’t accept products in place of payment so you’ll need to agree on a set fee. Remember that to write an indepth review, get the right photos, create a video and then promote it all to an audience they’ve spent years and years working hard to build up can take a couple of days and most bloggers don’t have the time or resources to do this for free… which leads me on to my next point…
Should you pay them?
If you believe the blogger has enough online influence to increase your sales then I do believe it’s worth paying bloggers to promote your products.
When I work with brands I prefer it when they’re completely honest with me. If they email me and say, “We’ve got a budget of £1,000, how can you help us promote our product?” I love it. I’ll send back a detailed and creative proposal based on past experience and what I know works with my audience.
If you’re paying a blogger then the quality of content they produce will be much better. They might employ a professional photographer and a video editor and will have more time to be creative and detailed. If you don’t pay a blogger then you can pretty much guarantee the blogger will be squeezing your brand’s work in between bigger and more important projects.
It can also depend on the product you’re promoting. If it’s a £5,000 handbag then it’s less likely you’ll need to pay bloggers to feature it in comparison to a £1.00 granola bar.
Agree on dates
Just like you’ll agree on content, agree on dates too. You don’t want a blogger spending months and months writing a review if you really want it posted in time for the product launch next week.
While set dates are important, it might also be important to be flexible too. Let’s say you send a blogger a suitcase and want it reviewed within 4 weeks. But the blogger is going on a glamourous trip to Las Vegas in 6 weeks and it would be the perfect location for some product shots. It’s going to work in your favour to give the blogger a little more time and get much better products shots in Vegas! Again, leading me on to my next point…
Get to know them
If you get to know the bloggers you’re working with then you’ll understand their motives and get to know their schedule. Sometimes you’ll discover new ways to work together that you hadn’t considered because you didn’t know much about the blogger.
I was invited to work with a brand a few weeks ago and we had an introductory phone call to chat about the project. We got chatting about our families and our dogs while we were on the phone and came up with a much better plan to work together because the brand hadn’t realised I had young children.
How to track their influence
Once a campaign is finished you want to check that the blogger brought value to your brand and they were worth the investment. Only you can say what is valuable to your brand but make sure you have a goal in mind before you begin the campaign. Maybe you’d like to increase sales or grow your social media following?
I’d recommend asking the blogger to use trackable links in their blog posts so you know how many people are clicking on them and going through to your site. You could give the blogger a discount code to give to their readers – this adds value for the blogger but also allows you to see how many sales the blogger generated.
Feel free to ask the blogger for the amount of pageviews a post got as well as engagement rates for social media posts.
Ask for a report
If you’re paying the blogger you’re working with then ask for a detailed report to be written a month or two after the campaign ends. I’d want screenshots and stats and potentially any ideas on how to work together again in the future.
Try to build up long term partnerships
It’s more beneficial for everyone involved to work on long term partnerships. It’s a regular source of work for the blogger, you know that blogger and know you like their work and the blogger’s audience get consistent content that doesn’t feature a new ‘favourite handbag’ every single week. It’s much more authentic and genuine when a blogger refers to the same products and brands time and time again.
I also run a blogging e-course called The Blogger Course.
The course is aimed at people who want to make a full time career out of blogging but I’ve had a few people take the course who work on behalf of brands or who run small businesses and they’ve really enjoyed seeing how things work from the blogger’s perspective.