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#041: How to WIN at Working with Brands with Jenny Melrose

Wait until you hear today’s episode. I’m interviewing Jenny Melrose from The Melrose Family and JennyMelrose.com. Jenny is an expert on how to win working with brands.

We get into it all in this interview. Want to know how to reach out to companies you want to work with? What to write in your email? How many times to follow up? How much to charge?

If you are an influencer or want to become one, you must listen to this!


Transcript – How to WIN at Working with Brands with Jenny Melrose

Host 0:03
Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast. Brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 0:11
Hello everybody. Welcome back to Rhe Blogger Genius Podcast. Today, my guest is Jenny Melrose. Now Jenny has two blogs. She is a lifestyle blogger and she’s the founder of The Melrose Family. And then she also has her own site JennyMelrose.com.

How to work with brands as a blogger

Jillian Tohber Leslie 0:30
What we’re going to talk about today is working with brands, strategies for getting brands to notice you, how to reach out, and how to really build that part of your business. So Jenny, welcome to the show.

Jenny Melrose 0:44
Thank you so much, Jillian for having me. I’m so excited to get to share some of my little tidbits of trainings and things with your audience.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 0:52
Perfect. Okay, so Jenny, will you tell us how you started?

Jenny Melrose 0:57
Absolutely. My lifestyle site, The Melrose Family has been up and running for nine years, so I’m a little bit of a dinosaur. It started off just kind of as a hobby. I was a new mother and kind of lost myself, in needed something to kind of have a creative outlet.

Jenny Melrose 1:17
I started writing. Back then it was, this is what we did today and this is what we ate for lunch. And then it transitioned, as I saw other bloggers, and got into different communities, seeing that they were actually able to start making an income.

As a blogger start by solving problems and pain points

Jenny Melrose 1:31
I transitioned into making sure that I delivered content that solved problems and pain points for an audience.

Jenny Melrose 1:38
When The Melrose Family was started it was prior to Pinterest and Instagram. So I’ve been able to kind of learn the strategies that work on social media, as I’ve grown with those outlets.

Jenny Melrose 1:52
And then as I got further along in it, probably three years or so into it, I started making an income working with brands, where I would create content for them in exchange for a fee that I decided I would charge, based on my kind of influence that I had at that time.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 2:13
Were these brands that were reaching out to you? And were you surprised or were you strategic?

Using networks to get sponsored posts as a blogger

Jenny Melrose 2:19
So when I first started, I didn’t actually reach out to a ton of brands myself, I kind of used networks. Bloggers would let you know, I’m in this network, or that network, there’s all, there’s so many of them. There’s the Sway Group, Pollinate, Izea has one TapInfluence used to be one that’s now owned by Izea.

Jenny Melrose 2:36
But the way that the networks work is you apply, and then you put in your social numbers, as well as like your analytics for Google, how many page views you’re seeing for your traffic. And you also put in all of your personal information as far as how old are you, how many kids you have, do you have a pet.

Jenny Melrose 2:53
So they can determine if you are a good fit for the brand that has come to them with a certain amount of money, and then they would hire you in order to create a sponsored post.

Jenny Melrose 3:05
I used the networks for quite some time. But the problem that I ran into is that I was like a needle in a haystack. There were so many bloggers, I wasn’t standing out.

Jenny Melrose 3:17
So about from year three to about year five, I started honing in on my own strategy where I would pitch myself to the brands.

Jenny Melrose 3:28
I never saw a million page views. I think at the height of when Pinterest really was driving a ton of traffic, as well as Facebook. I was probably seeing about 700,000 page views but have since been cut in half because of the algorithm change.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 3:43
Totally. It’s happened to all of us.

Jenny Melrose 3:45
Yes. So because of that, I was never one of these huge bloggers that all the brands knew about, and came flooding in to work with me via email. I had to really go out there and reach out to the brands that I knew and loved, to show why my audience would want to hear about their product.

Jenny Melrose 4:07
That was from year three to year five. It changed everything for me. At that time was also an inner city school district teacher, was working full time, and I had a second baby and was miserable. Not because I didn’t love my students that I had. But I never saw my kids. It was I missed out on everything I felt like. So my sponsor post income actually took over for my teaching salary.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 4:37

How building a blog can change your life

Jenny Melrose 4:37
And I was able to retire at 35.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 4:40
Wow, wow, I can tell you know, it’s funny because I’ve, I think you are Episode 40, or something like that. How many women have a very similar story to you.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 4:53
Many teachers, but many who start their blogs of as a way to make sense of their lives once they become mothers, like how to find meaning, how to hold on to a piece of themselves, how to be creativ. You know, when you’re all you’re doing is thinking about your kid not having a meltdown and what the right snack is to possibly solve that.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 5:16
And then the fact that you’ve been able to learn and grow and figure out your niche. I just I’m always so inspired by that. Because I do believe that when we start businesses, we don’t know where they’re going to take us.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 5:32
For you, by being able to be savvy and go toward what was working. I mean that you were able to change your life.

Jenny Melrose 5:39
Yes, absolutely.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 5:43
And be there to solve the problem of being home with your children, or being a much more present mom.

Jenny Melrose 5:49
Yes. And now with having left teaching, we moved from New York to North Carolina, and I am now home with the girls. I’m able to put them on the bus, pick them up and bring them to their different events which I never got to do.

Jenny Melrose 6:08
And I started the other side of my business once we moved down here, which was the JennyMelrose.com side. And I did it primarily because I knew what it was like to want to make this something, to make it a business, and not knowing who to turn to, or what to listen to, to know how to move it forward.

How being a teacher helps you as a blogger

Jenny Melrose 6:28
I wanted to be able to be that resource for other moms. And I honestly attract a ton of teachers, because I’m very strategic in the way that I teach things. I’m very much a teacher, and it’s given me that passion. I always love to teach. I always loved my students. For me to be able to turn back into my love of teaching and now help these women make their wives business, it’s a passion for me.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 7:04
Yep. And again, I think that there is something to you know about building your business and learning along the way.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 7:13
Because, Jenny, if I said, guess what, in five years or ten years, here’s how your life’s going to be. You would never believe this.

Jenny Melrose 7:21
Oh, no. Like, if someone had said to me three, even even three years ago, when we first left New York, that I would be doing what I do know. I mean, I have spoken at probably 10 to 15 different conferences just this year. I have a podcast. There’s so many different aspects of this, that it has become just something that I love to be able to do. I never would have believed someone that that’s what I was going to end up doing.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 7:48
I love that. I do again, for us, for example, MiloTree, our second business, which, if you look at it, you’d be like, wow, that has nothing to do with Catch My Party, our first business.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 8:00
We built MiloTree, not because we thought it was a business, but because it’s solved a problem for us for Catch My Party. It grew our social followers. And then we’re like, wait a second. Because I to feel very similarly to you, which is I want to help moms, entrepreneurs, grow their businesses in as effortlessly as possible.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 8:21
And so we’re like, Hey, we could offer this as you know, we could roll this out as a separate business and see what happens.

Be open to new opportunities as a blogger

Jillian Tohber Leslie 8:29
And so again, my recommendation or my piece of advice, you could tell me what you think about this, is to just start growing your business and to be mindful of how it’s growing, to see opportunities that you would never have thought were out there.

Jenny Melrose 8:45
Yes. and not being afraid to take that risk. It takes courage, honestly, to do what so many of us do, because it is the wild wild west.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 8:55
It is the Wild West.

Jenny Melrose 8:56
Yeah, to being able to say, okay, I’m know the algorithms are going to change. I know that I’m going to have to be flexible.

Jenny Melrose 9:04
I didn’t go to school for technology. Cell phones didn’t exist when I was in college, but I’m going to make this work. And I’m going to figure it out. And I’m just going to keep trying to push through that wall.

Jenny Melrose 9:17
I firmly believe that you do something where you start looking at who your audience is, and understanding why they’re coming to you and continuing to solve problems for them. It’s a business and once you start to treat it like a business, everyone else will too. And it can just it can explode it really can.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 9:39
Yes. I so agree. It’s so it’s so funny because we are so like-minded in this way.

What is influencer marketing as a blogger

Jillian Tohber Leslie 9:46
So okay. Let’s talk then about influencer marketing.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 9:52
Which is, I decide I’m going to start my blog. And I want to work with brands. You know, we all love certain brands. Yes. And so how do I think about this as turning let’s say, my blog into a business?

Jenny Melrose 10:10
So first thing to do is you’re probably using product in your posts already. You’re probably using a specific ingredient for a recipe, or a particular type of decorating to put together a party, whatever it might be, look at those brands and see who they are, your authentically using them, it’s going to come across even to your audience. But it is paid.

Jenny Melrose 10:38
Because a lot of the negative kind of connotation I think that comes from sponsor posts. Oh, you’re selling out to be able to push their product, when in reality, it’s a partnership, they see the value in your audience.

Jenny Melrose 10:53
So you’re going to want to be able to put it out there for your audience and continue to grow and talk to them about that product.

Jenny Melrose 11:03
I always teach my audience of bloggers that are looking to work with brands, look in your pantry. Go see what’s in your linen closet. What are those brands that you’re already buying and using, so that you can really reach out to them and be authentic.

Jenny Melrose 11:21
You want to start with an email address. And then from there, it’s just pitching yourself even a little bit, freely pitching your audience because that’s what they care about.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 11:32

Jenny Melrose 11:33
And I think a lot of times, when bloggers first start to reach out to brands themselves, they will forget that. They will think well, it’s all about me, what I can do and what my social stats are.

Jenny Melrose 11:45
And that’s where a blogger maybe that isn’t as large but maybe lives on a farm, and can show the behind the scenes of the farm. And um, any sort of like kitchen equipment she uses, it’s going to connect with her audience. And because of that, that brand won’t care as much about the page views, they’ll care more about the audience that is engaged and interacting with her content.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 12:12
So I would say this, women in general have a hard time putting themselves out there and figuring out the story, you know, that really shows them in the best light.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 12:28
And I’m wondering if that is what you’re saying, by not focusing so much about how great you are, but focusing on how great your audience is, that could be a way in that seems less scary.

How to pitch to brands as a blogger

Jenny Melrose 12:43
I do a Pitch Perfect live every four months where I do this free training on and we’re in the middle of it. And the first two days we spent them really figuring out exactly what you said, about how are you unique, what makes you you.

Jenny Melrose 13:05
Because honestly pitching is 50% confidence 25% is then the follow up and the other 25% is the pitch that you send.

Jenny Melrose 13:15
But if you don’t have the confidence to be able to send it and to be able to follow up with them you’re done.

Jenny Melrose 13:23
You have to really know, and be able to articulate what it is about you for yourself, and be able to look at your business like a business. So that when you send that email you’re not going to take it personally when they don’t answer. Or you’re not going to take it personally when they come back and say, hey we don’t have any money right now. And you’re like yeah, you do, you are Kellogg’s or whoever it is you pitched.

Jenny Melrose 13:49
You have to have really thick skin. And then what I teach is you then turn it towards that audience. It can kind of get the pressure off of you.

Jenny Melrose 14:02
Because like you said, as women, we have a terrible habit of not being able to know what makes us different. I had a client that kept saying to me my pitches, all right. It’s good. But I can’t. I don’t know how to explain how I’m a little bit different.

Think about what makes you different as a blogger

Jenny Melrose 14:19
And I looked at her and I read through her pitch and said, well, how many kids do you have again? And she says, 10. Oh, and you homeschool them, that’s what makes you different.

Jenny Melrose 14:37
You run a parenting blog and you have 10 children that you homeschool. Your audience comes to you because of who you are. They know that you have experience and then you’re you’re not just randomly pulling this out of wherever it is personal. I’m learning from raising 10 children.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 15:04
So I tend to interrupt. I’m so sorry. Could we talk about fake it till you make it?

Jenny Melrose 15:10
Yes. Oh my goodness. It’s one of my favorite phrases. And it’s something I’ve been saying this entire week. So I love it.

Jenny Melrose 15:17
It’s just when you have that confidence that you run a business and you are a powerhouse. You’re not going to take anything kind of negative coming back as badly as you would if you didn’t have that confidence.

When it’s not worth working with a brand as a blogger

Jenny Melrose 15:34
And a lot of times bloggers will say to me, well, I got pitched to work on for a bag of granola. And I’ll say okay, well, is that granola, something that’s valuable to you for your time? Could you say that, that bag of granola is what you would get paid on a sponsored post for doing all the pictures, doing the social shares everything that goes into it?

Jenny Melrose 15:54
If the answer is no, then you need to turn around tell that company: Listen, I appreciate and I love your granola. But in order to keep the integrity of my site to my readers, and any previous brands I’ve worked with, I only work on compensated content.

Jenny Melrose 16:10
And what they always, these bloggers that are newer will always come back to me and say, but Jenny, I haven’t worked with any brands. How can I say that?

Jenny Melrose 16:19
No one is going to spend their time going back to see if you’ve done a sponsored post or not. So to being able to just have that confidence to say, you know what, my time is not worth a bag of granola. I built up this following, I have an audience at this size. And I deserve to get paid for my time. Or I’m just not going to do it. I’m going to walk away.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 16:51
Yeah, I’ve shared this previously. Once I became a mother, it looked like my confidence went up tenfold. But the reality was, I got super busy.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 17:05
So a brand would come to me and say, we want to pay you x. And I would think that was too low. So I’d double it or even triple it. And I’d go, Yeah, sorry. Here is my rate, here is why. And I write like the fastest email. And before I could even think about it, I would press Send.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 17:27
And if I didn’t have my daughter at, you know, and she wasn’t in diapers. And it wasn’t just a big hot mess in my house, I would have gone up into my head, and I would have second guessed myself. And I would have said, Oh God, should I send this email, maybe I shouldn’t double my fee. I would have over thought it and I wouldn’t have sent the email.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 17:48
So the fact that all of a sudden, I had all these different priorities. And you know what, I’d forget that I had sent that email. So they didn’t get back me, I wouldn’t remember, right. And so it weirdly tricked me into being much more confident.

Jenny Melrose 18:08
Right, and you valued your time, you knew that you only had a certain amount of time. And if you were wanting to put your time into doing a post, it was taking away from your daughter, and your time is valuable.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 18:21

Jenny Melrose 18:21
And we all need to realize that. And I know that there’s this kind of feel, where I’ve watched a lot of bloggers, like rip into new bloggers about don’t work for free product, you’re ruining it for all of us. And that’s not true. If it’s valuable to them where they would spend that time and if the product is a $300 blender and their price is normally $300, that makes sense to them.

Jenny Melrose 18:47
So, you know, not kind of looking down upon, but knowing what’s valuable a lot of times to when you’re first starting out, to pitch and work with brands. Sometimes they’ll offer and it’s kind of like a test.

Jenny Melrose 19:01
I wouldn’t say, even if you’re a new blogger, to do a blog post for a bag of granola, it’s not worth it. But I might say, do social share, do an Instagram story, and then prove to them with that data that you’re given inside Instagram that you’re worth the price that you’re asking.

Jenny Melrose 19:21
I’ve had people that bloggers that have told me, Oh, I told her I couldn’t pay my mortgage with granola, can she? and I’m like oh, boy.

Jenny Melrose 19:31
Yeah, not the best way to go.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 19:35
I like that. But no, don’t do that.

Why MiloTree will help you if you are trying to work with brands

Jillian Tohber Leslie 19:39
I wanted to take a short break to talk about MiloTree. Now. If you want to be working with brands, you know that social media followers matter. But not just any sort of social media follower, an engaged follower. And that’s why MiloTree is so cool.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 19:56
Especially on a platform, let’s say like Instagram, you are converting your site visitors into followers. And what better follower than somebody who’s already been to your site, seen your content, knows who you are, those are the followers you want.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 20:13
Those are the followers who will make you look great on social media. So if you sign up for MiloTree now, you get your first 30 days free. So go do it. And now back to the show.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 20:28
Well, okay, so we talked tactics.

How to contact a brand to do sponsored posts as a blogger

Jillian Tohber Leslie 20:32
First off, you mentioned email, you said find their you know, email that how do I find a brand’s email address?

Jenny Melrose 20:39
Such a good question. So you want to start by going to their website. And if you go up to the top tab, or sometimes even down in the footer, you want to look for something that says media or press releases.

Jenny Melrose 20:50
Once you get a press release, you want to pay attention to whatever product they’re talking about, because it’s probably a product that you should pitch to help them promote.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 20:59

Jenny Melrose 21:00
Look down towards the bottom, where it signed from the PR person and they’re going to have their email address on that press release. That is the person that you want to work with.

Jenny Melrose 21:10
A lot of times bloggers will come back to me and see, but it’s not Kellogg’s that’s on there, it is some random PR company.

Jenny Melrose 21:16
Every brand for the most part, unless they’re teeny tiny mom and pop brand, is using a PR company. You’re never working directly with that brand. But a PR company is your gatekeeper that it’s going to be the one that you want to talk to.

Jenny Melrose 21:32
Now, sometimes you can’t find an email address. They don’t make this easy. I actually had someone today asked me is there just a list of like all the toy brand emails? I’m like, Girl, are you great, right? Everyone would be pitching! No.

Jenny Melrose 21:47
So if you can’t find an email address, what we’ve actually seen huge results with it’s doing an Insta story. Because what happens is like you take a picture of that, whatever the brand is that you’re trying to reach out. When you say something cute about how you love it, and you tag them in your Insta story. It goes right into their DMs.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 22:07

Jenny Melrose 22:08
Now when they give you a little heart for having put up that Insta story, you’re going to immediately reply to them and say hey, I love your product. I’d love to get the email address for the person on your team that works on blogger or influencer campaigns.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 22:25
I love that strategy. I always recommend Twitter because again, brands are listening. But I hadn’t thought about doing it with Insta stories.

Trying an Insta story to connect with brands

Jenny Melrose 22:33
Their Twitter was actually the way that I started out teaching this too, because I’ve had Pitch Perfect Pro now has been open for two years. And originally it was Twitter based. But then Insta stories came out we saw the results just so much quicker because all the brands want you on Instagram.

Jenny Melrose 22:53
If you’re not an Instagram you’re not gonna be able to work with brand at this point. And it goes to direct message which at yet the problem is with Twitter, is that you can put out a tweet but it’s out there and then you need them to follow you in order to do a message as well. extra steps. This is so much easier.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 23:16
That is brilliant. That’s brilliant. Okay, do you have a recommend, let’s sa,y I found the email address. Do you have a recommendation for a subject line that will get your email opened?

Jenny Melrose 23:29
Such a good question. Do a lot of times bloggers will want to put like “blogger influencer” or “collaboration” or something like that. I tell them what makes you stand out? What makes you different?

Jenny Melrose 23:41
So if you have an Instagram account that has 300,000 followers you’re going to put Instagram influencer with 300,000 followers collaboration up in your subject line. Or if you do a hands and pans and you have a huge Facebook page, you’re going to put that in the subject line.

Jenny Melrose 24:01
A lot of times people will rely on social media to kind of say what makes them unique. But you could also mom of 10.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 24:10
Yep, yep.

Jenny Melrose 24:12
Exactly. You want to kind of try to stand out. Because like those blogger partnership subject lines do not work.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 24:23
Got it. So that’s what I was going to say. Because I’m sure they get pitched all the time.

How to write an email to a brand to get a sponsored post

Jenny Melrose 24:28
Yeah, and this is definitely a process. Lot of times they will test you they’ll see your first email and open it up, and not reply to you. But they need to see than you actually are invested. And you’re going to follow up an email them again, a lot of times, the majority of the brands will answer until the second or third email. And it’s not because they haven’t seen it. It’s because they really want to see that you’re invested.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 24:54
Interesting. Okay, long email or short email?

Jenny Melrose 24:58
So I actually have a pitch checklist that has nine points to it that you kind of want to include. Normally, I would say you’re looking for two to three paragraphs, you’re not looking to tell your life story. You’re going to really hone in on audience and you want to know something about that brand.

Jenny Melrose 25:19
So if you go to the brand’s website, and there’s a tagline that you know is theirs, use that language when you’re pitching about what you’re going to put together.

Jenny Melrose 25:29
Now, the other thing about this is your pitch should not include a specific project or recipe that you’re going to do. It should be general. So in other words, if I was going to pitch Bob’s Red Mill,  I would be pitching right now. First, you want to pitch three to four months in advance, so I wouldn’t even be pitching necessary fall. I’d be thinking actually kind of Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Jenny Melrose 25:56
When I put together the pitch. I’m not going to tell him that I’d love to make my grandmother’s award winning apple pie with a strudel crust. Because if they’re not thinking apple pie, you’re done.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 26:09

Jenny Melrose 26:10
But instead, if you had said I would love to put together a comfort festive pie for Christmas, or for the holidays, that’s likely to get you in the door. Because now you can let them kind of tell you what direction they want to go.

Jenny Melrose 26:28
So is it the new type of flour that just came out, that’s gluten free, then you can kind of go that direction and let them lead you.

Jenny Melrose 26:37
They normally have their own ideas as far as a campaign of what they’re trying to pitch, because they know their products that are coming out, right. So if you’re general enough, it’ll let them kind of see what you’re thinking and give you a chance to actually put together a proposal and get on the phone with them.

Try to get a sponsor on the phone to close the deal

Jillian Tohber Leslie 26:57
I agree. Oh, my God, if any time I can get on the phone with a brand I get the job.

Jenny Melrose 27:03
Yes. Yes. Because you can let them lead the conversation and find out exactly where, if you can ask the one question that I think always put the brand at ease is when I say okay, what are your KPIs?

Jillian Tohber Leslie 27:17

What are KPI and why do they matter to bloggers?

Jenny Melrose 27:18
Key performance indicators. A lot of bloggers you know, we aren’t thinking that way, were just thinking like, okay, we gotta get, we gotta get this. We need some income coming in.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 27:26
They think I can make it pretty.

Jenny Melrose 27:28
Yes. But they have certain goals. Are they trying to get out of product? Are they looking for you to go to their website? Are they looking to grow their Instagram? Yep, you have to ask those types of questions. They know you’re really wanting to know about the brand are going to be able to help them meet their goals. Not yours.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 27:47
Yes. In fact, you know, again, I have mentioned this previously also, which is we love ourselves, we do because you know what, if I love myself, I will take care of myself and I will survive, and my genes will get into the next generation. Like it’s a survival thing, an evolutionary thing to put myself first, right?

Jillian Tohber Leslie 28:08
So this is also the same for brands, brands love themselves. So anytime you can use their tagline, anytime you can put yourself in the position of this brand, and give them back the messaging that they are trying to give to their customers. They will love you.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 28:28
So it becomes even less about you, and more about Do you see what they’re about? Do you understand that? And can you pitch it right back to them?

Jenny Melrose 28:37
Right. Yes, anytime you can show that you know what you’re talking about. When it comes to that brand, they are going to stop and listen.

Jenny Melrose 28:44
I’ve had so many brands that will come to me and say that they are looking for something in particular. And I’ll be able to ask those questions to then drive them towards what they want.

Jenny Melrose 28:57
I had one brand in particular, it’s a very big skin company and came to me and asked, okay, we’d love for you to put up this Facebook video. No mention of money whatsoever.

Jenny Melrose 29:08
So I emailed back and said, Listen, I absolutely love Kristen Bell. And I think she’s super cute. But in order to keep the integrity and my site to my readers, and I’m previous brands I work with, I only work on compensate content, I’d love to send your media kit and a proposal for your review.

Jenny Melrose 29:25
They came back and then in my proposal, I was able to talk about the fact that I have two little girls, one that’s really very pale, very Irish, and the other one who is very olive skin, and I need two different sunscreens in order to work for both girls ,and how I love the company. It’s the only sunscreen we use, and that resulted in a five figure long term contract with that brand.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 29:51
Wow, that’s terrific.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 29:52
And they started simply wanting me to post a Facebook video up, because what happens is, as bloggers when been around for a while, you end up on these PR companies lists and they’ll just send a blast email. They have no idea if you have 3 million followers or three.

Jenny Melrose 30:10
Yeah, I think you have to come back with them. I’ve had so many bloggers that have been around for a while. Let’s say I get these pitches all the time. I’m just deleting them. I said no, don’t delete them go back at them and show them who you are.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 30:24
Right, and assume everybody else’s deleting them.

Jenny Melrose 30:29
Yes, that’s exactly right. And they do obviously have a campaign in mind. They just don’t know how to get it out there.

How to discuss your rates with a brand as a blogger

Jillian Tohber Leslie 30:36
Right. Okay. Do I put my rate in an email?

Jenny Melrose 30:41
Love this question! No. You never put rates in an email, and I believe you don’t create a rate sheet. I teach that you put together a proposal and a proposal is a package price that they get one price for everything.

Jenny Melrose 30:59
Because I have sat in at multiple conferences when I’ve been speaking and listen to other brands that are speaking, and I have heard them say, no matter what price you pitch, I’m cutting you in half.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 31:12
Ooh, okay.

Jenny Melrose 31:15
So if you go to them with let’s say, $1,500 is your package deal. It gets them a blog posts, social shares on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. And then you also throw in… I would always recommend any form of video. So if you want to do Insta stories and IGTV or a Facebook Live, which is what I’m known for, and I have an idea of what I kind of charge for that in my own head. And you should kind of know what you’re charging for everything.

Jenny Melrose 31:47
But for me, I’m charging a minimum of $500 for Facebook Live. So when I tell them $1,500, and they come back at me and say, we can’t quite to $1,500, but we can do $1,200 say. Okay, I’m going to take out the live broadcast. And now my blog posts, social shares just went from what I would normally say $1,000 went to $1,200. So I’m still getting what I’m worth.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 32:14
Got it, but you are willing to say, Nope, I’m not going to do this.

Jenny Melrose 32:18
Right. Exactly.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 32:19
Will they come back at you and say, well, we kind of want that. So okay? Or not?

Jenny Melrose 32:24
If they do come back. A lot of times, honestly, they don’t come back once. They won’t come back and ask for it to go back. And they’ll just say, Yep, okay, because they feel like I gave up something without realizing that it’s not the value that they’re asking for.

What is a “hate rate” as a blogger?

Jenny Melrose 32:39
And if they try to cut me like, let’s say, I’m at $1,500, and they try to cut me to $750, I absolutely tell every one of my students, you have to have a hate rate, right? So it’s a rate in which you would hate yourself if you took it because your value is not that low. And the content is going to be terrible. Because you’re going to be annoyed at the fact that you’re working for half what you’re worth.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 33:07
I think that’s great. I love the hate rate idea.

Jenny Melrose 33:13
Yes, it’s tremendous. It makes it so much easier to kind of go into it, knowing your prices. And a lot of people will say to me, Well, how do we, I don’t know how to price myself?

Jenny Melrose 33:23
Well, there’s a site called SocialBluebook.com. It’s like Kelley Blue Book for cars. But instead it’s going to measure your social influence you put in your Instagram, Twitter, all of your social and then you also can pop in your Google Analytics.

Jenny Melrose 33:38
So now you’re able to get an idea on what you should be charging. It’ll give you a range of a rate so that if you’ve been blogging for a while, and you’re like nope. I’m worth more than that, then that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that you know, your value has been around for a while. It’s a great site for bloggers that really don’t know how to price themselves.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 34:02
That is great, I’ve never heard of it.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 34:05
Now here’s a question, what if I just want to be an Instagram influencer? And I don’t want a blog or what is your thought about that?

Jenny Melrose 34:17
That is totally fine. You are absolutely running the risk of Instagram shutting down and your business would shut down with it.

Don’t build your business on someone else’s platform

Jenny Melrose 34:28
So I would always kind of try to say you don’t build your business on someone else’s platform. Only thing that you own is your your website, you have your own website and your email list. So brands will absolutely pay for Instagram influencers, I would just if you’re going to create content, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket. I would try to make sure that I have something that is my own.

Jenny Melrose 34:59
Growing email, offering product or services that you can grow an email through, I’m using Instagram. I’ve seen tons of bloggers do that. And I think that that makes sense to me on just being an influencer, you can absolutely do it and make money. But who knows for how long.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 35:19
I agree with you completely. I say this all the time, which is it’s really cheap to start a blog. So just own a piece of real estate on the internet.

Jenny Melrose 35:32

Jillian Tohber Leslie 35:33
And over time, if you’re saying making content for these other platforms, just put them on. Put it on your blog, you know, like, it’s not hard and just at least have a piece of real estate.

Jenny Melrose 35:47
Yeah, and I think that people get caught up because they think. Oh, my goodness, if I have Instagram, and I have Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest in my blog, I have to create all this different content. When in reality, you can reuse that content, you can adjust it so that the image is Instagram friendly, as compared to Pinterest friendly. And make it so that you are still using that same content.

Advice: Crosspost your content everywhere as a blogger

Jenny Melrose 36:21
And you have to remember that the algorithms don’t let people see things. So putting out content is fine to have it on multiple platforms, the exact same as long as you’re using like the prescribed images that they say to use. That’s best for like Facebook and Instagram, and then Pinterest, because it’s not necessarily going to get seen right away.

Jenny Melrose 36:51
And even if you have someone on Facebook, that’s also on Instagram, maybe they’re only going to see the Instagram post. Or maybe they’ll see the Facebook post. But so cross post thing is I would highly recommend, and I think it’s fine to reuse content.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 37:04
Yeah, and God forbid somebody sees the exact same photo of that cake twice, right? It’s not the end of the world. And remember, for people to like buy from a brand, usually they have to touch that brand like seven times

Jenny Melrose 37:19
I was just going to say that that’s like my favorite stat to give because it’s so true, and I didn’t realize how true it was until I had a client that has bought my course, part of my membership site, and has done one-on-one services with me, a year after my podcast was started and she said I didn’t know you had a podcast! And I’m like, How is that possible?

Jenny Melrose 37:45
I talk about this all the time, but clearly I’m not. I’m not so putting it out there continuously, your audience has to hear things at least seven times. We’re just so busy and things fly by, algorithms hide things So continuing to use that content, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 38:06
Absolutely, so right now today it is September 5 when we’re recording this.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 38:15
If I were to step into the role of the brand. What am I looking for today from influencers? Is it Instagram? Is it is it traffic to my site, like what what what’s most important to me right now as a brand?

Jenny Melrose 38:36
If the brand is smart, they understand that beautiful photos, that also give an authentic story that gets engagement, matters more than anything else.

Jenny Melrose 38:50
I think a lot of brands will get caught up in the numbers and think okay, I’ve got this Instagram influencers. She’s got 3 million followers, but those 3 million followers may not interact the same way that that other girl with 3,000 followers may interact and engage because of the algorithms, and the way that things change.

You need an Instagram business account if you want to be an influencer

Jenny Melrose 39:09
So it’s more about the authentic story, and the engagement that that blogger or influencer is getting. I would definitely say that bloggers absolutely need to have an Instagram presence and you need to have a business account.

Jenny Melrose 39:25
If you want to work with a brand, you need to have business accounts not so they can track you. But so that you can provide them with the data to be able to say, I was worth it. I got you this many impressions and this many pieces of engagement and you have to be able to report that to them.

Jenny Melrose 39:45
And on Facebook. If you’re don’t have a business account you are, and you’re promoting that you are breaking all sorts of Facebook rules.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 39:54
Yes, that is true. But like, for example, do brands want clicks to their site? Do they want people, like we’ve done this relatively recently where a brand was running a contest, and they want people to come, you know, see what you’re saying, and then go enter their contest. Or are brands predominantly just looking for kind of warm, fuzzy?

Jenny Melrose 40:20
So the smart ones are understanding that if you’re paying for sponsored post, it’s different than an affiliate program. Because as a sponsored post, it’s about providing your influence. It’s not about selling a product.

Jenny Melrose 40:36
For affiliate marketing, you need to sell a product in order to make money off of that, which means you need to rely on their website to actually sell.

Jenny Melrose 40:43
For a sponsored post I might promote, and let’s say a salad dressing. And they’re going to ask me to link to their website. If that salad dressing company thinks that anyone is going to buy a salad dressing from their website site, they’re out of their mind, right? That’s just not what we do.

Jenny Melrose 41:04
We are influencing them to remember that the next time they go into the grocery store. Oh, so Jenny was talking about that salad dressing. Let me pick up that salad dressing so it’s not trackable in the sense that clicks and buys are trackable.

Brands want engagement from bloggers and influencers

Jenny Melrose 41:20
And when a brand understands that that is the purpose of a sponsored post. That’s when the relationship works well, when they can see there’s engagement. That’s how they’re measuring it. They’re not measuring it based on click stories and engagement. I mean, like, comments, likes, shares, any of that kind of thing, right, not necessarily clicks and purchases.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 41:41
Got it? Now do you recommend that the influencer proactively send analytics back to the brand?

Jenny Melrose 41:53
Yeah, so inside of my course Pitch Perfect Pro, I actually teach exactly what to provide them with. The reason I started my course was because what I found worked really well for me, as I could in a network. When I used to work in the networks. That was one and done. I never had contact with that PR company. But my sponsored income started just growing and become filling up my editorial calendar because I was getting long term contracts.

Jenny Melrose 42:22
I would work with them once. And then I would provide them with my data on a silver platter tied in a bow. And they would say, Oh, my God, you just did my work for me, and delivered exactly what we were looking for or whatever it might be. So yes, let’s talk about three posts or let’s talk about six whatever it might be.

Jenny Melrose 42:46
And that’s what I teach. Honestly, like Pitch Perfect Pro isn’t about just getting a one sponsored posts with the brand. It’s about creating a long term relationship with a brand so that you’re not looking at next month going on. Okay, what income do I have coming in? Am I actually making money, I have these expenses, whatever it may be. I remember that feeling of looking at it and going, Okay, what’s coming in next month? Oh, I have no idea. Fabulous.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 43:18
Right. And I would argue that your influence, your authority, with that brand increases for your audience, the more you are in a relationship with that brand.

Jenny Melrose 43:30
Yes. Because they see the authenticity, then they see that relationship that you’re continuing to partner with them. Yes, absolutely.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 43:39
So in terms of scaling posts, do you think it’s easier? Also, one thing that that is difficult about sponsored content is you’re always starting over. You have a new project and like, okay, what’s the new recipe, that kind of thing?

How to incorporate keywords and SEO in your sponsored posts as a blogger

Jillian Tohber Leslie 43:58
Do you have any strategies for how to think through your process of doing sponsored posts, so that you’re not necessarily starting at the way beginning again?

Jenny Melrose 44:09
So I think that it really comes down to like trying to find that rock content of what your readers are coming to you for knowing and doing your research ahead of time.

Jenny Melrose 44:18
Like I know, you have had podcast interviews with people about SEO, I think, doing your research and knowing what you’re ranking for is so important, so that if you’re ranking for comfort food, and it’s a particular type of comfort food, keeping that brand if you have three posts with them, even within that form of those keywords is about it, that them and you it’s really when you create content, it’s about weaving a spider web, it’s not about shooting them all different directions, they have no idea what they’re coming to you for.

Jenny Melrose 44:50
It’s about keeping them on your site. I hear from so many people, oh, my audience just comes from Pinterest, because they’re looking for a recipe. Okay, but let’s have other you know, pieces, other recipes, side dishes or salads, or something that can go with that recipe that you’re weaving a spider web around that audience member to be like, why I really liked it. This Yes, this is the right type of food for me. This is this is the way I want to be eating whatever it might be.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 45:20
Oh, I like that. So you’re therefore thinking about creating cool content for this brand. But also how will this impact your authority, your SEO, your traffic? All of that?

Jenny Melrose 45:32

Make sure to follow through with your sponsored content and deliver

Jillian Tohber Leslie 45:34
I think that is so so right on. Okay, here’s another one last question. And we’ll wrap up with, is one thing that I have heard from people who work at these influencer networks, is that bloggers can be irresponsible when creating content.

Jenny Melrose 45:57
Yes. And those honestly are the bloggers that ruin it for many of us. Not the ones that take a bag of granola, the ones that don’t follow through and deliver. You can’t be doing this, if you are going to want to get paid, you need to run it like a business, and you can’t miss deadlines, and miss part of the deliverables that you’re supposed to be giving to that brand if you’ve signed a contract. Because really, you have entered into a legal transaction with them. And they can say, Listen, you didn’t deliver this, you’re not getting paid.

Jenny Melrose 46:35
And I think when we get into the mindset of thinking of a I’m a business, I need to make sure that if I’m agreeing to a certain deadline that I can deliver that now. There are definitely some times where I think the networks can kind of be a little pushy with the way they want things done.

Jenny Melrose 46:57
And I often think that sometimes because the network is the middleman, they’ll go back to the brands and come back to you, and you can end up six edits in and all of a sudden the brand decides that that’s not not what they wanted in the first place. And you’re redoing the entire post.

Jenny Melrose 47:13
So standing up for yourself being like, you know, making sense of what they’re trying to ask you. I’ve had some clients tell me, they told me this date. And then they turned around and because of their edits turn around and wanted it the next day.

Jenny Melrose 47:26
I had that happen with me, they turned around and it was like Black Friday or over Thanksgiving, they wanted it the next day. Meanwhile, they had been sitting on it for two months, and just gave me the edits and expected in 24 hours over a holiday. So there’s definitely knowing how to treat yourself like a business, to deliver what you can want is expected. And then to stand up for yourself when you need to is important.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 47:54
I like that. And don’t you think though, that if you are responsible, and you do deliver, and you do turn things in on time, and you do have a good attitude, that that could really work in your favor, because you can assume there will be other bloggers a lot of times, like a brand will do a campaign and they’ll reach out to 10 bloggers who are all creating content for that. And if you are the blogger that delivers, they will come back to you.

Jenny Melrose 48:23
Oh, yeah. And that’s so true. Not even just with the networks, but also with PR companies, because PR companies don’t represent normally one brand. They represent multiple. So if you fit into multiple brands, they’ll go to every single time because of one relationship that you built with one PR agent,

Jillian Tohber Leslie 48:41
Right. And because they know that you make them look good.

Jenny Melrose 48:45
Yes, exactly. Right.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 48:47
And that they don’t have to track you down. Right. So Jenny, this has been so wonderful. Will you talk about your course and how people can learn more from you?

Jenny Melrose 49:00
Yes. Absolutely. So I actually offer a masterclass which will walk you through how to attract your dream sponsors without selling out, and we go through just some of the things that you definitely need to avoid and just being able to put it into practice.

Jenny Melrose 49:17
My course Pitch Perfect Pro gives you step by step as you could tell him very much a teacher. You do not skip steps with me. You have to go from A to Z and nothing in between.

Jenny Melrose 49:31
And it also provides you with absolutely everything you would need. I’m lifestyle, I’ve done everything. I’ve done travel, I’ve done the vacuums, everything. So my proposals are all in there so that you can see exactly what I do.

Jenny Melrose 49:55
And then you’re able to actually download it and you can edit it so that you can make it in your own. My follow up procedure that I use. I have a culmination document that I teach all my students to do. Those are all in there.

Jenny Melrose 50:08
Pretty much every little thing that you need. Plus, I also have a closed Facebook group that we use for any specific questions that come up. So if you’re running into something with a brand. You’re like, Oh, I don’t know how to handle this. They’re asking for rights for the photos. What do I do? That’s a question I think we get asked once a month easily. Yes. And I always think double your rates.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 50:29

Jenny Melrose 50:32
And there’s that access to me and my team so that we can make sure that you’re getting what you deserve.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 50:39
Oh, Jenny. Okay. Tell me how people can find you.

Jenny Melrose 50:45
You can find me a Jennymelrose.com and my pitch checklist is actually right on the homepage. As soon as you drop in there. It’s a cheat sheet that’s going to tell you exactly what needs to be inside your pitch on.

Jenny Melrose 50:56
You can also find me on my podcast Influencer Entrepreneurs. If you go into iTunes, and you just search Jenny Melrose, it’ll pop as well, and and I also do weekly free training on my Jenny Melrose Facebook page so that you can get your questions answered live with me.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 51:17
Awesome. Well, Jenny, thank you so much. You are a natural teacher. I have learned so much.

Jenny Melrose 51:24
Thank you so much. It was such a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Subscribe to The Blogger Genius Podcast

Jillian Tohber Leslie 51:28
If you’re enjoying the Blogger Genius Podcast, please head on over to iTunes and rate us also if you have not yet subscribe. do that because that way you will miss a new episode.

Jillian Tohber Leslie 51:41
And if you guys have any ideas for guests that you want topics you want me to cover. I love hearing from you. Email me Jillian@MiloTree.com.

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