As bloggers, we are always looking for new ways to add income streams to our businesses. Sponsored posts are a popular way to do just that. So if you want to know how to work with brands from a blogging expert, this post if for you!
But first, if you haven’t joined my Facebook group, I want to encourage you to do that today! Every Monday at 3:00 EST, I go live in the group to talk about that week’s podcast episode.
I go over the highlights, what I learned, and what I think it’s important for you all to take away from the discussion. It’s a great place for you to ask questions and to share your knowledge with others. I hope you’ll join me!
Now, if you’re ready to learn how to make the most from sponsored content, you’re going to love this episode.
My guest, KariAnne Wood, is the creator of the blog, Thistlewood Farms. KariAnne works with over 50 sponsors per year on her blog, so she knows all the ins and outs of sponsored content and partnering with brands!
KariAnne shares that working with sponsors is all about building relationships and creating win/win situations.
Finding Solutions for Brands with Sponsored Posts
Last year, KariAnne worked with 58 different brands on her website.
Not every business necessarily wants a blog post for their sponsorship, so KariAnne works with them to find the best solution for their needs.
KariAnne has a wide variety of businesses that she works with, and most tie back to her home decor/ lifestyle niche.
Bloggers can provide brands with the one thing they need: the exact targeted audience that is interested in what that company offers.
If your niche is home decor, you have the audience for a furniture business or a paint brand. Your blog is like having an arrow to point right to the heart of the brand’s perfect customer.
KariAnne believes that with just 1K loyal readers, she could rule the world. Now, she has many more than 1K loyal readers, but the point is those 1K loyal readers are reading your blog because they trust you.
And you influence those readers, who come back to your blog again and again, in their buying decisions.
It’s not about how many readers you have; it’s all about the relationship you have with those readers and whether you can translate the stories you tell into influencing their purchases now and in the future.
Going Above and Beyond With Brands
Now that you know that your blog is something that is valuable to brands, the next question is, how do you work with them?
There are many ways to reach out to a brand or company.
Once KariAnne made the decision to monetize through sponsorships, she chose five brands that she wanted to work with, and focused on building relationships with them.
She reached out on social media, after educating herself and doing research on these companies.
After a period of getting to know these brands better, and meeting them in person at a conference, KariAnne pitched to the five brands that she wanted to work with. Four out of the five ended up working with her.
How to Pitch a Brand as a Blogger
Once KariAnne had thoroughly researched the brands she wanted to work with, she put together a pitch.
When you are pitching brands, she recommends you make it about them. Do not focus on yourself.
Show that you have knowledge about the company in your pitch letter. Know what their most recent campaigns have been, any new products they are releasing, and what their company stands for.
At the end of your pitch, share pertinent information about your blog, your audience, and how you can help the brand by sharing their products with your audience.
Be specific about what you want to do with this brand. No one at a company has time to follow up on an email that just says, “I would love to work with you.”
Tell them exactly what you want to do.
Getting Continued Sponsored Work With Brands
Okay, you’ve narrowed down the brands you want to work with, you’ve done your research, you’ve pitched, and you’ve written a sponsored post or completed some type of campaign for the brand.
First of all, and most importantly, answer your emails. If a brand emails you, you need to take that seriously and make it a priority to answer them.
KariAnne has built a reputation for answering brand emails within a couple of hours. Why is this crucial to getting continued sponsorships?
Because brands have limited time, and when you respond quickly, you show that you respect them and their time. It also shows them that you are responsible and you appreciate them working with you.
Why You Don’t Need a Rate Card as a Blogger
I think that one thing that holds bloggers back from approaching brands is the feeling that they need to put together a rate card.
A rate card lists the metrics for your blog, who your audience is, and what your rates are for various levels of campaigns, etc.
KariAnne doesn’t use a rate card because she feels it is a conversation. If a brand asks for your rate card and doesn’t like your prices, then the conversation is over.
Brands are going to be looking for different things from you, so a “one size fits all” rate card isn’t going to fit every brand who might want to work with you.
KariAnne always asks what would make it a successful campaign for the brand to understand exactly what they’re looking for.
Following Up After the Sponsored Post is Completed
Once KariAnne has created the sponsored content and it has been live for two weeks, she contacts the company with the statistics and numbers from the campaign engagement.
Two weeks later, she does it again, sending them updated information and numbers.
KariAnne does a wrap-up email around a month after the campaign. At this point, if she has met the goals of the campaign, she is specific about that in that final email. She highlights the results of the metrics the brand was looking for.
And then, she pitches another campaign or presents another ask. Never let the conversation close without pitching something else to the company.
Scaling Sponsored Content
One of the biggest hurdles to sponsored campaigns is scaling. Can you scale sponsored content? KariAnne says yes!
If she has a certain project in her home, KariAnne works on getting sponsored content for each step of that project. It helps to keep sponsored content within reason and her audience enjoys seeing each step of the process start to finish.
You can use this method to link to old posts as you add to the series.
One thing KariAnne does not do is use multiple brands for one product. She picks the one she likes and sticks with it.
Your audience wants to see that you are authentic and honest; you have to really love the brands that you are sponsoring and back them with your own experience.
Using Newsletters to Add Value for Brands
KariAnne sends out five newsletters a week to her email list.
When a project goes live on her blog, KariAnne will post small snippets in her newsletter about the project.
Leading up to the project, KariAnne will post “before” pictures in her newsletter to build anticipation. She mentions the project she is working on and beneath that, she links to 2 older posts that also mention the brand she is using in the new project.
The next day, KariAnne posts just a picture of the project and a link to the post, along with her current content. This allows her to mention the brand 4-5 times in her newsletters, which is added value for the brand.
KariAnne also emails the top 5-10 post comments to the brand to show them how it is performing with her audience.
How to Price Yourself When Working with a Brand
Pricing is one of those things that makes everybody cringe. When you are just getting started, it is easy to underprice yourself.
Do not do this!
As an example, if you have 50K page views per month and your social media is small, you may think that $200 is a great place to start. But KariAnne says that it is too small!
For every 10K views, you want to charge $100. At some point, of course, this isn’t feasible, because it doesn’t translate to huge numbers of page views, but it’s a good place to begin with pricing.
You can upsell if you have certain specialities, such as a huge Instagram following.
You need to be charging for the rights to your high-resolution photos. Some brands will take them to use in other advertisements and you want to be paid for the rights.
Being Paid for Your Knowledge
When you are offering your services to a brand as a marketing ambassador, you are selling the knowledge you have of the blogging world.
KariAnne sells her expertise for new things that brands might not know about as much, such as Instagram Stories.
The marketplace shifts rapidly, and most bloggers will be able to communicate changes to brands that the brands aren’t even aware of yet. Bloggers can pitch new ways of marketing their products through sponsored campaigns.
If you are showing brands ways to utilize the changes that social media goes through, you are going to be proving your worth to be able to take on more business and sponsored content.
This builds trust with the brand and makes them want to work with you because they know you not only know your stuff, but you have their back.
Listen in at 51:30 to hear KariAnne talk about how MiloTree is helping her grow her Instagram! She has personally gained over 2K followers in less than a month of using it!
Did you know you can try MiloTree for free? Sign up today and get your first 30 days for free and see the results you can get!
- 3:26 Finding Solutions for Brands
- 5:25 Relationship Philosophy
- 9:00 Going Above and Beyond With Brands
- 10:40 How to Pitch a Brand
- 16:44 Getting Continued Work
- 22:02 Why You Don’t Need a Rate Card
- 26:55 Follow Up
- 29:08 Scaling Sponsored Content
- 34:00 Using Newsletters to Add Value for Brands
- 42:38 Pricing
- 48:21 Negotiating Knowledge
TOP 4 TAKEAWAYS
- Build a relationship of trust with your audience so that you know what brands you should be pursuing. Only work with brands that your audience will find helpful or pertinent.
- Take the time to fully research a brand before reaching out to them. Share what you know about the brand in your pitch along with information about your audience.
- Keep your rates flexible so that you have room to negotiate.
- Think of other things you can sell to brands, such as specific and timely knowledge of social media features.
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