I know some people get very precious and touchy when it comes to talking about working with PRs/Brands. The blogging world has changed and so has advertising/campaigns and many brands have realised the importance of working with bloggers. I know many readers don’t mind their favourite bloggers working with brands but they do want it to be specified well. I think this is very important because readers are really important and essentially make a blog amongst other things. If you are a blogger, particularly a lifestyle/beauty/fashion blogger, there is a high chance that one or more brands/PRs may have approached you to work/collaborate on campaign/review. It is perfectly normal; what seems very abnormal to me is blogging because you want to start working with brands or because you want “freebies”. If this is your reason for blogging, you may be disappointed to know that it may not be achievable and you may get frustrated. This is because your readers can usually tell when you are passionate about what you are doing or when you have ulterior motives and it would also show on your content. Bottom line: Don’t blog for fringe benefits as no amount of free lipsticks is worth your Integrity.
However, there’s no denying that it feels good to be recognised by brands, especially ones you love, who are willing to work with you on campaigns or just send you products in the hope of a review. For me, it’s not about the free products because I know I can afford any beauty product I want (or save towards it) and I am sure many bloggers can as well. I hope I don’t come off as proud/arrogant because that’s far from the point. I work very hard in my career/full time job and I treat myself ever so often and I know many other bloggers also work equally hard enough to afford these beauty items. Everyone wants to feel valued especially by their readers and that’s what actually keeps me on this little space of mine for the past two years. I love to know that someone out there has found my content useful and even if it is one person, my work here is complete. Anyway, I wanted to get that out of the way before I get to the crux of the matter which is around what brands/PRs look out for in blogs. I have done some research and I am also writing some of these tips based on my experience. As you may know, I don’t classify myself as a "big blogger" by any means but I do think my blog is successful because I am very happy with it. So, I hope no one takes offence when I reference “smaller blogs”, “small bloggers”, “big blogs” and “big bloggers” as we go along. Right let’s dive in...
1. Audience Size: I think this is pretty obvious but I do think many people believe that’s all brands/PRs look out for which is not always the case. Brands will definitely look for a wide audience reach because they hope to expose their brand to as many people as possible. Many people read blogs and usually trust many blog reviews on products which helps inform their purchase. I know I always check for reviews before I buy a product because I hate to waste my money. It’s all about the reach which is one of the main reason why Brands/PRs send products to bloggers for reviews in the hope that it will be featured on blogs which in turn can help create awareness and drive sales. However, brands are waking up to the benefits of also approaching “smaller blogs” but we will talk about that later.
2. Audience Demographics: Many brands/PR would look at a blog’s audience demographics because it matters to them. This can involve various aspects including age, gender, location, etc. For example, an expensive brand may approach a “big blog” with a wide audience reach to review their product. However, if the blog’s audience is mainly made up of teenagers (no offence!!), then it is unlikely that they are able to afford to splurge on the said expensive product. Of course, these teenagers can save for it, pop it into a birthday wish list or Christmas wish list. For the most part, the review may not translate into sales for the brand. On the other hand, let’s say the same brand approached a “smaller blogger” with maybe 400 loyal readers (who are in their twenties) that trust the blogger's recommendation for a review. It may translate into sales for the brand because the readers can afford this product as they may be of working class age. It’s just a very vague example but brands have realised this and now look at the demographics of a blog. There are ways they can find this out but most times, they may just ask the blogger directly for their stats. Also, many brands/PRs will love to know where majority of the audience comes from as it can help them manage their campaigns. For example, a brand which is popular in Asia will prefer to work with bloggers who have wide audience base from Asia even if they love elsewhere. For example, although I live in the UK, I am Nigerian and I have a good number of my audience come from Nigeria and some Nigerian brands have sent me products to try out in the hope of reviews (if I like them) that would help drive their sales
3. Your Content and Integrity: I am sure everyone is probably sick of hearing the phrase “Content is King” but it is so true. Brands/PRs usually look at your content and how detailed your reviews are. It is not really about the length of the post but more on the quality of the post. Is it very informative to the readers? Can people make an informed decision on whether they want to purchase the product based on your review? It’s all about staying true to yourself. Many bloggers feel that you have to write positive reviews about products they are sent for a review. First things first, you don’t have to feature all products that you are sent especially if you don’t like it. You can read my disclaimer here to see my views on this. While I don’t like writing solely negative reviews (except it is exceptionally bad and I want to warn my readers) because it is a waste of my time, I always try to balance my reviews with pros and cons (whether purchased or PR samples). The thing is good and sensible brands are always open to constructive criticism and feedback on their product because that’s one of the ways they can improve.
4. Frequency of Posts: This is very straightforward and Brands/PRs would always look at the frequency of posts. Of course, you don’t have to post everyday but it should be regular. This is also relevant to retaining readership as well but that’s a different topic. If you put yourself in the shoes of a brand, you definitely want to work with a blog that posts regularly. It’s just human nature and it shows dedication. It does not matter how often but it just shows you take your blog seriously and Brands/PRs need to be reassured by this.
5. Blog Photos: I know many bloggers, including myself, are always on the haunt for ways to improve blog photos. Many people including readers, brands and PRs are always attracted to blogs with good photos which showcases the products in the best way possible (but true to nature; no excessive misleading editing). If you popped on a brand’s website and saw crappy photos of a product, the chances of you buying that product will be rather slim (I know I won't buy such a product no matter how effective I think the product is). It’s just human nature; we are attracted to things that are aesthetically pleasing. I already mentioned that packaging plays a big role in my decision to purchase a product (which is pretty sad, I know!) and when the product is beautifully photographed; its fate is sealed in my shopping bag. #thatsall. However, this should not make you panic if you don’t own a DSLR camera or fancy background (if you do, that’s great), brands/PRs just want a clear photo which showcases the true nature of the product. Good natural daylight and some creativity (even just some magazines on your bed) can help you get amazing photos, so don’t fret. I have some Blogging tips and Photography posts on here if you want to learn more about this
6. Engagement with readers: I am sure many people overlook this important point but many Brands/PRs always look out for it. How do you manage engagement with your readers? Many “small blogs” get a lot of comments (sometimes even more than "big blogs") and they don’t go unnoticed by brands/PRs. It simply shows that you have a growing loyal community who enjoy your content and trust your recommendation. For example, “small blogger B" writes an amazing review on a product which is not very popular from the Drug store. A large number of loyal readers comment saying they never noticed the product existed and they purchase it and it is subsequently sold out. It happens all the time and it just goes to say bloggers are still a force to reckon in the beauty world.
That’s all for now and I hope these tips were helpful. Remember, PRs and other Brand Representatives are also human beings as are Bloggers and good working relationships make everything manageable. Brands/PRs can always work with any blog regardless of its size or audience reach, etc. I am keen to know what you all think and if you have any other tips (especially from people who work in PR or with brands). I have another post up on how to work successfully with brands. It’s not that I am an expert or anything at all but it is more about maintaining a professional relationship. Do you agree with any of these tips?...xx