. 5 TIPS FOR WORKING WITH BRANDS .
There’s been a lot of coverage on this topic not only across the bloggersphere but also across the advertising industry in which I work, it’s hot potato news, and that’s advertising on youtube (and indirectly on blogs too).
This post isn’t necessarily going to be about the specifics of the ASA’s announcement, but as quick way to address the hype I thought i’d share a brief summary – It’s quite simple really, if your paid to develop content, disclose it (within your content & your tax books). Many YouTubers and bloggers I know that run their blogs as commercial businesses already abide by the rules quite rigorously, so there’s no qualms there. Others like myself that don’t run their blog as a business clearly know the rules and if and when it rarely becomes a requirement disclose as necessary!!
Despite the ‘hype’ on the topic, I don’t think it’s ‘new news’. Everyone gets the rules, and as per any media touchpoint (TV- Product Placement / Sponsorships, Print – Advertorials etc), the ASA are simply doing their job to ensure consumers are not being ‘secretly’ advertised to without knowing. It’s really quite standard.
What we, as a blogging community, shouldn’t let this do is mar or deter any commercial achievements across our blogs or YouTube channels. Blogs are a great opportunity for brands to engage with consumers, to drive endorsement, to educate on product ranges or simply to drive awareness. Many bloggers have more reach than the UK’s top selling female magazines. Most blogs are a one man band running an entire content production process. When you think about how amazing that is, it’s no wonder it’s a platform brands and advertisers wan’t to use within their marketing plans. I personally think it’s absolutely amazing that many bloggers / Youtubers have made their blogs a business, I only wish one day maybe I will be brave enough / in a position to do the same.
We should be celebrating the success of our little industry which has grown beyond belief, so that’s why today I thought I would produce a how to feature with a couple of tips for working with brands, from knowing your value to keeping your integrity. Here are my 5 tips to consider when working with brands or considering commercial proposals:
. ONLY WORK WITH BRANDS YOU LOVE .
First up, and actually something I think is super important, is to only work with brands you love. Even right at the beginning of my blogging life when I had barely any readers in relative terms I was still approached by brands to collaborate. In the beginning this was really exciting, but actually after a little bit of time was something I started to take a more pragmatic approach on. Whilst it’s great to be gifted clothes or to have emails from brands wanting to work with you, what’s the point in receiving clothes or featuring a brand you don’t genuinely love, nor represents your own style, taste, quality etc. Whilst the coverage might be great for said brand, it could be detrimental to your brand if it’s not in keeping with your own taste etc.
So by no means be a snob, but have a think about the proposals you accept before accepting, and if they’re not ‘on brand’ then simply kindly decline. When you work with a brand you truly love the content will show the passion, love and support you truly have for it.
. KNOW YOUR WORTH .
With the blogging industry there aren’t really many standards when it comes to advertising, there’s not really a set CPM for advertising as it depends on reach, there’s not a set rate for sponsored content as there are many factors which affect this, and there’s no industry standards for being gifted an item to review at your pleasure vs being gifted a product and paid to talk about it. Given this, it can often be hard to understand what your truly worth. With my job I get exposure to some of the costs related to advertising with world class bloggers and it can be incredibly significant. But that’s not a benchmark we should all be using, as rates & value depends on quite a few things from readership to format to content volume!
When it comes to putting a cost on a more commercial proposal, i’d recommend you think about these 5 things before putting across a rate. 1. How much time will it take you to deliver the work? 2. What’s your reach / traffic value (if you have only a few readers, that’s still of value, you just wouldn’t be able to charge tons based on reach). 3. How much content are you delivering – blog post / social coverage / 3 x photo shoots? 4. Word Count, this is how freelance journalism works, so there’s no harm in applying some of the same thinking to sponsored posts. 5. Value exchange (are they offering you anything in return which may offer some form of value exchange – tickets to an event / product / discounts etc.
There’s no right or wrong, but have a look at your analytics and start to understand your worth. In most cases any discussion around collaborations will have some form of negotiation. Even if you don’t end up with your ‘ideal’ rate, i’m sure there is some form of compromise which can make the ‘deal’ mutually beneficial for both parties!
. KEEP YOUR INTEGRITY .
Always, always, always keep your integrity. And I mean this in two ways. Firstly as per point one, only work with brands you love, don’t negate your integrity just for the sake of a partnership. It can be far more detrimental to your own brand to compromise too much. Secondly of course, keep your integrity when liaising with brands. There’s no doubt that sometimes collaborations, partnerships, or campaigns can be a little stressful, tedious & difficult to manage, particularly when an agency is trying to balance a brands requests with a bloggers parameters. But throughout the whole process, it’s key you maintain your integrity, and leave on a positive. It’s your reputation as well as theres.
. DO IT BY THE RULES .
Clearly as per the pre-speil of this blog post, doing it by the rules is key. Declare any gifted items, announce any sponsored content & track any money earned and declare it as required. It’s important to be honest not just from a legal point of view, but also for your readers to trust your content & you! I for one will always detail a gifted item with a little ℅ after the product details. In all instances where i’ve been gifted something, you can be assured i’ve picked it myself, only accepted the offer because I genuinely love the item & brand, and of course am only featuring it because i think it’s fab. Anything which I received and didn’t feel comfortable featuring I would kindly return!
. BE PROUD OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS .
And of course be proud, bloody hell, who would have ever known us bloggers would get the opportunities and chances to work with the brands we do, to partake in the campaigns we do, or in some instances create the product lines we’ve dreamt of, written the book we’d have only ever dreamed of writing. It’s absolutely amazing what we’ve all achieved and if you ever talk to friends, family, colleagues about your little www dot and the work you do, I bet they’ll be shocked at how amazing it is. Celebrate other bloggers successes and work, it can be hard to keep morale high when you feel brands don’t want to work with you (check out this post here for more thoughts on this topic), but ultimately we’ll each have our own successes when the time is right. Be proud of what you personally have achieved, the content you develop & the little blog you work your butt off to run!
What do you think of my 5 tips? Do you have any other advice on the topic?