The marketing tides are changing and have been for quite some time – online influencers are becoming A-list celebrities and even B, C, and D-list online personalities have massive influence that over-priced traditional celebrities don’t have. Do you know why? Our readers aren’t “trying” to live our lives, they are! Bloggers are relatable and work VERY hard to create and nurture relationships with their readers. While many say bloggers are chasing the almighty dollar, in reality bloggers are chasing the almighty page view. I just want to say that again before moving on to the how and what you should know before reaching out to a blogger. Bloggers are relatable! Their readers (your consumers) aren’t trying to be like them, they ARE like them. A blogger IS your target audience!
So, here we go…
6 Steps to Working With Bloggers:
1. Know the type of blogger you want to work with!
When you are choosing bloggers to reach out to, you need to know what the plan is. Are you wanting immediate sales (like an infomercial) or are you wanting impressions (like television or radio commercials)? Once you have that figured out, then you need to decide what audience you are trying to target.
- Review Blogger – A review blogger is someone who writes reviews. They give unbiased reviews of your product, typically just in exchange for the product. They don’t usually do creative creations to increase the social media traffic to their sites for crafts, recipes, etc. However, a review blogger usually has 10-20 giveaways running on their sites at any given time. A review blogger usually receives between 5,000 and 30,000 page views per month. We find that many people start out as review bloggers and transition to a more targeted niche over time. So, just because they do unpaid reviews for you now doesn’t mean they will always do that. If you have a great relationship with a review blogger, you need to start figuring out your budget to continue working with this blogger as their sites grow and their blogs transition.
**Note: a good review blogger is more worried about their authenticity than your product. They have worked with THOUSANDS of brands and will continue to for a very long time. Do not tell them what to write on your review, then it isn’t a review – it is an ad and those cost money. A good review blogger will have Pros and Cons, Negatives and Positives about your product. Be aware of this when reaching out to them.
- Foodie Blogger – A foodie blogger is exactly what it sounds like. This blog is all about the food and the cost to work with them tends to be pretty high. They know the places to advertise their posts and can get upwards of millions of visitors per month. They will take your food and create an amazing recipe with professional quality images. Their posts tend to take hours (if not days) to create and they are very picky about who they work with and how.
- Parenting – These are those sites that are full of resources for the Mom or Dad out there. They tend to cover children’s clothing & toys, marriage tips, recipes, and anything else that a Parent faces in their typical day. These bloggers run the gamut of reviews for product only up to thousands of dollars for one blog post. The quality of the images and the size of their social media tends to prove the amount of traffic they receive. The traffic and how long they have been around are what determines their pricing structure.
- Fashion – Like a foodie blogger, fashion and beauty bloggers are a targeted niche. If you have a high-end clothing, then look for those bloggers, if your clothes can be found at any department store, then the “fashion on a budget” blogger is more what you are looking for. Like parenting, these bloggers tend to run the gamut of review to paid. These bloggers do fashion shoots in beautiful places and try to show what your outfit looks like. These bloggers tend to make the most of their money through affiliate marketing.
- Home and Garden – Again, a targeted niche – see fashion & foodie above. These bloggers will take your product and show it in their homes or gardens. These bloggers tend to make the most of their money through affiliate marketing.
- Homeschooling / Education – These bloggers tend to write with the homeschooling parent or Teacher in mind. If your product isn’t educational, you don’t even want to contact them (usually). These bloggers tend to make the most of their money through affiliate marketing and selling their own products (curriculum, organizers, printable worksheets).
- Entertainment – These bloggers write about everything happening in the Entertainment field. These bloggers typically make their money via sidebar & banner ads. You can find these bloggers at Red Carpet events, movie openings, etc. If you want an Entertainment Blogger to write about your product/event/venue, you are (typically) going to have to cover all travel expenses and possibly even their wardrobe. Many want to be the next Perez Hilton and expect to be treated as such when invited somewhere.
- “Mommy Blogger” – Unfortunately, Brands and PR reps tend to use this term when talking about ANY Mom that blogs. But, an actual “Mommy Blogger” is not someone you have any desire to work with. (I, Kelli call myself this when pitching simply because you guys use the term… incorrectly) An actual “Mommy Blogger” no matter who uses the term, is that person out there that keeps a blog of their children’s antics, etc strictly so out of town family and friends can stay connected to the lives of said children. These bloggers do it for fun and for an outlet. These are more online journals than places for you to advertise your brand. In fact, a true “Mommy Blogger” will refuse your ads because they are not “sell outs”.
- “Daddy Blogger” – This is the newest thing in the world of blogging. Many Dad’s have come home from the work-force while Mom does her 9-5 thing. The term “Daddy Blogger” is beginning to get just as Taboo as “Mommy Blogger” but for now, they are basically a Dad who write a niche blog. Read their about page to find out if this is a blog you want to work with and what their more targeted niche seems to be.
- Deal or Coupon Blogger – This blogger can have up to 50 posts per day going on their sites. If you want your product to go on their site, you need exclusive coupons or coupon codes especially for their them.
- There are many other types of bloggers out there, but the above tend to be the most popular “types” of bloggers right now. When you go to a blog because it is on a list or it came up in a search, look at the top portion of their site or the bottom for PR, Advertise, Work with Me, or something similar to find out what they do or don’t do and if you will fit on their site. Take 20 minutes and do some clicking – does it appear that they already have a working relationship with your competitor? If so, they are probably not the blog for you – bloggers are influential for a reason, but more on that later.
2. Know what to expect from a Blogger
Do your research (or hire it out) to find the best bang for your buck, but please understand that you’re not going to get an established and influential blogger for the same price as a newer, less established one. Just like you are not going to get a Super Bowl ad for the same price as a local news ad.
- A blogger has tons more pull than you could ever think possible and bloggers tend to back their own. If you make a blogger mad, they can ruin you in one afternoon on the blogosphere. One tweet and an email in one of their many blogger groups and you have a situation spiraling out of control that is going to cost you an arm and a leg to fix! Bloggers don’t have Legal Teams to answer to – they are your consumer with a voice. Oh we should tweet that. That is good!
- Bloggers know their audience and know what will best resonate with their readers. If they give you a suggestion of the best way to advertise your product on their site, really consider it! Don’t shut it down just because you think you know better.
- Bloggers know other bloggers. A good portion of a blogger’s working time includes researching and interacting with other bloggers. If you had a great experience with a blogger, ask them for recommendations! Then, mention that blogger when reaching out to their recommendations!
- Bloggers typically don’t do “earned media” when contacted by a brand. Our entire site is earned media. If you want your product or brand on their site, you are going to have to pay. The “we don’t pay to play” thing is completely irrelevant to bloggers. I understand PR doesn’t work the same way as marketing – but unless you want straight reviews (and even that costs the price of your product) from a review blogger you aren’t going to score with a blogger. It is extremely insulting. You want our audience and our influence, you are going to have to pay for it. The typical saying from seasoned bloggers is “A pack of gum won’t pay my employees, hosting fees, advertising costs, power bill, or anything else.” However, if you invest in some paid media through a blogger, it will generate quite a bit of earned media!
- Bloggers hate giveaways! Giveaways take a TON of work and cost bloggers money to run – yes, they can boost our traffic and our social media numbers, but people who enter giveaways are not at the blog for their content, they don’t become regular readers, they don’t click on ads, and they don’t buy from affiliate links. Those types of readers on only on that blog to win something – period. Most don’t even care about your brand, they just want something for free. Once a blogger reaches a certain level, those giveaways start costing your brand the big bucks.
3. Know what Bloggers want from you!
We went to our FB Group of almost 3,000 bloggers and our exclusive VIP membership site to find out exactly what bloggers are wanting from you, the Brand or Brand Representative. You just might be surprised.
Bloggers want to work with Brands – seriously. As a blogger, it is kind of prestigious to be able to say, “I work with so-and-so” however, most bloggers are extremely strapped for time and believe it or not, the bloggers you are trying to reach have more content than they could ever get live on their sites! Plus, we use certain things in our daily lives and want to be an Ambassador or Spokesperson for those things. Bloggers are worried about their authenticity – we don’t promote what we don’t love unlike many Celebrity Spokespersons!
- Kelli of 3 Boys and a Dog says, “We look for certain terms in our emails! Once a blogger reaches a certain size (industry standard seems to be around 50,000 visitors per month) we have established enough Klout or online influence that we are receiving hundreds (if not thousands) of emails every day with brands wanting to be seen on our sites. We have gotten to a point where if the brand isn’t mentioning money or awesome compensation, the email is getting deleted. In fact, many bloggers have filters in place to automatically weed out certain terms like ‘samples’ or ‘extra content’ so they never even see your pitch. I do this!
- Nickida of Nicki’s Random Musings says, “Encourage their clients to cross promote posts on their own social media pages. It’s win-win for both the company and the blogger.” Yes! If one of the Kardashians promotes your brand on Twitter, you are going to re-tweet it, right? You should have a follow list of mid-sized bloggers, these are those people in the trenches, your best brand voice. You should be letting them know you appreciate what they are doing.
- Dawn of Pet Product Review says, “Be sure your pitch is appropriate for the niche we are in.” Seriously! Blogs get better SEO than websites even if they follow the rules of Google and make paid links no follow. Why? Because bloggers stay true to their niche. Save yourself some time and be sure that your product actually fits the site you are pitching!
- Karon of All Things Lifestyle says, “Your client may not have a budget for campaigns, but we work for a living just like you, the PR person. Exposure does not pay the bills. Please stop insulting us.” Yes, telling me you will tweet my advertisement of you to your audience is not helping me one iota. It only helps you – BTW if your audience was that great, you wouldn’t need me. Now, giving me exposure to your audience in addition to my ad rates is always appreciated, because it makes me feel appreciated!
- Kelli of 3 Boys and a Dog says, “When a Brand calls me on the phone without checking with me and getting an appointment first, I want to rant and rave. It is so hard to stay professional. I want a brand to understand that I am a Mom who works from home. I have 3 busy kids, 5 dogs, and at least 3 kids that are not mine in my house most times. When that phone rings and someone wants to know if I got the email they sent me ‘full of great content for your blog’ 5 minutes ago, it is all I can do not to flip. I usually burn that bridge pretty quickly. Respect my schedule (it changes every single day). If I don’t respond to your thinly veiled advertisement, then you may as well figure that I am not interested. I have been in this game since 2006, I am not interested in “content” because I have over 100 drafts sitting in my blog dashboard. Content is plentiful for me. I am at the point that I only make room for marketing if it is going to pay my house note or power bill. Otherwise, I don’t have to answer to anyone and can write what I want. :-)”
- Jennifer of The Jenny Evolution says, “Recognize and treat us as a business, not as a free clearinghouse for your client’s marketing campaigns. “
- Crystal of Crystal & Co., says, “Understand that bloggers are online influencers. If you want to get technical, many of us are digital strategists. Bloggers who are running their sites as a business are generally very deliberate in their work. We know who our demographic is and we’ve worked to create a very specific audience we are targeting. We’ve created online social communities in places like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., and we know exactly who the consumers are that we’re attracting in these spaces and what their interests are. The sooner you begin to allocate a budget to work with bloggers, the same way as you allocate a budget to work with other forms of media, the sooner you can truly experience an advertising campaign that influences your consumer in a way you’ve potentially not been able to do in other mediums. Your consumer is going to trust my point of view. They are skipping over the commercial you’ve paid for on television and tossing the magazine you have an ad in. But, they are waiting with baited breath to see what resources and solutions their favorite bloggers are sharing with them. We’ve built a relationship. We are on their phones, on their computers, they read our content at work, at home and while in transit. We can influence their purchasing decisions in a way that no other marketing campaign can. Please treat us like the professional businesses we are and not like a free, last minute option for generating buzz about your product. “
4. Know (and understand) Blogger Terminology –
Yes, Traditional Media uses certain terminology and I understand that you think Bloggers should know these terms, but look where we are coming from – we spend very long hours on our sites – for many of us our blogs are just like our children. We also use certain terminology and expect you to know and understand it. The world is changing. If you want to work with Bloggers, you need to do it on their terms.
- Product Review – This is a review, simple as that. The blogger will use your product as it is intended and write a blog post saying what the product is, where it can be found, and how well it did what it was supposed to. They read your book and give their opinion. They watch their movies and give their opinions. You can’t tell them what to say and it shouldn’t be compensated. However, they need your product in order to try it and should not be expected to return the product to you no matter what the value of the product. Many review bloggers use all their products to donate to less fortunate or give to family members after they are finished with the review.
- Product Placement or Sponsored Post – This is where a blogger gets more creative. They tell a bit about your product and where to find it, but they get nitty gritty with it. They show their audience how to use that product or why to buy it. That might mean creating a movie night menu around your DVD, a recipe, a craft, or even a way to use the box or bottle from your product after it has been used. This is advertising and it costs.
- Brand Ambassador – This is eating, sleeping, breathing, and promoting the heck out of your product for a specific time. When choosing a brand ambassador or blogger spokesperson, you can expect a long contract (at least 3-6 months), exclusivity, multiple blog posts, and more! A Blogger Ambassador or Spokesperson expects for you to foot the bill to get them places to help you promote your brand from Blogger Conferences to Television shows. You can’t expect a blogger to be a spokesperson for your brand if they haven’t used it and don’t love it. For this, you can expect post and social media fees, travel expenses, product expenses, and even day rates to be applied. I suggest you work all this out before reaching out. I also suggest that you already have a relationship with this blogger before mentioning this!
Kelli of 3 Boys and a Dog averages around 150K unique visitors just to her blog each month (she is considered a mid-level parenting blogger) – not to mention the millions of impressions she can garner for your brand on Social Media. The above image shows a TweetReach report for Kelli’s Twitter account – with no campaigns happening, her impressions are pushing 1 million – then you still have G+, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook personal and brand page, and YouTube just to name a few places that this one blogger frequents. As is true with many bloggers, Kelli isn’t the only person in her household promoting your brand! Her husband and children are also discussing it in everyday life to friends and colleagues and 2 are connected via twitter & instagram. A Brand Ambassador contract with her will cost a few thousand per month PLUS any and all travel fees PLUS a competitive day rate for travel -this is still more cost effective than one 30-second commercial!
- Affiliate Marketing – This is where a blogger makes a certain amount of money based upon clicks or sales of your product. You don’t pay up front, you only pay if the blogger generates sales. <— most bloggers already have a set number of affiliates that they work with so this isn’t the best approach. However, if you have a longterm contract already in place for a blogger, it is smart to offer an affiliate code for them in addition to the straight ad prices you have already worked out.
- Partnership – You would think this would be common knowledge, however many brands and brand representatives do not use it that way. A partnership is a mutually benefiting relationship. Do I need to repeat that? Both parties should get something out of a partnership.
5. Know the rate and how it compares to traditional media.
Television Advertising is going to cost between 10 and 15 dollars CPM – however, only about 14% of those numbers you are paying for actually watch your commercials!
When paying for Traditional Media, you get a one time shot to make an impression and the commercial cost isn’t your only cost – you have to hire the celebrity or actor and create the commercial. When working with a blogger, you are paying for current visitors as well as any future visitors! We create a blog post that should withstand the test of time, yet our pricing is thousands of dollars less than a 30-second commercial!
Average CPM Rates:
- Television – $12.50
- Blog In-Post Ads – $5.00 <–this is where you reach a blogger
- Search & Sidebar Ads – $2.00
- Social Media Ads – $3.00 <–this is where you reach a blogger
- More average CPM rates for more traditional media can be found here.
Read this analysis on The Real Time Report. A study on word of mouth campaigns found that action and social mentions are driven more effectively by what they call the “power middle.” These mid-level influencers have a smaller but more loyal audience and drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and “mega influencers.” Guess what else? This tactic wasn’t only more effective, but it also cost less.
6. Reach out to them!
Once you have steps 1-5 done, you are ready to start building relationships with bloggers. Go to their websites, read some of their content, check their social media places, and look for their terms & conditions or media kit. Then, and only then should you reach out. So, what is the best way to contact a blogger or what should you say? Kelli of 3 Boys and a Dog says, “Honestly, I know it will never happen, but I just wish a brand would reach out to me and say, ‘Hey Kelli, my product is x, I am hoping to accomplish y, and My budget is z. What can you do for me?’ I am sick of the back and forth emails and the long drawn out emails, I just don’t have time! Oh and BTW, I don’t care what celebrity baby uses your product, no celebrity has EVER influenced me to buy something – don’t pitch me with it.”
If you have made it this far, I commend you! This post is more than 3500 words long and could have been much longer – but just like bloggers, I am sure you are busy. Before reaching out to a blogger, remember these few “How to Partner with Bloggers” tips…
- Know your blogger’s brand
- Respect a blogger’s craft
- Expect to pay for your advertisements
- Bloggers prefer long-term contracts and authentic relationships with brands
- Allow editorial freedom!
- Expect to ship product, even if paying!
You aren’t just paying for the blog post views, but also all their social media channels and typically, those numbers are not figured into the blogger’s pricing!
Bloggers, if you have something to add please leave us a comment!
Brands, we would love to have you weigh in below as well! If you want The LearntoBlog Girls to perform Blogger Outreach for you, please feel free to drop us an email. Let us know your budget up front and we will tell you want we can accomplish for you!