If you’ve ever thought about working with bloggers, you’ll know that the phrase “Let’s do a blogger campaign” provides more questions than answers. Who are the right ones for you and how do you reach out to them? What are the magical words that get them to write for free, and if that fails, how much should you pay them? And last but not least, how do you know that you got what you paid for?
As a marketeer, I have a good idea of how heavily these questions weigh upon the minds of the business owners. As a moderately successful blogger, I also have a good idea of the answers. I thought I’d take my experience of sitting on both sides of the aisle and pull together a guide of everything you need to know to get the most value out of your blogger campaigns.
1 – Bloggers are business-savvy: We’ve come a long way from the days when bloggers were people writing on their computers in their basements. Between conferences and associations and networks, bloggers know that their time is worth money. They may be writing at home in their pyjamas, but you can be sure that they have a better idea than you about their PageRank, Alexa rating, and Klout score. The smart bloggers (and trust me, these are the ones you want to work with) want to be treated the same as any other online website where you’d buy ad space.
2 – Bloggers are hard workers: Serious bloggers will write a new post at least 3 times a week if not more. On top of scouring the internet for news and topic ideas to keep their own content machines going, they also run 3, 4 and sometimes 5 or more social media accounts. And let’s not forget about the fact that they’re also thinking about SEO. Bloggers live and die by the size of their communities and the number of views they get each month. They’re constantly working to increase their reach and engagement – all with no marketing budgets to back them up. That adds up to a lot of hours in front of the screen.
3 – Bloggers expect (and deserve) to be paid for sponsored posts: I never fail to be amazed by the number of businesses that want me and other bloggers to work for free. Bloggers are happy to work for product, for giveaways and for varying amounts of money, but none of the good ones are interested in working for free. Please stop running blogger outreach campaigns that pay in ‘pins to our Pinterest board’ or ‘a chance to win a £20 voucher’. How much you pay them depends on what you’re asking of them, so take that into account when negotiating a rate. For instance, do you just need them to write a blog post or do they also have a YouTube channel that you could wrangle a mention from? Take all of it into consideration in your talks with them.
4 – Bloggers appreciate a well-written pitch: It is possible to get free guest posts on blogs IF you send over a well-written and relevant pitch. You will get much further if you send over a tailored email introducing yourself and your company, what you’d like them to contribute and why or how this will be relevant to their audience. This approach has a much better chance of being picked up than if you send them over a generic press release or a watered down advertisement. It’ll tell them that their blog is valued, and that they’re not the faceless target of a mass email your company is sending out.
5 – Bloggers love to be creative: Last year I participated in a campaign for a well-known household good where nearly every line in my post was dictated by the brand. Multiply my blog post by a hundred and you can start to imagine the disaster the campaign ended up being. The lack of authenticity and the repetitive tweets from over a hundred similar bloggers turned the campaign into a social media failure. This year the company learned their lesson and gave us bloggers the freedom to write something that would resonate with our audiences and be original – and the campaign was a rousing success. Bloggers are typically very engaged with the audience so don’t hesitate to give them a bit of room to create something unique!
6 – Bloggers are a tight-knit group: Want to know who reads blogs? Other bloggers. They read and comment, make secret Facebook groups, chat on twitter and meet up for coffee at their increasingly frequent conferences. This is excellent if you want to find a large number of bloggers – just email one and ask them to refer friends. This is less optimal if you screw up. Calling bloggers by the wrong name, paying late or not at all, or any other sign of disrespect or disreputable behaviour will be spread far and wide. Never, ever assume that because someone is a ‘little’ blogger, they won’t know some of the big fish in the sea.
Last but not least, bloggers want to work with you. They really, really do! They want to deliver results and foster long-term relationships with companies. Successful blogger outreach campaigns pay for themselves over time and you’re left with a lasting relationship with highly influential people that you can use over and over again. If you show them just a little bit of respect and leave some room for flexibility, you will reap heaps of rewards.