Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’
August 28, 2014
That is exactly what this post consists of, so if you aren’t into the idea turning your blog into a branded business, enjoy the pictures and I’ll see you tomorrow morning with Friday Favorites!
From what I gather, however, there are a lot of bloggers who click over here every now and then. I love that, and I hope you enjoy the tips I have learned from the pros along my journey on how to figure it out as well.
How Turn Your Blog into a Branded Business with Cassey Ho
You miiight have heard of Cassey from Blogilates before.
She created her first YouTube video in 2009 after moving from Boston to L.A. for her first job. Her goal back then was to produce a channel to stay in touch and share workouts with her customers and friends back home. She kept getting requests to do more and, six years later, now has over 1.5 million views a month! Yup… million.
With an obvious success in turning her blog into a money-making brand, she spoke to our group for just about an hour on how it all happened and what fuels her to keep going.
Curious about the details? Yeah… I was too!
Cassey claims that she only became successful because her focus wasn’t to make money. She started documenting her workouts to teach them to her friends and naturally grew an audience! She attributes a lot of her success to social media and preaches that utilizing it is what can take you and your brand to the next level.
Here’s the breakdown filled with business driving tips straight from Cassey:
>> Get Personal
Include personal tidbits in your posts and videos. People will be able to relate to you if you write in that style. Personally answer comments. Readers want to be heard, so try to answer as many as possible.
Don’t try to copy anybody else or be someone who isn’t you. Be YOU!
>> Increase Your Following
Utilize Instagram! Use hashtags on Instagram, and remember that you can also use the comments section for this. (<- great tip!)
Post full exercise descriptions and recipes on your photos. People on Instagram don’t want to leave Instagram, and it can take a lot unwanted effort to actually go to your blog since there aren’t direct linking capabilities yet.
If you are a YouTuber, be smart about what you name your videos. Consider word play with SEO in your tags and descriptions (temp pulling). Play off of the holidays and big events of the year. The first few words that you tag are more important than the last.
Example: Here’s a workout to get ready for the VMA’s!
>> Never Buy Your Followers
You know you’ve seen them… accounts with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers with barely any content.
Chances are, this person or company purchased followers to up their numbers, but there isn’t any true following behind them. The numbers might look good on paper, but the percentage of people actually clicking over to their website and helping their business grow is a small percentage. Work hard and allow your following to grow organically!
Connect with other people! Get to know people like you, then create a trusting and real relationship with them. Reach out to other bloggers and discuss content and contact information when you get the opportunity.
In return, offer your content and contacts right back. Most importantly, be genuine with co-hearts, companies, and in your content. Put your heart into everything you roll out!
>> Connect with Brands and Show Them Your Worth
Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with brands on Twitter and social media. Don’t be annoying, but be persistent and try to establish a connection in a couple of tries. Even something as simple as a tweet could turn into a future campaign or project with them.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a high rate. You can always negotiate, but have a rate sheet available to share when prompted.
>> Sell Merchandise
Make it official by making products. Merchandising is HUGE! People want a piece of you, even if it’s just a t-shirt. Everyone can have a store!
>> Keep Readers Engaged with Newsletters and Giveaways
Give away free content, but know when to draw the line. Don’t give away everything if you are hoping to sell products in the future.
Give away free plans or workouts to get emails for newsletters. Give away free workout calendars to email subscribers. Give away workout samples. Share a synopsis of a workout plan through your newsletter, but require a click to the online download for a full breakdown of everything!
Even if you have nothing to sell – but and want to build your following – get a newsletter! The main reason is to stay in touch with your followers.
>> Be Selective
Only work with brands that you believe in.
(Remember my recent post all about this?) If you get approached with a huge sum of money, be careful. If it doesn’t make sense for what you do, don’t sign up for it. Always trust your gut!
Previous Blogging Related Posts
Well that was fun. I’ll be continuing on with my IDEA session notes over the next couple of weeks, so keep a look out if this is something that interests you. I’m off to study (finally making some kind of progress here… finally).
See you in the morning!
August 26, 2014
I had so much going on in my brain and other things to share during the recaps that I didn’t even want to start diving into the take aways during specific sessions until now.
In an attempt to keep things easy to read and straight to the point, this post rolls off the first of many you can expect to see over the next couple of weeks. My hopes are to pass on the valuable tips and tricks I learned from the pros and apply what I didn’t already know to my own blog and work!
And hey, even if you aren’t a blogger you could still learn a thing or two. The information below is coming straight from success stories in both marketing and entrepreneurship after all!
On the panel:
Whitney English, blogger and celebrity journalist in L.A. (hello, dream job)
Through one form or another, they have all had plenty of experience approaching brands and selling themselves (and in some cases selling clients) to brands. I will close with my own personal tips at the bottom, but let’s start with the details from them, questions and answers style.
How to Approach Brands & Sell Yourself
All panelists contributed towards answers in each area, but let’s start with the biggest points I picked up from each of them.
(Photo credit: Live and Diet)
Whitney on how she started working with brands, how she approached them, and if they approached her:
She started small by doing reviews that weren’t sponsored, then joined networks like FitFluential and Sweat Pink that connected her with companies. She didn’t really reach out to many brands at first, and eventually some big names found her.
Now she works off of an equal balance between pitching herself and responding to brands interested in working with her.
• Check back with brands. Even after the campaign is over, make sure companies are happy with your work and let them know you are interested in working together again.
• If you sign up for or commit to something you aren’t excited about anymore, take a few pictures and move on. Don’t be overly ecstatic just because it’s a review.
• Don’t try to be somebody else. Be yourself and what your blog represents. Small or large, the brand wants to know you are excited about working with them and their product.
• If you follow a brand and they follow you (on social media), ask if they would be open to working with you. It doesn’t always have to be formal pitch. Even a quick sentence or two on Twitter’s Direct Messenger could break the ice for future opportunities.
• (On pitching to smaller companies): Explain the business side of it and that you are willing to work with them long-term. Introduce the idea of sponsored content and posts if they aren’t familiar with paying bloggers for what they do.
• Everything is about relationships. If you start working with a brand and went the extra mile, a company will remember you and keep you in mind for future campaigns.
• Over-deliver. You are competing with so many other bloggers in the business. Do something different that makes you stand out!
• Don’t say yes to everything. It’s not wrong to work with multiple brands, but just remember to be authentic in your words and reviews and only sign up for what makes sense.
• Be polite, but don’t be afraid to correct agencies and companies who don’t understand what you are trying to portray or your content.
• You are an expert in your space. Brands are coming to you because they like what YOU do. Build on that.
Q&As with All Panelists
What are companies looking for in bloggers?
• Numbers and reach, but not always. Don’t be discouraged if you are a considered to be a “smaller” blogger.
• Are you talking to a specific niche? Does what you do make sense for their target audience? It’s all about finding the right fit. A brand wants to do things with people and bloggers who fit their focus.
Tips on campaigns?
• Preserve the integrity of your brand! Don’t spread yourself too thin. Sometimes you have to turn companies down if they aren’t the right fit.
• Show brands that there is a long-term relationship you can have with them. Develop and foster relationships with contacts you get the opportunity to meet or even communicate with.
• Stick to what you said you were going to deliver. Then go above and beyond. Learn to create graphics.
• Be on time with your deliverables.
• Show your personality and specific take on things. You don’t always have to be serious on campaigns. Do something out of the ordinary to push out interesting content.
• If you don’t like a product or have a negative review, you’re probably better off contacting the company directly and discussing the issue before you post it. You don’t always have to have all positive feedback, but think about what you are doing and saying.
On Brand Ambassador programs:
• Be careful with automatically saying yes to being an ambassador for a company. If you have a ton of logos on your site, you might get overlooked for future opportunities.
• If you become an ambassador and don’t do the work, your name might get passed around in agencies in a negative way. Remember, don’t spread yourself too thin!
• Be over-selective. Only do what you believe in. Brands and readers won’t believe your word on a product if you constantly deliver sponsored posts.
On Media Kits:
• They are great to have, but not always used.
• If you have one, make sure to include all of your stats, press and sites you’ve been on. Don’t just include social channels.
• Some bloggers have Press pages that also display this information.
• Sometimes agencies will do their own digging to see how your posts are performing and how engaged you are with your readers.
On Social Channels:
• Instagram is HUGE. Get on it and use it as a micro-blog. Engagement rates are much higher there. Some brands will exclusively work through Instagram on campaigns!
• Twitter is probably second to Instagram, but also very important. Engage and use hashtags often.
• Make pin-able images for your posts! It’s so much easier to share.
• What not to focus on: Facebook fan pages. Brands don’t usually ask to work with Facebook pages or stats.
(Funny they mention that, I feel like everything I post there gets sucked into the land of non-views!)
• Think about the way you operate on a day to day basis. Everything is mobile. People don’t always have time to read blogs, but they will scroll through Instagram or scan over Pinterest.
• The younger generations are very into quick messages like snapchats and vines. Use videos if they make sense. Get creative with videos and keep them short.
• 2007-2011 video and vlogging has changed. These days, successful videos seem to be big productions.
• Bloggers set the market, not brands.
• Be careful of having a “standard rate”. There are times where that won’t work for a company, and it might not be worth giving up on. They will think you aren’t flexible.
• Rates and budgets change. There isn’t a rule about what you should and shouldn’t be making on a specific campaign. Tell them “this is what I typically get paid, what kind of budget are you working with?”
Advice for new bloggers:
• There is power in numbers. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and work with others. Get to know other bloggers. Support others and participate in hosting and writing guest posts.
• The same thing that draws brands to you is the same thing that drew readers. Keep your tone authentic and the information interesting.
• Be creative! Everything doesn’t always have to be a review. Come up with fun things, events, and fresh ideas to pitch to brands.
• Brands want to sell products. Approach the smaller companies by explaining what you can do to drive traffic to their site and get the word out!
• Sharing and engaging in content will help you gain followers. Talk to everybody and follow people back as much as you can.
Everything they said above and then some! Great advice right?
To close, I will throw in a few of my thoughts and tips under this category.
• Don’t say yes to everything!
They mentioned this above, but I truly think it’s one of the most important things I can stress. As a blogger, you essentially make your own brand and that brand is YOU. Only pick up work that compliments what you are about. Don’t be afraid to (politely) say no to companies or queries that don’t fit your overall goal or message for your site or lifestyle.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.
I have a hard time with this one, and it actually took a lot of convincing from my blogging co-hearts for me to finally start upping my numbers and rate for sponsored work. But I’m so glad it happened.
When collaborating with companies, I am very straight forward about the fact that blogging is how I make an income and that I am happy to do reviews and giveaways that represent my blog for a sponsored fee.
Of course, my rates are always negotiable and depending on what the product is or how interested I am will also determine what I will exchange my work for. I make sure to stress this if it is with a company or product I really want to work with.
I did my first sponsored campaign about two years ago, so there comes a point where you value more than “free stuff” for your work! Yes, there are times where I lose out on great products or campaigns, but at the same time I am finally starting to get paid what I value my time to be worth. You’ll never get there if you don’t ask for it!
• “Bigger” bloggers don’t always get everything.
I used to begin the reasoning for my pricing of “since I am still a newer blogger” in conversations, and I eventually realized that some brands don’t really care about your numbers. Obviously some do, but not all of them.
In the past, I found myself surrounded by big names in the blogging world and wondered how I got hired for the same gig. Come to find out, they liked the extra thought and effort I put into my campaigns and how engaging I am with my readers. I brought something different to the table and because I had a smaller audience, that allowed me more time to do so. You just never know!
• Just be YOU.
Blogs are personal spaces. Brands see them as a great way to advertise because the reviews come from people who have an audience who feels like they know the person reviewing their product.
I used to think I had to be “serious blogging Heather” when typing up reviews, but I let that go over time. I still offer the information I need to, but always make sure to include a personal twist, silly photos, or innuendos with my thoughts.
It might seem lame, but that is exactly how I am if you talk to me in person. I’m informative when I need to be, but rarely serious. I finally let it show through my work, and have never been happier to accept inquiries.
Be true to you!
Previous FAQs on Blogging Posts
See you in the morning with a couple of recipes!