Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’
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!
August 21, 2014
Hi friends! Today I am coming to you in the middle of a few time-sensitive projects I am working hard to finish, and I apologize if you have been wondering about the absence of the usual morning post because of it.
Need a refresher?
If you have checked in even a little bit, then you know that I am extremely happy with the decision I made to find the means to attend the conference and now plan to go annually.
I last left off recapping the end of the EXPO Saturday, and the remaining day and a half of classes were filled with tips in fitness writing for publications and websites (yes, please), tips for success in teaching group exercise and small group training (perfect), and two back-to-back basics of anatomy sessions on Sunday!
Since I am still studying for my CPT through NASM, the conference and courses couldn’t have come at a better time to introduce new things and light a fire in me to finish. Let’s do this already!
While I still plan to share the details and many, many tips I acquired in my sessions throughout the course of the conference over the next few weeks, I wanted to close out my recaps with some final photos paired with my DO’s and DON’Ts tips for attending IDEA in the future.
A lot of you have expressed an interest in attending IDEA down the road, so I hope this helps in aiding your decision!
• DO join the 12,000+ in signing up to attend the biggest conference for fitness professionals and enthusiasts if you fit into that category and want to expand your knowledge for yourself and/or business.
I have already said it three times, but I can’t fully express my feelings coming home from this event by simply summarizing them into words. I am more inspired than I ever thought I could be pushed to be, and cannot wait to see what the next year of this transition out of dancing and into full-time fitness and blogging will lead me. Watch out, world!
• DON’T wait until the last minute.
After debating for months, I signed up with thirty days to spare and had to stay at a hotel off-site until my blogging buddies generously offered for me to crash in their rooms. Also, if you sign up early, you can take advantage of one or more discounts off of your admission ticket!
We’re talking hundreds of dollars here.
• DON’T get overwhelmed by scheduling your sessions online.
I sure did. I didn’t even know where to start at home or once I arrived!
I ended up spending hours going through my options and picked a draft of a schedule to at least have a base of classes I knew I was interested in.
Realistically, most of the sessions labeled “full” end up having at least a couple of extra spots, if not more, and I only ended up attending two I previously signed up for. I showed up early and went on “standby” for the rest and got in every time!
Once I showed up to registration and saw it all printed out on paper, everything became much easier to navigate.
• DO download the IDEA Fitness Events app for your smartphone.
I found out about this app after I picked up my registration packet and it proved to be extremely helpful!
Here, I found a breakdown of each session as well as a biography of the instructor. I could easily check into a session and tweet about what I was doing while scrolling through a live feed of notes and pictures from fellow attendees.
Also, I plan on going back through each of my sessions to rate and review them directly through this app.
• DO sign up for the BlogFest ticket, if you are a blogger or are looking to start a blog.
Meeting a tribe of healthy living and fitness bloggers who have the same passions and goals as you do is an amazing feeling. Over the course of two days, I learned a lot from fellow bloggers as well as speakers who work with bloggers leading the sessions.
(Photo credit: Whitney of Live and Diet in L.A.)
Google searches save me when I have blogging questions, but it is refreshing to hear the tips in-person from those who have great successes in the world of blogging.
• DO wear workout gear to all of your sessions.
One advantage to the fitness industry (to me anyways) is a free pass to wear yoga pants, cute zip-ups and sneakers at all times of the day.
IDEA, along with other fitness and blogging conferences I have attended like FitBloggin’, offer a lot of workout sessions, and nobody cares about dressing up further than that in-between the sweating.
In fact, I brought an extra sports bra and top with me every day to change into after some of my sweatier sessions. Everyone comes dressed in fitness attire, and I even took advantage of this on Sunday when I didn’t even have workouts planned into my schedule.
I brought a couple of dressier outfits (meaning street clothes like jeans and dresses) for outings at night, and always had a jacket to layer with during the day. Those conference rooms can get chilly!
• DO sign up for a good balance of workout/non-workout sessions.
I have heard from people who attended IDEA in previous years not to overload the workout sessions. I averaged two or three a day (tops) and made sure to have plenty of informative, sitting sessions in-between.
Going forward, I will definitely stick to this type of schedule!
• DON’T be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and get to know new people.
It was nice for me to attend this conference with a group of blogging friends I already knew and loved spending time with.
I did, however, also make an effort to talk to new people and bloggers in sessions and branched out on my own for a lot of them.
(Photo credit: @pavementrunner on Instagram)
Even if you feel silly, there is no harm in putting yourself out there.
You never know who will be sitting next to you in a session (so glad this happened a few times, Pavey!), and I have met blog readers as well as other interesting people in the healthy living industry by simply handing them one of my cards!
• DO pack snacks and carry around a water bottle.
While the EXPO does a great job in providing samples, there were definitely times where I wish I packed more substantial snacks with me. And there’s only so many protein bars you can enjoy in a row.
Before the conference, a group of us walked over to Target and I brought home bananas, almond and fruit trail mix, baby food (seriously… don’t knock it as a pick-me-up snack until you try it!), and gum to curb my hunger and keep me going through the longer sessions.
I went through everything and was thankful to have brought them!
• DO bring business cards with you.
I already mentioned this above, but if you plan to attend a conference that can grow your business in any way, bring business cards with you! I made my own over a year ago by listing my main contact information and media channels and included a picture of myself for brands to remember a face with the name via PicMonkey.
I am still slightly embarrassed by them, but they sure came in handy when I was talking to a company contact or person interested in what I do!
• DO fill out and turn in your CECs and CEUs forms!
Your huh? Yeah, that’s what I said.
Basically those are just fancy terms for recertification credits.
By signing up for sessions (including some workouts!) you can continue your credentials with your certifications through courses offered at this conference.
I’m still not one hundred percent sure of how to complete the process, but from what I understand, you fill out the sheet given to you with your courses and send it over to the company you earned your certification with!
I plan on giving my friend Mike over at NASM a call to help me make sure I do it correctly.
• DON’T be afraid to pitch yourself.
I learned this one from my dear friend, Katy. If you are ever afraid of going up to a brand or booth an an EXPO and introducing yourself and what you do in hopes of gaining a partnership with them, don’t be.
What is the worst that can happen… they say no? Then you are in the same exact spot as you started. No harm no foul.
I tried to keep that piece of advice with me throughout the entire conference and as a result made a lot more connections than I would have without that type of thinking!
Do you have any more questions about the IDEA Fitness World Convention or IDEA World Fitness BlogFest that I didn’t cover? Feel free to ask them below in the comments section.
Like I mentioned above, I plan to go into a lot more detail about what I took away from specific sessions over the next couple of weeks. I don’t want to overload you with information, and want to make sure I get the right permissions to share notes from the speakers first, but keep a look out!
Have a great rest of your Thursday, and I hope to see you there next year!