This is a somewhat “meta” post because I’m not going to be talking about parenting, not going to be talking about travel, or even about my latest adventure, a drive up to Montana last week. Instead, I want to talk about blogging itself, to share some of my own experiences and best practices working with brands, corporations and PR agencies as a blogger.
To set expectations, though, rarely does working with a brand produce cash on the proverbial barrel. For example, when SeaWorld offers up four tickets so I can take my kids to the park without paying admission, I consider that indirect revenue for the site and, obviously a great benefit, even if it doesn’t exactly pay the rent. So those “make money blogging” pieces? It might just be a bit of smoke and mirrors. #JustSayin. 🙂
Further, I do have a pretty good clue about the topic too: A quick skim through this site and my AskDaveTaylor.com consumer electronics site will quickly show I have street cred in this regard, having had many opportunities to work with great companies like Ford, Intel, Chevrolet, Disney, Sennheiser, Universal and even hotels like The Broadmoor.
All good, but how did I get here?
The key in my experience is to take a deep breath and consider “what can I do for you?” rather than the much more common blogger approach of “what are you going to pay me or give me?”. It’s an unfortunate reality, but every vendor I talk with, every company, every agency has horror stories about sending tickets, paying for trips, or just shipping out expensive products to bloggers just to have them vanish. I have heard tales that would make your hair curl too, about junkets to exotic locations just to have only one person of the entire group actually deliver relevant content, or test drives that resulted in the vehicle coming back damaged, which is definitely not what the car company had in mind when it made a brand new auto available to a blogger!
There is a quid pro quo in these transactions, of course, but I think the best way to approach that is to recognize (and be realistic about) your own worth — and always share numbers to make the negotiation easier — and also realistically assess whether the opportunity is a good fit for your readers too. You’ll gain much respect at an agency by saying “this isn’t in my wheelhouse, but I do cover X and Y and notice you have Company Z as a client. perhaps that’s an opportunity?” rather than accepting everything that comes your way and then having a blog that’s completely random and without theme. Still, if a Fortune 100 company is approaching you to do something, asking for compensation of some sort — perhaps being able to keep the cool gadget or bring a date or spouse along on a fancy dinner presentation — is quite reasonable. The worst that they can say is “no”.
The most important part of establishing a good relationship with companies and agencies is really rather simple: deliver what you promise. Too many bloggers never actually do what they say they’ll do, they don’t write up the experience they’ve just had, they don’t bother to share with their readers and followers, or they do something that’s so obviously throw-away that it’s not going to benefit the brand at all. Instead I suggest the always helpful philosophy of under promise, over deliver.
In this instance, put in the extra effort, perhaps 2 hours of writing instead of 30min, an hour of editing photos to get the very best of your set ready to publish, and deliver something really world class, then share it enthusiastically with your readers and followers. It’ll impress the vendor, merchant or agency, they’ll be happy to share it with their followers, and you’ll establish a good reputation that leads to better and more frequent opportunities down the road. I also always email a link to the piece I’ve written to my contact at the agency or company so they know I’ve delivered something good and, as a handy insider tip, I always also ask them to fact check it so I can fix anything I might have gotten wrong. It demonstrates we’re on the same team, seeking to deliver excellent, accurate content, and it’s also just good karma.
That’s it. Really there’s no secret to getting on the short list with brands. It’s about delivering what you promise, doing really great work and keeping in mind that you’re just a cog in the machine, not the king of the world. Put all these together and you should do great!
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of TapInfluence, the leader in connecting influencers with opportunties to collaborate with brands.