I’ve been mulling over doing this post and maybe a series of posts on what I’ve learned about blogging in the last couple of years. Almost every day someone asks my advice. They want to start blogging or they’ve got a site set up and want to take it to the next level. I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned as a beauty blogger but also wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m in any way an expert. There’s so much to learn and a lot of what I’ve learned has been by accident or trial and error.There’s also lots I need to learn and oceans of stuff that I’ll never fathom. Anyway without further disclaimers here are some FAQs about working with PRs and brands.
Q1. I want to work with brands how do I get them to notice me
Many people will say you need an attraction strategy. For me it happened organically. I followed all the brands I liked on Twitter (and other platforms later on). I asked them questions, commented on their posts and engaged with their followers. I followed their followers and some of them followed me back. I wrote about the products I purchased and tagged the brands in the posts and on social media. When I got positive comments from them I’d ask them if they would look at my blog and consider adding me to their media or press list.
Q2. I don’t really know what to say?
Be honest and genuine. Think about what you can offer a brand or PR. Tell them what you like about their products. Tell them how you think your blog is relevant. Ask them if they would consider adding you to their list. You don’t necessarily need huge amounts of followers to be accepted. It’s more about engagement usually although some big brands will be more selective. Just ask them if they want any details or data. They can only say no, or ignore you and neither of those is painful. Just keep trying.
Q3. Won’t they expect a press pack?
I’ve only been asked for a press pack once. So I spent about 20 minutes downloading a template and adding in all the data I have on monthly views, followers on social media platforms, a short bio and an example or two of the work I’ve done before. It wasn’t perfect but it did the job. PRs just need to be able to evidence to their client that they’re likely to get a certain amount of coverage or exposure. Of course you can make a press pack available on your site and keep it updated. Many bloggers do. I don’t have time for that with a full-time day job.
Q4. Do you get paid for your posts?
Not very often. I’d say that the main “reward” at my level of blogging is a free product or an invite to an event and a goodie bag. It’s really up to you to agree terms with PRs as you go along. I look at it this way. If the product I’m asked to review is something I can’t wait to get my hands on then I’m likely to say yes please and be very grateful. If it’s something that’s a bit run of the mill I might ask if there is any budget. The answer is almost always no. At that point you need to decide whether you want to go ahead and review it for free. I usually say that I can’t commit to reviewing it but that if they want to send it through anyway I may cover it when things are a bit slack. That way they can choose.
Q5. How much should I charge?
It’s really a matter of knowing what you’re worth. There really is no set scale or way to work it out. Sometimes the PR will say that they have a certain amount of budget and ask you if that’s ok. Other times they will ask for your rates. One way to charge is to work out how many hours of work it will take to trial the product (skincare can take weeks!), take photos, draft and edit the post and then charge based on an hourly rate. Or you can use any number of calculations based on how many followers you have. Or you can quote a set fee. Oddly I’ve found that the bigger the brand the less budget they have and they often expect that you’ll want to work with them for the prestige. That’s fine if you’re just starting out so that you can build a portfolio of work but only you can decide when it feels like they’re taking advantage. One thing I would say is don’t do it for nothing at all. I’d suggest avoiding “competitions” for bloggers that ask you to write about their product with the promise of your post being published or for one “lucky” winner to win a single product. That’s just exploitation.
Q6. Are there any other ways I can introduce myself to brands?
Yes. You can attend trade events like the the Professional Beauty Show, Olympia Beauty, Ideal Home Show etc. Introduce yourself and find out about the brands. Take some photos and share your details (leave a business card if you have one). You’re likely to pick up plenty of samples and make some good connections. You should also look out for blogger events and check out the blogger hashtags on social media for requests for blogger requests. When you’re more established you can contact the event organiser/PR for a Press Pass.
Q7. Any tips on how to keep the relationship going?
Keep things professional. Always respond politely even if you turn down an offer or an invitation. Make sure you deliver what you promise. Don’t take a product to review and then disappear off the radar. Your reputation is valuable. PRs talk to each other and move around frequently so treat them as you’d like to be treated yourself.
Q8. But don’t bloggers make shed loads of money? I want to give up my job and be a full time blogger.
Yes. There are many that do. You’ll need to be prepared to work long hours and be able to support yourself financially while you build your business and wait for brands to pay you. you’ll need to learn about tax returns and more. Most money ends up coming from other services other than blogging. Bigger bloggers and vloggers make money from consultancy, personal appearances, sponsoring products and more. You need to be committed. Don’t think you can buy a lippy, post about it and be flying to LA for a photo shoot by the weekend. I’d say do what you love, be authentic and if you have some talent it’ll shine through. And of course you’ll need a fair amount of luck.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you have any advice for new bloggers? I’d love to hear your comments. I’ll be writing some more FAQs soon covering things like ways to monetize, networking, building your audience and more. All based on what I’ve learned so far – in fact that’s one final tip. Never stop learning!