You absolutely love working on your blog, and take pride in the content that you produce. But if you could still feel that way and pull in some extra cash while you're at it? Well, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who would turn that opportunity down.
You hear a lot these days about making money blogging, and it can be difficult to cut through the noise and figure out what really works. Plus, getting started with monetizing your content can seem a little overwhelming. Maybe you just slapped a few ad blocks in your sidebar, watched the pennies roll in here and there, and called it a day.
But if you're aiming to really boost your earnings from your blog and gain some more exposure, you're missing one big thing: brand collaborations.
Yes, promoting your favorite brands on your blog (and getting paid to do so) might seem like a farfetched dream. But have faith, my fellow bloggers. This post will teach you how to successfully collaborate with different brands—and boost your blogging income in the process!
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What are Brand Collaborations?
First thing's first, it's important to understand what exactly a brand collaboration is. Luckily, the concept is pretty simple. Collaborations involve a company that teams up with bloggers and other social media influencers to promote their product or service in way that seems more genuine and trustworthy than traditional advertising.
Why Are Collaborations Good for Bloggers?
We'll start with the most obvious reason: cold hard cash. Most brands are willing to pay bloggers for promotion. If nothing else, you can definitely anticipate plenty of free goods. Secondly, many companies that partner with bloggers will promote related blog posts on their social media outlets. So, if you're working with a relatively large organization, it's likely that their social accounts already have a pretty big following. Voila! Majorly increased exposure for your blog.
Why Are Collaborations Good for Brands?
Imagine you were thinking about purchasing a new camera. You saw an advertisement for a DSLR in a magazine that really caught your eye, but then one of your good friends recommended something totally different. She has a DSLR that she absolutely loves, and claimed that you couldn't go wrong buying that one. So, which camera are you more likely to purchase? The one that your friend raved about, right?
You have an engaged audience that trusts you. Brands are eager to tap into that power and influence.
Behold the power of brand collaborations. Companies recognize that we're all drowning in a sea of content online. Luckily, as a blogger, you already have an engaged audience that really trusts your opinion.Brands are eager to tap into that power and influence, because your recommendation holds a lot more weight than a banner ad or a YouTube commercial. In fact, according to a study by Technorati, blogs rank among the top five "most trustworthy" sources for information on the internet. See? You have a lot of pull.
How Do You Collaborate with Brands?
Recognizing the power of brand collaborations is one thing. But you undoubtedly have a lot more questions you need answered. How do you go about attracting brands to your blog? What sort of information will they need from you? Do you approach them? Or do they approach you?
Successfully navigating the world of monetizing your content with collaborations can be a little tricky at first. These steps are sure to pull you through!
1. Focus on Your Content
It can be tempting to want to jump immediately into monetizing your blog and pulling in some extra cash for your piggy bank. But before ever contacting any brands, I highly recommend taking some time to focus strictly on improving your content.
Why is doing that so important—when you're really just itching to hit the ground running? Here are a few reasons to start with your content:
- It'll help you identify your blogging niche, making it easier to determine which specific brands you'd like to work with.
- Working hard on the quality of your content gives you a distinct blogging voice and identity, which will encourage a strong relationship with your readers.
- Quality content will help you to grow your audience, making you more appealing to brands.
Yes, traffic numbers are important to companies, and there's no doubt that having lots of eyes on your content is appealing. But, don't fall into the trap of thinking you need ridiculously huge stats before brands will give you a second glance. If you can demonstrate that you have a smaller audience that's consistently engaging with you through comments, questions, and social media posts, that's almost just as valuable. Don't get so discouraged by the numbers. Other things will be considered—which is why your content is so important.
2. Create a Media Kit
The term "media kit" might sound a little comprehensive and scary - don't panic! When you boil it down, it's just a document outlining all of the nitty gritty details about your blog that companies might need to know—such as subjects you blog about, average monthly page views, and even your social media following.
Needless to say, this handy resource is essential when approaching brands. If you haven't already, take the time to put one together right away.
"But, how?" you're probably wondering. Well, it doesn't need to be anything complicated—as long as it has the necessary information. You can create your media kit in a simple Word document or Google Doc. Or, if you're looking for something more graphically interesting, try using one of Canva's resume templates and swapping out some of the headers. Or, you can check out this awesome option—although I might be a little biased.
My only other piece of advice? Make your media kit match your overall branding and blog design. If you're trying to turn your blog into a business, you should treat it like one.
3. Research Brands
Let's say that you're a food blogger, and you set yourself apart by only sharing vegan recipes. Your readers would probably be scratching their heads if you suddenly started promoting a brand of bacon, wouldn't they?
Yes, monetizing your content is great. But, you never want to compromise your authentic voice and your readers' trust for the sake of a brand partnership. I recommend being proactive and researching brands that are an organic and seamless fit with your blog and your existing audience.
Are there brands that you've already loved and admired for a long time? Great! Add them to your list of potential collaborations. This part of the process isn't about being realistic and critical. Instead, it's about generating a list of all sorts of different brands that are a natural fit with your blog content. So, no matter how out of reach something might seem, jot it down!
4. Be Aggressive
Now that you've pulled together your list of brands you'd like to work with, it's time to start reaching out about potential opportunities. For the most part, blogging is not a "build it and they will come" type of scenario. You need to be somewhat aggressive about the brands that you want to work with—rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that they'll come to you.
Narrow down your top choice brands to start with. Then, start doing more research in order to identify the marketing rep that you can reach out to. Be aware that most companies aren't that forthcoming with this information on their websites. So, don't hesitate to do a little digging on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Once you find your contact person (or, if worse comes to worst, use the general contact form on the brand's website), it's time to draft a personalized email explaining why they should work with you.
Here's what you need to include in your message:
- An introduction of yourself and your blog.
- An explanation of why you love their product or service.
- Your pitch for collaboration.
- A question or call-to-action.
- Attach a PDF of your media kit.
Now, send that message off into cyberspace and hope for a positive response!
5. Determine the Details
No matter how incredible your pitch email is, you're not going to hear back from everyone. And, that's alright! It just makes the ones you do get a response from that much more thrilling.
However, getting a brand interested in collaborating with you is only part of the process. Now it's time to iron out all of the details with the marketing rep. Many companies already have an organized system in place for working with bloggers and influencers. Either way, here are a few things you definitely need answers to:
- How does their pay structure work? Will they pay you per post, per impressions, etc.?
- How and when will you actually be paid? Do they submit payment via PayPal, EFT, a check, etc.?
- What are their expectations? Do they require just one blog post from you? Or, are there a certain number of complementary social media posts required as well?
- What is the length of your agreement? Are you completing one post, or is this an ongoing ambassador type of relationship?
Make sure you get these questions answered before moving forward with the agreement. Most brands are great to work with, but it's still important to cover your bases and make sure you're informed!
6. Get to Work
Congratulations! You've officially landed your first brand collaboration. Now, it's time to get to work on crafting the content that promotes the product or service—while still being genuine and uniquely you. Luckily, this shouldn't be difficult to pull off if you were selective about the brands you work with.
Also, it's a great idea to promote your brand collaborations on social media outlets, even if it wasn't specifically required by the company. After all, the more traffic you can get to that post, the happier the sponsoring company is. And, the happier the company is, the more likely you are to hook more great brand collaborations in the future!
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Yes, there are different methods for monetizing your blog content. However, collaborating with brands is a great way to not only bring in some extra dollars, but also widen your reach and grow your audience! The process might seem daunting, but it's nothing you can't handle—especially if you put these tips to work for you. Now go get ‘em!