Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Working with Brands (my thoughts on blog sponsorship)


This offer was on the reverse of my business card, for the Digital Parents Conference attendees - now extended to ALL my readers - just use code KWDFREEKNIFE at checkout!

Working with Brands (my thoughts on blog sponsorship)

In the years that I have been blogging, I’ve managed to consistently work with some really great brands, large and small.

I get emails from other bloggers regularly, asking me how I managed to score such great deals, such generous giveaways or such effective partnerships.

Whether its freebie product samples, big ticket appliances or cash sponsorship to events, I have been really lucky to score.

Or is it really luck?
Do I curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and watch all manner of amazingly offers just drop into my email box?

Do I blog intermittently and gather a few followers and all of a sudden PR companies and brands want to leverage off my random audience?
Do I wish so hard I could work from home that it just magically manifests?
Sadly, not.

But I started in 2010 with a commitment to blog daily, about a broad cross section of topics that may spark the interest of my small audience. And I stuck to that commitment.
I also promised myself to engage with my small readership – through a two way commenting system, through Twitter and through Facebook.
I also promised myself to draw up a decent media kit, just in case. Just in case I could ever dream to offer it to someone.

And I read a lot of blogs and commented on them all.

And gradually, my readership increased and my stats began to blossom.

My blog became, through 2010, an unpaid part time job. I would work on my blog, its content, on photos, on social media, on writing, for at least 4 hours every day. I averaged 25 hours a week. All unpaid. I volunteered myself to myself!

Some weeks it felt like I was kidding myself. That I was just dropping the kids at school, neglecting the housework, all to play on the internet, to write.

But every single day, I blogged, and I also made sure I did something to push forward, something to make an inroad into the possibility of earning a decent part time living from writing.

Gradually, once I was signed up to all of the various agenices and opportunities to give me good exposure, the offers slowly began to trickle in. The more I pitched, the more successes were mine.
The more I pitched, the more work I got. Who knew...!

Some were poor offers. Which I rejected.

If it didn’t “feel right”, I declined.
Some offers from brands were negligible, but I took them on board if I loved the product. I have never felt as if I sold myself for hand soap. If a hand soap is a great product that I love, I enjoyed working with it.

I approached Brad from Kitchenware Direct, in May last year, after I had happened across their site. They are an Aussie based organisation that sell everything you would ever need for your kitchen, online. They appealed to me from a consumer perspective as their website was so very user friendly and detailed. I noticed that they stocked exceptionally high quality products. And that they were indeed very social media savvy.

Kitchenware Direct started with 1 employee in 2007 and has now grown to over 40 employees. They are now the largest online retailer of cookware and kitchenware in Australia. Kitchenware Direct's success has come as a result of great prices, an easy to use website and above all outstanding customer service. This appeals to me. They are a small business who is driven by the needs of their customers in a digital world. And they do KNOW kitchenware! They are really proud to support the Australian blogosphere.

I approached them and offered to complete a review, on my blog, of a product I had already purchased myself. I offered to give.

Straight away, they offered to send me an item to review, with a giveaway to match. Win win.

Gradually, with me writing posts for them that were of genuinely good content, trust was built. I stuck to the self-imposed deadlines I set, and engaged with a consultative approach with Kitchenware Direct as to what would work best for them. We worked as a team. They sent me useful products to review in exchange for a little bit of my internet real estate.

So, six months later, when I realised I would like to attend the Digital Parents Conference,  I felt comfortable in approaching them for full sponsorship. We already had built a mutually beneficial relationship. I set out a flexible proposal that would benefit them, that I would enjoy delivering, that would be useful and worthwhile in terms of content for my readers.

Win, win, win.

I am now able to offer high value giveaways to my readers, because the trust between me and Kitchenware Direct is solid.

Writing a review post for a Kitchenware Direct product takes me hours. I use the product a lot first, so that I know I can be accurate.

I take a lot of photos and I recipe test fully, sometimes three or four times.

The end result? Good content, quality posts, a genuine review, and a generous giveaway.
Win win win.

In the few years that I have been blogging I have worked with a lot of brands.

The key word here is WORKED.

I have worked at it. I have worked on my blog, and off it. And I have worked, sometimes for free, for brands I genuinely feel an affinity for. I cannot fake it. I love it. But it is work.

I am lucky that I love the work that I do…

Any questions on this, please email me!



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43 comments:

  1. I appreciate you sharing your strategy. I started my blog, homemakersdaily, 10 months ago. I have spent the last 10 months writing daily articles and a few months ago began to reach out to other bloggers. This has been a HUGE learning process for me. When I started the blog (with my son), I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it was just going to be about writing articles. I had no idea all that went into it. It is definitely a LOT of work. But it's time for me to start branching out and putting in more time. I probably spend 2-4 hours a day.

    So what does a media kit involve? And how do you do a pitch? Sorry - I'm still learning.

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    1. Patty - I am more than happy to shre my media kit - I will probably post about it this week or next, and indeed how I pitch.

      I have popped over to your blog - but cannot find your email, so could you perhaps email me? Then I can forward you on more info. Thx.

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    2. I would love any wisdom you have to share also. I too am about to launch in and write my media kit.

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  2. Love this post... I love that you have put it out there that these kinds of 'scores' don't just fall into your lap and that you work hard for them... you worked hard back then and you still work hard now. And your hard work shows! :)

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    1. Thanks Kate. I really appreciate this from you... you have a level of bloggiing technical expertise I aspire to, and the longevity of blogging experience that is so very credible: thank you.

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  3. As straight forward and real as the day I asked, and you answered. I just wish there was a way for that accent of yours to show up in posts... Haha. This is a real life, it takes work account. I LOVE it. I'll be sending people to this for a long time, I think.

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    1. Thanks So much Mel. Funnily enough, when I wrote this I had our skype convos in my ears!

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  4. This is a great resource for people who don't know how you do it! Thanks so much for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks Christie. I was only thinking of you the other day and here you are! X

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  5. I got sent here by Melissa above. Great points there. And I feel like the 4-5 hours I spend blogging every day isn't going to waste! Yay!

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    1. Thanks Ling. I should probably summarize into actual bullet points too, rather than a stream of consciousness!

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  6. Thank you!! I appreciate your honestly in sharing this. I have been wondering about the relationship between blogs and sponsors. Rachel x

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    1. Rachel, there is not a definitive process to it all - brands and bloggers are all making it up as we go along as blogs are such a new media. The key things for me have been appreciating that nothing comes for free - it takes work. And it doesn't happen overnight...

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  7. This was great! Thanks so much for sharing. My biggest question is knowing when your blog is 'ready' to approach companies/PR people (i.e. traffic wise) so that I'm taken seriously? Thanks again, Tabitha

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    1. Tabitha, even the smallest of blogs can start thinking about it. Most good brands and PR groups realise its engagement with readers that counts, not necessarily numbers. So make sure your content is great, and that you are engaging an audience. I think you need to have say...200 daily unique hits as a rough guide as something to aim for, perhaps? Again, there are no rules set...

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  8. Aww mannnnn, y'mean I have to actually WORK?! That blogging doesn't just pay out straight away in free stuff and awesome paid holidays?!

    Dammit ;)

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    1. you are fabulous. As yet, sadly, no one had offered to pay me in hard cash and paid holidays for smooching on the couch with my wine and the lovely husband. I live in hope...xx

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  9. As always, a great perspective on a topic I know is close to many a blogger's heart. x

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    1. It is a hot topic, always.

      The idea of blogging as a income, from home, is, of course immediately appealing to the gazillion of emerging Mummy Bloggers.

      And the opportunities ARE there, for the taking...just as long as anyone who wants to make a living out of it "gets" that is is not very well paid at times, takes up a lot of "home" time, is not regular, and takes constant WORK...

      xx

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  10. Lucy, you have approached your blog with commitment, belief, joy and a great deal of ACTION, ACTION, ACTION and as a result you are able to be remunerated in some small way for all that effort. You support people Lucy ... you are a supporter and that should be recognised. I for one am really pleased that you are able to work with brands. You manage to do it without losing integrity or the flavour of why you are here. You've worked it out my girl! And I for one congratulate and commend you. Love your work ... (plus I want to win that cooking thing from you lovely kitchen people ...)

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    1. Thank you Leanne - the action thing is ringing in my ear. "What have I done today to get closer to my goal?". xx

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  11. Great post. Most people tiptoe around this issue, so it's refreshing to read a post that tackles it head-on, without attacking it.

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    1. There is a lot of debate on the topic, that's for sure. I believe in letting it all hang out... and there is no secret really - it's all about hard work, relationship building and trust. Like life really...

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  12. I've not yet ventured into the world of sponsored posts, or sponsorship of any kind for that matter. But I think you hit on a few keys words... like work and trust. You also come across as completely authentic in your sponsored posts too, which is so important!

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    1. Lisa, you are an amazingly loyal commenter of mine - so I really appreciate it when you tell me I come across as authentic in review/sponsored posts - hugely reassuring, thank you! xx

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  13. Excellent post Lucy, very informative.. Yes, like everything in life you get out of blogging what you put into it. And, it's ok to potter along too, which is how I am Travelling at the moment, no pressure, just enjoying it. One day hope to crank up, when the time is right.

    Thanks for this post, very helpful. Also your excellent tips for that new frying pan!!

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    1. Ah, Seana, the pottering around is what I am aiming for...pottering around my blog is a great pleasure of mine.

      And then the minute I am pottering, I want a tangible goal. I love the buzz of aiming for targets and goals.

      Grass greener kind of girl? Me?! Yep!

      Cannot wait to hear how you go with your omelettes and pancakes!

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  14. Lucy, it's no secret I am a huge fan. Huge.
    That you have so succinctly laid out the lay of the land in this area of blogging is testament to your commitment to ALL of us. This sort of transparency is a brilliant thing to show (and to share). Thank you for your generosity. And this is from someone who doesn't even intend to make money from sponsored posts! I just think what you're doing to contribute to the community we go around in is generous. As always.

    LOVE your work. But you knew that already *cheeky wink*

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  15. "Some weeks it felt like I was kidding myself. That I was just dropping the kids at school, neglecting the housework, all to play on the internet, to write"

    i can so relate to this paragraph. thats exactly how i felt today as im trying to change my blogs image to be more like me. i would really love your perspective of what you think of my blog. good or bad ill take it.

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  16. Very informative post Lucy. Parts of this resonate with me, even though I don't work with brands. Very generous of you to share your insights. And so lovely to meet you in person on Friday. Your speech brought tears. x

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  17. Oh Lucy, you gorgeous girl. Thanks for your trademark generosity in sharing the efforts you've made to attract brand sponsorship. It's informative, honest and helpful - thanks! J x

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  18. This is a great post Lucy, one of the things that popped up in one of my conversations was that we tend to forget about the work it takes to become a successful blogger. We forget that it usually takes a while to build a followship and to build relationships with brands.

    I keep changing my mind about the direction I want to take my blog. Do I try to earn money *from* my blog or *on* my blog? It doesn't help that I'm already working from home as a Virtual Assistant. Business isn't booming or anything, but it divides my attention so I'm not focusing on either my blog or my business wholly.

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  19. Awesome post - and so so so true!
    I hate to think of the "unpaid" hours I invested into developing my blog, but now it is at a place that I am happy with and all that work has proven to be worthwhile.
    Congratulations on your hard work and success.

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  20. I always say if we could all just make money at the click of our fingers we'd all be rich, it's only those that have the persistence to soldier on, work hard for what might seem like nothing will reap the rewards down the track. You're another prime example.

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    1. Mandy, thank you. I really appreciate your kind words - and you're right - some things just take a lot of hard work. And slight neglect of housework!

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  21. Thanks for this, Lucy! I'm emailing you about it btw, as I have a couple of questions. I was given "Blogging for Dummies" last Christmas, which helped a lot, but I have learned most from reading other peoples' blogs, My blog is growing gradually as it is a small niche and I only post three times a week, but nevertheless it's really exciting. I'm even contributing to a cookbook, to be published in print later this year!

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    1. That is brilliant news! Small niche and three times a week can be HUGE! Do email me - I have a few other resources that may help....

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  22. "Gradually, once I was signed up to all of the various agenices and opportunities to give me good exposure, the offers slowly began to trickle in."

    Please can you give us some ideas Lucy on which agencies you might mean here? I am a member of Blogfrog and of SITS (I think anyway!) Where else might you go to help get more coverage/notice?

    Sarah

    http://happygoluckygohappy.blogspot.com/

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  23. Sarah, the ones I originally signed up for were Nuffnang and http://prfriendlyaussieblogs.com.au/

    Hope that helps!

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  24. Thanks for this interesting post and for sharing your experience. I'm relatively new to the blogger world (5 months) but I completely recongnise myself in what you are saying. Blogging a part-time unpaid job for me on top of my full-time office job. I easily spend 4 hours a day working on or for my blog, even more on the week. It's a passion.

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  25. Lucy, this is such a generous post. I've just started blogging, and it's very slow going at the moment, but such fun!
    I'm constantly astounded as to how helpful the community of bloggers actually is, it makes a newcomer feel very welcome.
    Thank you so much for this insight.

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  26. Lucy brilliantly said I've been on a major learning curve this year, never knew anything about PR, media kits or working with brands. I have made mistakes but now I'm more committed to who I am and what my business is. I didn't even know you had to reply to comments, I do now avidly and enjoy the friendships and connections made. Thanks for this post and thanks to Brenda for re tweeting it otherwise I would have missed it Nx

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