The How To Guide for Blogging With Brands
As a blogger, we have certain responsibilities and duties which guide us through our work. The responsibility to be honest, and genuine with our readers, to be kind and respectful of other bloggers and their work, and the knowledge that we have the power to influence others, and should do so with transparency and authenticity.
Unfortunately, in many cases, this can make working with a corporate brand very difficult. For so many bloggers in the community today, being approached by a brand is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s immensely flattering to have been spotted and admired by a big name business, who believes your site and the platform you create are suitable for advertising their products. On the other, if it’s a brand you’re not too sure about, or don’t actively use, it can present a real moral dilemma as to whether you can recommend them honestly to your audience or not.
So what do you do? You’ve been approached by a brand, who want to work with you on a blog post. Perhaps you like their products, perhaps you don’t. Do you say yes, or no?
1. Judge The Tone. If you’ve been approached by email, just how flexible does the company appear to be at first? Do they immediately spell out exactly how the blog post should be structured, or how it should look? Do they want to give you specific phrases to use surrounding the product, even if they don’t quite match your blogging tone of voice? The way that the company will initially present themselves to you can reveal a lot about how they be as a collaborative partner. The ideal brand/blogger relationship should be one of creative freedom, trust, fun and resect – in which both the brand and the blogger feel equally advantaged by the partnership. Settling for anything less could result in a poorly constructed post, and a negative relationship with brands in the future.
2. Stand Up For Yourself. From an on-lookers perspective, the brand is bigger, and therefore entitled to command the blogger as he or she pleases. The blogger must submit on everything, from colour schemes, to promotional dates, to the fee or reimbursement for the pleasure of advertising. But, as previously argued, the blogger and the brand must be equal for a successful partnership to work. So if you’re a blogger being approached by a brand, don’t become a Instagram-able doormat, become a force to be reckoned with, and start using those bargaining tools. This brand came to you, to work with you, not bully you into submission. They need your services, and you’ve got the power to give them what they want – but why should you be the only one working for approval. Settle for nothing less than the creative angle that you want, and stand up for yourself.
3. Choose Your Own Reimbursement. Currently, there’s a popular channel of discourse surrounding the payment and exposure opportunities of influencers. With many large influencers, bloggers and Youtubers arguing that ‘promotion for exposure’ is simply not enough for the work they put into their collaborations, there’s a sense of responsibility being put on bloggers to fight for their fees. However, one of the major upsides to being a solo artist and creator is that there is only one person who can decide your reimbursement: you. Every interaction you have with a brand should be led by you – whether you want to charge for your time or not.
4. Understand The Brand. To make the most out of your brand collaboration, conduct a little pre-agreement research into the business and product you’ll be discussing. There’s nothing worse than being caught short in the comments section by an angry contributor telling you you’re ‘off-brand and mis-informed’. So make sure to read up on the brand, and to truly understand their aesthetic, their purpose and their goals before agreeing to any form of viral affiliation contract.
5. Have fun! Working with brands is an opportunity that so many bloggers would love to take advantage of, so enjoy your collaboration as much as you can. Pour your heart into making something as scary and corporate as a ‘sponsored post’ as creative and personal as possible. For a great example of creative blog/brand collaboration, take a look at Dodie Clark’s partnership with Chupa Chups Airheads in which she uniquely managed to cover a classic Mika track, with a colourful, on-brand and quirky music video whilst promoting the brand of sweets!
Don’t be afraid to approach, chat to, collaborate with and affiliate yourself with the brands you love, and to turn down the brands you don’t. Your blog is unique to you, and no amount of money or exposure should get in the way of that. Happy blogging!
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