While many of the people who read my blog know me mainly as someone who writes about Disney, parenting, or whatever is on my mind when I sit down to type, another huge aspect of what I do involves working on blog campaigns that involve anything from public service blog posts to reviews/giveaways to sponsored content. Did your ears just perk up on the last one? That’s right, sponsored content. As often as possible, I like to find bloggers to work on paid campaigns that involve the exchange of content for cash. When everything goes well, these campaigns are incredibly rewarding because the entire reason I began working in this capacity at the start of 2009 was to put more opportunities in the hands of my fellow bloggers. However, it is also at times very, very frustrating. When bloggers do not follow through on commitments, it makes what I do nearly impossible, and it also turns future clients away from wanting to work with bloggers. In fact, I once had a well-liked, well-known marketing guy say to me privately:
Amy, with Facebook ad rates so low, the results so high, and bloggers so unreliable and high maintenance, how am I supposed to convince my clients to hire bloggers to do anything?
I think that at the time I probably hemmed and hawed and may have even yelled at him a little bit, but the fact is that sometimes it is difficult to be on the hiring side of this equation. That amazing feeling I get moving money into other mom’s Paypal accounts for the work they’ve done from home has not gone away, but I really believe the opportunities could if the atmosphere doesn’t change…and soon.
So to all of those bloggers out there who email and ask me, “How can I be taken seriously by companies,” here is just the tip of the advice iceberg:
1. Learn to Say No: This is a lesson I am just beginning to perfect, and it has taken me an incredibly long time to do so. There are so many opportunities daily from local events to blogger trips to information to share with your readers. The bottom line is that there simply is not enough time in your day or on your editorial calendar to participate in everything that is available to you. I recently turned down a chance to visit California for the first time and learn more about a brand that I already love, but the short time period coupled with the distance from the east coast to the west simply made it impossible in relationship to the other obligations on my calendar. It was difficult, but I had to say no thank you. I had a similar case with a sponsored post campaign where it was not as good a fit as I would feel comfortable including on my blog. Again, I liked the brand and the compensation was more than fair, but saying no allowed me to take use that space on my blog to write about the things more important to me, and also freed up my time for other opportunities. Worried that if you say no, people will stop asking? Take note: Saying yes and dropping the ball means they’ll stop asking, too. Choose wisely!
2. Read Your Emails: I recently received an email from a blogger who was very upset about something contained in a product she requested to receive, which does happen from time to time. We’ve all had to write a negative review, right? In fact, that’s why they’re called reviews and not recommendations, and writing fair and honest reviews maintains your credibility as a writer. However, the aspect of the product that upset her was specifically mentioned in the opportunity outreach. In fact, it was in the opening sentences! If you receive an email that details the fine points such as deadlines, compensation, or posting requirements, be sure to read it…every word. There is nothing worse than finally getting the opportunity that you’ve always wanted and then letting the little things keep you from being asked to participate again in the future. Show the company that you take what you do seriously!
3. Work for Free: I have long been preaching the virtues of writing for free, and even as I continue to encourage companies to hire bloggers and pay them for their time, I still continue to encourage bloggers to write for free. Taking the pitches that you receive and finding those little jewels of great content inspiration for your blog not only provides you with just that – great content – but it is also a way to practice transforming a static pitch into a living, breathing blog post. And don’t forget to share your post with the company that sent you the idea. You never know when they will be returning again…with a paid opportunity for those reliable and fabulous writers.
4. Be Responsible: We all have roadblocks and speedbumps in our lives that can turn a normal week into a complete nightmare. My husband has been out of town for some time, and during his time away our basement flooded, our furnace broke, a troop of ants marched into our kitchen (welcome spring!), and the roof began to leak. I could have taken any or all of those things and given up on deadlines and work responsibilities. But making excuses – even when they’re real! – is a bad habit to fall into. Try your best to simply apologize for missed deadlines or mistakes and then right the wrong as soon as you are able. I will never forget my father’s advice to value the power of the words, “I’m sorry,” and taking responsibility shows that you are….responsible!
There is so much more that I have to say about this topic that is so important to all of us working in this space, so if you’re headed to the BlogHer Conference this year, I hope you’ll consider voting for my Room of Your Own Panel topic on this subject. Feel free to also add your own advice and experiences in the comments. I’m still optimistic that even as the social media landscape changes, bloggers can continue to have a highly influential impact on the space and in a positive way.