There are probably as many ways to work with brands as there are brands. Here are just a few ways to collaborate:
Advertorials – We’ve all seen advertorials in print magazines. They read like content combined with ad copy. Advertorials are not often what a brand will want these days, but you never know.
Reviews – Reviews are generally done in exchange for product and are not paid. A review is just what it sounds like, your opinion on a product, including the pros and cons. A review is different from a sponsored post because a review often includes both the pros and cons about the product or service.
Sponsored posts – Sponsored posts are sometimes done in exchange for product but are sometimes paid. Companies expect that you will speak well of their brand if they are sponsoring the post or project.
Guest blogging/contributing writer – Guest blogging can work in one of two ways; either you writing for the brand’s blog to give them additional creative content or the brand is writing on your blog to promote itself. Some niches lend themselves well to this option, some do not. You know your audience best. Don’t allow others to guest post on your blog if you think it will turn your readers off. Always ask for a link back to your site and social media shares if you guest post on a brand’s website or blog.
Attend or promote events – Many large brands put on elaborate events and parties. Sometimes a brand will pay you to attend and talk about it, such as a tradeshow. Attending and promoting events can be really fun if you are an extrovert and like that sort of thing!
Social media shares – Sometimes a brand wants to pay someone to share small snippets of info about a promotion or a new product to raise awareness. This is a fairly easy way to work with a brand and it doesn’t usually require a large investment of time.
Brand ambassadorships – Brand ambassadorships are usually longer- term relationships in which you spend several months creating and sharing content, retweeting a brand’s posts, etc. It is especially important to note that you will likely have a contract and be required to not work in any way with the brand’s competitors for a pre-determined period of time. So again choose who you represent carefully.
Giveaways – Giveaways are really great for audience engagement because everyone wants to win something. However, a giveaway post (on its own) won’t ever get looked at again. Giveaways are not “evergreen” content and are best when used as part of a larger
Sidebar ads – Sidebar ads are exactly what they sound like, image ads that run on your sidebar. They’re pretty simple to integrate into your blog. But don’t have too many or you will continually be sending your readers away from your site. I sometimes offer this as an added bonus in a pitch. For example, I may suggest two sponsored posts, three social media shares plus three months’ free sidebar advertising.
Any combination of the above can be also put together as a campaign for a brand. Get creative and mix in high value items that take less time like social shares and more labor-intensive things like step-by-step projects, or before and after reveals.
It is okay to give something for free to grow the blogger-brand relationship. When doing research for my ebook, I learned that brands have always gotten unpaid media mentions in traditional media. It’s called earned media. For example, when a magazine mentions a certain brand’s patio set in a roundup of patio sets, THE BRAND DID NOT PAY FOR THAT MENTION. Earned media is coverage about a product or service that you think is so amazing that you want to write about it without money attached.
So please, don’t become so entrenched in the entitlement mentality that it makes you think you can’t work with a brand because they occasionally ask you to share something for free!
That being said this is a good time to listen to your gut. If it’s a brand with integrity (which is who you want to be working with anyway) they will appreciate you going the extra mile and won’t take advantage of your goodwill. If you get a gut feeling that a brand JUST wants you to continually do things for free with no give and take, or that they are taking advantage of you, don’t do it!
Do you want to work with brands and sponsors? Connect with Shannon at BlogPodium during her Bloggers & Brands seminar to learn everything you need to know, including: finding the right contacts, how to pitch using a ONE PAGE proposal, contracts, negotiations, do’s and don’ts for writing AMAZING sponsored content, tips for sharing on social media and how to build long term relationships that make everyone happy. If you want to work with brands, you don’t want to miss this workshop!