One of my favorite aspects of blogging is that it is constantly evolving. There are so many new features, new programs to use, new outfits to compile and fresh faces to meet. That's why I absolutely love attending blogger events, where I can meet other bloggers in the business and learn from them. To me, you can never learn enough. Nothing is ever perfect, and everything has room for improvement. The same could be said for blogging. That's why I thoroughly enjoy attending blogger conferences, workshops and academies.
Since starting my blogging journey almost a year-and-a-half ago, I have been a member of CapFABB (Capitol Fashion and Beauty Bloggers). Last week CapFABB hosted their second academy for bloggers in the DC area.
Monling Lee of Colorindex // McKenna Bleu of McKenna Bleu // CoriSue Morris of Bitches who Brunch // Ashleigh Hutchinson of The Daleigh // Lacey Faeh of A Lacey Perspective // Taylor Schlette of South Moon Under // Nicole Schade of TAA PR
A panel made up of experienced bloggers, business owners and PR representatives (featured above) spoke to us about a range of topics; mainly focusing on brand partnerships and relationships. They gave so many great tips for beginners, as well as advice for those wishing to take their blog to the next level.
Here were a few tips that I took away from the academy:
When pitching ideas to a brand...
- "Make the pitch organized and come with a game plan," said Taylor Schlette, Marketing Manager of South Moon Under. "Make sure your blog is on brand and that it's a mutually beneficial relationship for both the blogger and business. Taylor also said to not be discouraged if you don't have a lot of followers. Brands don't necessarily always look for bloggers who have 20K+ followers. They look for consistency and quality.
- Don't over ask. Taylor's example was, "if a small business asks you to attend an event, don't email them asking for limo service to the event." It's just not going to be feasible. Understand the business you're reaching out to.
- Do your research. Same goes for businesses reaching out to bloggers. It needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Know the expectations...
- Blogger McKenna, of McKenna Bleu, said that "bigger brands come with bigger expectations. There will be larger contracts and more requirements." So make sure you read through everything carefully, and know what is expected of you.
When asking for money...
- It's never too early to start asking for money. Time is money. Blogging is a business.
- Instead of flat out asking for an exact amount of compensation, McKenna suggests that you "use a phrase like, 'What is your budget?'" This helps ensure that you don't undersell yourself, and at the same time is a better way of phrasing a usually awkward thing to ask.
- On the PR/business owner side of things, more times than not, a business is more willing to donate product than pay you to write a post. For some businesses, product is money. So you're still getting compensated. Know ahead of time what types of products you're willing to feature.
- Taylor from South Moon Under also said, "The longer we have a relationship, the more I'm able to give you." Once a brand knows they can count on you, and see results, they're more willing to open the door to a monetary compensation discussion.
How do you contact brands...
- For smaller brands, it's easy. Their contact info is usually on their website.
- Don't be afraid to tweet at a brand and ask for the best point of contact.
- Join an affiliate network that can help connect you to brands and partnerships.
- LinkedIn is another great source to finding brand contacts.
- Don't waste your time emailing the generic firstname.lastname@example.org. Nine out of ten times, you'll hear nothing.
- Do your digging. Brands appreciate the time you take to find their contact information.
- Reach out to PR agencies. Build a relationship with them. Use their websites for a resource as well.
Lastly, their best advice to new bloggers...
- Monling Lee, owner of Colorindex (and recently featured in a fab J.Crew campagin), said you need to have a "strong concept and idea. Find your look and stick to the theme."
- McKenna also made a great point. "Don't buy something just because every other blogger has it." Stay true to yourself and your brand.
- CoriSue Morris, co-founder of Bitches Who Brunch, said that "it's important to find your niche. Understand why you're blogging and why you're doing it." She also said to be cautious of your time. Make sure what you're doing is beneficial.
- It's okay to say "NO!" Was another great tip. You don't have to jump on every opportunity you receive.
- Finally, give your readers a reason to come back. Make sure you're consistent and don't just put a post out there to do a post. Quality over quantity.
Are you in the DC area, and wish to network with other bloggers and hear advice from members of our community? There will be another academy this July that will focus primarily on social media. Definitely one not to miss! Apply to join CapFABB today so that you can get on their email list.
All photos are via CapFABB