10 Things a Startup Blogger can Do to Get Noticed by Brands
Blogging often has a high turnover because honestly it is a lot of work and it isn't something sustainable for a lot of people. As such, there are alway new bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters rising up through the ranks looking to make a name for themselves. While some simply want to write about things they love in their own life, at some point they all try to figure out how to work with brands effectively. In this article, (which goes along with my talk at the San Diego Travel Festival) I'll try to explain my top 10 things that a startup blogger or podcaster can do to get noticed by brands.
Before we get started though - this is not a perfect "How to Guide" that will work for every brand. Some brands still divide social from PR and each brand has their own unique styles and constraints when it comes to working with bloggers and social influencers. However, if you follow these things you will grow a successful blog and be noticed by brands - but just as importantly your peers.
1. Follow your Passion but Create Value!
This is the single most important thing that a blogger can do to be successful. Brands will notice if you simply add a section because you want free stuff or if you genuinely have a passion for something. When you have passion it tends to shine through and result in better, more engaging content. You absolutely have to create content of value to the brand as well as your readers. Even if you have a small niche you can still attract attention of your target brands effectively if you are "the expert" in the space.
Also, by following your passion as opposed to simply starting "another mom blog" you will have something that sustains you as you build the site and through dry spells. It takes time to attract an audience so in those times it is critical that your passion is able to keep you going!
2. Engage with Brands Through Social Media
Brands need you as much as you need them. Sure, all things being equal a brand would rather have a huge celebrity engage with them but that doesn't happen often.
However, no matter how small you are, if you are super passionate about a specific niche and are RT'ing the brands content and commenting on the posts on Facebook or Instagram you will get noticed as long as your contribution is providing value to the community.
3. Write about the Brand and Share the Content
This is a surefire way to get noticed and it is really easy! Want to be on the radar of your favorite local restaurant? How about writing a review of it on your site with great photos and submit reviews to Yelp and Google Local too. Then, send an email to the contact on the website as well as tag the restaurant in your tweets and Facebook posts as you share the content with your friends.
This won't work for every brand but it works GREAT for smaller brands and bigger brands will notice that you are active in the community.
4. Remind them That you are Still There
Brands work with thousands of influencers and they often aren't limited to a single person. As such, it is critical once you are finally "on the list" and have successfully completed an opportunity with them that you don't fall off the list again. In today's world, it is super easy to keep in touch. Simply reach out to them periodically and send them an email update about you, your site, what you are working on every few months. This isn't an opportunity to "pitch" but it is an opportunity for you to build a relationship. Your objective is that out of the 1,000 people in their database your name will come to the top of mind when they have a sweet opportunity for you.
Beyond email, many brand PR and Social Media people will be active personally onLinkedin, Twitter, and Instagram where you can engage directly with them as well.
5. Go to Conferences and Networking Events
Conferences such as Type A Parent and BlogHer are great opportunities to get noticed by brands, but you can also go to local networking events too. Not only will you be able to meet with the brand face-to-face but you can develop relationships with other bloggers who can help you make direct introductions.
Brands LOVE blogger recommendations that are genuine, so this is a great way in the door and get noticed.
6. Create an "About Us" Section on Your Site
If a brand is conducting research, having an about us section on your site will help that person quickly identify if your site is a good fit for the campaign or not. That section should contain some information about your key coverage areas, media mentions and awards, as well as links to all of your social channels and some basic stats.
Don't forget to include your contact info here as well since if they can't contact you it is pretty quick end to all the work you just did to get noticed!
7. Signup for Sponsor Networks and Media Lists
The first groups will place you directly in front of advertisers wanting to reach your community for paid opportunities and product sampling. Being added to media lists like that of PR Newswire will help for instance when a brand is coming to San Diego and needs to invite bloggers to cover their event.
8. Join Blogger Communities
Just like how important it is to attend conferences so you can build relationships in person, online blogger communities allow you to do that virtually.
Conversations in these groups will allow you to refine your craft, become more professional, learn from other people's mistakes, celebrate successes and ultimately provide you with the opportunity to solicit an introduction to brands you are trying to reach.
You can find these groups primarily on Linkedin and Facebook but there are also some website forums that are great too.
9. Have a Unique POV but Still "Brand Friendly"
The world doesn't need another vanilla mommy blogger review site. Sorry, I don't care that you are a white, suburban, college educated mom, with 3 kids that just wants to review product. However, if are able to put yourself out there or your situation is unique that's a different story. For instance, are you are a grandmother + mom team or a multi-cultural family, a stay-at-home dad, or maybe you live in an RV then that's cool too. However - even if your demographics are pretty vanilla it is possible to have a unique voice (yes, everyone has one). That could be almost everything from your literary cadence to your photography style ... just be unique, natural, and relatable.
However - Please remember that while you are welcome to have political views such as wanting to legalize pot or that we should arm teachers be aware that brands tend to be risk averse. This means that while the individual rep may sympathise with your latest blog post about the 1,000 uses for medical marijuana that the post may also disqualify you from being included in campaigns for mainstream brands. It isn't fair but that's just the way it is.
10. DON'T BE STUPID!
This is the most important part perhaps but it is also the easiest. Blogging is fun, blogging is social, and like anything in social media there are VERY thin boundaries between being "professional" and being "fun and social".
For instance - if you are on a press trip, don't get drunk to the point where you puke. Don't show up late to the tour bus wearing the same clothes from last night. Don't dance on the stripper pole in the bus that your host is using to take you back home after an awesome dinner. This is NOT your personal girls night, you are there to work and create content for the brand.
Similarly, don't make too many demands or be rude to your fellow guests. These actions WILL get you noticed by the brands but not in a good way.
While it is never easy to build your blog up despite the overnight success stories you may hear, it is possible.
Even more than possible it is an exciting journey!
For me as a brand representative it is also a lot of fun to work with new bloggers who are learning the ropes, so don't feel like you "aren't good enough" I still want to talk with you. However do realize I might not be able to fly you to rome or offer $1,000 per post ... but you'll get there and I look forward to helping you do that.