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Working with Brands

Introducing Our Brand New Free Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship


If you’re a blogger or podcaster wondering how in the world others in your field have caught the attention of major sponsors, you aren’t alone. Working with brands can take your content monetization to the next level, but sponsors don’t just materialize out of thin air and offer you cash for your blog or podcast – at least, not most of the time.

I get email questions about sponsorships at least once or twice a week: How do I find brands who want to sponsor me? Should I work with such-and-such a brand or will it make my fans angry? What can I do to make more money working with sponsors?

Our newest free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship, answers all of these questions and more.

I’m not going to sugar-coat things; working with brands can sometimes be a challenge. Many brands don’t fully understanding blogging and podcasting, so you often have to be an educator as much as a salesperson. Our ebook is all about helping you learn these skills so you can be successful when working with brands.

Let me give you a little sneak preview of the ebook with a quick FAQ about sponsorship!

What is blog/podcast sponsorship? Is it right for my blog/podcast?

Brands want to advertise their products and build their communities, and they can do so by working with influential bloggers and podcasters. This can be in the form of advertising, or you can work more in an ambassador type of relationship. Sponsorship is not right for every blogger or podcaster, but there are so many different options for sponsorship deals that you should definitely consider the options before writing it off completely.

What kind of sponsorship deals can I offer?

Depending on your type of content and niche, you can offer anything from banner ads on your sidebar to travel sponsorship deals where a company will pay to send you to a trade show. Other common sponsorship options include spoken ads (like commercials) , sponsored posts, sponsored social media messages, and wallpaper sponsorship.

How can I make myself attractive to sponsors?

The best case scenario is a sponsor emailing you with interest in working out a deal. This will never happen, however, if you’re unattractive to sponsors. You have to have quality content, decent traffic numbers, and a media kit. It can also help to create an advertising page and use language on your blog or in your show notes that will help sponsors find you when they’re searching for opportunities.

When will sponsors start contacting me?

You might be sitting around and waiting by the phone for a pretty long time. Instead, take matters into your own hands! Our ebook goes over five great techniques you can test out in order to find sponsorship deals instead of just waiting for them to happen. Be proactive!

Should I work with Brand XYZ?

In every niche, there are certain brands you want to avoid. It’s important to evaluate every potential sponsor, rather than just saying yes every time money is offered. There are several types of sponsorship deals you should avoid at all costs – and when you say no, you can definitely do so  in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges, so you can potentially work with the sponsor in the future on a different deal.

How much should I charge?

That’s a huge question, and the answer depends on several factors, including your traffic, the type of sponsorship, and your niche. Our free ebook covers this question in much more detail, along with some step-by-step options for setting prices.

How can I make even more money working with sponsors?

Are you offering package deals? Have you reminded brands already working with you about their sponsorship options? Have you created a relationship that will last long-term? Yes, you can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month with a single sponsor if you’re smart about it!

These FAQs are just a brief taste of what you’ll get in the full 130-page ebook we’ve created. So, if you’re ready to take your monetization strategy to the next level, download The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship today!

Up to 70 Percent of Toy Companies’ Samples Go to Bloggers


LeapFrog's LeapPad sent to mom bloggers to create buzz

The Holiday toy shopping season has come and gone and toy companies are now analyzing their sales and marketing efforts. “What worked and what didn’t?” they ask. How toy companies get the word out about their products has changed drastically over the years.

The Associated Press recently published a story on how mommy bloggers can make or break a toy’s success. It was just five short years ago that 98 percent of the samples toy companies sent out went to TV stations, newspapers and magazines. Enter 2011 and as much as 70 percent of their toy samples went to bloggers, says the AP. That’s a huge shift.

LeapFrog’s $99 LeapPad was almost impossible to purchase as we got closer to Christmas and part of that reason could definitely be attributed to mom bloggers, such as Colorado blogger Emily Vanek of ColoradoMoms.com. She was contacted by LeapFrog’s PR to host a “mommy party” for the product. This was LeapFrog’s chance to use word-of-mouth marketing in real life, as well as the online marketing efforts of mom bloggers all over the United States.

Of course, with all things related to mom blogging, there are your critics. Just read the one comment left by “dosolivas” who says, “Mommy blogs are an industry with a scheme ripped straight from ProBlogger.com to build up the ILLUSION of influence. One way they do that is by creating notice on big media sites, soliciting to appear on morning shows, and things like that. This creates the I SAW IT ON TV effect that gets people to think the site must be legit because… they saw it on tv.”

Another commenter chimed in and said they’ve worked with mom bloggers for close to two years and working with them has overall proven to generate buzz for a product.

It will definitely be interesting to watch how companies and mom bloggers (or bloggers in general) work together over the next few years.

Do you think companies will continue to reach out to bloggers for their marketing efforts for years to come, or are we hitting a spike that’s about to start going downhill?

BlogWorld Exclusive: Interview with the Team Behind Business2Blogger


One question on the minds of many bloggers just starting out is “How do I work with brands?“. They want to know how to contact them, what to ask for, how to work with them and a number of other questions enter their minds.

How can a blogger work with a brand? One of the easiest and possibly best ways when starting out, is by signing up with a business who connects bloggers and brands. I’ve worked with several of these types of businesess and I am excited to share one with you today.

It’s called Business2Blogger and the team behind it is phenomenal. They are fun, professional and know what they’re doing.

The other day they announced a new set-up for Business2Blogger called their “Job Board”. I contacted them to see if I could ask a few questions about their new job board, as well as what it’s been like working with bloggers and businesses, and they said “Sure!”.

The team consists of Jay CooneyShauna Callaghan and Holly Homer, who are not only close friends and live in the same Dallas, TX suburb, but are also business partners. You can find out more about them on their About page. Just hover over their pictures for a brief bio.

Julie: Give me a little background on why, when and how Business2Blogger was started.
Holly: I had been blogging for over a year and started to get some email requests from PR/businesses to write about them on my blog. My blog is a personal journal-type blog {yes, I write a mom blog} and so the majority of the offers were never anything I would normally write. If it was something I thought would fit on one of my friend’s blogs, I would pass it on. As I got more and more offers and I was sending them on to more and more people, I said, “Someone HAS to organize this!” and the idea for Business 2 Blogger was born. I was in an aisle at Target on the phone with Shauna when the domain name came to us and she went immediately and bought it. When we talked Jay into joining us, we hoped we were the people to do the organizing.

Julie: What are some of your goals when it comes to B2B? Goals for both businesses and bloggers.
Jay: We want Businesses to have the ability to find the right Bloggers to work with based on criteria that is important to them. And in the process, eliminate the need for Googling and cold-emailing Bloggers who may or may not even be a right fit for a certain Business. In addition, since many Businesses are new to social media promotion, we find ourselves routinely teaching Businesses how to work with Bloggers, and vice versa. Likewise for Bloggers, we want to create interesting and beneficial connections between Bloggers and Brands, and eliminate the frustrating process of courting companies to work with. Business 2 Blogger brings the two sides together effortlessly, saving time and money for both.

Julie: From the emails and blog posts I have read, you and the B2B team have quite the personalities. It seems like everyone has a lot of fun and loves what they do. Is that an important aspect when it comes to the success of B2B?
Shauna: “Quite the personalities” might be a bit of an understatement. We are a handful (especially Jay). I can say that because Jay & Holly are two of my closest friends. We have a ton of fun working together & trying to build an internet empire! We probably laugh more than we are productive most days, but some pretty amazing stuff seems to come out of the laughter.

Julie: B2B made an announcement about your new “Job Board”. Can you give me a little more information about this and why you are switching to this platform instead of sending emails to your bloggers?
Shauna: The job board provides a better platform for connecting business & blogger. We want this “matchmaking” process to be easy & affordable for businesses that are trying to find bloggers to work with. We will still be sending weekly emails to our list of 6500+ bloggers to notify them of our featured jobs & any news or updates! (So Jay’s email antics will not be going away)

Julie: Do you believe spreading the word through blogging is advertising dollars well spent for businesses? Have the businesses you worked with seen results? There’s the whole question of ROI when it comes to social media marketing.
Holly: I do think it is money well-spent…if it is well-spent. That is the problem. Because this is a new space and people are trying to figure out what works, there are some “experts” out there that are taking advantage of the ignorance. This does not have to be an expensive space. Much of it can be DIY! It doesn’t cost anything to tweet or start a FB page. There are hours and hours of social media education on YouTube for the taking. I can’t think of any other area of advertising where you can get so much exposure for FREE. We really had all this in mind when we built B2B. We wanted to be priced so using our services was a no-brainer and accessible to even the start-up businesses.

Julie: Some PR firms have complained about the difficulty in working with bloggers (they are demanding, don’t deliver on what they said they would, etc.). Has this been your experience or has it mostly been positive?
Jay: Our experience has been extremely positive with both sides. Although, we can see that for some, it only takes one frustrating experience with one Blogger (or Business) to leave a bad taste for social media in general. Holly, Shauna and I routinely say that we are matchmakers, and bringing a Blogger and a Brand together is much like starting a long-distance relationship. Both sides have to be realistic, and communicate their expectations and progress. Some will do it better than others, but overall we have found the vast majority of Bloggers and Businesses to be genuine, hard working, honest, and well-intended.

Julie: Are there any lessons you’ve learned along the way when it comes to running a business like B2B?
Jay: Oh, you bet. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to make sure you listen to your customers. We’ve tried to be as transparent as possible for the past two years, and we are the first people to admit when we’re coming up short. And each time we’ve listened to our customers, they have directed us in ways we didn’t know we should be headed. We learned very quickly to listen, and not be offended by criticism, and our customers have led us to a much more creative and productive place.

Julie: I know that some of the team are also bloggers themselves. Is that true for the entire B2B team?
Shauna: Yes, we are all either actively blogging or come from a blogging background. The 3 of us actually connected to through our blogs and surprisingly lived in the same small Dallas suburb. The phrase “it’s a small world” came to life in a big way. Our blogging “experience” is important because we have always have the Blogger’s best interest at heart & want to do right by both parties. It also helps us provide businesses with more insight into what Bloggers expect and want from them.

Julie: What advice would you give bloggers who are just starting out and are wanting to develop a successful blog?
Jay: Write honestly, and consistently. Respond to your commenters. I believe blogging to be about being yourself, and making connections with your readers. Write in your own voice, and from the heart. Holly is an extremely successful Blogger because her voice and her life come through loud and clear. Shauna has been successful in her blog design business because she makes a personal connection with her clients, and it shows in her writing and design. And me? Well, you’d have to ask both my followers what keeps them around. Most likely they can’t figure out how to delete me from their RSS feed. Whatever. They’re mine.

Holly: A “successful” blog has a different look to everyone. One of the things that can be very helpful is to sit down and figure out what YOUR successful blog looks like and then consciously work toward that goal with everything you write, tweet, and post to FB. When you thoughtfully work in this way, your voice becomes your brand and everything around your blog feels authentically you.

Julie: What advice would you give businesses when it comes to working with bloggers and social media in general?
Jay: Communicate. OVER-Communicate. Be very clear about what you are looking for, and when you need it accomplished. Have realistic expectations, and be open to what your Bloggers suggest. The majority of them live and breathe social media, and they are great sources of information regarding what will be most impactful within their circle of influence.

A special thank you to the Business2Blogger team for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure and visit their site Business2Blogger.com. Here is where you can find their businesses and/or blogs:

Jay Cooney
Shauna Callaghan
Holly Homer

How Not to Pitch to a Blogger


I’ve been blogging for about 6 years, so I have a few PR connections. Which means my inbox is full (overflowing!) with pitches from PR companies everyday.

I can tell when a pitch is personal and I can tell when it’s been copied and pasted and sent to 1000s of other bloggers. If the pitch is personal or I have a long-standing working relationship with you, the more likely I am to respond.

This news article from SocialMedia.biz caught my eye. It’s entitled “How not to treat bloggers and how not to pitch blogs“.

Here are a couple of no-nos when it comes to pitching a blogger mentioned in the article:

Start off your pitch with “Dear Blogger”. I get these a lot or other forms such as Dear Staff or Dear Entertainment Bloggers. It’s nice to open your email with a pitch and see that they actually know your name. I’ve even had pitches sent that included the wrong name somewhere else in the email!

Formatting that is off. This always makes me laugh. I’ve received quite a few pitches that you can tell they copied and pasted the email from somewhere else. The strange mix of fonts and weird spacing clues you in.

As the author mentioned in the article, many times PR firms are understaffed, juggling too many tasks, do not have the proper training or are just starting out and haven’t acquired the proper tech skills yet. Which is why they sometimes come up short when it comes to their style of reaching out to bloggers.

Do you have any annoyances when it comes to a PR person reaching out to you?

For those of you who are new to working with brands and PR agencies, a couple of great articles to read are 28 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Working with Brands and Setting Up Your Blog to Work with Brands.

28 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Working With Brands


Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Working With Brands

Working with brands in an interesting way to monetize your blog. The most common approach is to simply join an affiliate program. You can also approach companies to ask for review products or negotiate other sponsorship packages, such as sidebar ads or conference attendee sponsorship. I’ve worked with tons of brands over the years, and the results have been a mixed bag. Some brands are extremely blogger friendly. Others still think that social media is a phase. In any case, I definitely recommend checking out the beyond brilliant Working with Brands post Michele McGraw wrote right here at the BlogWorld blog…and then head to the below posts for even more brilliant advice.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

10 Tips for Working with Brands and PR Companies by Naomi Ellis

Before you start working with any brand, this is a post you should read. I love Naomi’s advice – her tips give you everything you need to know to get started. When I first started working with brands, these are definitely things I wish I would have known. Follow Naomi on Twitter @sevencherubs for more great advice.

Working with Brands: Reputation, Requests, & Saying No by Ashe

I love this post because it is a bit of a reality check. Working with brands can be awesome…but there is also the potential for some major suckatude. You don’t have to say yes, even if a brand approaches you. Not every brand is the right fit for you and your readers – and this post is a cautionary tale as to why that’s the case. After checking out the post, you can follow Ashe on Twitter @ashemischief.

Conference Sponsorship: What Bloggers Can Offer Brands by Leticia Barr

Conference sponsorship is an awesome beyond awesome way to work with brands as a blogger. This post by Leticia Barr gives awesome advice – especially about how to best work with brands so that the relationship is mutually beneficial without breaking conference rules. No conference, BlogWorld included, wants to kick people out so many sure you learn about their policy before working with a brand for conference sponsorship. After reading this post, check out Leticia on Twitter @techsavvymama.

BONUS: Preserving Your Integrity When Working With Brands I know this series is called “Brilliant Bloggers” but if you want to work with brands, you need to watch this video with David Segura, the CEO of Giant Media (@dseg10)

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about working with brands? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: TBD

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Why Mom Blogs Work for Both Readers & Brands


It’s no secret that mom blogs are popular and that many of them have a large following, but what is it exactly that attracts both readers and brands? (Be sure and read this guest post about setting up your blog to work with brands.)

Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Boston-based Mom Central, says mom blogs work because of the fact that moms rely on first person recommendations. Moms know that and brands know that. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been the best and fastest way to spread the word about a certain product or a new restaurant up the road. The way that message is being delivered though, has changed with the current 5 million mom blogs out there.

Moms also control the majority of the spending in the family, which affects greatly the way advertisers reach their audience.

In an interview with Tech Journal South, DeBroff said, “They not only control the majority of the spend in a family household, they’ve expanded their footprint. But now they’re the ones getting the cell phones, booking travel, and making what were once male-dominated purchases. They control 90 percent of the household spend.”

DeBroff also said that what moms want from brands are communication, interaction and a chance to experience their products.

In a guest post on PRNewser, she gave five tips on working with moms. Some of the tips included connecting via conversation and fostering connectivity. You can read the article in its entirety here.

We would love to hear from you mom bloggers. Why do you think mom blogs work so well and are so well received among other women, as well as the brands who are trying to reach them?

Image: SXC

Setting Up Your Blog To Work With Brands


We know that Moms “like” brands on Facebook, but how will the brands find your blog? You’ve set up your blog and now you want to start working with brands. It isn’t as simple as, “if you build it, they will come.”

I’m going to assume that you have your blog set up and you have been blogging long enough to have content on your blog. You may not have found your niche, but you should have an idea of what topics you are most passionate about.

1. About Me Page. This page is a must if you want to work with brands. Make your About Me page unique to you. Smashing Magazine has a great post with examples of unique About Me pages.

2. Contact Information. This seems obvious, but so often I find a blog I love and I want to contact the blogger and I can’t find their contact information. If you are uncomfortable putting your email on your blog, add a contact form page. Links to your Twitter and Facebook page should be included also.

3. Review and/or Brand Posts. You do not need to be working with brands to write about brands. If there is a brand you are passionate about and want to work with, then start writing about the brand in a natural way. Brands want to work with bloggers who are already passionate about their products. If you use their products, you will be able to write about why the product improves your life.

4. Media Page and/or Media Kit. You do not need to put all your stats and advertising rates on your blog, but you should make it easy for PR or brands to request the information. Here are some resources to help you write your media kit.

5. Highlight Your Top Posts. Add your top posts to your sidebar. This will help both new readers and brands find the posts that are most popular on your blog.

6. Pictures. Be sure you have lots of pictures on your blog. Pictures make your blog more interesting and fun. You want to be able to highlight brands in the best way possible and pictures can tell a great story.

7. Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. You may have the best content on the Internet, but if no one can find it, then it is useless. You don’t need to write for search engines, but think about what words you would use if you were looking for the information you are writing about. Research keywords before writing your posts. Good SEO can be achieved while keeping your posts interesting.

Even if you have all 7 on your blog, you will need to do some leg work. Pitch the brands yourself if they are not finding you. Attending a conference is a great way to meet up with many brands in person.

What tips do you have for finding brands to work with?

Did Vogue Choose Some Not-So-Influential Bloggers for Their “Influencer Network”?


I just came across this story and had to ask all of you BlogWorld blog readers your thoughts on it. Especially those of you who have ever helped spread the word for a certain brand via your blog and/or social media channels.

It comes from the Fashionista who questions Vogue’s selection of bloggers for their new “Influencer Network”.

Here’s the jest of it.

Vogue has launched the Influencer Network where advertisers can use “Vogue-appointed panel members to extend the reach of their products through social media”. The panel members are asked to talk about these products on their blogs and social media, and according to the Fashionista, they are not compensated for it. What’s a little iffy to the Fashionista, are the bloggers they chose and are calling influential.

So, what is Vogue’s selection process for this “network?” According Plagemann, criteria was devised to identify “the highest caliber of people in this sphere of influence.”

AdWeek highlights a few of those chose and to call them “the highest caliber of people in this sphere of influence” is a stretch. A sampling of four participating bloggers has us a little concerned about what Vogue’s marketing team considers influential.

You can read more about a selection of the bloggers they chose here. What the Fashionista is asking is:

  • Is the word “influencer” being used a little loosely here?
  • Is the caliber of bloggers chosen not quite as high as one would expect for Vogue because they are not compensated?


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