So, you’ve seen other bloggers getting snazzy gigs and freebies and wonder, how can you get brands to notice your blog? I get a lot of questions about how new bloggers can work with brands because there seems to be a lot of mystery to it. As a blogger and someone who works in marketing and works with influencers on that side of the coin, I’ve been fortunate to see both sides.
Over and over again I see the same mistakes that bloggers make when I am coaching them or I’m at my day job and am prowling the internet to see the next influencer we want to work with- luckily though, there are easy fixes that anyone can do for free or cheap!
Blogging platforms are meant to be user friendly and totally customizable, but if you are overwhelmed with the bells and whistles, hire someone to get a polished look to your blog. One of this biggest newbie mistakes is to simply flip the “on” switch for your blog and leave it at that- and I see this more often with Blogger users than WordPress.
If you want to get taken seriously, get your blog’s look and feel as far away from “default” as you can- if your stats are weak but your layout shows that you take your blog seriously, brands will see you as a blogger with promise and be more likely to make exceptions if you’re a bit smaller or newer than they’d like.
Add content pages- about, favorite posts, recommendations to your sidebar or top menu bar. Add lots of pictures that are appropriately sized. If you can, get a logo or at the least, a background or layout that isn’t built in to the blog, find a custom one, even if it’s free- don’t use the basics that are default options on the blog.
There are times I’ve looked at a blog and I have no idea if they want to be pursued for partnership opportunities simply because they have no contact information, no personal information and have little identifiers as to who they are and why they’d be a good fit to work with a particular brand.
If you’re a vegan mom, make it known! If you’re passionate about healthy eating and have a gluten allergy, share it on your about page! If you have paid of $40k of debt, lost 40 pounds or you just turned 40- those are all great ways for brands to tell if you’d be a good ambassador for their products- but it’s information they won’t go digging for if it’s not obvious you have a great personality and are a great person for their brand.
Even if you don’t make an “advertise” or “sponsor” page, you need to have contact information that’s easy to find and you absolutely must have an “about” page that is compelling, personal, and tells your story. So many bloggers neglect this, but dedicating a page or some space in your sidebar to show your face, your name, location and a few fun facts is key.
For some reason, there are bloggers out there that think that marketers and PR reps will go digging for this information, but simply they don’t have the time. Many bloggers leave off social media buttons because they don’t know how to add them, they have low stats, or they don’t use social media enough- but if either of those are the case, you might have a problem getting brands to take you seriously.
If you don’t know how to add buttons, research or hire someone. If you “don’t do social media” because you think it’s a waste of time (A.K.A. “I’m just too busy for Twitter!) you’re missing out on one of the biggest assets brands look for in a blogger and (A.K.A. They might be too busy for you). You don’t have to have big stats, but you do need to prove you’re user friendly and articulate online. If they read your tweets and you seem aloof or abrasive, they may not work with you. Don’t worry about quantity, worry about quality. When you do tweet, be savvy and sincere and be careful what you share. Be crazy, just don’t be boring (“Eating a bologna sandwich! Retweet this!”) and don’t be desperate/dramatic or attention seeking.
It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it doesn’t have to be heart wrenching- but until you become blog famous, talking about what you ate for lunch doesn’t work for most newbies but lots of us struggle to find our voice in the beginning and overshare. Not every post is going to be gold- but always review your content before you hit that little submit button and ask yourself “If I was coming to this blog for the first time, would this post keep me coming back?” I still struggle with this, but just try to keep your reader in mind, even if you’re still figuring out who your audience is (and you always will be!)
Additionally, a small pet peeve I’ve developed with blogs, is the post that apologizes for taking a break from blogging when the blog only has about 2 months of posts and details how “busy” the blogger is. There’s nothing that says you’re a hobby blogger than constantly taking breaks and talking about said breaks. It’s kind of the equivalent of talking to someone and saying, “Hi, how are you?” and getting the “OH MY GOD I’VE BEEN SOOOO BUSY,” with way too much detail about their lack of free time and not letting you get a word in edgewise. Even if you did take a break or want to overshare, more power to you- but be sure that you’re not alienating people who might just be getting to know you (or if a PR rep wants to make sure that you’ll actually be around to post about the product they’re sending you).
Don’t wait to get noticed, start reaching out to brands that you want to work with and let them know you’re interested. Craft a solid pitch, and start reaching out via email or social media (but please, please do not pitch in public. Any pitch or serious inquiries beyond a brief “who do I contact?” should always be made via private message or email, never by a public tweet- it puts the social media manager in an odd position…trust me on that one.)
After you get your first review product or gig, be sure to ensure future gigs by crafting a post with great pictures, plenty of social media touts and writing that’s a win-win for both the brand and your readers. The brand wants to know you can write an interesting post your readers will actually want to read, without simply copy/pasting from their website while still using backlinks that will help them grow their brand and rank in Google (get comfy with SEO concepts!). Brands will look through your old posts, so make sure your archives have some gems in there!