It’s been exactly a year since I posted The Business Of Blogging: How To Play The Game Without Losing Your Style, and it looks like now the post is even more relevant, as the subject of blogger/brand relationships keeps coming up.
After reading the excellent post by PR Couture’s Crosby I couldn’t agree more with the concept of bloggers burnout by the constant brand collaborations, but also had to recognize the fact that because the space is so new, there is no guide or book advising bloggers how to strategize their careers in the long term.
Having spent the last 4 years blogging, I saw my peers go from just passionate fashion lovers to brand ambassadors and writers who earn six figures for their craft. The last 2 years as the founder of Style Coalition I spent helping bloggers to monetize their craft, whether it’s via ad campaigns on their properties we run in partnership with ELLE and HFMUS, or via sponsored campaign opportunities like the American Living campaign we produced in the summer. I’ve seen it from both sides and have to admit as much as there is brand responsibility to make sure they pick the right people to work with without damaging the brand image, it’s a blogger responsibility to consider every opportunity from both ethical, image and value perspectives.
I would like to add to my initial post few more tips, which are focusing on extending your “shelf life” as a fashion or style blogger:
1. Tip #1 on my list is still learning to say NO. Exercise it, enjoy it and never regret. There are multiple reasons why a polite NO is a great answer: a) it sends the message that you are actually considering every offer for what it’s worth and don’t jump on every opportunity. It makes you more special. b) In many cases there will be better offer coming.
2. Learn to separate brands you love with brands you want to do business with. It works just like in dating – you don’t want to necessarily marry the “hottest guy on the block”, you want to get into relationships with someone you can trust, you have similar values with, etc. Why it’s important? A) Because most of the “cool” brands we tend to love have zero budget for blogs. They either don’t need to pay for marketing, because they produce enough news to get your coverage, or they simply can’t afford any marketing. B) Because if you want to focus on a long term career, it’s better to start building relationships with more established brands that are classic. Which brings me to the next point.
3. Aim for a long term relationships rather than a quick seasonal campaign. It’s a basic business principal. Few reasons to ask for a commitment (or at least plan for commitment. See how it’s similar to dating again?) a) It’s much more cost effective to have long term relationships and not waste more time on getting a new client/ campaign. 2) it doesn’t dilute your personal brand, as you are working with the same company.
4. Learn to separate your own brand (personality) from your blog (media property). Some opportunities might be your personal endorsements featured on your Facebook, twitter, brand’s own properties, and some could be more appropriate to be featured as an advertorial post on your blog. That way your face is not necessarily always attached to the promotion.
5. When you attach your face to a brand or a campaign, think how it represents who you are as a blogger and whether it a) might make you lose credibility with your audience; especially if the brand isn’t directly resonate with your blog focus, b) might close some doors for you in the future. For example, once you work with a mass brand you might eliminate the possibility to work with a luxury brand in the future, and the opposite.
6. Make sure you are in a good company. We are seeing more and more brands using several bloggers or personalities for their campaigns, rather than just working with one. It’s OK to ask who else is participating in the promotion so you can make sure you are in the right company.
7. Develop your business persona. You might hop around the city and take your photos in silly outfits most of the time, but when it comes to business you better step it up. Knowing basic contract rules, legal responsibilities and having professional communication skills will separate you from the crowd and make brands want to work with you again. If you want to be taken seriously, talk seriously. There is no excuse to not knowing basic business and legal terms in the world where everything is google-able. If you are in blogging for business, you better develop your business style, just like you develop your personal one.