Saturday, 18 June 2016

Blogging Tips | How to Make an Unsuitable Sponsored Post Work in Your Favour

Blogging Tips | How to Make an Unsuitable Sponsored Post Work in Your Favour
A question I often get asked as a professional blogger is how to know which offers of work - whether sponsored posts, gifted items or collaborations - are suitable for me and my blog, and which are not.

Turning down offers of paid work is never easy. When you become a full-time blogger, it's almost certainly guaranteed that your income will reduce drastically. Bills need to be paid and food needs to be put on the table: It's a bitter pill to swallow, turning down paid work when your income is so low. But unless you want your output and reputation to suffer in the long run, it's a pill worth swallowing.

I've been blogging full time for three years now, and only now have I started to see what you might call a half decent income coming in. As with any person starting their own business, it takes two to three years before you really start to see any monetary reward for all your late nights and dedication to your business. It's really tough being self-employed, but if you can stick it for long enough and believe in what you're doing, it should hopefully all pay off in the end.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE OFFERED WORK THAT YOU REALLY NEED BUT THE OFFER IS TOTALLY UNSUITABLE? DO YOU TAKE IT AND HOPE THAT YOUR READERS WON'T NOTICE, OR DO YOU KEEP TURNING THEM DOWN?

But what can you do when you're offered work that you really need but the offer is totally unsuitable? Do you take it and hope that your readers won't notice, or do you keep turning them down, one after the other, in the hopes that you'll get your "big break" one day and Gucci will come breaking down the door to work with you?

Blogging Tips | How to Make an Unsuitable Sponsored Post Work in Your Favour
The reality is, of course, that this won't happen. I've turned down a huge number of offers of paid work while I've been blogging (and ten times as many unpaid ones) and it's really, really hard to do it when you haven't really received any sort of income that month and you're wondering how you're going to pay the bills.

There is a solution - a sort of compromise, if you will.

This method could help you make unsuitable offers of paid work - especially sponsored posts - work in your favour. It could even help you earn more money in the long run.

It'll take a lot of belief in yourself, a fair amount of guts and a lot of patience. But if you're prepared to protect the integrity of your blog under any circumstances at the risk of losing out on one or two paid campaigns here and there, this could work for you as it has done for me. Here are the ways I do this:


1. Learn to say no thank you to unsuitable offers

This is a sure-fire way to put your readers off and lose their respect and trust (and loyalty). If you start to publish regurgitated content that was all-too-obviously written by a brand simply to push their product, or you try and "naturally" talk about dog food or finance when you have a beauty blog, it'll feel disjointed and awkward nestled among your usually fantastic and personal posts. You'll know in your heart whether a work offer feels "icky" - if it feels icky, don't accept it. Just politely say "no thank you".


2. Tell the PR or brand what you DO want to do

Unless you've received a mass email from some cheap Chinese website selling $10 dresses (which I always ignore and block), it's always a good idea to reply to the PR to say no thank you because 1. It's polite and 2. It puts you in good stead in the future. Nobody wants to work with a blogger who's either ignored an offer of work or sent a stand-offish or rude email. And secondly, it gives you an opportunity to tell them exactly what you do want to work on instead.

SAY WHY YOU THINK IT WOULDN'T BE A GOOD FIT FOR YOUR BLOG AND WHY IT WOULDN'T APPEAL TO YOUR READERS. THEN SUGGEST A WAY THAT YOU THINK WOULD WORK AND BE MORE INTERESTING.

When you reply, say what sort of things you do like to write about and should they have anything like this in the future, to get back in touch with you. Or if it's gifted items, say what sort of things you do like - what your style is - so that they get to know you a little better. Tactful honesty often goes down very well with PRs because you're not then wasting their time (and your own).


3. Suggest a way of doing the job differently

Even better than saying what you'd like to do in the future in case it comes up, think of a way to take the project on in a way that will fit your blog and will appeal to your readers. Remember, no one knows your readers better than you do, and many PRs may appreciate the time and trouble you've taken to suggest something else. They won't always be able to be flexible, but quite often it's possible to suggest something that they hadn't thought of that they also think would work.

By explaining why you think the project they've suggested wouldn't be a good fit for your blog and why it wouldn't appeal to your readers, they get to know you a little better. You'll stick in their minds more over another blogger who just replies to say "no thanks".

I've done this many times over the years - 9 times out of 10 it doesn't led to anything else straight away, but just occasionally it does work in your favour. It's a great way to build relationships with PRs, and although sometimes these relationships take a while to build from nothing to something really great, it's usually absolutely worth it.

I have a great working relationship with a brand that I'd always wanted to work with. It's taken more than two years, but I'm now working on major campaigns with them. It started from a little sponsored post that I changed slightly to suit my readers (with their agreement, of course), going onto gifted items, and now a major campaign (or two, hopefully). With bits and pieces in between to keep the contact and mutual support going.

BE FLEXIBLE. BE CREATIVE. STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD. DON'T BE AFRAID TO STICK YOUR NECK OUT AND SAY "HOW ABOUT WE DO THIS TOGETHER INSTEAD?".

The moral of the story is this: You never know who you're dealing with, and what sort of contacts they may have now, or in the future. Be flexible. Be creative. Stand out from the crowd. Don't be afraid to stick your neck out and say "How about we do this together instead?".



4. If all else fails, suggest someone else

You may find that for whatever reason, the PR cannot waver from the brief they've been given by the client, and changing it just for you won't work. What I often do in this circumstance is to suggest other bloggers you know who you think may be more suitable. It's best to do this with bloggers you know (in real life or online), because you can say to the PR to mention your name. It's good karma, and always satisfying if you see a fellow blogger work on a project or with a brand that just wasn't right for you.

Although it shouldn't be expected, you never know when someone may do the same for you one day.


DO YOU THINK THIS WILL HELP YOU MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT OFFERS OF WORK TO TAKE UP AND WHAT TO TURN DOWN? DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE BRAVER AND START SUGGESTING OTHER WAYS OF WORKING WITH A BRAND? COMMENT BELOW, OR TAKE IT TO TWITTER @NOTLAMB!


Catherine

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24 comments

  1. Great post Catherine! Everything you said and you experienced, I'm going through right now. It's a little difficult to turn down offers when you aren't making a killing with your blog, but this is the best practice if you want to keep your blog authentic. I finally decided to be a full time blogger and I must confess, IT IS NOT EASY, but I love to do it. I'm educating myself right now about the business of blogging and I really appreciate your post.

    xo
    Carelia
    mysmallwardrobe.com

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    1. I hear you, Carelia - it really is difficult. I try not to think about the money I've turned down, but instead remind myself that the posts would have stuck out like a sore thumb! Good luck with your full time blogging, hang on in there! x

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  2. I think what you've expounded is brilliant....especially as older women, we have the experience to hopefully figure out a way that a company could benefit us and we could benefit the company!!
    jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. You've absolutely hit the nail on the head, Jodie!!

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  3. Another great post Catherine!
    I have turned down a few offers that seemed (as you put it, perfectly) "icky".
    The thought that my readers would be thinking "eh??" was enough to put me off...even with the offer of cash.
    I want to maintain my integrity above anything else.
    Without that, I have nothing.

    I have, however, offered my ideas and a company agreed (which was unexpected and gratefully received.
    AND, I have also tried to keep an open mind too.
    I have just had my first experience of being "dingied":o(
    A company contacted me full of positivity...I replied, with more positivity (and a little excitement as I loved what they do) but they did not get back to me.
    I am very disappointed as it would have been a wonderful collaboration.
    I suppose you win some, you lose some BUT it would have been nice to have had a "sorry, we have changed our minds" message....sigh...
    XXX
    Samantha
    FakeFabulous.com

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    1. oh gosh yes that's another thing Samantha, when they don't get back to you after an offer. I had a really major campaign offered to me recently, I was invited to the launch of the campaign but they never sent details despite us chasing. Turns out the launch came and went, they said afterwards they had enough people. So flippin' annoying as it was a lot of money... grrrrrr!!!

      Anyway I'm pleased you're getting offers coming in - if they're the right brands for you then they WILL follow through with you! Good luck sweetie, glad you liked the post and thank you xx

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  4. As a newcomer to the world of blogging, I very much appreciate your suggestions.
    Thank you.

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  5. Hi Catherine, what I love about your article is your honesty and transparency - very valuable personal qualities

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    1. Anna that's really nice of you to say, thank you!! x

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  6. There is nothing worse than reading a sponsored post from a blogger and you know the combination is awkward.

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    1. I know EXACTLY what you mean, Natalie - it's a shame because it really puts me off a blog...!

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  7. Great advice and nice to hear that although it takes time, opportunities do come along! I have been blogging properly for just over a year and I'm only just getting offers of sponsored posts. I have said no to them so far as I don't know quite how to make the leap to paid posts yet but I will do eventually. Its definitely wise to answer email requests as you want to be kept in mind for the future :)

    #Brillblogposts

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    1. Hi sweetie - that's great that you've been turning down unsuitable posts (I'm assuming the offers were unsuitable?!) - keeping your blog's integrity is sooooo important. The thing about paid posts is that there is no right time apart from now, if you're dealing with a brand for the first time then ask them if there's a budget! Many brands have budgets but try and see if they can get the blogger to work for free.

      It's a case of "if you don't ask you don't get" a lot of the time... Remember that the time and effort you put in and the exposure you're giving to the brand is worth hard cash!! Good luck, and thank you for commenting x

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  8. Great tip. Turning down an offer is always something I struggle with!!
    L X
    Http://workingmumy.blogspot.com
    #Brillblogposts

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    1. If it's just not right for your blog, Lisa it shouldn't be hard to turn it down (ask yourself if it passes the "ick test"!!) - surely trying to make an unsuitable post fit your blog is more difficult...?! Hope you find the courage to start saying no! x

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  9. Super helpful advice. Thank you. It really helps to keep in mind that a PR is a real human being doing a tough job. I have no idea why bloggers think it's ok to be rude!? I always reply back politely when the answer is no. I have a template reply all ready and set up to be customised for the individual PR's request, so it doesn't take long - and, as you say, you have no idea who you are dealing with or what opportunities they will have in the future. You definitely don't want to burn your bridges! Eb x

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    1. I fear that many bloggers burn their bridges, Eb... You're quite right, who KNOWS who that PR may be connected to now, or in the future. Politeness never hurts anybody! x

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  10. I haven't had this problem yet as haven't been blogging for very long, but great advice none the less! #BrillBlogPosts

    www.digitalmotherhood.com

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    1. Thanks Sarah - it's better to know this stuff in advance of receiving offers rather than learning the hard way like I did... You'll be well prepared instead which is great!

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  11. You are right on so many levels here. It's hard to say no but it's best to do what is really you and always get back to people even to say no thank you. It's just rude otherwise.Keep bringing on the blog tips like that. Newbie bloggers like me love them 😏😁 #brillblogposts

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  12. This is really interesting. I'm only new to blogging and so far I have been offered 2 paid opportunities that I've had to turn down because they were unsuitable. It feels so ridiculous when I'm starting out and I know I can't be too picky, but they were just nowhere near being right. You have confirmed to me that I made the right decision #BrillBlogPosts

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  13. I'm new to blogging so this was a great post for me. Thanks for the advice.
    #BrillBlogPosts

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  14. I often decline offers and recommend other bloggers. Rarely have I told the PR people what I want instead. I'm going to do that in all my emails with PR companies starting today. Thank you for the suggestion.

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