Collaborating with bloggers: the whys and hows
Adrienne Biscontin, Stylish Bump
There's been so much written about how to make money from blogging, but not much is known about collaborating with a blog, or a blogger. Likewise, every brand knows how to advertise with traditional media, but not many know there are other options for advertising your brand.
After having three babies in quick succession I found so many great products for pregnancy, motherhood, babies and my girls, that I wanted to find a forum in which to share them. I started Stylish Bump on Instagram, my favourite social medium, during my pregnancy two years ago because I couldn’t find a page dedicated to what mamas to-be – including celebrities – wore when pregnant.
I wanted a social media ‘magazine’ that would show what people wore, where I could buy it, how to style my nursery, give me some mama advice and so on… I couldn’t find one, so I started one!
As an extension of the Instagram page I started my blog last year, where I set out to combine my love of babies, fashion, pregnancy, celebrities, motherhood, homewares and interior styling, as well as my experience with my own three girls with my Journalism and PR background to create Stylish Bump.
More than two years on Stylish Bump has become one of the most popular pregnancy style blogs on Instagram, with over 100 thousand followers, including some very well-known mamas, and has expanded to include product reviews, interviews, opinion pieces, guest blogs and more.
I've been doing this full time now for 10 months, after quitting my demanding corporate job in PR & Communications earlier this year to meet the needs of my growing family (three girls under 5) as well as write freelance for other blogs and publications from home.
I've learnt so much this year. In particular, how to get the most out of collaborating with brands, and how to be the most prepared if you want to work with a blogger. I’ve also learnt how and where to spend the most time, how to best communicate the key messages and meet my reader's needs at the same time.
For all my PR and Communications experience there really is still so much to learn about social media, blogging and online marketing in general. It's not only a relatively new medium, but an organic one too; always something new to learn and you're always finding out what does, and doesn't work. And just when you think you have it all figured out, it changes again.
Social media and blogging is busy, relentless and often very unpredictable: what people like today, they may not like tomorrow. It can be frustrating, all-consuming and you're often criticised for the smallest errors. But I love it and right now there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.
I'm regularly contacted by brands wanting to collaborate with Stylish Bump for various reasons. Often, they are tired of spending big dollars on advertising and marketing with traditional media and seeing little or no results, so turn to online blogs for reviews and posts to give the audience a real experience with their product or service, for much less money.
Collabs are beneficial to my audience because they are introduced to a new product, can see it being used, read all about it and get a genuine review on the benefits, features and why they may need it. In turn, collabs can help me to reach a new audience, figure out what my existing audience are interested in, provides me with products or services to giveaway to our Stylish Bump community and earns me some pocket money too.
Collaborating with brands is often a lot of work, and many bloggers don't offer collabs because they simply don't have the time. The review of the product itself, professional photos, getting your kids to cooperate, spending the time reviewing the product and so on, writing the review… this all takes time. Even if it's just a post on Instagram, there is a lot more involved in capturing an engaging image than many people expect.
I like to spend some time researching the product and the company before I agree to a collaboration, to ensure that it aligns with my and my family's values and beliefs, and the Stylish Bump audience. I've said no to jewellery (doesn't suit my audience), dummies/pacifiers (I don't like them and prefer not to endorse them), apps, services and other products that don't fit with my ‘brand', and I think my audience trust me for it.
I've outlined a few pointers I think may help:
1. Choose a blog that relates to your product. If you're selling women's footwear, don't assume you can collaborate with a ‘Mummy Blogger'
2. Read other reviews that the blogger has written first. See how much detail they write about the review – is it just straight from the press release or do they genuinely review it, and use it and photograph it.
3. Readers respond much more positively to genuine reviews where I have use the product myself or with my girls. Using a supplied image from your most recent marketing campaign rarely has the same impact as a photo of me using it.
4. Try to give the blogger as many outcomes as possible in your initial email/phone call: what you hope to achieve? Is it sales, more followers, exposure in general, awareness of your sale, another message? What products if any will you provide the blogger to keep, or just to use to send back. Do you have images, do you have a press release? Be up front and give them as much information as you can.
5. Don't say “I think we can work together, what do you think?” as many bloggers receive dozens of emails a day, and if they need to research your product, go through your Instagram account, and take time to see how you could work together they may not have the time. Be prepared.
6. If you don't know much about social media, that's OK, but say so. Bloggers often have lots of experience in social media as well as writing (no, not ALL, but many do) so are happy to assist you in advising which would be the best way to promote your product. If it's just one product you want to promote, an Instagram post is probably sufficient. If it's a range of products or a new brand then you may want to consider a blog review plus IG post.
7. Try to incorporate a giveaway, discount code or special offer with your collab so that the blogger has something to offer.
8. Getting followers to click the link AWAY from Instagram TO their blog is very, very difficult. Having something to get them to leave social media to open a web page to read the review is hard work. I can have a post with 1,000 likes but only 17 people read the article. It's tricky.
9. The blogger can make no guarantees. Sometimes the promotion works and you'll get loads of followers, make lots of sales and be really satisfied with the results. Other times it wont' seem to make much difference at all. Keep your expectations realistic – social media and online campaigns are tricky and there are MILLIONS of other pages competing for people's attention.
10. Don't ask for ‘Tag, Like and Repost' campaigns. They are a thing of the past. People like their Instagram and Facebook pages to be a reflection of them, their family, their breakfast at the local cafe and selfies of their dog – they don't want to clog it up with competition entries and giveaway photos. Tag, Like and Comment is enough for them to do.
I work regularly with Alex from Mamma Belle Style Maternity on promoting her campaigns. She is a small business mama based in Australia and we have a long-term agreement based on her needs and meeting the interests of my followers.
Alex always is really prepared, very quick to respond to emails and happily negotiates her timelines to suit the organic and unpredictable flow of social media.
“Since launching my business MammaBelle (maternity and breastfeeding clothing label) just over a year ago, I have partnered and collaborated with quite a few bloggers and Instagram influencers in different ways, including engaging with brand ambassadors, gaining product endorsements and doing promotions and giveaways. Instagram has definitely been my preferred social media platform to use when partnering with bloggers and influencers because it has allowed me to gain more exposure for my brand and my products and has enabled me to reach more of my TARGET MARKET than any other social media platform (at a very reasonable cost)”.
I can honestly say that partnering with bloggers and Instagram influencers has been the life blood of my business to date.
My most successful collaboration have been the giveaways and promotions I've done with Adrienne from Stylish Bump. Stylish Bump has a huge following whose followers include a lot of people from my target market. Stylish Bump's posts also get a good amount of engagement, so I know that when I work with Adrienne the right people are going to see my brand and products and our collaborations are always a success.
I love doing giveaways with Adrienne because it allows me to achieve three of my main business goals all at the same time:
1. Grow my Instagram following
2. Gain new subscribers to my email list
3. Make Sales
It's these three things that allow me to continue to grow my business and increase sales while also connecting with amazing customers.”
Blogging is great fun and lot of work, and it's relentless: I work every day, all day, to source and provide the best images, information, tips and advice, reviews, quotes and more for my audience. And after my years of experience in working in PR I can honestly say that collaborating with a blogger is easily the most direct and honest way of reaching your target audience.
It's a true labour of love, because I absolutely love doing it, but had no idea when I began how much work it would be. But as long as I’m connecting, evolving, starting conversations, inspiring and being inspired with Stylish Bump, I will enjoy it and continue to do it.
I’m a really, very lucky mum of 3 girls, Ava Jane, 5, Sasha Grace 4 and Marnie Kate 1. By profession I’m a PR Manager and ex-journo, and work part-time in the corporate world. I’ve had three babies in quick succession and along the way have found some great products for pregnancy, motherhood, babies and my girls and wanted to find a forum in which to share them!
I started Stylish Bump on Instagram, my favourite social medium, during my pregnancy last year because I couldn’t find a page dedicated to what mamas to-be – including celebrities – wore when pregnant. I wanted a social media ‘magazine’ that would show me what people wore, where I could buy it, how I could copy the look, how to style my nursery and so on… I couldn’t find one, so I started one!
As the founder and CEO of Mums With Hustle, I have the best day job in the world: teaching entrepreneurs how to grow their beautiful businesses online. When I started the business, that was everything I wanted, but since then, it has grown into something much bigger. Now, I get my joy from helping women find their zones of genius within a community that truly celebrates their success. I truly believe that when women choose to band together, we can do anything - and if you feel the same, there’s a place in the MWH community for you.
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