Monday was educational for everyone who participated in the Windy City Blogger Collective Twitter Chat. The chat consisted of 10 questions all about pitching brands and monetizing your blog. For the newer bloggers, or bloggers who simply haven’t explored the options of pitching and monetizing, I think I speak for us all when we say, it was life-changing. Even for those who have experience, there is always much more to learn from others. There was so much to take in and so many of the members had an immense amount of knowledge to offer.
The first overall theme was, this is your blog, your brand. You don’t have to collaborate with any company if the company doesn’t fit your ideology, if they don’t offer you the compensation you desire, if their ideas don’t match up with yours or if you just overall don’t think that you should. You are in control of what is published on your blog!!
Take Lindzi Shanks from The Trendy Sparrow for example…
The second theme I noticed was, it is vital for the success of your blog and future collaborations that you put yourself out there! You cannot be afraid to take “no” for an answer, and you cannot be afraid to give “no” as an answer too! Speak up and reach out!
Jess Zimlich from 26 and Not Counting and Kelsey from Candidly Kelsey had some motivational tweets…
After hearing all of these tips and inspiring tweets on how you need to reach out to companies, put yourself on the line, and get out there- you may have been left staring at your Twitter feed thinking “Uhm, yeah, that all sounds fantastic, I’m ready to conquer the world… buttttttttt how exactly do I go about that?”
It’s all about PITCHING. Pitch yourself, your brand, your blog, and your ideas.
Let’s start at square one… The main channels of connecting is through the brands directly, PR firms, agencies or affiliate links. Many of the members had a mix of income from all sources.
- If you wish to contact a brand directly, you can find their contact info on their site. It is also a great start to connect with them on social media. Interact with them. i.e. tweet at them, tag them in your Instagram posts. Social media is a great go-to when you can’t find an e-mail address too!
- WCBC works closely with Zapwater Communications, a West Loop and LA based PR Firm. Check out my Google search of PR firms based in Chicago – have at it! You must seek out PR agencies and firms, just as you would companies! So why would one contact a PR firm when they could go directly to the company? You may not come across the same opportunities with the aid of a PR firm as you would independently. It is always ok for a little assistance!
- Affiliate Links is another source of income. Amazon has an affiliate program, which has been noted as being one of the best affiliate programs to start out with. WCBC works closely with Rakuten Marketing as well and their brands have been amazing partners for several WCBC events and opportunities.
- Member Betsy at Musings of a Museum Fanatic has had success with applying for campaigns through Collective Bias as well! WCBC reminds its members that they partner with brands to create campaigns on behalf of members – you can get paying work from WCBC!
There are SO many companies to choose from. From big name brand companies such as Coca-Cola and Discover, to small start-up companies (Chicago is great for those! An abundance of startups!), to online shops such as Etsy sellers… after the WCBC members were asked what their first collaboration was with, there was such an array of answers. I think it is safe to say that you just have to connect and reach out to a diverse portfolio of companies. Contact some big name brands, contact some Esty sellers (big or small) and contact some startups or smaller brands! You never know what companies are open to what ideas. Kit also gave a great piece of insight about who to contact at brands…
Once you choose a company you want to send a pitch to, find their contact information, you are ready to write your pitch! Keep in mind that companies have long-term goals and plans, as well as busy short-term schedules. To play it safe, members of WCBC suggested pitching your ideas to companies 1-2 months in advance. With the holiday season? Start in September!!! Mark your calendars, everyone! September will be here before we know it. Your pitch e-mail… do you send a paragraph? An essay? What do you include? Thankfully, WCBC is full of amazing and intelligent members who had all the answers to those questions. After going through all their answers here’s a general idea for what you’ll want to include in a pitch email:
- Your name
- Your blog’s name w/ URL
- Reader Demographics
- Your ideas for the company & the products
- How you want to work with them (i.e. writing 1 blog post and posting it onto social media)
- What sets you apart. This one is VERY important. There are a vast amount of bloggers on the online community- you need to set yourself apart!
- (Optional) Your media kit
Of course all of those bullet points are truly optional (even though only the last one says it).
Another tip for pitching? Stay relevant! That is oh so important when pitching!
If you are new to pitching, like myself, many experienced bloggers suggested doing some collaborations for free. This allows you to build a portfolio and add the experience/company name on your media kit. Of course, if a company does offer you compensation- take it!
You can also counter-offer. Once again, the idea of “the worst they can say is ‘no’” comes into play. You can always ask for a higher amount of compensation, and if they say no? Well, either don’t work with that company or take the deal for the money they offer. As I said earlier, this is YOUR blog and YOUR brand. You have to do whatever you aspire and want to do. When counter-offering, though, stress the time and effort that goes into the project you have lined out. Some people may not take that into consideration, or they simply might not know just how much time and effort goes into a post. Us bloggers are hard workers!! Stress that!! Here is a post from Windy City Bloggers that is a guideline for how much to charge for a post.
Wondering what’s up with this “media kit” phrase I keep saying? Well, I was certainly confused when other members started chatting about theirs. Put simply by fellow blogger Kelsey from Candidly Kelsey, it is a “resume for your blog” except, a way prettier and creative resume!
What exactly goes onto your media kit? Here is a Windy City Bloggers article on it! Some individuals include their prices they charge, others don’t. And it isn’t a bad idea to have two versions…
One particular website, that I just created my media kit on this morning after being referred to it from the chat, is Canva. Side-note: this is a great website for many aspects of blogging, not just media kits! I googled Media Kit examples and found phenomenal examples. Check out my google search here! Kit said that she does minor changes to her media kit frequently throughout the year and does major changes a few times a year. It is important to keep your media kit updated- you don’t want to be wrongfully presenting yourself to companies!
Now, you have your company, contact info, e-mail drafted, media kit created, you’re ready to send out your pitch! Wait, how many times should you repeat that cycle though? You should do this anywhere from 4-6 times per week to 5-10 times per month. Whatever goal you set for yourself- stick to it! Be sure to follow up as well. Following up is just as important as reaching out! Take it from Windy City Bloggers themselves:
Happy pitching to all!
Thank you to all the bloggers who participated in this week’s chat! Interested in joining next week? Monday’s topic is “How to Make the Most of a Conference” and the chat begins at 7pm Central. Join the conversation with the hashtag #WCBCChat.
If you haven’t already, purchase your tickets to the first ever Windy City Blogger Collective conference “Blog Your Best 2016”! Find the link to purchase tickets here. Have a great weekend and see you all on Twitter, Monday 1/25 at 7pm!
recap by WCBC Member Katie Kelly of Red Velvet Snow