Being a low traffic blogger can be intimidating, especially when you meet big name bloggers. It can make you feel like a small fish in a big pond, struggling with your blogging confidence, your self esteem and your pitches. You may find yourself wondering if you are even worth getting paid.
This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Louisa Claire.
She runs Brand Meets Blog, a blogger outreach agency working with leading businesses and passionate bloggers. Louisa has great advice on how a low traffic blogger can get to the next stage of a blogging business: working with brands. Let's take a look at some of her tips and how you can use them.
Q: Hi Louisa, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Let's jump right in: What sort of numbers should you have as a new blogger before considering working with or pitching brands?
As a general rule I'd be aiming for 3,000 uniques page views per month before you start working with brands and closer to 10,000 unique page views a month before you start charging. While working with bloggers has more to do with brands reaching a trusted audience than reaching a huge audience, reach is still a factor in the selection process of brands. You want to go to them with a strong foundation. I would also suggest building one or two of your social platforms up to 1000+ followers as brands find that bloggers with strong communities on multiple platforms provide a more compelling opportunity.
I have to agree with Louisa. You can start building relationships with brands by following and getting to know them. As a small traffic blogger myself, I can actually charge while having low page views, but my social media is very well built up. I'm highly active in numerous communities that reach my particular niche. Establishing a reputation and working with a high degree of integrity will help you as you start to build partnership with brands. You can also increase your social media interaction by joining promotional groups.
Q: If your audience is small, should you wait to engage with brands or not?
If your audience is small but you know you want to work with brands, I'd start with the brands you already love, use and have in your house. You don't have to be engaged by a brand to write about them, nor to run your own giveaway if you are willing to supply the prize. Doing this can be a great way to work out the kind of engagement you get with this kind of post as well as put together case studies to show brands.
A case study simply shows brands what you did (wrote about them, ran a giveaway, how many social mentions etc.) and what the outcomes (reader actions) were – clicks through to website, comments, likes, shares etc.
What you need to remember is that when a brand works with a blogger they have certain success metrics that they are measuring the activity against. Case studies are a way of demonstrating that you can drive action and can give brands the extra confidence to move forward with you. If you can help a brand see the benefit of working with you, even if you have small reach, then you will have a better chance of getting them on board.
I had a year-long brand ambassadorship in 2014 with a major non-dairy brand that I used and loved. Because of that, it was already a brand I was recommending to my allergy-free community. In fact, this particular brand was one I had done a lot of research on and could give compelling reasons to choose this above its competitors.
That established my authenticity and credibility with the brand. I'm currently creating a case study showing how I was selected as the blogger of the month for that project because I drove the most registrations. In fact, they not only selected me for multiple projects, they increased my pay as we went along. One thing you can do as well is to set up a successful giveaway.
Generally brands will be looking for one of two things; they may recognize the blog as being particularly niched and therefore, even though the audience is small, it's also highly targeted to their audience. Alternately, when they work with a smaller blog, it will be part of a larger activation and they will be trying to increase brand awareness.
In a recent ambassadorship I had for a gluten-free brand, I was also part of a larger activation. This was great because we could all work together, sharing each other's content and spreading the word not only about the product, but various ways to use it. This works well for my niche, because although I have an allergy-free blog, I am not a recipe creator so working with the other bloggers was a great fit for this campaign. The best campaigns engage with both brands and bloggers.
Make sure you promote your posts to social media more than once. It's okay to share the same post several times without annoying your audience as there is such high turnover on social media. I would also encourage you to create a stable of “passion posts” – these are blog posts that will stand the test of time (otherwise, called evergreen content).
These posts can be shared continuously giving you the ability to reach new readers every time you share them. Evergreen content can feel tricky for personal bloggers because the nature of a personal blog is to be a social journal, but it is possible to write posts that are not time-bound. It's one of the smartest things a blogger can do.
Repeat promotion, especially on Twitter, is something I always do. You never know when you will miss a key supporter who wants to read and share your post. Plus, sharing at different times and days can help you test when your posts are strongest and who is reading your stream when.
I have a number of evergreen posts that work well for my audience, like the one about getting through Halloween for kids with food allergies or how to get a child with autism to adjust to the back-to-school season. Learning how to write an evergreen article is a key component of excellent blogging.
Make sure you run your blog off a self-hosted blogging platform. Other platforms often have limitations placed around how you can promote brands, and other restrictions to how well you can promote yourself, how you use SEO strategies to increase visibility, etc. Going pro can also be a matter of how you present yourself as much as anything.
I have been self-hosting since 2003 and have not regretted it. It is worth the extra work for the amount of freedom that comes with self-hosting, from how I can use plugins to how much easier it is for readers to remember my blog name. I do recommend that you are careful with self-hosting and make sure you use smart and safe services so that your blog does not crash often. There are many ways to protect your self-hosted blog.
Remember that “brands are people” too – we tend to think of brands as big, faceless, powerhouses but really they are just places full of people who are passionate about what they do. When you remember that you're just meeting with a person over a mutual passion everything is less scary!
Having just come back from a blogger conference, I can tell you that the most enjoyable part of it came at the tail end of a very long expo, late in the day. The reps and bloggers were all exhausted and as I sat down to try out a toy, I struck up a conversation with a rep who was getting married soon. That led into a great conversation on weddings and rings, and at the end, the rep gave me her own card.
I didn't expect that nor was that my end goal. I think she was appreciative that I was just talking to her, one woman to another, about something we had in common – that is authenticity in action! It is also important to know Brand Meets Blog.
Thank you, Louisa, for sharing your wisdom with us! If you want to learn more, check out Louisa and Brand Meets Blog on Twitter for more great tips on working with blogs.