Five Things Brands Need In Order To Pay Bloggers

For brands the social media world is most certainly becoming more of a pay-for-play environment. Sure, you can build an audience on your owned properties and drive plenty of engagement and even conversion without having to buy advertisements, but the “free” ride many companies have experienced is thinning.

Not only is Facebook intentionally dialing down organic reach of brand page content, but more and more bloggers are responding to public relations outreach with, “What’s your budget?” While we could debate for months the merits of brand content and its relevancy for a given blog’s audience, you can’t really blame bloggers for this stance. It’s their audience. What right do we have to try and convince them to share our content with them? None. So we pay. Or are told no.

However, the lack of traditional media savvy in many bloggers and online influencers still makes it difficult for brands to identify the right ones to target, and even harder to know they’re spending these new hybrid budgets wisely.

Because Elasticity is often in a position of identifying and reaching out to bloggers for either earned or paid arrangements, we are all too familiar with the challenges here. To help our friends on the blogger side of the aisle, we decided to share some ideas on what you could do to help us want to do business with your blog.

Publish A Pricing Sheet

How much fun is running a yard sale if none of the items have prices on them? Not much, right? So why would you offer up your blog posts, social posts or other online endorsements for brands without making it easy for us to know your rates?

How much is a sponsored post? Do you take guest posts for a fee? Do you charge for simply sharing brand content on Facebook or Twitter? If so, how much? What kind of sponsored content do you offer and what level of influence does the brand have over it? If we know that and the price, a lot of our questions are answered before we even have to reach out to you.

If you aren’t sure what to charge, Sue Ann has a nice post here. Or, you can look at the pricing sheets on various media kits. I like this one:

Go Deeper With A Media Kit

Price is one thing, but the assurance that your audience is, in fact, one the brand in question wants to reach is important as well. Sure, we can guess that a travel blog will reach people interested in traveling. But what if the client or brand in question is more interested in Boomers? Caters to families? Has offerings for the LGBT community?

If we have to guess who your audience is, it’s harder for us to decide your blog is right for a given client project. We need to know basic traffic and demographic numbers, but are excited when we hear stats like household income, education level, top job titles, brand affinities and the like.

Certainly, we aren’t asking you to go do all kinds of research on your audience. But adding services like Quantcast (which will measure your site for free) gives us not only more meat on the bone, but a third-party source to verify that our hunches on using your blog or website are right.

Some examples of good media kits (many don’t have prices, which is frustrating, but still):

Be Transparent (A/K/A honest)

I recently ran across a lifestyle blogger who claimed to have 60,000 unique visitors per month. However, when I logged into Compete, Quantcast, Cision and other sources that use third party mechanisms to measure a site’s traffic, the most I saw reported was about 9,000.

The more confident you can make us about how much traffic you have and what you can motivate these people to do, the more likely we’ll want to work with you. Sure, the blogger in question may not be lying about her numbers, but if she isn’t willing to share a screen capture of her site analytics with me, what else am I to assume?

Help us know more so we can work with you more.

Consider The Relationship

With no disrespect to any blogger’s right or responsibility to earn a living from their audience and their content, it is rather disheartening to reach out to someone only to have their first response be, “What’s your budget?” Keep in mind that many times, a public relations effort is focused on searching for earned media — or content you might use or share that you’re not paid for.

In fact, that used to be all PR did. Fortunately for bloggers, that is changing. But not every campaign or effort we drive on behalf of our brands includes a paid budget for influencer outreach. Not to mention that the paid budgets aren’t unlimited and some organic pick-up is also expected of us, no matter what the budget is.

Sometimes we don’t have budget for everyone on a given outreach effort. But when I do have budget, who do I want to work with? People who have the right reach and audience, but also people who want to work with me. That’s an easy list for me to generate because it’s the ones who are willing to share a brand’s content, so long as it’s relevant to their audience (of course), even if they’re not being paid for it.

I’m not saying you should always give away sponsored posts here. But a quick Tweet or other social share of something we’ve got going on goes a long way.

Drop The Attitude

We know you’re a big deal. We know you have an engaged audience. We know how many followers you have. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be reaching out. The more you treat us like some sort of spammy leach bothering you, the less we’re interested in working with you.

You may have it in your mind that we are paid hacks, taking money to talk about a company. But the only time you share brand content is when you’re paid for it, guess what? 😉

We are business people. If we both act like it, we’ll get a long a lot better.

Your Turn

So, if you’re a blogger, a brand or even a PR professional, what else makes this relationship easier on you? What can PR folks do for bloggers to make it easier for you to decide you want to work with us?

The comments are yours.

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