One of the ways that I diversify my income from my lifestyle blog, The Melrose Family, is that I work with brands to create sponsored content. Working with brands has made a huge impact on my income over the past two years. It went from being 25% to consistently 50% and some months as high as 75% of my income. In order to successfully work with brands, there are several mistakes that you need to avoid.
One of the things that I struggled with for the longest time was my elevator pitch. When I started The Melrose Family it was a hobby blog. I wrote about whatever happened to be going on in our lives so I didn’t see it as a business and definitely did not have an elevator pitch where I could concisely tell someone what it was that I did.
In my free 10 Day Pitch Perfect Challenge I walk you through an exercise to determine your elevator pitch so that even if it is as convoluted as mine once was, we get it to one concise sentence that describes what you do and for whom. We do this all while making sure that it is relevant to a brand as well as your audience. You can join in the challenge HERE and it will get delivered right to your inbox. This way you’ll have one less mistake to worry about.
For some reason, confidence is always a huge issue for women in general. We have a tendency to minimize what it is we do. This doesn’t just happen in the blogging world. I routinely did this as a reading specialist in an inner city school district where I was responsible for a caseload of 250 students and I revamped the entire literacy program in the school. I was just “doing my job” was how I explained it. Looking back, I was clearly going above and beyond.
As a blogger and influencer, you need to start seeing yourself as a business owner and start treating it that way. Until you treat it like a business no one else will. So, if you’re looking to make an income from all the hard work and love that you put into your site then you need to start treating it like a business and start viewing yourself as a business owner that has influence. If you don’t do this, brands will never start paying you because they see that you don’t take yourself seriously.
Networks like TapInfluence and Ahalogy are great because you apply and then wait to be picked. Here are the issues, though. You could be waiting for a very long time. You are just another blogger in a sea of bloggers and it is extremely difficult to stand out. This is especially true if you haven’t done any sponsored work. Networks have a tendency to work with those that have proven themselves in the past. There’s less risk involved for them as well as less work.
In order to stand out and gain the attention of a brand, I recommend reaching out directly to the brand that you want to work with. It’s important that you reach out to a brand that is relevant to your content. So I teach my students to reach out to the brands that are sitting in their pantry or refrigerator. You clearly already love those brands.
In my Influencer Entrepreneurs Facebook Group, I routinely hear that people are not hearing back from a brand when they initially reach out to them. The reason for this is often simple. The influencer is sending an initial pitch that includes all that and the kitchen sink. Literally, the blogger will go into such detail as the exact recipe or specific project that they will create with the brand’s product. This is the fastest way to not hear back from a brand because if it doesn’t fit with their thinking then you’re not going to get a second chance even if your influence is well over 500k.
I have a 9 Point Pitch Checklist, which you can grab HERE. The pitch checklist gives the specific elements that should go into an initial pitch. I cannot emphasize enough though that you need to be broad when talking about how you might work with the brand. For example, if it’s a craft product then state how it is the perfect product to make an easy craft with your kids. Or, if it’s a food product, state how it would be a perfect ingredient in a family friendly recipe. Do you see how it’s broad? I’m not stating that I’m going to make a Valentine Handprint Card or a Chicken & Rice Pita Wrap.
In the blogging community, I often hear, “I hate working on sponsored posts. I’m so restricted.” Here’s the thing, my sponsored content is always my most creative work and it’s also the most popular content on my site. There’s a reason for this! No matter what I stay authentic to my readers. I do not publish reviews on my site so if a mattress company wants to work with me then I’m going to give tips for a better night’s sleep. Or if a brand sends me a blender I’m going to create a recipe using it.
Doing a review only works if that is what your content consistently is on your site. You need to still tell your story and give your readers the content that they are used to. You should either solve a problem or hit on a pain point. This is what you usually do so why would you change it if it’s sponsored. Be authentic! Be you!
You’ve done work, like writing the post and promoting it across social media, now you’re done right? Wrong! The great thing about reaching out to brands directly is that you now have a relationship with that specific person on their team. This should not be a one and done like it is when you work with a network. You need to go out of your way to report back to brand the success of your post so that you can land a long-term contract. In order to do this, you should report back with the reach and impressions of your social shares. Make yourself memorable and someone that they want to consistently work with because you make their job easier.
Be sure to join in on our free 10 Day Pitch Perfect Challenge for a more in-depth walkthrough of who to reach out to and what to say when you do in order to land sponsored content with brands directly.
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Jenny is a former inner city school district reading specialist that “retired” from teaching after replacing her teaching income with her blogging income from her lifestyle site, The Melrose Family. Jenny worked hard to set her site and her influence apart so that brands sought her out to work with her. She went from having an empty editorial calendar to one that was full three months in advance and needing to turn down some opportunities. As a former teacher it is her passion to teach bloggers how to do the same, which is why she created JennyMelrose.com. A site for helping influencers and entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
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