Collaborations with Bloggers | What to Ask + The Small Shop Point Of View
A couple of weeks back I wrote a little blurb on being a full time blogger and how bloggers actually make money. I talked a bit about how I get collaboration requests where people want to trade me "a shirt for a post." And while there are tons of adorable clothes out there and I would love to just show off all of the amazing shops and companies for the world to see, trades just don't put dinner on the table. Clothes don't make me money and blogging is what I do for a living.
But I get it. There is another side to every story -- another side to every collaboration. And in this case, the other side is the shop or company owner.
All of you who are small shop owners or the hands behind some of the amazing companies I have worked with: I am constantly in awe of you. You juggle kids and sewing and nailing toddler beds and teepees together with your own two hands. You have creativity beyond belief and are putting together hundreds of orders every month, staying up until 4am just to get us our items in the time promised. I just don't get how you do it. You do it all. I know I couldn't. And just know that you are amazing.
I totally understand the sweat, the tears and all of the heart that goes into every single piece.
I totally get it.
And what makes me sad is how many small shops have been scared to work with me because they have had terrible experiences with bloggers in the past. You have sent out orders to bloggers to promote your product, only to never receive photos, exposure, or even a "thank you." You spent four hours on that item, four long hours away from your family to create something beautiful and the blogger end of the collaboration was never held up.
You've all been burned and I want to change that name for the blogging world.
It makes me so sad to hear all of the horror stories so many shops have had with bloggers. So I just want you to know, we aren't all like that. I promise, I am not. (And yes, I am happy to give you plenty of references if you need them!)
I get it. So many bloggers take advantage of shop owners and it's not right. Like, who raised them??
So before I finish up and give you a little list on what to ask a blogger before collaborating, I would like to apologize. I apologize if you have had a bad experience with a blogger in the past and I apologize that there are, unfortunately, a TON of bloggers out there who only think about themselves. Without shop owners and companies, we cannot blog for a living.
It takes two to tango!
Company Owners: If you ever want to approach a blogger or a blogger approaches you about a collaboration, here is what I recommend asking for:
1. How much do you charge? Whether it's a blog post or social media features, of course you need to know how much they charge and whether or not that price is worth it to you. How many items would you need to sell from the feature to cover that cost? And remember, follower gains, links to your site and overall exposure totally come into play as well, so don't just think based on number of items and your dollar for dollar gain immediately.
2. How many monthly unique followers do you have? How many monthly page views? Despite wanting to know how much traffic you're going to get from a blogger's website, this one single question will separate the "real" bloggers from the ones who just blog for fun. Any blogger who does this for a living will 100% be able to provide you with these numbers. Of course that doesn't mean you can't collaborate with bloggers who do it just for fun too but just a little bit of information most companies don't even know to ask.
3. Social Media Followers + Engagement -- Just because someone has 100,000 followers doesn't mean you are going to get anything out of the collaboration. I would recommend taking a look at their social media channels and see how much engagement they get (likes, comments, shares, etc.) And I am talking real, organic comments and likes. The more, the better! Of course Instagram numbers are great but what about other social media channels? In my experience, Pinterest is the best way for most brands to grow - one pin can go viral and you're set! But you've got to find a great account to help your pins and your products go viral :) So think past Instagram!
4. Photos: Will the blogger take photos for you? Do they have great photo quality? Photos that work well with your brand? Or will you be required to provide photos for the feature? Can you use these photos on your own social media and website? How many photos will be given? These are all questions you'll want to ask.
5. Time Frame: Will the blogger post within the week? Within the month? Within a year? Do you get to pick the date? I typically have features go live within two week of receiving the product, depending on whether I am taking the photos or am getting them from my photographer. But just ask so you know exactly what to expect and so the blogger also has a time frame in their mind to stick to.
6. Put it in writing. I'm going to say it again...PUT IT IN WRITING. I put all of these details on the invoice I send to companies to ensure we are both on the same page -- for myself and for the company I am working with. Whether it's over email, an Instagram DM, a signed contraqct or on the actual invoice, just make sure you have it all in writing.
7. Who is your audience? That's great if an account has 700,000 followers but who are those followers? If you are promoting kids clothes, a body building account may not be the best fit. Are their followers women? Men? Ages? Location? Find the bloggers with followers who would be the ideal clientele for your brand. Or that follower count is just useless.
8. Reviews + Recommendations -- What's better than a personal review? Not much! Ask every blogger for reviews...like 2-3 reviews. Who have you worked with? May I speak with them to see how their feature went? How they liked working with you? Those recommendations are key!
I put my heart and soul into every single feature. Every single one. I am real and I am authentic and I would never promote a product I didn't love. Yes, I deny paid features to ensure I continue to promote authenticity. And I think that every blogger should too.
And that's that!
Sorry for the essay of a post but I just had to say it: Shop owners - I wouldn't make a living without you so thank you. Thank you for your hearts and for your time and for your interest in collaborating with me. You're amazing.