Blogger/Brand Relationships. A match made in heaven? A happy marriage? Either way it's a relationship most of us are invested in.
If you haven't worked with brands in some capacity, you're probably likely to. It sometimes feels like people are always getting opportunities for sponsored content or paid work and everyone and their dog is posting snapchats of 'surprise blogger mail' and you're just at home like....k den.
It took me 9 months of blogging in the format I'm in now to get my first blogger/brand collaboration and I've had 4 the past month, have turned down about 10 others and have more in the pipeline. There's some thing you can do to get yourself out there but in the end sadly it just comes to down to....it just happens.
You get to a point where someone, just one person reaches out to you and then once you've secured one, they alllll come knocking.
You soon come to realise it's not what the brand are offering, it's the blogger/brand relationship that makes a successful collaboration. As a blogger it seems to be a cardinal sin to name and shame brands who aren't all that great to work with because you've probably been paid, people don't like to see it but at the same time you kinda want to warn other influencers before they take up a contract.
Then there's the brands who have a bit of a shit storm on social media but you've worked with them and never had a problem....it's hard to know who's genuine and who is best turned down but one thing I'd say it when you get a goldie, stick with them.
When working with brands you're normally contacting a PR employee of the company or someone who has been outsourced to communicate with you on the clients behalf and I think it's often easy to forget we're all just people chatting to one another.
Brand collaborations can be daunting but I'm guilty of forgetting the person on the other end of an email is just someone doing their day job and I think sometimes brands can be forgetful that bloggers are quite often young people trying to get paid for work they put a lot of effort into.
You'll always get emails that are obviously not legit, ones that will offer you the POTENTIAL of social media coverage for an entire blog post. You'll always get the ones who peddle you to include a do follow link even though they know Google's rules as well as you do. You'll always get the ones who barter with your rate card when they want double what anyone else does.
I've worked for free, I've also been paid to work and I'd work for exposure too if the job was right. At the end of the day you have to do what suits you are your blog, don't let yourself get mugged off and do what feels right for how passionate about the job and the brand are.
I only work on content I am passionate about or have an honest opinion on or collaborate on something that fits my niche and my audience and I think it's key to always have your readers in mind when agreeing to a job. If you're being offered a paid job to write about something your target audience isn't interested in, you're not doing the brand justice anyway.
We all want to monetize our blogs in some way, we put a lot of hard work and effort into them and it's nice to be rewarded for that dedication, but taking on jobs that don't suit means you're more likely to loose followers anyway and then the brands are up shit creek too. Bloggers selling out is a hot topic at the moment and whatever your opinion on it, you probably don't want to become thought of as one.
I think the key to a good blogger/brand relationship is to treat it as business. To be honest, to be firm if you have a sticking point, to quote based on individual job, to be professional and to remember you can pull out at any point. It's a difficult world to navigate when there often aren't contracts exchanged but if you show your interest in a job and agree to certain terms, only to find 20 emails down the line that the company wants 10 different things but with no fee increase, you're well within your rights to pull the plug. Just as the brands are well within their rights to pull you up on it if you agree to write one thing and then publish an entirely different post.
The blogger/brand relationship develops with experience and you'll almost pick it up as you go along. Being self employed anyway means I'm used to navigating contracts, pitching and quoting for jobs and dealing with invoices and even I have found it hard to know what to charge, to find my limits and see what I won't budge on but oh mumma do I know a good blogger/brand relationship when I see one.
It's the little things that make a difference, it's the really personable PRs you feel like you're just having a chat with, it's the effort a brand goes to, it's the follow up emails to tell you how much they liked your post, it's the thankyous and the retweets and the people that have obviously taken the time out to read your blog and send you comments on it. It's the surprise mail with no obligations, it's the honesty, the transparency, it's the feeling that they genuinely appreciate what you do that makes a good blogger/brand relationship because then you know that they're as passionate as you.
I have worked with Talking Tables now for 2 months since they provided us with the decorations and picnic equipment for #BloggerPitP and we collaborated on my Hygge night in post and they set the bar pretty high for blogger/brand relationships. I think they go the extra mile, their blogger outreach team are fabulous and they put a lot of effort into what they do.
You might have seen it a lot on social media and you'll certainly have seen it on my most recent Friday Favourites but last week myself, the other organisers of #BloggerPitP and a bunch of our guests were surprised with a big box of Halloween themed treats through the mail. Nobody knew it was coming, it was beautifully decorated, each item was individually wrapped in themed tissue paper and there was no word from TT themselves, no obligation, just a treat. And it's that kind of blogger/brand relationship, where the brand really appreciate what bloggers do and the influence they have that makes me want to write a post like this, that makes me want to do really good work for them and support them and shout about them.
So here's a huge thank you to the team at Talking Tables for my surprise, for giving me an excuse to embrace Halloween (although the bunting is so cute it might stay up all year round), for sending me the kindest emails and feedback and for setting the blogger/brand relationship bar very very high.
You can shop Talking Tables extensive range of Halloween products here!
*The items in this post were sent to me as a surprise from Talking Tables but they didn't ask me to write this post or share on social media, all love for the brand is very much my own!