A couple of months ago I was invited to speak at Kelby Carr’s Type-A Parent Conference on the session entitled Profitable Blogging Without Selling Your Soul, alongside Linda Sellers and Roxana Soto. The premise for the panel was that most bloggers start out blogging with good intentions, but, somewhere along the way, get sidetracked by the opportunities to do reviews, giveaways, receive freebies and more. Our session was meant to share advice on how bloggers can stay grounded amidst all of the shiny offers. The topic forced me to sit down and consider the best practices that I have learned along the way. Here goes:
Insincerity Shows. You must give your readers credit. They can smell a rat from a mile away! If your heart isn’t in the review, it will become very obvious very quickly. Accept the opportunity only if the brand is in line with your lifestyle, interests or blog focus. Not to mention, the opportunities that you accept are a direct reflection on your personal brand, so choose carefully.
Maintain Your Voice. The reason the brand wants to partner with you is because they see you as a trusted resource for your audience – if you change your voice for the campaign, your readers will see through it. It’s wise to hesitate before throwing up a post that the brand has pre-written for you; of course it’s fine to include a company-written blurb about the product or an official brand message, but the key is to incorporate that sort of language into your own original post. If you’re concerned about changing things up, send a draft of your post to the PR rep for their feedback.
You Better Work! Treat the opportunity like the job that it is. Make sure that you understand what’s required of you and plan accordingly – do your homework! A half-ass work product will show and won’t be well-received by the brand or your readers. Read through your blogger agreement closely (make sure you have one!) and take note of deadlines and ancillary responsibilities such as tweeting or Facebook status updates or attendance at events.
Speak Up. It can be uncomfortable, but if something that you are asked to do doesn’t sit right with you, say something about it. Having an open line of communication with the PR rep that you are working with is important. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the brand will appreciate your feedback and work with you to modify the situation. And…if they don’t, consider the idea that they may not be the right fit for you.
Be Transparent. Make sure that your readers and followers understand that you are working on behalf of a brand. You will establish credibility if you make this a habit. The bloggers behind Blog With Integrity provide great tools to help you accomplish this.
These are just some of the guiding principles that I try to keep in mind when working on a campaign. More to come!