I had the great pleasure of attending this year’s ProBlogger Training Event over the 12th and 13th of October at Etihad Stadium. A multitude of professional and hobby bloggers attended to hear a mixture of high profile lifestyle bloggers and ex-journalists share wisdom and strategies on the subject of monetising blogs and working collaboratively with brands. I met loads of inspiring bloggers, ate and drank at the fabulous Maha and left bubbling with ideas for my clients (and even tinkering with the idea of launching my own blog).

Here are my key takeaways from the conference…

 

1. Bloggers offer real-world context for brands.

Successful blogs get that way because they have a unique voice that their audience strongly identifies with. They are transparent, endearing and above all else, real. It has become best practice for monetised blogs to disclose any paid content to their readers. For this reason, bloggers are trusted and valued for their opinion, even when a brand or business has paid for a mention.

Take Rachel Devine, the blogger behind daily photography blog Sesame Ellis. During her talk on visual storytelling through blogs, Devine shared a case study on her Target kids wear collaboration. Of most value to the Target brand was the fact that Devine’s photos documented her own and other key blogger’s kids wearing the clothes while playing in a real-world context. Completely void of any choreographed poses, lighting or forced smiles and stark white backdrops typical of the usual television advertising campaigns. Just kids having fun in a playground. Real-time feedback on the published post indicated immediately that mums who read Devine’s blog were not happy with some of the products giving Target the opportunity to immediately respond and adapt their product range.

2. Blogger outreach costs money.

This is the biggest lesson for all businesses wanting to engage bloggers in their marketing activities. Bloggers are not media organisations. They do not get paid by a publisher to write content that aligns with that publisher’s commercial and political interests. They are their own publisher, writer, producer, creative director and decision-maker. They write for their own interests and audiences, whatever smorgasbord of topics that may cover at any given time and it is their audience who dictates their value. Those who are worth engaging, presuming they are relevant to your brand, will place a dollar amount on that value when negotiating with you.

To give you an indication of prices, the rate scale of blogger-brand collaborations ranges from $200 for an email newsletter mention to $15,000 for a full-blown cross-platform campaign. Prices depend on the level of influence a blog may have and its audience profile, not just numbers. There are several other measures for determining a blog’s value, which you can read more about in How valuable is a blogger to your organisation?

3. On the flipside, blogger outreach is great value for money.

When you put blogs into the broader marketing landscape, brands are saving money on the production of creative, media buying and other advertising fees. When planned effectively with a blogger, a marketing promotion can be executed relatively cheaply with high impact on key target audiences.

 4. Sponsored posts work.

A sponsored post is a post that a blogger has been paid to produce and publish on their own blog by a brand or company. It can span across the blog and its associated social media or email newsletter channels to varying degrees. Sponsored posts are seen by audiences as any other post where bloggers have disclosed and maintained transparency. This inherent trust in the good blogger, means sponsored posts do not turn readers off and in fact, can do the opposite as they are often combined with giveaways or competitions.

It’s important to note that while sponsored posts are paid posts, they are not controlled by brands. This pledge to creative integrity is the at the crux of the monetised blog’s unique value proposition.

5. Use an agent to negotiate blogger-brand collaborations.

Agents know bloggers. We are continually meeting them, learning about them, from them and understanding how they fit within the context of broader business communications activities. They are a different beast to traditional media and journalists. We sit down with each blogger to work out what values they share with our clients’ brands and identify viable ways to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Have you thought about how blogger outreach could help your organisation? Contact Amy on (03) 9416 0046 to discuss the myriad possibilities.

Image credit:  kuribo, Flickr Creative Commons