How Do Blogger Collaborations Really Work?

A number of new/aspiring bloggers often send me in queries regarding how to turn blogging into a profession. While I am not an expert, nor a super successful blogger, I have worked with a fair share of brands during my blogging journey and today I will use my experience to share some knowledge regarding blogger collaborations. Bear in mind that I primarily work with beauty and lifestyle brands in India, so this blog post will be most relevant for beauty bloggers in India who want to know more about working with brands.

Although for most beauty bloggers, makeup & skincare is a passion, it becomes impractical to buy and review new products all the time unless you have a steady source of income, either from another job or from your blog. This is where the concept of blogger collaboration comes in handy, particularly for full-time bloggers. Many of you who are just starting out in this field do not know how to go about such collaborations and there are others who feel that bloggers lead a privileged life where they get sent a bunch of products for free. Today, I will answer some of these questions and will bust the ridiculous myths about blogging that I have seen floating around the internet.

1. Sponsored Posts – Sponsored posts basically mean that a brand pays you for talking about their products on your blog/social media platforms. However, a brand will offer you money for promoting their products only if you have a HUGE number of followers on at least one platform. Only those who have put years of effort into their blog or YouTube channel or Instagram profile, get to the point where brands start offering them money for their posts. So basically, you have to be prepared to make no money from your posts for a long time before you begin to get noticed by brands.

2. Free Products? – So do bloggers really get products for free? Yes, sometimes they do. However, influencer marketing largely works on a barter system wherein a brand expects you to review/feature the “free” product on your blog and social media profiles. So basically, you don’t really get a product for free, you have to click some great pictures of the product and create a video/blog post about it in return, which is not as easy as it may seem to non-bloggers. I would say that instead of being paid in cash by the brand, this model allows us to get paid in the form of products for the labor that is needed to create the required content. Bear in mind that most ethical brands request bloggers for their honest reviews on products, so all that you read/hear about a “free” product is not a bunch of lies. However, there are a few brands that insist on biased, positive reviews and I would recommend all bloggers to stay away from these folks because such malpractice will tarnish your reputation as an honest reviewer with time and is totally uncool too!

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3. Discounted Products – Some of the more established brands may not be willing to offer free products but may provide some discount to a blogger based on the traffic the blog generates. Again, most brands expect you to share an “honest” review in return for the discount and these are the brands that I choose to work with. If your content about a brand gets a lot of views and positive responses, then chances are that the brand will approach you for more collaborations in the future and may also send you some free products if things work out. The key lies in creating the best possible, engaging content about each product that you feature on your blog.

4. Affiliate Links – Some brands may also provide bloggers with affiliate links that help the bloggers earn some commission each time someone uses their link to purchase a product. To be able to earn anything at all from these affiliate links you must have a large number of readers/followers in the first place, which brings me back to the main point of this post – no one can make anything from blogging without putting in a ton of effort. 

What should new bloggers do?

If you are a new blogger then I will encourage you to first work on creating great content that attracts a reasonable number of readers. You will need to buy your own products for a LONG time before any brand starts sending you samples, and even then you cannot just work on sponsored posts because then your blog will turn into a collection of advertisements for a handful of brands. In the beginning, no brand may approach you, you will have to contact them instead. When approaching a brand for a collaboration, make sure to let them know how you can feature their products in a unique manner and why you are wanting to work with them. This will increase your chances of grabbing their attention and earning a spot on their collaboration program.

What are the blogger’s responsibilities when creating a sponsored post/writing about a PR sample?

It is not only ethical but is also mandated by search engines and different social media platforms to mention when you are creating some sponsored content or writing about a PR sample. This can be in the form of a hashtag (#ad, #sponsored, #PRsample etc) or in the form of plain old text. Also, if a brand is paying you for linking to their website in your blog post then make sure to add a “nofollow” attribute to this link. Google penalizes the web pages that add paid links to their articles without this attribute because some brands use underhanded tricks to increase their digital footprint by paying the bloggers to link to their website. (You can find out more about this by googling about no follow links.)

If you have made it to the end of this post then you must have realized that blogging and working with brands is not as easy a task as it may appear to be. It is not a rosy, privileged life for most bloggers and in fact, is one that requires a lot of dedication behind the scenes. So if you are new to the world of blogging, do keep these points in mind to set the right expectations and to take the necessary steps towards becoming a successful blogger.

Remember, keep your content honest, unique, and useful for your readers. Blogging should be a passion first and a profession later.

Happy Blogging! 🙂

Note – All images are taken from Pixabay

P.S. – If you enjoyed this blog post then please click this link and leave a comment on the nomination page to help me win the Indian Bloggers Award!

 

 

Is Blogging A Dying Art?

I recently read an extremely thought provoking post by Mehak Sagar Shahani from Peaches And Blush that was titled “Whatever Happened To The Blogging Scene In India?“. The article talked about how social media marketing has become imperative for the success of any blog and how the old school model of blogging that focused on pure content is slowly degrading. With today’s post, I take the discussion one step further by talking about how I feel that the power of the written word has diminished over time and how the good old art of blogging is dying a slow death as a result of the same.

Be honest to yourself, how many times have you skipped reading an article or a blog post simply because it was too long and wordy? I must confess that I am guilty of this as well. We seldom pay much heed to the fact that the writer has dedicated additional efforts for creating something more substantial, and simply skip reading the article or skim through it, blaming it on the lack of time. It is also the lack of time that makes us gravitate towards videos and audio books, that we can devote a percentage of our attention to while performing more important tasks, as opposed to focussing all our attention on a blog post that requires actual reading. Not that I am against videos or audio books, in fact, I appreciate and respect the hard work that goes into creating them. But what about those who do not have the skill for creating such content but are extremely talented at writing? Is it fair for them to suffer if they are not comfortable with other mediums of expression?

Another reason for the reduced audience of a blog is the sheer abundance of bloggers in the world today. Although this may seem contradictory to the title of this post, it actually isn’t. I refer to the new generation of bloggers who do not consider blogging as an art but as a money making machinery. They do not rely on creating unique and useful content but on producing a random mish mash of keywords that will attract search engines. Although making a clever use of SEO techniques and social media marketing is not a crime, blindly relying on these without backing them up with talent is (in my humble opinion). What I am trying to say is that what used to be a task as basic as typing down your thoughts and pressing the publish button now comes with a rather intimidating and disorienting formula for success (as depicted in the image below). Many talented writers and bloggers are able to master this formula but others get swallowed by it.

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Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/seo-search-engine-optimization-1906465/

The art of blogging originated as a channel for the creative individuals to express themselves and to showcase their talents. Blogs soon became digital journals for some and online portfolios for others. Things escalated rapidly as bloggers discovered that they could actually generate some revenue with the help of advertisements and sponsored posts, but as YouTube and Instagram began to boom, the revenue generated by blogs started to dwindle. In fact, this problem is so deeply rooted in our habit to avoid reading as much as possible, that even the carefully worded descriptions beneath the Instagram images often go unnoticed.

That being said, I consider myself a writer before anything else, and will, therefore, continue to pen down my thoughts and send them floating in the sea of digital media. Those of you who miraculously survived till the end of this post (a BIG thank you to you), do comment below to let me know that there are still many who enjoy reading the written word!

Featured Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/workspace-place-of-work-work-766045/