Do you like to read blogs? Or maybe you follow some bloggers or influencers on Instagram and you’re wondering how exactly the collaborations they participate in come to fruition. From the initial contact to the payment methods there are a lot of assumptions made about the blogger and brand relationship, but this blog post should clear it all up and give you a thorough idea of how the relationship works, from a blogger who works in marketing and has had the opportunity to participate in these relationships from both sides throughout the past few years.
The Initial Contact
So, let’s start from the beginning, how do these relationships even come around? Well, there are a few different strategies, most commonly a blogger will receive an email from a brand or on behalf of a brand. These emails usually begin with compliments on the blog and a run through of an up-and-coming campaign and then an invitation to collaborate with the brand. For the most part, when this happens the brand or PR has extensively researched the blogger to make sure they are a good fit for the campaign or brand before extending this invitation.
Other times the initial contact comes from the blogger who gets in touch with the brand or PR agency to ask if they would like to collaborate. Most people assume this happens constantly and bloggers are always asking for ‘freebies’ but it doesn’t happen that often, for one, I have never actually emailed a brand asking to work with them. Sometimes when reaching out to a brand a blogger will send across a media kit, which is a document enclosing statistic on the blogger such as DA ranking, unique monthly visitors, social media following and previous collaborations. This gives the brand a better understanding of why collaborating with that specific blogger will be beneficial to them.
Less frequently, the initial contact will come from management or a blogger network. These are the middlemen who get in touch with bloggers on behalf of brands or vice versa. Management is usually those who work for the blogger and can find them better opportunities or negotiate on their behalf with brands, think Zoella and InTheFrow, normally only huge bloggers have management. Blogger networks are often less enthusiastic about their approach tending to send an email out to a huge list of bloggers and then further narrow it down once there are responses.
What many non-bloggers don’t tend to know is that there are a few different collaboration types. Firstly, there are the gifts, a brand will have a PR list of bloggers and upon the release of a new product will send it out to those on their PR list. Benefit Cosmetics often take this method, not asking for a blog post or social media recognition, but they are also aware that many of the bloggers and influencers will post about the product on social media.
Then there is the gift and review basis, wherein a brand will gift a product to the blogger in return for a review on their blog. Sometimes this is where the content ends, other times the brand will ask for social media coverage and the blogger and brand together will discuss this. In this case, no money exchanges take place.
When there is an exchange of money this is referred to as sponsorship or ad. This is when a blogger will receive money in exchange for a blog post and/or social media coverage of an item or service. Many bloggers have packages wherein the ask for a flat rate depending on what the brand is asking for, others negotiate with the brand. Often you must have at least 1,000 followers to ask for a paid collaboration, however, sometimes bloggers can start discussing payments before they hit this level of following.
Another collaboration type is brand ambassadorships. This is when a brand gets in touch with a blogger to become an ambassador for them, promote them across social media and write regular blog posts. Sometimes these are also paid with money, sometimes it is just the products. There are several other collaboration types, but these tend to be the most popular ones.
The part everyone wants to know about… what do bloggers get paid for and how much? This question isn’t so easy to answer, however, as every blogger has a different way of pricing their work. Sometimes you will be told there is no budget for collaboration, in this case, the blogger is usually sent a gift i.e. the product or service to review is given to them free of charge. Some companies will offer no payment or gifted item and instead will offer money off their products which the blogger will then have to buy to review. This is hated among bloggers and is always turned down by the bloggers asked to participate.
In the case when a blogger is paid to review a product or service bloggers have their own way of pricing their work. Some provide a flat rate fee for packages such as a blog post and Instagram post costing £75 or a blog post alone costing £50, others change their fees depending on the brand they are collaborating with. Usually, the starting price point is £50 with bloggers who have around 1,000 followers to review a product on their blog. Some brands will try to negotiate this lower, but often their budget will cover £50 plus the product or service they wish the blogger to review. Once a blogger’s following begins to see steady growth they are able to increase their fees, but more often than not bloggers are willing to negotiate a price with a brand.
There are many positives to brand working with bloggers. To begin bloggers and influencers are massively influential, being seen as celebrities to the younger generations. While the younger generations view bloggers and influencers as celebrities, they also see them as thought leaders and often go straight to blogs and YouTube channels when looking for trusted opinions on products and services. This means that bloggers and influencers have a huge effect on the consumer buying process and often influence consumers into buying specific products or services. By working with bloggers brands can break down the brand to consumer barrier by providing someone the consumer can relate to as the face or spokesperson for the brand, someone who appears to be more realistic and trusting than a supermodel or actress.
When it comes to the benefits a blogger gains from working with brands it is quite straightforward. Bloggers who work with popular and trusted brands are instantly seen as being more popular, visible and trustworthy to both other bloggers and brands. Working with brands regularly also provides many bloggers and influencers with their main source of income, resulting in an influx in bloggers becoming self-employed and becoming full-time bloggers.
The cons of working together are the same for both bloggers and brands. The first one is that it can lead to controversy. There is a huge misconception with bloggers in that many people believe bloggers are “freeloaders” or expect to receive things for free. This controversy is bad for both bloggers and brands as it discredits both the blogger and their work and the brand who are less trusted by those who have this view of bloggers.
Another major con is bloggers and influencers who buy followers on Instagram, Twitter etc. This discredits bloggers who are honest about their following but is also bad for the brands who pay to work with bloggers with massive followings who in turn don’t have the level of influence they should because their following is fake. Websites such as Social Blade can help brands decipher if a bloggers’ following is real, but Instagram has blocked their access making it increasingly difficult for brands to know who is being honest about their following and who is not. However, most bloggers do have an authentic following and those with a fake following tend to be few and far between.
So, there you have it, a walk through the process of brand and blogger collaborations. The reasoning behind such collaborations and the reasons why many brands are worried to jump on the bandwagon of influencer marketing. In 2018 we saw a huge step forward for the legitimisation of bloggers and influencers from L’Oréal using bloggers in their True Match ad alongside Dame Judy Dench and Cheryl Cole to Joe Sugg, an online influencer, being on Strictly Come Dancing as a celebrity. Influencers are becoming household names and being taken more seriously, so it’s not surprising 2019 is set to be a good year for influencers.