Today we’re talking tips! These are just a few of mine, from both a blogger and a PR’s point of view, on how you can start working with companies, or find more companies that will work for your blog. Working with companies relevant to your blog can be amazing – it can bring in new readers, open you up to a new product or brand you might not have come across before, and can be really helpful for your readers, as well as providing you with the awesome benefits of monetary compensation or getting to keep a product – win-win for everyone! Of course, some people prefer not to, and that’s fine if you choose not to use your blog for advertising, but considering this series is talking about how blogs and companies can work together, let’s get going!
1. Try not to be passive with social media
Companies want to see that you’re actively engaging with your community and that you have an impact on people or are bringing new people in. Use social media, and not just for scrolling through and posting links to your blog. Interact with like-minded others and post things that are fun, relevant and are just interesting, even if they have no direct benefit for your blog – essentially, just let your personality shine through on social media. Tag brands and companies you like, highlighting something they’ve done or a favourite product of theirs to get on their radar. And don’t worry about not coming across as the “perfect” person – you’ll be more interesting if you’ve got real opinions and interests, and even if you go on massive rants occasionally (in fact, I’d encourage it – I might even agree with you and start talking!).
2. Have an About page
I know, you’ve heard it a million times, but really – please do! A lot of regular bloggers might not realise this, but there are a lot of “fake” blogs out there. They’re set up solely for the purpose of link building and earning money – I get sent emails filled with hundreds of these on a daily basis! While these are useful to some people, as a “real” blog, you want to set yourself apart from these. Include some info about yourself, what you do, what you like. You don’t need any really personal info up there, but the more real and interesting you are, the more likely a company will want to work with you. Some people also suggest including some blog stats too – it’s not completely necessary as PRs can find out much of these themselves usually, but it can be helpful to have some up to date ones in one place too. As an idea, here’s my About page and my “Work With Me” page.
3. Make it easy to contact you
More often than not, if we can’t find your contact details within a couple of clicks, we’ll have to close the page – unfortunately we don’t have much time to spend searching! Have a contact page that’s easy to find, or an email icon with your social media ones, with an email address that we can reach you easily at. If you’re not comfortable having your personal email address out there, set one up for your blog that redirects to your usual one so you’re not having to check different accounts constantly. As a last resort, set up a contact form, but personally I know I’d contact bloggers with contact forms last as they’re more time consuming to fill in, you often can’t use links in them, and sometimes there’s a word limit, so you might lose out if other bloggers jump on the opportunity first. Following from above, this is my Contact page.
4. Make it easy to stay in contact
Similar to the above, but you need to continue that relationship. If I’ve emailed you about an opportunity and you’re not interested, but you still like the company, are open to similar opportunities, or you think there might be something else you can do for us, let us know! Don’t just ignore an email (unless it’s one of those: “Create a post about us and our favourites will get featured on social media” ones – no one has time to respond to all of those, let alone participate in free advertising for every single one!). I’m more likely to get back to you with something else if you respond to an email saying you’re not interested now but might be in something else or in future.
5. Create good content
On the same theme as having an About page, the best way to entice a company to work with you is to have good content in the first place. Write about things you love (or even things you hate, just don’t be too harsh to scare people away!), write about what you’re doing, post pictures, write regularly. Companies want to see how being on your blog will be a benefit them, and a blog filled with good content is the perfect way to show this. Also bear in mind that you want to keep your writing on top form, so try to avoid spelling mistakes (this is where I may shoot myself in the foot, as there will inevitably now be loads of mistakes in this post!) and write to the best of your ability. Clear and interesting photos of products will help to show off what you can offer too.
6. Get your own domain
A lot of bloggers think this is confusing, but actually it’s really simple! You don’t even need to be self-hosted – for example, you can buy a domain via Blogger and your old domain will simply redirect to the new one. The best places to buy domains are places like GoDaddy, 1&1 or 123-Reg. You can also buy hosting at BlueHost if you choose to go down that route. But why should you have your own domain? In quick and easy terms, it’s an SEO thing. All blog domains ending in blogspot.com or wordpress.com are essentially counted as one by Google (and thus SEO and some PR companies), therefore once they’ve worked with one, the links they’re gaining on the others don’t “count”. It’s also due to Domain Authority (DA) – since Page Rank (the number we used to use to check the ranking a site had in Google) is now pretty much defunct, a lot of companies use DA to check how well a blog is doing. BUT, a blog will only have a valid DA if it’s on its own domain – one on blogspot.com or wordpress.com absorb the DA of those sites, so they’re not a true score. Therefore, we can’t check how you rank. Make sense?
If you want to check your DA, this can be done at Moz’s Open Site Explorer. As a quick general guideline to what the numbers mean: companies are usually looking for 20+, 25 is good, 30 is very good, and anything above 30 is pretty awesome. As it says on their page too, it gets harder to move up as you go up the scale, meaning it’s easy to go from 1 up to 10, but really hard to go from 30 to 40!
7. Work on building up your following and rankings
To be honest, this is one I wasn’t sure about putting in because it sounds a bit contrived. I worked my way up my following and rankings to the point where companies were contacting me simply by doing the above – creating good (I hope!) content on a regular basis, interacting with readers, getting my own domain and just being me on my blog. That’s not to say it’s easy though! Sometimes you do want to have a bit of push and actively work on building followers and rankings, so feel free to do that, but remember it should be in addition to the things I’ve listed above, not instead of.
As I said above, 20 is usually the benchmark DA that most companies will look for if they’re looking to improve their own rankings, but sometimes they’re looking for a large social following or some other kind of benchmark, so having good numbers all round can help. Or they may even just want sites who write well on a certain topic, even if their following isn’t great, hence the need to make sure your content is good.
If you’re interested in knowing about different ways you can build your ranking, feel free to ask and I’ll try to include that in the Q&A post at the end.
For more tips on this, Talented Talkers recently featured a post from Georgina on 5 Ways To Grow Your Blog, so give that a read.
And if you’re looking for some more tips on working with companies in general, Becky Bedbug wrote a fantastic post on how to contact brands as a blogger.
Any questions on anything so far? And do you have any additional tips for working with companies?