I was honored to speak at BarkWorld 2013 Pet Social Media Conference today and share some of my mom blogger experience. My speech was all about steps to increase blog readership and sponsorship.
BarkWorld 2013 Speech: Diversify Your Blog Offerings to Work Successfully with Brands
Growing a successful blog business doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, consistency and dedication. Why are mom bloggers so successful in social media? We’ll take a look at some of the best mom blogs and how they’ve risen to the success of blog monetization by diversifying their offerings. You’ll leave this session understanding ways pet influencers can do the same. It’s not just about pet brands, there’s a huge world out there of opportunities and growth for any social influencer to tap into.
Mom Blog Success
Mom blogs have become very popular these days. Not only popular, but also monetarily successful. In fact, Maria Bailey, author of Power Moms, says that the top 10% of mom bloggers make six figures.Laurie Turk of TipJunkie.com says she makes $12,000 a month from Google Adsense alone! But there are many more forms of monetization and working successfully with brands is the meat of most mom blogger paychecks. According to Forbes, one mom blogger received $5,000 to blog about an iPhone application for seven days, another earns a $70,000 annual salary by hosting several one-hour “Twitter parties” each week. Yet another female blogger has received, over the past year, all-expense paid vacations to Hawaii, Aruba, and Florida, as well as four new cameras, a camcorder, computer, and so many DVDs, food and cleaning products that she lost count. So as a pet blogger, you may be wondering how you get in on all the action and increase blog readership and sponsorship.
Diversify Your Social Media Venues
Having social media buttons that your readers can follow gives readers a great non-committal way to follow along with your blog and to interact with your blog. If you are not on social media, get on it. If you only have a presence on one or two social media sites, diversify. I suggest you pick your favorite 3 social media sites and work on developing those. It is worth it, I promise. My top sources of traffic are Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter– they are fabulous for reaching new readers and interacting with current readers. Having diverse social media venues is part of what you are offering to brands that may work with you and it helps you build your blog brand. Believe me, most readers don’t have the time and patience to hunt you down on social media sites but many of them will be happy to stay in touch over social media if you make it as easy as clicking a button and if you have an social media option that appeals to them. This helps increase your blog readership. Don’t forget as you diversify your social media venues that you need to pick a core 3 or 4 to focus on so that you have a developed presence on those venues and don’t let your efforts get to scattered or sparse.
Highlight your Social Media Diversity with Professional Blog Presentation
To diversify your offerings and working successfully with brands, you need to have professional presentation and great content. I think most of you have the great content part under control but after visiting several pet blogs in preparation for BarkWorld, I can tell you that many of you can make your sites look more professional. I am not just talking about blog visual design here, though that is great too. I am talking about having your blog speak to brands that may peruse your site with an interest in sponsorships.
As a brand looking at your blog, they are wondering several things. Do your interests line up with theirs? Will your blog be a good fit for their brand message? That is where your content will speak for itself (but you will reinforce that message in your media kit- more on that in a few minutes!) Next the brand is going be wondering if you even work with brands. The brand will want to know if you have a large enough audience to get their message out and they will want to know if your blog is your only venue for getting their message out. If you can share the brand message on Pinterest too, for example, this will be added value. Brands have a lot of blogs to look through and they don’t want to spend all day looking for this information. This information should be visible above the fold! That means when they open your blog page, they should be able to determine almost all of this information without having to scroll.
Professional presentation means you have your contact, PR, and social media options handy and easy to find right there above the fold. This is super important if you want work with brands but also super important to increase blog readership. Also a couple of quick suggestions on creating social media buttons- try for some uniformity when possible and do NOT let buttons leave your website- they should open in another window to maintain your traffic. If you look at any successful mom blogger, or any successful website for that matter, you will see that they are serious by the way they present their brand- clear messaging, social media following options, and easy to navigate information. If you do this simple step of presenting your blog purpose, contact information, media information, and social media options above the fold, you will increase blog readership and sponsorship.
Wrong presentation includes not having the social media buttons on there at all (gasp!) Yes, I have seen this and it such a missed opportunity to increase blog readership and sponsorship so do not let that happen to you. Wrong presentation also includes having the social media buttons on the site but interspersed between your right and left sidebars, high and low on the page so that it feel like a scavenger hunt just to find out if you are on social media at all and which venues you might be on. Wrong presentation also included hidden media links with vague titles like “networking” and “blogging around”.
Correct presentation, gives a quick idea of what the blog is about whether through words or menu bar options, a contact button, a PR/advertising/media link (which will bring the brand to your media kit info and advertising options), and your most important social media buttons. Notice I say most important- I mean the social media venues that really give you traffic and on which you have a large following. If you also want to link to other social media venues or include a longer description about the blog or yourself further down in your side bar, that is fine. Correct blog presentation will increase blog readership.
Diversify Your Blog’s Sharing Options
Another thing that brands will want to see is that your blog post and blog is easy to share. You need to have some type of sharing tool installed on your blog- one tool that has a diversity of sharing options is best. There are tons to choose from, Shareaholic, Share This, and Flare are just a few good ones. Brands want to know that their posts will have a shot at going viral or at least of having a growing reach. Again, what is good for the brand is also good for the reader. I hate it when I have just read a great post and go to share it and there is no sharing button. Most people including myself will not bother to copy and paste into social media sites. Don’t waste good content!
Diversify Opportunities For Brands To Work With Your Blog
Now that you are diversifying your social media presence and presenting it clearly to your readers and your brands, you have more to offer brands that may want to work with you. Now, you get to decide in what ways you may want to work with brands and present that information to brands through your media kit information which they can locate through a link that is visible on your blog above the fold. Here are multiple ways to monetize your blog.
Ways To Work With Brands
1. Reviews and Giveaways- Brand provides goods and you provide blog post with a review of the goods and a giveaway of the same goods. There are variations on this theme when just reviews or giveaways may be appropriate. This a great way to begin working with brands and a great way to increase blog readership as the brand usually promotes your post as well to get the most out of their review and giveaway.
2. Sponsored Post- You feature the brand in a blog post. It could be about a sale the brand is having, or a new product they are offering, etc. This is another very common way to begin working with brands.
3. Banner Ads- You can designate spots on your blog that are open for banners and amounts you charge will vary based on your blog traffic, the location of the banner on your site and the size of the banner.
4. Twitter parties, G+ hangouts- A brand pays you to hold a social media party where you invite and interact with other people on social media centered around a brand product or topic.
5. Brand Ambassador- A package deal where you usually have a brand ambassador banner on your blog, write an agreed upon number of post, share on social media and honor some exclusivity for an agreed upon price and for a specified period of time. You are basically representing and endorsing the brand so this is only for brands you truly love.
6. Conference sponsorships- Brands may pay you to introduce their brand at conferences or they may be your way in exchange for blog posts.
7. Newsletter sponsors- You give a plug to a sponsor in your newsletter.
8. Affiliate programs- Brands pay you based on a certain number of clicks, sign-ups, or sales.
9. Blog for a brand- A brand pays you to blog on their website on a one time or ongoing basis and promote it through your social media.
Decide which options appeal to you and go for those. Not all offerings or brands will appeal to you but you get to pick the right fits for you. Choosing to diversify your offerings means you will likely be able to work with more brands. You will find that as you work with brands, you will likely increase blog readership as well because working with brands often has a symbiotic effect if you are choosing brands that are reflective of your site and readers. That is my main advice when working with brands- stay true to your theme and blog readership and it will be beneficial for all parties.
Also, if you are new to working with brands, you will want to brush up FTC rules and make sure you are adding appropriate disclosures.
Highlight your Diversity of Offerings For Brands through Media Kit/ Info
Now that you know how you want to work with brands and you have decided how much to charge for your services, you can create a media kit/ pr information where you spell it all out for the brand. Some people choose to keep their media kits private and email upon request. Others go ahead and divulge the information. Either way, make sure your link to the info is easy to find and offer at least the basic information before asking them to request a kit.
Include In Your Media Kit:
A brief intro to your blog and what it is about and types of features you run.
A brief intro to you and/ or your pet as appropriate
Your blog readership numbers- including Page Views per Month (PVM), Unique Visitors per Month (UVM), mailing list #s, subscription #s, social media followings.
Your blog google page rank and alexa rank (with date for these)
Demographics of readers- can be found at Alexa or Quantcast
Notable achievements (TV appearances, my work feature here, won this award, etc)
Offerings for brands to work with you and the associated cost as well as any requirements you have (must be a product related to pets or over a certain value, etc.)
Testimonials from brands you have worked with
Diversity Your Writing
You may also wish to diversify your writings. This really depends on your blog and your interests but if you diversify your writings you are allowing for more ways for readers and brands to connect with you which means you will will increase blog readership and sponsorship. For example, I have a mom blog but I don’t just write about my family or parenting, I write about all things family related- hence the name Family Focus Blog. I write about parenting, eco tips, recipes, family activities, family pets, and family travel. This gives me lots of options when it comes to working with sponsors that will be symbiotic to my genre. You may wish to consider diversifying your blog writings in a way that allows you to stay true to your main theme and reach new readers, interests, and brands at the same time. For example you could expand from just talking about personal pet experiences to talking about pet health, pet recipes and pet lodging just to give you a few ideas.
Think outside of the box. For example if you you blog about pet lodging or travel, that opens you up to travel to pet-friendly hotels. Think diversified sponsors! Not just pet food companies… for example,
1. Did you know the Bounce Dryer Sheets repel pet hair?
2. Did you know most Americans with small dogs wash their dogs in the kitchen sink and Delta faucets has done a study about this?
3. What about car manufacturers… Don’t you want a pet-friendly vehicle?
Your content makes a huge difference in how brands look at you for consideration. Being professional is key and knowing when to NOT be in your pet’s voice and when to speak up as a human is important to building your audience, brand, and sponsorships.
Diversity Your Network
As you diversify your writing, you will naturally increase your network over social media which will help increase blog readership as well. Diversify your network in an active way by getting out there and making those connections. For example, asking a food blogger to contribute a dog recipe will expose your blog to her blog readers when she promotes the post. Commenting of twitter post and Facebook post of non-pet bloggers will expand your network and exposure too. People who are pet lovers will love notice your comments and find your blog. Also keep brands in your network after working with them- this will help set you apart and make the most of connections you have.
Steps To Increase Blog Readership And Sponsorship
To diversify and work successfully with brands, you need to:
- have a professional presentation with diversified social media presence
- offer a diversity of ways to share your blog socially
- offer brands a diversity of ways to work with you and make it easy to find or obtain this information
- diversify your writing
- diversity your network
All of these ways to diversify will reinforce each other and help increase blog readership and sponsorship.
I hope that this has inspired you to go back to your blogs and think about ways that you can make them even better and more appealing to readers and brands.