Part one of this discussion focused on the whole “giving stuff away/getting stuff for free” from the blogger’s perspective, today I’m going to write it from the perspective of a small business owner.
We’ve all had those requests, people just up and asking to be given some of our stuff for free. Whether it’s jewellery, stationery, t-shirts or accessories, there’s a culture of new bloggers thinking it’s their right to get something free in exchange for a link on their blog.
You’ll notice how I said ‘new bloggers’, more often than not it’s those with unestablished blogs who do the asking. Bloggers with more experience, and a larger following, don’t tend to be the ones doing the chasing – brands usually approach them – but even if they did, they’ve learnt enough in their time to know the way to go about it.
Should you give your stuff away?
Let’s say you’ve been asked very nicely by a blogger, who’s given you all their reader stats and introduced their blog well, to provide sponsorship by way of free products. Should you go ahead and make the deal? Here’s a few pointers to get you thinking…
- Most importantly, can your business afford to give anything away for free right now? Even if it is just a necklace, this all counts towards cashflow. Maybe you’re saving up to fund your next project, or to make the purchase of a piece of machinery.
- Research the blog in question. Check out the other sponsors, the other blogs it’s affiliated with, and read some of the commenters profiles. Do they meet your ideal client persona? Are they the kind of people that would even buy your product?
- Take a look at the other sponsorship posts on the blog, do they look to have been successful? Maybe even consider contacting the brand in question.
- Consider your own reasons for going in to partnership with the blog. Do you want to gain new customers? recognition? Do you think this blog is influential enough to do this? Perhaps you want a few more facebook likes or twitter followers for your brand, is there a way this partnership could encourage this? (yes – they could run a competition where one of the entrance options was a facebook like or twitter follow)
Setting ground rules
One other important factor in partnering with a blog is confirming what you both expect out of it. This can be as simple as a paragraph in an email:
I’ll send you X necklace and X brooch for your to wear in an outfit post, there must be a visible link back to my website at the bottom of the images used. The X necklace will also be given away in a competition, where the main stipulation involves people going to my website and picking their favourite item. Other stipulations should include liking my brand’s Facebook page! The X brooch is yours to keep on the understanding that if it features on your blog a link back to the website must be given.
Don’t feel shy or guilty for setting rules on how you want your item to be publicised. There will be some discussion needed around the exact set-up. Don’t just go sending stuff without an understanding of how it’ll be featured!
There are other ways you could partner with the blogger without giving them stuff for free. Here are a few other options:
- Talk about lending them samples. This is generally how it works with magazines and newspapers, even though they very rarely send stuff back. It’s a good idea to have a press loan form, which you could change to a blogger loan form. This should just give your name and address, their name and address, the item you’re loaning, its URL/Price and when you expect the item back. I tend to throw in a return address label, too.
- Why not offer them a 50% discount code on the item they’re looking at?
- Send them over the images you use, if they’re just doing a round-up of items rather than an outfit post then these should suffice.
If you think it’s not going to work out then you must say so. Don’t, don’t, DON’T (I almost type dong then…) just send stuff anyway because you don’t know how to let them down nicely. Hey, I’ve written a sample script!
Hi Blogger! [use their real name, duh]
Thanks so much for your email asking to partner with my brand. I’m really pleased that you like my new X necklace, it’s one of my favourites, too :)
I’ve taken a look at your blog and it’s great, I’ve subscribed & can’t wait to read your next posts.
Unfortunately I’m unable to provide free samples of our products at the moment, we’re working towards a big purchase in our business & literally every penny counts right now! [explain it! Maybe it's 'Unfortunately I don't think your readership is a good fit for my brand right now, and I'm not sure your readers would appreciate the X necklace like we do!']
I’ve attached some high res image of the X necklace just in case you still wanted to use them, and I’d also love to offer you & your readers a 10% discount on our website. [there's no reason why you can't offer a little perk, but don't feel you have to!]
Please stay in touch, and I do hope that we can partner up further down the road!
The most important thing, as always, is to remain polite. Maybe this blogger will become the next columnist at xoJane, or will get a column in Company Magazine. You don’t want to be known as the brand that was a complete bitch to them when they started out.
Measure your success! Make sure you’ve got google analytics hooked up and work out how many hits you’ve had from the feature. Do you think it was worth it? Did it generate any sales? These are the questions to ask yourself when you consider if you want to partner with the blog again in the future.