My Experience Working with Bloggers*
Bloggers, the Insta-famous and YouTubers** - what's it like to work with them to gain exposure for your brand?
Well, let me tell you! In the 7 months since Superpeach opened, I've already learnt a helluva lot about this mystical breed of people with picture-perfect lives - some experiences more positive than others!
I'm not saying I'm a social media expert and in no way mean to "expose" the bad bloggers I've worked with, I just want to share my experience so other new brands can get an idea of how it works because when I started, I had no idea!
In this blog post I want to share with you everything I've learnt - and don't worry, I'll speak candidly so you really get the low down...
*Excuse the meaningless and generic photos but I thought I should include some to brighten up what has become an essay of a blog post!
** For ease, I've used the term "bloggers" to encompass bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers etc.
Getting in Touch
At the beginning, I was the one reaching out to the bloggers. Being a new and unknown brand with few social media followers, I was keen to gain exposure by working with those who had a wealth of fans, so it was a case of writing a generic-y email introducing myself and Superpeach, then sending it out to bloggers who I thought embodied my brand. Be careful to choose the right bloggers - don't just look at their number of followers, their image should suit your brand more than anything.
But don't expect a lot. Of the 20 or so bloggers I initially emailed, about 5 replied. For me, the responses fell into 3 categories:
- I love your brand but can't collaborate right now because of one reason or another
- I love your brand and want to collaborate but I charge £££
- I love your brand and yesss, let's do this thang!
Needless to say, response 3 was definitely my favourite. Obviously response 2 was an option but being a new business, I didn't have the financial resources to pay a blogger £250+ for a dedicated post (with some asking a loooottt more).
In my experience, don't even bother with the bloggers with hundreds of thousands/millions of followers as they get bombared with squillions of collaboration emails a day and have agencies to deal with their emails. These super bloggers only do collaborations which they are paid big bucks for and only with well-established brands. Here's not to say you shouldn't reach out to them when you're more established but starting out, you're just another tiny fish in their expanse of ocean.
Aim for the bloggers with thousands/tens of thousands of followers because they are equally as effective and what's better is, they still reply to their own emails so it's a lot more personal AND they are willing to take on up-and-coming brands because they themselves are building up a repertoire. It's a lot more of a positive experience when you both feel like you're gaining from the collaboration and the majority are so lovely and friendly - I've had some great experiences!
I understand bloggers do promotions because in some cases, their blog is their job and this is how they earn money to fund their lifestyles - but I'm just saying if I were a super duper famous blogger, sure I'd expect to be paid by big brands for me to endorse their products, but I'd also take on smaller brands who can't afford to pay but have a genuinely good product which I love! Otherwise how would these new businesses get their brands off the ground?
The Details of the Collaboration
I'm sure with collaborations with big brands there are meetings to be had and contracts to be signed but as I said, Superpeach was all spanking new so I had little in the way of financial resources to draw up a legal contract so my process was relatively informal, and I have been refining it ever since.
AGREEING WHAT TO SEND OVER AND WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS TO POST ON
Firstly, clarify what you're sending over for them to promote and be specific about what social media channels they will promote on.
I created my own little Superpeachy policy which I've stuck by:
- 1 pair without gift wrap if they are promoting on 1 channel
- 2 pairs without gift wrap if they are promoting on 2 channels
- 3 pairs with gift wrap if they are promoting on 3 channels or more
Obviously let there be some leeway here. For example, some of the Insta-famous don't have a YouTube channel and some YouTubers don't have a blog, so if they want 3 pairs and gift wrap but they only have 2 media channels to post on, I'd agree to do 2 posts on 1 media channel e.g. 2 Instagram posts and the third and final post on their other channel.
In my experience however, the majority of bloggers have a minimum of 3 channels.
I choose to let the bloggers choose what knicker designs to promote because I understand underwear is a personal and intimate product. Some bloggers may not feel comfortable modelling a thong whilst others might just love the colour red hence, opt for our ever-popular Jennifer knickers. Essentially, by giving them the choice, I want to show I respect their preferences and value their image. Morever, bloggers tend to write more easily and positively about your product when they can choose what they want to promote.
Furthermore, one thing I make really clear to bloggers is that they are by no means required to pose in the knickers. I am all about showing off my products but I never want to make a woman feel uncomfortable and feel the pressure to pose nearly nude. I am more than happy for bloggers to post photos of the knickers laid out nicely on a pretty background for example.
Personally, my favourite social media channels to promote on are:
- Instagram because it is straightforward - a photo clearly showcasing your products and a description underneath. It's very direct and simple because after all, a picture is worth a thousand words!
- Blogs because they are a great platform for the blogger to go into depth about your brand and their experience working with you. In blog posts the blogger can be really creative and include lots more photos of your products for example, zoom-in shots, shots with the product modelled on them etc. It's a lot more personal and informative which I love!
- YouTube because you can see the physical product in more detail than you would with a photo e.g. you can see how the fabric moves and the YouTuber can also share more of an experience with you by unboxing your products
Usually bloggers don't have a Facebook page unless they're a super blogger and smaller bloggers tend to only have personal Facebook pages so I discourage choosing Facebook as a channel to promote on.
I don't really like Twitter because it is so short and can't reveal much about your brand but I do appreciate that it can link directly to your website as well as the blogger's posts on your products.
I also dislike Snapchat as a chosen media channel. I did have one blogger who suggested Snapchat as one of her channels to promote on but I was a bit reluctant, and rightly so as:
- Her Snapchat channel was private and she didn't add me until I reminded her to, then by the time she added me apparently she had already Snapchatted my products but the Snapchat had disappeared... SERIOUSLY?! I was understandably unimpressed and refused to count this as one of her agreed social media posts since a) I hadn't see it by no fault of my own and b) she had no evidence posting the Snapchat
- On Snapchat you can't see how many followers they have or how many people have seen their Snapchat, therefore you don't know how effective it has been
- It is temporary so you can't link your website to it
AGREEING WHAT INFORMATION TO FEATURE
A good blogger is proactive and will ask you what you want to be included in the posts with emails going back and forth as you bounce ideas off each other and finalise the details.
The information I generally ask them to include are:
- A direct link to Superpeach's website, www.superpeach.co.uk
- The names and prices of the knickers they are promoting
- The hashtags I want them to use which are #superpeach and #superpeachlife. I also remind them that some hashtags e.g. #lingerie and #knickers are restricted on Instagram so I suggest other popular lingerie-related hashtags such as #lingerielove or #lingerielife
- For them to tag me in the descriptions and directly in photos @superpeachlife for Instagram and Twitter and @Superpeach on Facebook
Bear in mind that bigger bloggers are used to working with brands and need less guidance having done many a collaboration, so don't be too specific about what you want from them - let them channel their creative juices and write a wonderful post about you.
However, just because you're a new business, don't let them take advantage of you - it's very much a two-way, give and take relationship considering the fact that you give them the products for free and they promote for you. Stand your ground if they want too much from you and you're not feeling like you're getting enough back from them.
For example, I once had a blogger who reached out to me. She had just started her blog off the back of her Insta-fame but with only 5 blog posts so far, I decided to offer her 2 knickers without gift wrap. She refused and insisted she needed gift wrap. This really frustrated me because Superpeach is all about knickers, gift wrapping is just an added extra, but yet she was unwilling to go ahead without gift wrap. She said if I only gave her 2 knickers without gift wrap she would only do an Instagram post to which I replied, an Instagram post only warrants 1 pair of knickers without gift wrap. Needless to say, I decided to back out of this collaboration.
Furthermore, watch out for bloggers who are just keen to get freebies. There are a lot of fake Insta-famous people out there with thousands of followers which they have bought or engineered themselves by following a ton of people at a time, then unfollowing them in the hopes that the people they unfollow don't realise and will keep following them. Don't get me wrong, lots of people do this but it means the majority of their followers aren't actually interested in what they have to say and therefore do not engage in their posts, so promoting with them is ineffective. Sure, they will post a photo of your product and it'll get hundreds of likes but is anyone actually buying from you? If not, the blogger's followers are probably fake and don't actually care about the blogger's opinion and what they're posting.
AGREEING THE TIMEFRAME
It may sound straightforward but don't forget to agree a timeframe! You don't need to set a specific date but ask the blogger how long it will take to expect to see the posts. Obviously be reasonable! With Instagram and Twitter, I usually expect the post to be out within a day or so of receiving the products whereas blog posts take longer to write up - maybe a week or two. With YouTube videos, these take even longer especially if your product is being featured as part of a "blogger's haul" video as the blogger needs to get enough different businesses to send over products.
If you don't agree a timeframe then woe betide you! You'll have to do what I did with one really disorganised and unprofessional blogger who was so bad at replying to emails (probably my worst experience to date as this was the same blogger with the Snapchat fiasco explained above) - it was literally a lost cause! I ended up having to send 3 emails to get 1 curt response every time and my constant reminders made me feel like I was badgering her when in reality, she was just incredibly inept at keeping me updated and replying to my questions.
To this day, this blogger has yet to finish her agreed posts using one excuse after another and to be honest, it's a lesson learnt for me. I am fed up of babysitting her to reply to my emails let alone expect her to do her posts - I guess in such cases, big businesses benefit as they have a contract with the blogger which they can refer to and ensure she does as promised!
Sending out the Goodies
ALWAYS send your products out with a delivery service that provides tracking or proof of delivery and always keep proof of postage. It is better not only for your peace of mind, but also important for when the package gets lost or damaged.
In my experience, this is especially important when sending products abroad. Starting out I didn't think this was very important and tried to save on my postage costs. I sent some knickers without tracking to a German blogger but after a month, she still had't received them and it was infuriating not being able to track the package because I didn't pay for the service. Moreover, the blogger was insistent on waiting a few more weeks believing that it would come soon and I had no information to convince her it was not turning up! By the time she realised it wasn't going to turn up, I was at the end of my tether and nearly at the end of the time period to make a claim with the courier.
I acted quickly and having kept my proof of postage was able to begin the arduous task of making a claim. Although time-consuming, at least I got my money back for the postage costs and the value of the products.
Furthermore, always let the blogger know when you have sent the product, whether they will need to be home to sign for it and when to expect it. From the bloggers, I request that they take a tiny part of their day to quickly email me and let me know when it arrives safely, and most bloggers are courteous enough to do so. However, one of my pet peeves is when they don't let me know and I end up having to check up with them and having to track the delivery to ensure it's been received.
Waiting for the Posts
Good bloggers keep you updated with their progress. They let you know if there are delays, and always link you to their posts when they're up. I always super appreciate this because sometimes I may be working with 5 bloggers at a time and numerous projects - it's hard to keep on top of it all and know where everyone is at at any given moment.
If a blogger doesn't post within the agreed timeframe, I leave it 2-3 days before checking up. Most of the time, the post is nearly done, just a little delayed because of one reason or another so I fear not, knowing it'll be released soon enough.
If there is a big delay because of an unexpected reason, I try and be as understanding as possible, although sometimes I am sceptical about excuses, it's best to be considerate. I once worked with a lovely blogger who had promised me an Instagram post, blog post and YouTube video. Like clockwork, she posted a wonderful Instagram and delightful blog post, but when I asked about the YouTube video... there was a problem. Her laptop had broken and she was saving up for a new one, currently working off a scummy old laptop to get by. Sure, she could have been lying but she had been so focused and professional prior, I believed her. Indeed, she further proved her professionalism by promoting Superpeach again on her Instagram without me asking her to make up for the lost YouTube video.
No matter how many times I've collaborated, I always get excited to see new bloggers' posts. The excitement never fades because Superpeach is my baby and I am so indescribably happy to see it being featured here, there and one day, everywhere!
It is so delightful to see how each blogger harnesses their creative prowesss, how they photograph the knickers and express their opinions - I really enjoy reading about their experience. Moreover, I am so grateful for them agreeing to collaborate with me and taking the time and effort to make the posts. To show my gratitude, I ALWAYS email the blogger immediately after I've seen the post - it means so much that they believe in Superpeach.
My best experience was with a blogger who was incredibly friendly yet so professional from the onset. She took on a Superpeach collaboration even though she was big enough to take on huge high street brands and made me feel so valued and appreciated throughout the process. Her Instagram and blog post was up within days and she kept me informed the whole way. It was from working with her that I became more aware of how bloggers SHOULD be. Moreover, her posts had a positive impact on not only my brand, but also on my confidence in my brand. I'm tempted to name her so she knows how amazing I think she is, but in light of the fact that I've not named any of the bad bloggers, I don't think it'd be fair!
At the same time, don't get your hopes up! The amount of times I've been promised a photoshoot, a YouTube video, a blog post etc. and it hasn't happened is innumerable! My most memorable let-down was near the beginning when Superpeach opened - it was with a big blogger who had a huge number of followers. I remember thinking, "This is it! This is going to give Superpeach so much exposure!". Over emails she was so friendly, sympathising with me starting a new business and making out like she was willing to help me at a reduced price - I was new and naive to this whole thing as was so up for it! Eventually, the promise of being featured in her Christmas gift guide fizzled away as it turned out she had shot all the content already, without even waiting for my products to arrive and with a short "I'm really sorry" email, that was the end of that.
The best way to protect yourself is to engage in meaningful conversation with the blogger beforehand, get a good idea of who they are and how they work - it's amazing how much you can read from someone's email etiquette. If you're not liking their attitude, go with your gut and turn them down.
At the beginning I was accepting bloggers left, right and centre because I thought that any exposure was good exposure, right? Now a bit more experienced, I can easy pick out the ones I've worked with who just wanted the freebies, the ones who bought their fake followers and brought nothing to my business - it really has been an experience. Remember, just because you're a new business, doesn't mean you have to accept every blogger that comes your way. Your brand is what you make it!