Whether you are a blogger, or just interested in the field, a question that is constantly thought: how do bloggers get free stuff? Years of blogging shows that working with brands is unexpected, unpredicted and one that you cannot always rely on. With so many bloggers around, outreach can make it difficult to be noticed. Nonetheless, here is the process of working with brands and answering the ultimate question: how do bloggers get free stuff?
*Disclaimer! This post contains affiliate links.
*I just wanted to note that this is my experience, and other bloggers may have different experiences*
How Do You Get Contacted?
The first thing I found out, is that it’s not about following. Obviously, this is the first thing that comes to mind when wondering who gets contacted. From my experience, it wasn’t just that. For me, it became about how you present yourself?
- How consistent is the quality of your content?
- Are all of your platforms following the same branding?
- Do you have a high reach / solid following?
Differences between social media platforms
Every man and his dog knows about the Instagram algorithm, and the impact it has on those who are trying to use it as a platform to boost their content. What I have found while blogging is that people are more visual than expected. Unlike a blog post which is offering some form of advice or benefit a reader, pictures are easier to grasp – taking less time to interpret and compute.
Even though I had over double the followers on Twitter, I am still contacted more because of my Instagram. What I found is that something as simple as giving all your posts the same filter pre-set can do wonders, contributing to the trend of “having an aesthetic”.
Twitter, in my personal experience, is a great way to find other bloggers. This way you can increase your following and views. However, in terms of PR outreach, chances are they will find you on another medium,
How do you get contacted?
There are a few tips, but at the end of the day, an industry like this is unpredictable, and competitive, believe me. You can always go one of two ways – do everything you can do become a 100k blogger, or not focus on growth as the main goal, but other factors such as nailing a niche, or content creation.
How do bloggers get free stuff? Some would argue that being self-hosted helps. For some, it is not required. I chose to become self-hosted – it was never forced, just I did not like some WordPress constraints. What I found more successful, was owning my own domain. It costs around £14 year, but it gave the illusion of being self-hosted, and therefore “a financially invested blogger”. I think if you want to be perceived that way, a domain should be a considered option.
However, being self-hosted is always the best route to take. Not only will you own your content, but you will have more flexibility in what you can create, rather than being cofined to default settings. I use Siteground and honestly, I could not recommend them any more!
A lot of the communication with companies is conducted through email – I have a contact form on my site, filtering out all spam emails and sending the legit messages to my inbox. I have also had a couple of Instagram messages from PR companies that have proven to be successful. Usually, when working with a company it is through a PR company; increasing the likelihood of forming a continuous working relationship and increases the authenticity of the collaboration.
Talking about authenticity, we must also discuss spam messages. These will be more likely to occur than genuine messages, unfortunately, but you get used to filter them out. The worst ones are the deceiving messages. They have a believable amount of followers, bloggers who have endorsed the product and non-robotic staff (and believe me, I’ve fallen for one or two). Yet when the products due to arrive, it never turns up. A shame, but until there’s some form of authentication it will continue to happen.
What Could A Gifted Relationship Involve?
There are obviously different types of gifting, sometimes it is not as simple as a package through the door. There are sponsored posts – for example the post I did with Schwartz, where I was paid X amount + the product gifted to create a blog post which met certain criteria. There are also sponsored posts, much like a YouTube sponsored video, where you are paid for inserting “links” or name drop within a post – with disclosure laws met of course. Discounted items involve payment on the bloggers part – but a portion of the retail price discounted in the promise of the blogger sharing the product with followers. Although this is not the best method of working with a brand, it can help to increase your portfolio. A lot of these types of collaboration allow for an affiliate link (benefits, either monetary or further discounts should anyone use your code).
A piece of advice I would SWEAR by - DO NOT say yes to a brand that you do not feel comfortable with, is offering a collaboration deal that is undermining you as a blogger, or is not right for your brand. Any one of these things can ultimately discredit your blog.
I know this has been a long post, but I really did want to share my experience. Working with brands can be new, exciting, increase bragging rights and increase blog satisfaction. Ultimately though, if the opportunity is not right for your blog people will know and it will not feel as good further down the line.
How Do Bloggers Get Free Stuff – Key Tips
- Keep your content true to yourself, do not try and impress everyone
- Social media increases exposure
- Instagram can be a way to increase your brand reach – work on engagement and a theme that screams you
- Look into becoming self-hosted or buying a domain – whatever is best
- Ensure it is easy for companies to contact you, whether it is a form or an email dedicated to collaborations.
- Beware of spam companies
- Do not sell yourself short, if a deal is not right, tell them!
- Work on creating killer content: One of my favourite methods to improve my content was reading “The Art of Proof Reading” by my friend Eleanor. She explicitly breaks down the do’s and dont’s when it comes to post writing, and how to come across as professional and friendly. Check it out!
- Create an email specifically for your blog, so any PR can get though to you easily
- Enjoy the process and do not feel disheartened if its not working, these things take time!