How I Get Gifted Packages – Blogging 101

July 7, 2020

Hey Guys! Feels like absolutely ages since I have written a post – times like these I guess you get swept away doing a whole load of nothing. As I’ve been getting back into the swing of blogging after a much needed break, I wanted to share my experience of how I have worked with companies – in the hopes of helping others out.

*Disclaimer – I just wanted to note that this is my experience, and other bloggers may have different experiences*

So why do I think I started getting 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 why the difference in who gets contacted. From my experience, it wasn’t just that. For me, it became about how I presented myself. I find that effort can really be reflected in success – cliche but it is true.

Admittedly I grew fairly quickly on Twitter (I have 5.5k – a modest amount). Instagram differed slightly. Every man and his dog know about the 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. What upsetted me most, was that I was not getting contacted for my blog content, or Twitter engagement, but for my Instagram. For this reason, I tried to grow this – joining follow threads, comment threads and engagement groups. And yes, it has increased my following. However, content is just as important – something as simple as giving all your posts the same filter pre-set can do wonders, contributing to the trend of “having an aesthetic”.

insta before and after

Instagram Layout Before and After

I know I have rambled on, but I just wanted to give some context, because there are many contributing factors into success with companies.

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 just do whatever you can to be a good blogger, without any expectations.

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Another thing, the debate about whether to go self-hosted. For some, it is not required. I became self-hosted about 10 months ago – it was never forced, just I did not like some of WordPress’ constraints. What I found more successful, was owning my own domain. It costs around ยฃ14 year, but it gave the illusion of being self-hosted, and therefore “a more committed blogger”. I think if you want to be perceived that way, a domain should be a considered option.

A lot of the communication with companies is conducted through email – I have a contact form on my site and I get about 100 spam messages a week, usually about 5% of all messages are useful. 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, which increases the likelihood with forming a continuous working relationship and increases the authenticity of the collaboration.

contact form

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 filtering them out. The worst ones, are the ones that really do seem real – 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. I mean a downer, but until there’s some form of authentication it will continue to happen.

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 a 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).

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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.

Here are my key tips to get company exposure:

  1. Let them come to you – be prepared for when they do but do not feel like you have to sell yourself to them (unless you are a superfan of course!)
  2. Keep your content true to yourself, do not try and impress everyone
  3. Social media increases exposure
  4. On that note – Instagram should become your best friend – work on engagement and a theme that screams you
  5. Look into becoming self-hosted or buying a domain – whatever is best
  6. Ensure it is easy for companies to contact you, whether it is a form or a email dedicated for collaborations.
  7. Beware of spam companies
  8. Do not sell yourself short, if a deal is not right, tell them!
  9. Enjoy the process and do not feel disheartened if its not working, these things take time!

I hope this has helped and cleared some misconceptions – if you guys have anything to ask or add please please comment them below!!

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