How to work with Bloggers 101: Tips For Brands & For Bloggers

by Mehak Shahani on June 23, 2014

in Uncategorized

One of the most frustrating parts of being a blogger in India is dealing with brands/ people/ professionals who have no clue how to really work with Bloggers. I have to say, we as bloggers aren’t too great at working on this side either and there is definitely a lot to learn in terms of how to really make your blog sustainable . While I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best PR firms in the market (Tandem who handles Mac is fabulous, the guys at PR Pundit are great, and so are the PR firms for Shiseido and Chambor), I also have had the misfortune of dealing with the not so great ones.

Tips for Brands who want to promote themselves on Blogs

- Please always address our emails using our name. It is common courtesy, and frankly we will never even open a mail saying “Dear Blogger”. That is like me responding saying “Dear PR Person”.

- Please understand that bloggers are flooded with close to 120 emails daily without staff to answer them, and it is possible for yours to be missed out (specially since most bloggers have full time jobs). Please be patient, and if you really want to touch base and understand why your email has not been responded to, give it atleast 3 days …A whatsapp or message on the day you emailed is a good way to remind us – without a direct call

- If you want completely free publicity, you will get it from blogs who don’t garner that much traffic. Any high quality , self sufficient blog charges a nominal amount for some sort of sponsored content (Eg: Reviews are never sponsored, but giveaways, etc might be)

- Speaking of giveaways, our traffic is worth much more than a 500Rs discount coupon at your site, so please dont insult us by bringing up things like this.

- If you have given a product to a blogger for review, be prepared that the outcome might be negative. Otherwise, don’t give the product. I have had PR people write in a note to me that they were ‘dissapointed’ to see a not so great review considering they gave me so many products. Im sorry, the last time I checked I wasn’t the one asking for those products.

- Please PAY bloggers on time. I have had the WORST experience with Vogue Eyewear (A brand I will never work with again). I had the trust in them to put up their so called competition before they paid me, but after that not only did they not get back to me about winners they still haven’t paid me after a year. It puts my credibility on the line when my readers enter a contest whose winners are never announced (FYI- Elie Saab winners coming up right away ..lol!)

-Please dont express shock saying “Oh yr a paid blog”. What does that even mean? Bloggers are supposed to live on air and water while you can charge whatever you want to for your product? We do not charge for reviews or 90% of the content. Some bloggers internationally even charge just to appear at events, so trust me what we ask for in India is completely small.

- Please have some sort of understanding what my blog is about before approaching me. I will not write about the latest plywood or about Sachin Tendulkars book launch for obvious reasons.

- Be nice to new bloggers with limited traffic as well: Case in point- OPI once threatened to sue temptalia when she did a post review about OPI polishes back in 2010. Temptalia was a nobody then, right now she is the #1 beauty blog in probably the world, and after that incident has stopped featuring OPI on her blog.

Tips for Bloggers to engage with Brands

- Value your traffic: The brand is not doing you a favour by giving a free toothpaste to your readers. So please relax, unless there is a brand who you absolutely idolise, please value what you get in return from them.

- Value relationships: There will be PR People, Brands, professionals who will take time out to listen to you, or who will work with you even when you are a nobody. Remember those names and pay them back when you do become a somebody .

- Say no to freebies: I was speaking to this corporate guy the other day who was telling me about how every marketing guy in a brand knows that bloggers in India just don’t know how to run blogs. They joke about how internationally, every single blogger would charge for a sponsored story but in India we get happy with a gift coupon and they use it to their advantage. So there. Say no to ridiculous freebies, they are not worth it.

- Do not get swayed by a brand name while reviewing a product: It is perfectly acceptable if there are 100% positive reviews in the market, and yours is the only bad one. Beauty is a personal thing, if only 1 opinion counted there wouldn;t be so many beauty blogs right. It is completely fine that you found a cream that costed 5000 rs worthy of a ‘C” , even if it was given to you for free.

-Treat bloggers like co-workers not competition:Think of bloggers like colleagues- there will always be healthy competition, but the minute you try and cut some people out and start thinking – oh i wont give a link to her blog, or what if my readers go her way, you can rest assured you will be done . Those other bloggers may have blogs eventually that become more succesful than yours. Stay on their good side plus its a great networking opportunity.  Have a question about how much to charge, how to go about doing something. Reach out to other bloggers. While some will not reply back with these kind of answers, some are pretty open.

-Respond to emails in a timely manner, do posts as committed to the brand on time : This is something I need to learn to, I am invariably lagging behind committed posts. But the more professional we become, the more professionally we are treated. So there

 

 

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Krupa June 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Such awesome tips!!! I don’t know about others, but I didn’t even know about sponsored posts or that you could get offered products from brands to review until recently. I just started blogging because well I figured I was giving people advice about makeup, I might as well just write about it. I think reading your blog and a few others have really taught me a lot!! I really thank you for that. There is so much we all have to learn and bloggers are a community. I totally agree with you on that.
Great job.
P.S. I think one of my emails have been sitting in your inbox for a while now and I never heard back. *sniff sniff*

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mehak June 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Whoops let me check on that

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Krupa June 23, 2014 at 10:13 pm

its okay. its just a guest post. nothing super urgent or major.

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Heena June 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Absolutely Loved This Post!

My Blog Is Going to Be 2 Years Old in 3 Months And The Only Reason Why I Have Never Accepted Any Freebie/Done Any Website Review Till Date is Coz I Really Feel That Blogging Isn’t Much Of a Respected Community in India..
I Mean, Seriously?! Why Would I Give So Traffic of My Blog Just For a Rs.1000 Voucher? PR’s Talk Like They Are Doing a Favor To Me By Providing a Free Product n Like I Just Can’t Choose or Entitled To Any Opinion of Mine! And, God Forbid Their Expressions When I Quote a Fee For a Website Review. My Blog is Small But It’s Mine! It’s Full of My Hard Work!

Plus, I Really Want To Work With Brands Which I Idolize and I Have To Wait Till My Blog Gets Bigger To Work With Them! :)

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Shikha June 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm

This is very good post Mehak, you pored your knowledge out here to help so many new bloggers like me who don’t even know ABC of blogging world.
At times I am so pissed of (sorry to use such words) when I get B2B emails from PR. I am sure with yours would be much much worst… I have to tell them so many time that I can’t bunk office every day to be part of your event.

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Kejal June 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

*clap clap clap* kudos for putting up something like this.. Yes both sides need to know this stuff!!
Well written!!

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ThePinktrends June 23, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Mehak you are just awesome.. such useful tips.. I am just getting started with blogging and learning the gimmicks..Got few mails from some brands I have never even heard of to do a review about them. Obviously I am not interested to do that and was thinking how to respond.. Your post has come at right time giving a strong message..

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swati June 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Excellent post Mehak! I think this was needed!

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Soujanya June 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Thank you sooooo much…I am a beginner blogger and still figuring out all this. I cant thank you enough for this…I really look up to your blog :)

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Poohkie June 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi Mehak, I laud you for writing this post. I have read many such post from international bloggers, but Indian beauty bloggers have yet to awaken to their own potential and power.
While I no longer blog, when I was, I used to read Beautyholics Anonymous regularly and have often asked Christine, the owner/editor, for advice (Read her blog now!). In one of her blog posts, she mentioned a ‘media kit’ that professional bloggers should have. It contains all important information about you and your blog and the services that you provide. It need not have all details such as your rates, etc, but bloggers can mail it to PR personnel if a firm approaches them. If after reading that someone gets back to you, then it’s a good way of gauging their seriousness in working with you. I really recommend it to all serious bloggers, not just pros.

Because we are still learning and not yet sure enough in standing up for ourselves, some firms or brands try to take advantage. I was dropped off a mailing list once when I politely refused to do a blog post about a brand’s new offers. And I was recently approached by a firm and asked for help with something which would require time & effort on my part. Out of passion and love for this blogging space, I agreed. The very next email they sent me was addressed to another blogger! I totally called them out on it.

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Heena June 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I Agree! I Too Send My Media Kit First. That Way They Also Know Our Priorities.

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mehak June 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Thats a brilliant idea. Im going to go make a media kit right now

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Manasi June 23, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Loved your post dear!! I have a friend co blogger who is the first in the list I seek on asking about how much to charge…she is so sweet that she answers very well….So we are always in sync up when required….

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Srishty June 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm

When you talk about freebies, you mean things like discount coupons or gift cards, not a product sent specifically for review purposes? And do big bloggers with huge traffic charge something for a post on a product that was specifically sent for review? Little confused about this.

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mehak June 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Products are fine. I mean, we need to sustain our blogs and lets face it, we cannot charge for reviews (Charging for reviews is unethical)…

Im talking about posts like giveaways, or an activity, or going to a store to do a write up

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Srishty June 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Oh, yes! That. :)

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Atreyee June 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Wow some awesome tips there…Thanks for sharing Mehak. :)

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Anusha June 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Awesome tips Mehak! Selfless post!

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Shailja @BeABrideEveryday June 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Mehak.. This is a very useful post for both the PR companies and the bloggers. Some of the points that you have mentioned here such as trivial freebies, or a completely out of the blog reviews are the most hideous ones.. And I also second you on the opinion that we should all treat each other as colleagues not competition.. afterall a group driven task is any day better than a self driven task..

So girl stay untited and stay successful !

Hats off to you Mehak for putting this altogether !

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mily June 23, 2014 at 8:09 pm

being a new blogger..the second part of the article is more helpful to me….but really..this world seems really colorful and easy and a walk in the park when u r on the reader side…..it is definitely not and there is SO much work to do …..will keeps these tips in mind :)

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Tina June 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Hats off to you for standing up for all Indian bloggers and writing this post! It shows how mature you are as a person and how rooted and secure! Not many people would do this. Am officially a fan now. :) May you grow leaps and bounds…

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anita June 23, 2014 at 10:18 pm

As a member of the pesky PR tribe and an ardent follower of the blog… I love this post. I have struggled in the past to explain to clients about blogs and how to deal with bloggers…a media kits sounds like a super idea :) and while we old school PR types grapple with social media, your blog today is a great 101

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Peachesandblush June 24, 2014 at 1:21 am

Hey anita
Im working on my PR kit right away i never thought og that :p Hehe pesky PR tribe….

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anita June 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Whenever the media kit is done…please let me know …*waits eagerly

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Swati June 23, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Loved this post. Completely agree with every single point!

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Sharon June 24, 2014 at 12:32 am

I could totally use a review on plywood right now. Not even kidding. (Renovation troubles. Sigh.)

Jokes apart, I love the fact that you’ve turned blogging into a career, whilst keeping your dignity and blogging voice intact. There are very few who manage to do that and I’ve always respected the fact that your voice is an honest and professional one – which is the reason I keep coming back to P&B.

I’ve grappled with the idea of starting a beauty blog, since I love beauty & writing – but, man, the effort one needs to put into it always makes me think twice! Anyways, loved this post! It’s always cool to know what goes on behind the scenes :)

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mehak June 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

Hahah! Review on plywood..

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Lana June 24, 2014 at 2:24 am

AWESOME post Mehak! So glad someone told the PR companies to get some manners :)

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A Golden Tulip June 24, 2014 at 4:53 am

Great tips which will work for NRI bloggers(me!) as well. And so true about having a media kit, its professional and totally saves lotta work from our side.

xo

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Dollie June 24, 2014 at 9:03 am

Fab post Mehak. There are so many bloggers who will do reviews /paysfor some measly 500rs vouchers and that affects other bloggers to when they say that 500 buck vouchers aren’t enough. There are also those bloggers who rave over each and every PR sample they get but put it up on sale as soon as the review is published. How credible is their review then? And PRs will prefer those bloggers coz they know their product will get a glowing review. Like another blogger friend suggested, there needs to be something like a “blogging union ” in India.

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Harine June 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

Such a good post that I came to know a lot of facts after reading it… The point about temptalia – mindblowing.. OPI must be regretting now..

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Devika June 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

WOW…great tips Mehak!! Quite a helpful post :)

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Riddhi June 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Hi Mehak! I have left a query in your mail! Would be very glad if you could help! Thanks an ton and absolutely love your work! :D

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Simran@leavepillow June 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm

this is really amazing mehak..i am new to this blogging world and agree with every point you said.you are my all time favorite and your tips will get us all bloggers to keep growing…

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E June 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Dear Blogger,

I strongly demand that you do a review on the latest glitzy event in India. This is what your blog is about right? If not, then make it like that! I will give you a 10Rs voucher for KFC!

Deal? :P

I really liked the detail in this post. I actually enjoy these posts where you discuss your thoughts and ideas. As can be seen from the above comments, this post has helped so many bloggers! Well done!

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TA June 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Such a well written post Mehak. As you i’m too caught in corporate world and now trying to identify my passion…all the info you gave is helpful in understanding a bit about blogging world which is still in pretty nascent stage. Thank you :)

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Laks June 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Very true points. We are getting offers to write posts/ reviews where many people prefer it as a freebie, some as a offer with a linkback to our site from their and majority says will give you coupons for xyz site…

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rini June 25, 2014 at 1:20 am

Ye ye Mehak :D Just felt like giving you a college-like cheer for this post :) Thank you for being that one voice of sense and sensibility in this mad mad world of beauty blogs!

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Nia Makeup Beauty & Talk June 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Really helpful post Mehak for the bloggers aswell/

I am a newbie and I rarely post but I had already made my media kit right after my blog turned 3 months old and I send it to PRs, I really think a media kit is extremely helpful for both parties involved.

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Clothes and Creativity June 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Great post, Mehak!

I once got an offer from an online saree brand to write about their website, and when I informed the PR guy about my fees (which was minimal), he said I am getting a saree from them anyway! Lol! Never heard from them again.

BTW, I’d written to you about a month back but never got a response!

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