Would you like more bloggers to say “Yes!” to your pitches? These four tips will help increase your rate of success.
1. All Bloggers Are Not Equal
Some blogs are written just for fun, while others are the blogger’s primary source of income. The blogger who blogs for fun may love to receive a free sample or interview in exchange for coverage, but the blogger who blogs for a living might be insulted that you want them to work for free.
How do you tell the difference, and what do you do about it?
Take the time to study the blog and the blogger that you are pitching. Top blogs incorporate professional photography, videography, recipe creation and other specialized skills. Income-generating blogs are usually highly trafficked and often contain compensation disclosures at the top or bottom of their blog posts. Look for a “Work With Me” or “Hire Me” link on the menu or on the blog’s “About” page.
Blasting press releases or pitches via email is almost never a good idea. You will end up sending a sausage pitch to a vegan blogger, and a Los Angeles event invitation to a blogger based in Orlando. The only time I have seen this work is when local PR reach out to local bloggers.
2. Unlike Journalists, Bloggers Are Generally Not Paid a Salary
Pitching a journalist with a free product sample works, because a journalist is already getting paid a salary. Therefore, a free product sample is commonplace and doesn’t imply any relationship.
On the other hand, an independent blogger is self-employed. For PR professionals, this means keeping two things in mind.
Writing about products is one of the primary ways for bloggers to make money. When you ask a blogger to promote something for you without compensation, you’re asking them to work without pay. How would you feel if a client wanted you to work for them in exchange for a 6-pack of yogurt, or in exchange for promoting you on their social media channels?
Writing about your client’s product or brand means bloggers cannot write about any of the competitors of that product or brand for anywhere from one to three months. For example, if you are promoting a new candy and a blogger writes about it, he or she will have to turn down any paid assignments from confectionery companies, such as Mars and Hershey’s, for up to three months. Therefore, it is financial suicide for bloggers to write about products for free if they are also attempting to write about products as a source of income.
3. Make Your Request and Your Offer Clear and Sensible
To keep your pitch from being instantly deleted by bloggers, indicate that you are aware that they should be compensated for their work. There are a couple of ways to say this. The first, which leaves negotiation open, is “We would love to work with you to promote XYZ. Could you send me your rates?” The second, for when you already have a set payment in mind, is “We would love to work with you to promote XYZ. To thank you for your time, we would like to offer you [name an amount] to share this with your readers on your blog and social media channels.”
How do you know how much to offer? It depends. The average rate of pay for a couple of shares to Twitter and/or Facebook starts around $50. A short blog post that mentions a product along with brand-provided images begins around $75. For a longer or more complicated blog post, such as one that involves photography or recipe development, expect to begin negotiations at about $175. The higher the traffic on the blog, and the larger the social following, the higher the rates.
Here are a few things not to say.
- “We can’t pay you, but we’d be willing to share your post with our social following.”
- “It’s great exposure!”
- “We don’t have a budget, but I can send you some mustard to try.” (Yes, that’s a real one!)
But what do you do if you really don’t have a budget? If you’re promoting a product with a relatively high value, such as a household appliance, a meal at a fine restaurant, a gift basket, or travel, then you’re more likely to have success asking bloggers to promote it in exchange for free product.
However, if you are promoting something of lower value, such as a small tool that sells for $4.99, it will be an uphill battle to recruit bloggers by offering a free sample or two in exchange for promotion. If you do manage to recruit any bloggers using “exposure” or a $4.99 sample, the promotion you get in return will likely be exactly what you paid for.
4. Develop a Relationship, Don’t Have a One Promotion Stand
With so many PR companies sending out pitches, it can start to feel like speed dating. Sometimes I get ten or more pitches in a single day, and it seems like everyone wants to close the deal in five minutes or less.
Here are a couple of ways to stand out from the crowd.
Address the blogger by name and indicate that you know what they blog about. Are you writing to a mom blogger who promotes a healthy lifestyle? Show that you are familiar with her work and your email is not just another formulaic pitch. When I receive a unique, personally addressed pitch, I pay attention—and I always write back. If a PR professional takes the time to get to know me and my blog, I take the time to go above and beyond for them.
Offer to send something with no strings attached. Say something like, “May we send you some XYZ for you to enjoy? We’d love for you to try it!” Obviously, this doesn’t work if you’re promoting a $500 product, but it certainly can build a lot of goodwill for the price of a $10 sample and postage. (You get bonus points for enclosing a handwritten note in the package.) I’ve gone out of my way to tweet about and tag brands simply because their PR person was polite and thoughtful.
If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to developing long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers.