Chantelle Ellem from Fat Mum Slim talks about Working With Brands


Today we continue our series talking with a host of fabulous bloggers about how they work with brands and I am thrilled to have Chantelle Ellem from Fat Mum Slim sharing her journey and wisdom with us. Chantelle is a true blogging pioneer and online innovator having run her successful blog for over 7 years, she also began the Photo A Day series on Instagram in January 2012 which has since seen 14.5 million photos shared (you can follow it via #fmsphotoaday). Last month she released her first (and fabulous) app, Little Moments and through it all maintains her commitment to cultivating community demonstrated daily on her blog, Instagram and Facebook pages but also through other fun and beautiful things like running an annual Kris Kringle for her community. For me Chantelle not only empitomises loveliness but also some serious smarts, and I’m so excited to bring you this interview today.

 

Why did you decide to start working with brands on your blog?

At around the 3-4 year mark of blogging I was starting to get emails from brands offering to pay to have content created. I was working with Kidspot at the time, so it was a conflict of interest so I had to decline any brand-type work.

I’d worked with clients at Kidspot, so I understood the need to meet the client’s and also still offering your readers something. It’s really difficult to do, and sometimes it misses the mark… but it was also something I actually enjoyed doing {I always love a bit of a challenge!}.

In 2012, the emails and offers of work started coming in more steadily, and I realised that it might be something that I could pursue on my own blog, allowing me to work on my blog full-time {as I was finding it hard to maintain my blog plus work for Kidspot full-time}. I put together a plan of revenue streams and how much I needed to earn and then made the leap to working for myself.

 

How does working with brands benefit your readers?

I always try and make sure it has something in it for my readers – either an interesting story, a giveaway, or something useful they can take away from the sponsored post.

One of the best reader/brand experiences I had was recently with Olympus. We had a lunch with 10 readers, and it was great to get to know them better over a long lunch.

blogger outreach, working with brands, top mummy bloggers

What’s been your biggest surprise in working with brands?

Oh gosh, there are so many. Working with brands is harder than I could have thought. Digital is so new to many brands, and some just don’t get it.

A lot think we should just jam their brand message down our reader’s throats. They don’t get that it just doesn’t work. I didn’t realise I’d have to fight so hard to protect my readers and my own brand.

I think a lot of brands think we’ll just work with anyone, but I won’t. I say no a whole lot, and only yes to brands that I love and use myself, or that I try and think my readers will like too.

Also, losing a bit of control of your editorial calendar has been a surprise too. Ideally I’d like sponsored content to appear on a set day every week so my readers know what to expect, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that.

In short, it’s been a huge learning curve for me. Some days I’ve cried, and some days I’ve smiled.

When you get a client that just gets it, it’s brilliant.

 

Could you share your best experience working with a brand?

It has to be Olympus. They just get it. They understand that you do what you do, and obviously know that you know your audience. They trust their brand in your hands.

So what I did with them was, as mentioned earlier, have a lunch with ten readers where we talked about our common interests {photography} over a long, delicious lunch. It was really fun.

I guess the brand really suits me too, so it was a seamless experience in part because of that and because they just get online and trusted me with doing what I do.

 

What’s your biggest nugget of advice for the bloggers reading?

I guess I see people starting blogging because they’re seeing people earning money and they think it’s easy money. I’d say don’t expect an easy ride. It’s hard work, yet rewarding work too. And don’t forget your audience. Without them, you’re nothing.

 

Any tips for the brand reps reading?

I have two tips really:

1. If you’ve never explored working with a blogger before, give it a go. I think you’ll like it.

2. Trust the blogger. Yes, it can be risky, but allowing them to share your brand with their audience in a way that’s organic and authentic is a good thing. Amazing things can happen!

21 Comments

  1. Don’t you just love it when they trust you? That’s when I get the best results for them. The lunch sounds like an interesting idea… Was it just set up as a product showcase or was there more to it?

    Cheers
    Neil

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Neil. It was more Olympus hosting a lunch and allowing good stuff to happen. They kicked off the invent, shared a little about the cameras and everyone got one to play with over lunch {if they wanted to}, then we were left to eat and talk and have a good time.

      I spoke briefly to the table on how I style my photographs, capturing the everyday.

      I guess because I love photography, and many of my readers do too… it was really easy and fun. If it was a dishwashing liquid brand, I guess that would make it very different?

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks for the reply, Chantelle! That sounds great, and now it’s got all kinds of new ideas flying around my crazy head… I must finish my current project before I get carried away with this. 🙂

        Cheers
        Neil

        Post a Reply
        • That’s exciting.

          And sorry I meant event not invent. My brain wasn’t working!

          Post a Reply
          • Knew what you meant haha 🙂 Thanks again Chantelle.

    • Hey lovely ladies! It was so much fun. Definitely a highlight of my blogging ‘career’! x

      Post a Reply
  2. Thats great advice Chantelle, thanks for sharing it with us. I would love to find a brand that I could work with regularly, that’s my next goal. Thanks for being inspiring!!

    Mandy

    Post a Reply
    • Totally welcome. Yes, I think that’s a big/good goal for lots of bloggers who work with brands, having a long-term relationship with a brand that we love. Fingers crossed it happens. x

      Post a Reply
    • Wouldn’t that be great – even if it was once a month, or once a fortnight… it would be great. 🙂

      Post a Reply
  3. Thanks for your advice. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    Post a Reply
  4. I love reading that you can go full-time with your blog while still being selective with the paid opportunities. I’m very careful about who I partner with and say no a lot – I feel like it’s costing me in the short term but you have given me hope!

    Post a Reply
    • I think brands are worried about that too. The smart ones don’t want people to be forced to write about their product and not have the love behind it. They understand that if it’s authentic and engaging, it’s a win for everyone.

      I think you’re making really smart decisions. I’ve always said, “work like you don’t need the money” so that when someone not-right does come up you feel empowered to make the right decision. xx

      Post a Reply
  5. I agree its important to be selective when working with brands and stick to brands that you love or think your readers will love otherwise you run the risk of losing your readers trust. I always ask myself whether my readers would like to hear about a product before I say yes to promoting it, unless its a brand I already use (like my Playgro partnership) then its a no-brainer.

    I’ve been reading your blog for years Chantelle and I only hope that one day I might be even a tiny bit as successful as you. I’m currently on maternity leave (Hayley is just a little older than Luella) and I don’t plan on going back to full time work so at the moment I’m really enjoying being able to spend time working on my blog. I’d love to be able to do it full time and actually earn some income from it. One day I’ll get there but for now I just love that I’m able to spend time following my writing passion and being a mummy.

    Post a Reply
    • Oh, thank you Toni. I can not believe that our babies are about to be ONE. In total denial actually!

      I think you’ve got such a healthy attitude towards it. You have to give your blog a lot of love for it to grow and grow… and then good things {they don’t always have to be financial} will come from it. xxxx

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen − seven =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.