Melissa from Suger Coat It is a blogger I really admire; she’s quietly going on doing her thing and building a beautiful community along the way. As a blogger with quite a niche angle (plus size fashion) that sits withing a broader lifestyle category it was great to talk with her about how that has worked with partnering with brands – particularly how her community have resp0nded and indeed, embraced, this side of her blog. Without further adieu, I bring you Melissa….
Why did you decide to start working with brands on your blog?
Quite early on for most bloggers I think; I received my first email within a couple of months from an online homewares supplier and said yes. From that day onwards there were times when I was more selective and less selective about who I partnered with, but my blog has always had a certain level of commerce about it.
How does working with brands benefit your readers?
The giveaways mostly, my readers love the opportunity to enter into a competition to win something that might be outside of their budget at the moment. New season clothing from Australian plus-size designers can sell out quickly, knowing they have a foot in the door with a chance is exciting.
The second way it benefits readers are through the exposure they gain to new brands and products. Often earlier than peers who don’t participate online. In a niche format like plus-size fashion, there isn’t a big budget for ad campaigns with television and magazine spots so bloggers is where the customers get a lot of their information. For now. The same goes for lifestyle and health brands (to a lesser degree) that I work with too. Often bloggers can deliver the content faster than mainstream media and, therefore, deliver it first.
What has been your biggest surprise in working with brands?
I think the friendships that can come out of a great working relationship with brands is something I didn’t expect. Staying professional and getting the work done was always going to be essential, but it’s a pleasant surprise to find fast friendships there as well.
Could you share your best experience working with a brand?
I partner with the team at 17 Sundays on my blog a lot lately and am in talks to expand that relationship. It’s the best experience because we just fit so well together. I was a raving fan of their clothes long before we struck up a conversation about working together, and it shows. They fit my branding, and I fit theirs. Plus I sell a lot of their clothes, so they know I’m worth the investment. That’s what they tell me.
What’s your biggest nugget of advice for the bloggers reading this?
Stay grateful. I hear from brands that bloggers can be remarkably demanding regarding samples and products, etc. and that always worries me. Any time a group feels entitled to something for nothing it makes me nervous. And sure, it’s not for nothing you say, but unless you’ve proven yourself, can actually drive sales or likes as required, it might as well be all for nothing. No one owes bloggers anything.
And stay firm on your prices. I accept a lot of product from designers as a way of incorporating new material into my blog outfit posts and supporting local brands. But there are specific guidelines I have around what is the line between gifted for editorial consideration and what makes up part of launching an entire new season range through a sponsored post. Just like I said above, if you’re clear, you don’t owe anyone anything in regard to space on your blog.
Any tips for the brand reps reading?
Be honest and upfront about what you’re asking and what your budget is. On more than one occasion where I’ve been told by brands or their representatives that the budget is tight or non-existent. Decided okay, no problem, moving on then seen the same brand show up on a site I KNOW doesn’t work for what you were asking.
I know, I asked them. Bloggers talk; FYI. So do brands, I’m sure and it’s the same deal, right? I don’t like being lied to, and even a little fib feels like a big fat lie when you’re reading your emails at 2am.
Tell me what you want, get my media kit that contains my prices and then come back to me regarding negotiations. Having been raised by real estate agents, I can smell a sales pitch a mile off so don’t be surprised if I call you on it. I’d expect you to do the same to me.