I'm a brand. Well, I represent a brand. I represent BlogPaws, for anyone who isn't in the know or who lands on this post from a Google search. BlogPaws is a community of pet bloggers, created by myself, Tom Collins, Caroline Golon and my daughter, Chloe DiVita. We created it to help bloggers be whatever they wanted to be... and to support animals in need.
Carol, our PR Manager, pictured above with Paris Permenter, likes to say "we write the blogs that make the whole world read," and I agree with her. Our blogs are read the world over, by millions of people who care about animals as much as we do.
In their search for meaning, and sometimes for monetization, bloggers everywhere - not just pet bloggers, all bloggers - wonder if anyone is paying attention. They wonder who is reading, who isn't and how they can get more 'eyeballs' to their blog. The purpose is to teach and share, but it's also to increase their influence, the better to work with brands in their niche.
Here are some things a brand, like mine, looks for in a blog... that we might want to work with - understand that most of our 'work' involves finding bloggers for other brands. Also understand that we look for many of the same things those 'other' brands look for, so understanding what BlogPaws wants, can help you in your quest to get the attention of a big pet brand.
1. A professional approach.
What does this really mean? It means you criticize with purpose and not in a ranting voice the mimics the wicked witch of the west. It means you have good writing skills and add relevant pictures that don't violate copyright. It means you take yourself seriously, even if you write humor.
2. A good design.
A good design is subjective, I know. What I think of as good design may be polar opposite of what you think of as good design. However, let's agree crisp, focused pictures in your header; your blog name in a font I can read; easy navigation and an unclutter sidebar, are some tenants of good design.
3. Uncluttered sidebar.
I think this needs it's own number... you can put a lot in your sidebar. We love seeing the places your recommend, knowing you're part of one group or another - and, if you work with us, we like to see that showing up in your sidebar. But, don't make it so crowded that one badge bumps up against another. If you have so much to share and promote, choose a select few for your sidebar and craete a separate page for the rest. Be sure to link to it in your navigation.
Oh boy! What does that mean? It means you check your spelling and punctuation, and you write with purpose. You cite your sources properly, you have more than one source, and you apologize if you make mistakes. We all make mistakes. If you've written something about someone or some brand that turns out to be...not as correct as you thought when you wrote your post, you need to acknowledge that and admit your mistake. Saying you're sorry doesn't hurt. And, the 'sorry' is to your audience, not the brand. Your mistake misled them and you need to make that right with them, your audience. Making it right with the brand isn't a bad thing, either. But your first duty is to your audience.
How creative are you? Can you take a dry subject and infuse life into it? Can you take a campaign that is wildly successful and breathe new life into it? Are you great with video? Are you a poet? Where is your creativity and do you display it on your blog. We like that - true creativity stands out. If you feel as if you're not creative, you can become so. Read and learn and experiment. You'll discover your inner muse by persisting in the quest.
We don't want you to work on a campaign just because you need an extra few bucks this month to buy coffee. We want you to admit that you don't want to work with us on a specific campaign, because you're not into that brand or that topic. Be true to yourself and we'll respect you for that.
Your voice is one of the most important parts of your blog. Is it sincere? Is it authentic? Is it a human voice, even if it's in the 'voice' of your pet? We need to see who you are. We need to be confident that the PERSON who writes the blog, is the person we'll be working with. Become your pet, that's okay, but know that we're looking for the voice behind the voice, if you will. Who is it? Your blog demonstrates who you are with every post. Never forget that.
8. Work ethic.
Brands want to work with bloggers that get it. What do I mean by that? I mean, if we offer you a campaign and you accept, you need to fulfill the requirements of that campaign. Once you agree to work with us, you are responsible for the work you signed on to do. When you do not do that work, when you complain that you're too tired, too overworked from your day job, or just not into it after all, you send us a signal that says you're not serious about this. We make note. And we remember.
We all want feedback. We depend on our bloggers to tell us how we're doing, what we can do better, what they wish we were doing in addition to everything else, and even a compliment now and then. We're people, too, you know. We especially hope that during a campaign you'll tell us if there are troubles or issues, and not go out on social media complaining about the brand, the product, the issue... Let's handle it internally, first. Please.
10. Good communication.
Do we have the right telephone number for you? Yes, sometimes we need to call you. Do we have the right email and do you have an alternate email, in case we can't reach you at the first address? Do we have all the pertinent information needed to send you...your check? Or pay you with PayPal? Don't put that off - "I'll do that later" - it holds us up and bottlenecks the process. It helps you and us if much of that information is actually on your blog, in an easily discoverable page.
There's more. I could write for another hour, but these will serve to start the conversation. I know you're wondering, "what about my traffic numbers?" Yep, those are important, but they deserve a post of their own. Stay tuned.