I know, it’s a daunting prospect – little blogger trying to play with the big brand boys. Well, you know what? You can do it! Really. And what it starts with – the most critical part – is understanding your value as a blogger. Each and every one, big to small blogger, has value. And if you know and understand the value you have, and how your unique influence has an effect on others, you are way ahead of the game. Getting brands to understand that, in some instances, can be a little more difficult. But you are your best advocate for you and your brand. Yup, I said it – you yourself are a brand. And as the front (wo)man, the first line of everything and you have the power to make the most of what you have to offer.
Working with brands can be good, it can be bad, and it can be scary. A good brand relationship will keep you both packed to the gills with good, consistent work – work that you as a blogger might be charging less than your “going rate” for, but you see it as worth it, because it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and one that keeps the cash flowing and the relationship and creativity alive. It can be a joyous experience and I’m here to help break it down a little to help us all unlock the mysteries of working with brands.
I’m no expert, but I’ve dealt with the good, great and the ugly. These are the things I have learned along the way from my blogger’s perspective. I’m not a 500k views per month blog – but by learning the ropes and going through some trial and error along the way, you can make these relationships sustainable, successful for both parties and hopefully – work together again!
A good relationship can lead to sustained work between a blogger and a brand. A great relationship allows the brand to influence the blogger and the blogger to influence the brand. They are both looking for ways to be creative, adventurous and successful and they talk openly and upfront about what they both need from one another. Here are a few keys to help both parties stay in this realm of all things good.
Give Your Client and Brand Quality Photos – Totally important. In this Pinnable world your photos have to be good, nay even great for your skill set. We are visual creatures and brands need quality, interesting photos to market to their base. Invest (if you can) in quality equipment; learn new techniques and practice, practice, practice. Learn some new tips, check Pinterest for interesting food photos, or check out your favorite mags for inspiration. Keep snappin’ – you’ll find your zen!
Alluring content – No one wants to hear, “Oh this olive oil is just great, and it tastes great, and it’s GREAT!”. Tell your readers WHY it’s great. What makes this product stand out from the rest? Have a great mixer? Why is it better than the others? For example, “I love my KitchenAid 7 quart stand mixer because it’s a work horse in my kitchen and a bread kneading machine! After a long day of baking it still looks amazing when it’s sitting on the counter it’s a real kitchen worthy statement piece!” See the difference? Visual writing makes all the difference. Sure we can’t always be ‘on-point’ all the time, but taking some extra time to write well will drive an authentic picture.
Ask your brand questions – and be polite. No brainer, right? Many brands don’t know what we as bloggers “do”, besides cook and snap photos. But each post is unique – Give them options. Do they want a product review, or a custom recipe? A giveaway or just mention? Do they want horizontal photos or vertical? Links to specific parts of their sites? Is there are specific uses for this product they want highlighted? Do they like one application more than another? Do they want something simple, or can you go crazy and let your imagination run wild with their product? Comfort food or gourmet? It might seem obvious to you, but let them help! It’s a two way street. And communication is key!
Be polite. – They are investing their time, money and trust into you and your skills. And you are investing your skills, time and reliable income to them.
Explain your versatility to the brand – You cook, write, shoot, edit, and promote, tweet, and pin all in one little blogger package! You have immense VALUE, don’t sell yourself short. A good brand will recognize this.
Ask for payment – and be willing to negotiate. I’m only going to say this once. Even if you’re not a big time blogger – you’re doing all other bloggers a disservice when you work for free product. You’re selling yourself short – you’re selling our industry short. Think about what working for free does for you in the long run. Did you take you the hottest guy in your high school class to prom and offer to pay for everything just so you could say you went to the hottest guy there? NO!! So, don’t do it in your blogging.
Work for a rate that is fair to the product (ie: blog post, promotion, etc) that you will provide for the brand. Your work is a product.
Be willing to negotiate.
There is no set rate for what all bloggers should charge, do what feels best for YOU. Love a product or company and would rather work for less than your “going rate” to rep for them? That’s fine! Want to ask more for your work because it will require tons of time and effort? Ask for more. There is no set figure – do what works best for YOU.
Let me amend my “work for payment” – If working for product is your zen, do it. But make sure that you are doing it as a representation of what you have to offer. If it works for you, do it. It comes down to personal preference.
You’re a business person, not a wilting timid flower – act like it.
Don’t be afraid to hear the word “no”. Learn from your experience and try again. No brand is too big – go for the gold and promote your brand! Yup, you’re a brand yourself!
If you’re a new blogger to the brand game –
Think about your value. What do you as a blogger bring to the table that will benefit you and benefit the brand?
Write a media kit – Briefly outline your blog stats (I use a one page Word Document! Really! – Click here for my blank media kit to use as a guide! ) to keep on hand so you can e-mail it to the brand. Be ready to tell them what those numbers mean to your blog. Do you have a small and engaged audience? Or a large but unengaged audience? Numbers can mean so many things – so tell your brand what your numbers mean for their brand.
Working with brands gets easier. The first few times you shyly ask a brand if you can work with them will help build your confidence and refine your marketing strategy. Heck, keep a form letter written on your computer that has your basic pitch and customize it for each brand – that way you know what you want to say when the time comes and don’t have a panic attack or feel pressured.
Keep at it and you’ll be FINE! But you have to start with one, so go forth and pitch!
Be confident, you’re awesome.
And don’t worry – we have some advice for brands here, too!! Blogging and work is a two way street and we all have something to learn. So as a brand, here are a couple good bits for you to take in when working with us bloggers, big and small.
Good brands pay fairly – Good brands, small start-ups or big multi-national corporations, pay bloggers a fair rate. A good brand will work with a blogger and negotiate fair payment for work done. Not send them product (or worse, coupons) in exchange for a blog post. We’re all businesses here, large or small – treat us like it. :: I totally wish that samples of chocolate paid my rent, my dog’s food, car insurance, and for Ben’s nursing school. It doesn’t – and I would totally be 30 pounds heavier. Yikes.
A good brand will ask questions - Why is working with the blogger going to be good for us? What will this blogger give us that I can’t get in-house? A good brand will recognize the value of their blogger – a photographer, cook, recipe developer, editor, stylist and manager all in one step!
A great brand will not think itself too big for its britches.
Know what you want – Do you want this to go on your website? Your blogger’s website? Both websites? Talk with your blogger to figure out the best marketing strategy. Do you want this product used in practical everyday applications or do you want them to reach for the stars? Are there certain tags, SEO models, wording, special characters they need to use? Tell your bloggers what you want. And be willing to work with them so it sounds authentic and in the blogger’s voice.
Let bloggers use their voice – that’s why you hired us. Don’t let us write a post, put hours of flour, eggs, dusty photo equipment, and our sanity on the line for a post and then condition it, streamline it, and change it to the point that it doesn’t sound like us anymore. We don’t like it and our readers HATE it even more!! Our readers will not buy your product if they don’t see our writing or reviews as genuine and authentic! Trust us – our readers KNOW when they are being pitched.
To brands and bloggers alike:
Be respectful of each other, be kind, and be fair. Don’t cheap skate, fleece, pull the wool, or anything to anyone. Work your hardest and do your best. Talk and develop relationships with one another. Remember that both parties are not too big or better than one another and everyone has a lot to learn. Bloggers don’t be scared of “big” companies or rejection – this will teach us all to grow. Companies, we realize you can’t pay every blogger the same (nor should all bloggers be paid the same), we’re just asking that you pay us fairly. We are a growing, thriving, booming and ever evolving industry and has morphed and adapted and can do anything and everything – Let’s learn to work well together so that we can all SUCCEED.
So – are you a blogger that wants to work with brands? If you have questions – leave a comment below!! Let’s start a discussion! Seasoned bloggers? Do you have any advice to add to this list? Leave a comment let’s keep this learning shesh going!
Remember the most important thing – You’re AWESOME!
Give this simple Pacific Northwest infused Smoked Salmon Potato Salad filled with garlic, dill and PNW smoked salmon for your next get together.
I know I am going to catch a lot of flack for what I’m going to say, so I’m preparing myself to duck and cover, run, hunker down and dodge whatever you’re gonna be throwing at me. – I’m so excited for FALL!!!
Oh good – whew, nothing came at me. Sorry if you just ruined your computer screen throwing coffee at it. But today as I was walking Huck in the morning it was a crisp, chilly and refreshing 57 degrees out – and I loved it. I’m a terrible person, but it’s true – loved it. It means Pumpkin Everything Season is on it’s way, Halloween (my birthday) is soon to be here and so is football season! See, now are you excited for fall time too? I thought so.
But don’t get me wrong – I”m still enjoying the heck out of what’s left for summer. Ben and I went back to his hometown last weekend to celebrate our one year anniversary and enjoy the great Palouse and outdoors. It was beautiful. And there was lots of BBQ-ing to be had. The best part of BBQ for me, is the side dishes – namely potato salad. This time I wanted to put a distinctly Pacific Northwest Twist on it by adding in some smoked salmon, dill and lemon. Simple is good when you’re working with salmon and simple is good when it comes to potato salad!
Buying the dill for this adventure was a bit hilarious because my store only had a 5 foot tall stalk of dill. Nothing dried, nothing smaller – a bundle of dill that was as tall as I was. For ONE recipe. Really? Yeah. Well Dill-on the Dill Plant came home with me for this recipe, and got in my way as he stood tall in my kitchen with his Bieber-esque dill fringe in his face. So he got a nice haircut and he contributed nicely to this smoked salmon potato salad.
It was nice to talk to a friend – even if he was a plant – while I was cooking. He’s such a good helper. And he tastes amazing.
So as you enjoy the winding down of summer – don’t forget to bring this to your next BBQ and enjoy the fresh tastes of what’s left of summer.
A healthy snack made with fresh fruits of the summer season. Raspberry Peach Swirl Fruit Leather is perfect for school snacks and summer treats.
It’s nearly that time of year again, you can just smell the pencil shavings and crayons can’t you? I, for one, really miss back to school time – of course, not the costs of it, but the anticipation of the new year, and getting all of the new school supplies, new colors of highlighters in obnoxious colors and color coordinating my peachies to match the theme of my new school year, or my spirit animal for the year. More often than not the theme was “horses” because I am a self proclaimed horse nut. There was that junior year phase that I was all about hot rods and classic cars – hello, 66′ Chevy II, you were going to be mine. For all those years of school, I was active – playing volleyball, riding horses, hitting softballs, and never stopping to think about what I was fueling my body with. I would burn off whatever I consumed, so it never really mattered to me what I was putting in my body – but it should have. And now as an adult, I wish I’d had those healthier habits to keep me more mindful as an adult. Lord only knows all those cookies don’t get burned off nearly as easily as they did when I was a kid and teenager!!
I wish that I was as conscious of what I was consuming then as I am now. It is more important now than ever to have firmly established healthy eating and exercise habits in place and make them part of your daily routine. Ben and I might not have K-words (kids) now, but making these habits a second nature now will ensure I can pass o my healthiest habits to my future imaginary kids when they do come along!
Kids today face enough challenges in their daily lives- they are busier than ever, pulled in so many different directions – from school to sports, to social media and Justin Beaver (I got that right, right?), often time it can be hard to fit in nutritious meals and plenty of exercise. But with 12.5 million kids in the U.S. being obese or overweight, and with the obesity rate amongst teens TRIPLING in the last 30 years – we are in crisis mode! Those statistics are alarming, to say the least.
But there are ways to incorporate easy and healthy options into everyone’s plate to make a little brighter and lighter for a healthier you this school year and beyond. I’ve teamed up with several of my favorite foodies, All-Clad, and A Healthier America to gt this school year started off right – with healthy eating options for all your meals and snacks! Visit the other lovely ladies playing kick ball with Childhood Obesity, and coming up with inventive ways to stay healthy this school year and beyond.
To help you cook up some healthy fare for you and your family A Healthier America and All-Clad have all teamed up to giveaway a Stainless Steel 7 piece All-Clad cookware set AND one entrant from each of our blogs will win an 11″ stainless steel skillet! That’s a lot of healthy cooking to be had by all!
Once you’re done entering for these fantastic pieces of cookware – make sure to take this recipe for Raspberry Peach Fruit Leather with you and whip up a batch for you and your wee-ones! I lived on this stuff as a kid, and couldn’t wait to make some in my own kitchen! It’s so easy and makes your whole kitchen smell like summer. Fruit Leather is a versatile treat that uses fresh or frozen fruits, whatever is in season or whatever you can get your mitts on. The peaches and raspberries I used in this recipe were just too ripe to eat and about ready to go over – so throwing them in the food processor made easy work of this and made sure no food went to waste. A healthy treat with minimal fuss. Let’s get healthy!
Try these one bite no bake peaches and cream pies for all of your summer entertaining needs!
It’s by no means sweltering in the great PNW, but I still am actively trying to avoid my oven. Somedays sure, you can’t help it – but this is one of those recipes that helps you avoid the oven and still have PIE! I see that as the most glorious win, Ever!
Does anyone else see the word mini on baked good and think that today is the day they will finally be able to exercise some self control? Oh good, you too? And then after the first bite you end up making a lap around your house, from one room to another and back into the kitchen again convinced that it burned off 75 calories, so you can go in an have another one bite confection because, well duh – you earned it?
No, that never happens to me either…. Lies. I’m the queen off One-Bite Dysmorphia. But with these one bite no bake peach and cream pies I got over that pretty quick. And then had another. There are no heros here.
Individual White Chocolate Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes are perfect two bite treats that are perfect for summer or parties!
A whole weekend alone with me and Huck hasn’t happened in a long time. Nearly a year – since Ben and I got married and he was away working for the first three weeks of our marriage. Yesh, that was really sucky and thankfully a long time ago. But when the boys, or man, husband, guy is away Mom and Pupper will play. Or more accurately he will take up ⅔ of the bed, diligently wait on me to drop any minuscule amount of crumbs – like of these mini cheesecakes – so he can leap into the kitchen and hoover them up – he is my own personal furry Swiffer – and he will SIT ON ME when I am trying to relax my back, and am laying prone on the floor.
Yeah, I said SIT ON ME. #dogsarejerks
So guess what I did last week – Signed up for my first 5k! Finally.
Check out below for all of my August Stitch Fix Kick It’s and Keep It’s for this month! This is not a sponsored post – just filling you in on my latest fashion finds!
Okay, so here’s the deal. I hate malls. They drive me crazy and cause me physical discomfort. I sweat and can’t regulate my body temperature when I go to a mall. I’m not a fashionista, and I’d rather ride on a roller coaster until I throw up than go jeans shopping.
*Fact* half of the jeans I own are from Costco. No need to try them on, just grab them from the pile and walk off with them and to nab the carton of 36 eggs and 3 year supply of garbage bags I went in there for originally.
Because I hate malls and shopping that much – I signed up for StitchFix. Have you heard about it? Have you tried it? Well, if you are like me – this is totally your new more-fashionable-shopping-loving-friend.
Here are the pieces that I got in my StitchFix set up!
Daniel Rainn Pleated Front Blouse:: Keep It
Love this. I have a shirt in a similar cut, and I love how light and airy it is. Sadly, I wore it yesterday and it has a small run in the fabric already. This is why I can’t have nice things!
Cardigan :: Kick It
I have fifty three other cardigans. Ben is going to stage an intervention. It went bye-bye. Cute, just not worth it.
Striped T-shirt :: Kick It
I pump das irons. *Said in my best Arnold voice* and this – as cute and Sailor Megan as it is – was not going to fit over my arms. They were going numb by the time I took it off. Also, it’s really sheer! Adorable, but no.
Neutral Color Block Linen Shift :: Kick It
aka Megan is Heartbroken. Linen and my big butt don’t mix. There was no stretch to this dress, so it was an incredibly tight fit over my bum standing, let alone going a day sitting at work or at happy hour. I sent it off with a 80′s power love ballad and a glistening tear.
Aqua and Gold Square Chunk Necklace :: Keep It
Yup, it’s staying. I don’t wear necklaces all that often – but look at it. It stays and I will find a reason to wear it.
There you have it! So for $20 for each fix, I had someone else do the hard work. My $20 styling fee money went towards the two items I decided to keep (and helped keep costs down a little bit), and I shipped the rest off back to StitchFix-Land with the pre-paid return bag. It was so easy – I can’t wait to see next month’s fix. Shhh, don’t tell Ben.
If you’re interested in learning more about StitchFix and getting Fix’d yourself, click the button below and sign up.
*This post was NOT sponsored by StitchFix, but it does contain affiliate links. I just love this service and got some really cute stuff. Over and out.*
Thank you to NatureRaised Foods for sponsoring this article. Learn how NatureRaised Foods is “Doing What’s Right, Right from the Start® in your area.
When was the last time that you thought about where your meat came from? I know, it sounds like such a silly question. But what would your answer be? Well, obviously it came from the store. What about before that? Or have you not given it much thought either? It’s hard to think about a question like that when now a days we are so busy in our every day lives to barely be able to think about who is getting booted out of the next Bachelorette episode! So take a few minutes with me and let’s talk some chicken.
I’m guilty of it – yanking a bag of frozen chicken out of the grocer’s case not paying attention to how it was raised, if it was done humanely, or if it is laden with hormones and artificial things you can’t pronounce. But I’m so pleased that I don’t have to think twice when I seeNatureRaised Farms® in my butcher’s case.
NatureRaised Farms® works exclusively with independent family famers who strive to produce only all natural fresh chicken. Raised cage-free these birds get move about, living out their lives on their own two feet, stretching their wings. The farmers who raise these birds follow strict USDA protocols and are even certified under the Global Animal Partnership and American Humane Association, raised without antibiotics, no added hormones or steroids.
And if you worry about putting artificial ingredients into your own body, you can rest assured that nothing artificial goes into these chicken’s bodies either. Fed a 100% vegetarian diet, with no animal, protein or bakery by-products (which might contain eggs), these chickens are brought up eating what chickens are meant to eat – vegetables, grains.
It really takes the guess work out of your week night meal when you don’t have to dive deep into your moral compass to decided which chicken to have for dinner tonight. Our lives are too busy, so keep it simple on yourself – choose chickens raised in the best conditions. NatureRaised® Farms brand chickens are raised in open air barns with perches to climb on and elements that ensure they are interactive and comfortable. A happy chicken is a tasty chicken.
Perfect for chocolate fiends – these triple chocolate chun brownie cookies are more brownie than cookie!
These might need to be renamed Identy Crisis cookies, because they really can’t make up their mind on if they’re more cookie or more brownie. Sure they look like a cookie on the outside – but inside these are way to divine for words – melty, and sooooo ooeey gooey and squishy and they just melt. It’s divine, rediculous, sinful and stupid all at once. I kid you not!
And sometimes when you have something soooo good on your hands – there is no way you can take the time to take nice photos of it. This is Exhibit A. No fancy, fun or festive table cloths, no milk jars, not action shots of me dunking this cookie into said milk jar – which I’m pretty sure if you did would cause this cookie to melt into the milk – which wouldn’t be a bad thing because it’s like a one step cookies and cream milk shake – but there is just NO WAY I was going to take the time to set a scene, make it purdy, shoot it and then not devour five of them in 23 seconds flat.
A simple breakfast sandwich that is better than anything from your local fast food joint. Try a chorizo and egg breakfast sandwich to start your day.
Today’s theme is Rebel. As in, Megan is such a rebel. (Not)
I always joke about Ben being a creature of habit – but truth it, I’m just as bad as he is. Our breakfast routine on the weekends is almost always the same – a bacon and egg breakfast sammich. Maybe pancakes if we’re feeling crazy… I know, such rebels. Right? During the week he’s a cold cereal kinda guy. Boorrinngg! I can’t bring myself to do it. Some mix and combination of honey nut Cheerio and Fiber cereal just doesn’t do it for me. But for someone that thinks they’re not a creature of habit, like I say that I’m not, I totally am. Because if I’m not a cold cereal kinda person during the week like Ben is, I know that as soon as the weekend comes around I’m gonna be having my bacon and egg breakfast sammie. I crave it. It’s like The Sign of my weekend. And it’s gonna be yours soon, too.
I don’t think there is a single one of us that is unfamiliar with the Surprise House Guests who drop by and leave you in a quiet panic with no planned appetizers, meals or treats to serve. Talk about a scramble. So between getting out of my yoga pants and into something presentable and putting something out to snack on – it’s time to hit up the pantry and scrounge up whatever I can in a jiffy. Cracker Barrel Cheesemakes it easy with their quality cheese, perfect for entertaining in a snap. On hand and quick to grab out of the fridge I snapped up some Mediterranean Herb and Aged White Reserve cheddars.
And even if you’re not entertaining and just want a lunch in a hurry, slicing up some cheeses and fresh colorful veggies along side some quality meats and you can have a faux-charueterie plate done in a hurry! Fancy doesn’t have to take forever, and quality cheeses don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
I set out to find the perfect faux-chareuterie plate from everything I had already stocked in my own pantry – and it’s amazing what I found. With a few different blocks of Cracker Barrel Cheesesliced up, I brought out a few slices of my favorite deli meats – pepper turkey, sun dried tomato turkey, Virginia Ham and Homestyle sliced turkey. Folded or rolled up they makes a nice presentation.
Nuts also make a nice presentation and accentuate the nutty and earthy notes in the cheeses. I always have a stock of pistachios, almonds and pine nuts on hand, just in case I get a craving. Pistachios are my favorite with sharp cheddar and pepper turkey.
In the back of my pantry I even found a baggie of trail mix I was meaning to take to work. I live of trail mix at work. It’s nice having a handy snack around – and it makes for an even handier cheese plate presentation in a pinch. Dried apricots, bananas, apples with pineapple made it fun and gave the plate a little tropical flair.
Cracker Barrel makes for easy entertaining, and it’s easy to find in your grocer’s dairy case. You don’t have to break the bank when you buy it either. Cheese with heritage, history and quality doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and you know you will always find consistent quality when you pick up a few bricks for yourself. Even if you’re not entertaining – pack up some of these staples and a bottle of wine and take your hunny out on a picnic this summer. Berries are on the vine right now – especially blueberries and blackberries. So set out a blanket, pick a few berries and see what fun new fresh pairings you can add to your picnic!
Welcome to Country Cleaver, where country comfort and convenient cooking come together. Follow my adventures of self-reliant country cooking and baking from scratch with a little life mixed in for kicks! ...more