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EPISODE 030: How To Price Your Work And Build Long-Term Relationships With Brands With Alli Kelley

In episode 030 we talk with Alli Kelley, blogger over at Longbourn Farm who shares simple homemade favorites and new favorites too. She’s successfully forged relationships with brands and shares her expertise with us.

We cover information about how to consider your time, expenses and reach, reminding you that don’t work for free, knowing your audience by digging into your stats and under promise but over deliver!

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Guest Details

Connect with Longbourn Farm
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio
At Longbourn Farm, Alli shares simple homemade recipes – old classics remade from scratch and new homemade favorites. Alli believes that family meals create special moments and those moments become treasured memories. The kitchen is truly the heart of every home. In addition to tried-and-true kitchen favorites, she shares practical farm and garden tips for the hobby farmer or avid gardener. She also give educational tidbits about farming and food production, as she believes knowledge and choices in the grocery store empower you to feel confident in the kitchen!

Takeaways

  • Social Bluebook and Fhor are two online tools that can help you to determine how to charge. Online tools help you to generate a price to charge for your services, but they give you a wide range of what to charge; take into account ingredients, materials, equipment, photography, video, recipe development, expertise and time. Don’t undervalue your expertise in your niche! That’s what they’re paying you for. 

  • Your traffic increases at different times of the year so price accordingly. Ad budgets are tapped out at the beginning of the year so don’t charge 4th quarter rates then. You can do an average price or customize.

  • Prepare a media kit and a rate sheet. When you reach out to a brand, focus your pitch on something they are working on, or a hashtag they are using. Send out a media kit as a call to action with them. Don’t send the rate sheet with the media kit because you can pitch your highest package every time and then work backwards from there.

  • Create different packages in your media kit – the full package can include -blog post, all socials, video, photos, standard licensing. Then make smaller packages like Instagram packages too. 

  • Go in with knowledge. Know your data. Google Analytics and analytics from your socials is important to know. You can’t pitch with confidence when you don’t know what your audience is going to relate to. Know your audience. 

  • A brand doesn’t want a novel idea. They want a good idea. They want something you know you can pull off.

  • Understand the legal parts of working with a brand. Have a contract made up for you. Know what your willing to compromise on and what you’re not. This will help you with confidence by being prepared and professional.

  • Alli uses a Trello board for each Brands that she works with. She doesn’t track pitches. 

  • Always charge for your time and work. This is your photos and videos, time, expertise and audience. You are worth being paid.

  • Always be kind and polite with the Brand. You never know their experience with bloggers, you’re establishing a relationship and setting the tone. If they don’t know how to work with bloggers, you’re setting the bar.

Resources Mentioned

  • Food Blogger Pro Episode 130

  • Blogging FB groups are a great source of information

  • Conferences like EFC and Tastemaker have great information on pitching, creating sponsored work, and contract writing.

  • Hashtag Legal has great information on contract writing.

  • Book Recommendation: Kind of old school, but the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was helpful when it comes to creating positivity during negotiations!

Wanting more on partnerships with brands?

In episode 004, we talk about pitching to brands as well as negotiating with them with food blogger, Alyssa Brantley.


Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro (00:01):

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta  (00:24):

As food bloggers, we want to accomplish more, more, more when it comes to our food blogging task list. While also having plenty of time to spend with our loved ones. And Q4 can be an especially hectic season for all of us. I have created a course that focuses on planning and productivity that will open up time for you to focus on the people and things you love this season. And also, to devote more time to food blogging tasks that will bring in revenue. This course is a four week group coaching course, that includes accountability as well as community. Head over to eatblogtalk.com/planwithme to get more information and to sign up. You do not want to miss out on this opportunity. You can do so much more than you think you can, and being your most productive self can open up space for so many good things in your life.

(01:21):

Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to the Eat Blog Talk podcast made for you. Food bloggers, who are wanting to add value to your businesses and to your lives. In today’s episode, I will be talking to Alli Kelley from longbournfarm.com and we will be discussing working with brands, specifically how to price your work and how to maintain long-term relationships. At Longbourn Farm, Alli shares simple homemade recipes, old classics, remade from scratch and new homemade favorites. She believes that family meals create special moments and those moments become treasured memories. The kitchen is truly the heart of every home. In addition to tried and true kitchen favorites, Alli shares practical farm and garden tips for the hobby farmer or avid gardener. She also gives educational tidbits about farming and food production, as she believes knowledge and choices in the grocery store empower you to feel confident in the kitchen. Hey Alli, you are an expert on working with brands and I’m excited to chat more about that with you. But before we do that, give us a quick fun fact about yourself.

Alli Longbourn (02:29):

Awesome. I’m excited to be here. So my fun fact is I live on a small farm and we have chickens, sheep, bees, a garden, and occasionally a steer, but all of my sheep happened to be named after items of food.

Megan  (02:48):

So, Oh, that’s so fun. So give us an example.

Alli (02:53):

Um, well my son named our Ram Mr. Pickles, and then I have a ewe named Fig and one named Maple and then a little lamb named Peppercorn.

Megan  (03:04):

Oh my gosh. So you’re a foodie family, even the animals.

Alli (03:09):

Yeah, I guess we are.

Megan  (03:11):

That is super fun. Thank you for sharing that. Now let’s get to our main topic. I’m excited to chat with you about this. Working with brands. I’ve been pretty candid about this in other episodes, but working with brands is not something that I love doing. And I have very little experience in this area. So bloggers like you, Alli, who have figured out how to navigate through working with brands and not just that, but killing it with sponsored work. This is so inspiring to me because it’s just kind of a new thing in blogging. A newer thing. In episode four, I interviewed Alyssa Brantley and we did more of a general overview of working with brands. But today with you, Alli, I’d love to dig into a couple of specific points; pricing your work, and also maintaining ongoing relationships with brands. Pricing our work is a point that food bloggers can easily get hung up on for obvious reasons. If there’s a brand we really want to work with, it can be scary to ask for too much and have our offer declined. But at the same time, our time and the work that we do is valuable and it’s quality. So we want to get the money we deserve. So to start, Alli, can you walk us through some basic guidelines for helping us to know how to price our work?

Alli (04:25):

Yeah, for sure. And it is so scary. I remember being terrified the first, probably five times I reached out to a brand and even after I had done some work, it’s still scary. So it really just takes practice. And the more you do it, the more you get comfortable with what your work is worth and what you know a brand will be willing to pay. So my baseline, when I start out figuring out how I want to price my work, I do this every quarter, I’ll review my numbers and then update my pricing based on that. And I use websites, I’ve used social blue book in the past. And, um, I’m currently using Fhor, it’s F H O R. And they just give you a baseline based on your Google analytics and all your socials. They’ll give you a range. And usually the range is pretty big. Which people are like, how is this even helpful? This range is huge. But when you look at that range, you need to think about a few things. So, that pricing is just for your reach. So, they’re saying, okay, you’re worth X amount of dollars based on how many people you reach. You also need to take into account the cost of your materials. So any ingredients, any special equipment you may need to buy for the post, you take into account your recipe development, your photography, if you’re doing a video, that’s extra, your time. And then also your expertise. Don’t undervalue your expertise in your niche, right? Because you’re the one who knows your audience. And you’re the one who’s going to be able to create content for the brand that resonates with your audience. And that’s really what they’re paying you for. Does that make sense?

Megan  (06:27):

Yeah, that does make sense. And I liked that you mentioned Social Blue Book, because back when I was considering working with brands, that was a really good place to start and you were right, the range made you think where do I start here? But tell me more about Fhor, because I have not heard of that. Is that something similar to Social Blue Book?

Alli (06:46):

Yes. It’s basically the same thing. So I think there’s a few other websites that do that. I also use Aspire IQ just because I have some clients that prefer to do all of the contracting and stuff on that platform. But the platforms are basically just a meeting place. So Fhor and Social Blue Book is a place where you can contact brands. I’ve never done that just because I like to reach out personally, I loved everything Alyssa said about reaching out personally to brands versus using another network. She was spot on with everything she said about that. And, and mostly for me, as we’re talking about pricing, that’s why, because you’re able to customize that pricing for yourself and for the brand.

Megan  (07:37):

The concept of reviewing your pricing and your numbers quarterly is a great one because I think once we get something down, we’re like, okay, this is good for a year or whatever. But do you recommend quarterly going in and updating that?

Alli (07:51):

Yeah, I would. Or even if you have times that you know your site is going to get more traffic, it’s once you’ve been blogging for a couple of years, it’s very predictable, right? You can go into your Google analytics, look at your data over the whole year, usually, for me, and a lot of other bloggers, you know, fourth quarter is going to be where lots of traffic hits, right? If you’re using ads on your site, you can almost double your yearly income in the fourth quarter. And so I always raise my rates in the fourth quarter because not only am I going to have more traffic, but that’s when ad budgets are huge. As you’re pricing your work, think about not only the work you’re doing, but what the company is going to have the money to pay for. So probably at the beginning of the year, ad budgets are going to be tapped out. Don’t use your fourth quarter rates for that. I don’t think that’s super accurate. That’s just a personal preference. If you want to average for the year, that’s fine. But I think it’s really important to customize. And I just tell them alone when I’m pitching a brand, my third quarter rates right now are X.

Megan  (09:00):

I like that. So do you have Alli, do you have a price sheet or do you have something that you send to brands or do you just refer to the price sheet? Or what, how do you go about that?

Alli (09:13):

So that’s a great question. I have a media kit and then I also have a rate sheet. I send out a media kit, not right away. So I’ll reach out to a brand, almost exactly like Alyssa said, I just find brands. I love reaching out, figuring out who the right person to get in touch with is. Once I get in touch with that person. I always try to focus my pitch on something I know the brand has going on. So whether that’s a product release, a campaign they’re pushing a hashtag I noticed they’ve been using, I’ll customize my pitch to that. And then I’ll say, as kind of a call to action, I’d love to send you my media kit. Let me know if this is a good address to send that to, or, you know, something like that. So kind of give them a call to action so that they have to reply to me.

(09:59):

And then once they have my media kit, if they want a rate sheet, I’ll send them a rate sheet. But usually I don’t send my rate sheet out just because I want to pitch the brand my highest package every time, just because that makes the most business sense. Right? So on my media kit, I have four different packages based on a full package as blog posts, all the socials, photos, videos, and my standard licensing. And then I have packages specifically for Instagram just because that’s my strongest social media platform. So I don’t want them to look at my price sheet and kind of get overwhelmed with the options. Right. I just kind of want to give them one option. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll go down the list from there. But some brands do request a rate sheet and if they do, I just send it right over.

Megan  (10:46):

And every brand is going to be different. So I like that you kind of feel it out first and then go from there because sending them a rate sheet, I think for a lot of brands, that would be like you said, Alli, just overwhelming. Whoa, what are you offering me? So I like that you offered to have a chat with them first and then see where it leads.

Alli (11:08):

And you have to remember too, some brands are really used to working with bloggers, but a lot of brands aren’t. So you’re going to be the expert in this situation and you can confidently and positively lead it, in a way that’s going to be beneficial for you and the brand. Does that make sense?

Megan  (11:24):

Yeah, definitely. And I think that that’s a great point because a lot of food bloggers don’t feel like they are the experts because we’re kind of floundering in this area. And you said, you mentioned in the beginning that it took you a good five or so times to feel comfortable. I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to a brand. And I think a lot of people are in that boat. So for us to feel empowered and to feel like we’re the experts is really hard. So how do we get there? I mean, I practice obviously, but do you have other points for just like selling ourselves and being confident?

Alli (11:57):

Yeah. So definitely go in with knowledge. So you need to know your data. You need to be comfortable and Google analytics and all the analytics associated with all of your social platforms. You need to know your audience. You can’t pitch with confidence when you don’t know what your audience is going to relate to. I can confidently go to a brand and pitch ideas I know are going to be amazing just because of how my audience has responded in the past. A brand doesn’t want a novel idea, a brand wants a good idea. And a good idea is one that you know you can pull off. So know your data, and then also make sure that you understand the legal parts of all of this. So I loved again what Alyssa said about having a contract, that is so important. Either have a lawyer help you create a small contract, create one yourself, and then have a lawyer review it, but always have your own contract. That way you can go in knowing what you’re willing to compromise on, what terms you’re not willing to compromise on. And if they don’t have a contract, you can say, look, I already have this ready. This is my standard contract. Look it over and let me know what you think. So if you have those two things, you’ll be amazed at how much more confident you feel, when you’re pitching brands.

Megan  (13:24):

So be prepared and specifically talk about knowing your data and knowing your audience, what exactly do food bloggers need to know about their data and their audience before going in?

Alli (13:36):

So you need to know when you’re pitching a brand, if your audience responds really well to 30 minute meals, you need to know that. You need to know that those do really well for you on Pinterest. They get engagement really quickly because that’s what a brand is going to look for. You need to know that you can find keywords that you can rank for successfully over time, because that’s another selling point is pitching a brand’s evergreen content. And then you also need to know just what kind of content is going to be successful for your audience and the brand. Your audience needs to be on the forefront of your mind whenever you’re pitching a brand. You write your blog for your audience. Your audience is the one who pays your bill, whether that’s through coming to your website and giving you ad impressions, whether that’s engaging on Instagram, on a sponsored post, whether that’s tapping through an affiliate link, everything you do needs to be driven by your audience. And the only way you get to know them is by your data.

Megan  (14:40):

Yeah. So let’s talk about ways that we can get to know our audiences. So obviously we can look in Google analytics and we can get to know them there. They have all kinds of information in there just by seeing what Pinterest pins are working. What’s working in emails. How else can we really get to know them?

Alli (15:00):

Yes. All of those are great ways to look at data. And look at it regularly so that you become familiar with trends. Pinterest data right now, I like that you can just click on the pin that one’s been hit and miss a little bit, but right now I really like how they’re presenting their data. Um, and then also keep in mind that the timeframe for the data you’re looking at. So if it’s 30 days on Pinterest, or if it’s on your Google analytics, you’re setting up the timelines on that. And then the other way I like to get to know my audience is just by asking them questions. So I love doing Instagram polls with my audience. That gives me really great ideas for what content I should plan. That gives me great ideas for what content they’re looking for. And that really lets me know what they care about, what they don’t care about. And it’s been surprising in some ways, because, I think oh, no one will like this. And I’ve even asked them about sponsored content. Do you care if a post is sponsored or not? And their answer was no, we just care if it’s a good recipe.

Megan  (16:01):

The polls on Instagram are amazing. Aren’t they shocking sometimes. Really? That’s what you like. Okay. All right. Let’s embrace that.

Alli (16:10):

And if you have a good Facebook audience, you can do polls there too. And ask questions wherever you get good engagement. Or if your email list is really responsive, ask questions there, set up a little survey. A Google survey. You can send that out on your email and then look at all the results. So looking at your data and then just ask your audience directly what they’re looking for.

Megan  (16:30):

Okay. So knowing your audience is hugely important in giving you confidence to reach out to brands.

Alli (16:37):

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of the time, the fear that people feel when they’re pitching a brand is, I don’t know if I can deliver for this brand, but if you know your audience, you know you’ll be able to deliver. And it takes some of that fear away.

Megan  (16:50):

And that adds to this sincerity too, because if you know your audience, you know what they want, you know, which brands to go to, you know what to say. So all of that is adding to the sincerity. Whereas, if you approached a brand who you didn’t really love and who didn’t jive with your audience, then it would be like a totally different story.

Alli (17:08):

Exactly.

Megan  (17:09):

At what point should we be charging for our work? It’s so easy to say yes to a free product as payment in the beginning, I did that all the time and I was like, sweet. I got a box full of potato chips. But once we see blogging as a business, is that the point when we can give ourselves permission to ask for real money? Or what, at what point do you think we should?

Alli (17:29):

So I think it’s always okay to ask to be paid for your work. Because again, this isn’t just your audience, this isn’t just your photos. This isn’t just a video. This is your time, your expertise. And then all of the work that’s involved, right. Plus your socials. So if a brand asks me to work for a product, definitely don’t be rude. I really hate when people just kind of attack someone. I don’t think that’s a great way to go. So I always say, I’m so glad that you love my content and that you’re interested in working together. I’d love to send a rate sheet over, let me know if you have a budget, if not, I’m happy to feature your product in my Instagram stories for free. And even if it doesn’t lead to anything, you still have that open door to work with that brand in the future. So I say always charge, unless it’s something that directly offsets a business cost for me. So usually that would only be if it’s a product I’m really looking for, like some kind of appliance or, if it’s more of one of my farm type posts, it’s easier to justify the product in exchange for work there just because products tend to be a lot more expensive. So unless it’s going to offset a direct business cost, I don’t really work for free because why would anyone go to work and not expect to be paid?

Megan  (18:55):

Absolutely. And that’s what we all want, I think, we all want to be paid, right?

Alli (19:00):

Yes. If you’re serious about making money, you need to look at your blog as a business.

Megan  (19:05):

Yes. For sure. I 100% agree with that. And also I love that you just said don’t be rude because I think a lot of people are like, are you kidding? You’re going to just give me a product, really? I mean, you have the right to go back and discuss this. So be kind. And if they, if they’re not up for it, then fine, they can move on and find somebody else.

Alli (19:24):

It’s not personal.

Megan  (19:25):

Yeah, exactly. Don’t take it personally. And your recommendation to do the Instagram stories to feature a product there is a great idea because that takes like no time, 60 seconds and boom done. That’s a great way just to say, if you really want me to, you know, to do this and here’s what I’ll do.

Alli (19:44):

Yeah. And that also gives you some data to go back with, if you look at the 24 hours and you had a lot of engagement or click-throughs or whatever, you can say, Hey, look, this did really well. I’m just letting you know if you ever have a budget for this. I’d totally be willing to work together.

Megan  (19:58):

Yeah. That’s a great idea. So, do you keep a document of all of this? Like how things go and what you were just saying? I did an Instagram story and here was the engagement. Do you document it?

Alli (20:10):

So it depends. If it’s just a pitch, then I don’t save anything. Otherwise if it’s a brand that I’m working with, I have a Trello board set up for each project that I’m working with. And then if it’s a long-term relationship, I have a board just for that brand where I keep track of everything. And then some brands that, I’ve noticed lately, that a lot of brands are kind of moving to platforms that can track all of this for them, which is very convenient. Sometimes it can be a little awkward at first to learn the platform, but after a while, it’s nice because all of the content is in one spot. All of the communication is in one spot. The contract is there. And those usually track automatically for the brand so that it’s less work for you and them.

Megan  (20:58):

Oh, that’s nice. But I can see having to learn a different platform for everybody would be a little challenging.

Alli (21:05):

But I do always track stats and save those because that’s, I don’t know if you want to get into this now, but that’s kind of how I follow up to create these longer term relationships.

Megan  (21:16):

Yeah. Go for it.

Alli (21:17):

Cool. So yeah, a great way, if you work with a brand, it’s a good experience. It does well. They’re happy. You’re happy. Your audience is happy and you want to work with them again. I always save stats at 30 days and 60 days, just kind of depending on the post, you know, you know how that goes. Like sometimes you just, it just needs a little more time. But I always save those stats. And even if they have a platform that’s tracking this for them, I send a personal email to my contact with all of the stats. I say, look, this did really well. My audience loved it. I really enjoyed working with you. I noticed that you’re either continuing in this campaign or starting a new campaign or something. I try to find something that they’re working on. And then I pitch them right in that statistics email, two or three more ideas about how we could work together. And I just say something like I’d love to continue working together. Let me know if any of these ideas fit into your budget in the next little while.

Megan  (22:13):

That’s such a great idea to use statistics, to kind of launch into moving forward in a relationship. And that’s something that I never would’ve thought to do, but stats are powerful.

Alli (22:25):

Yes they are.

Megan  (22:25):

And I think brands are, would be super impressed. If a blogger reached out with stats, in hand saying, look, here’s what worked, let’s go forward. So I think that is a really good suggestion.

Alli  (22:37):

Yeah. And usually I don’t have anything in my contracts about providing stats. So that’s an above and beyond things that I do. Does that make sense?

Megan  (22:46):

Absolutely. I can see where someone would be really impressed by that. That’s a great little nugget to have in your back pocket. Before we go in too much about creating lasting relationships, I was going to ask you one more thing about pricing yourself. How do you approach something that is just Instagram? Because I know a lot of bloggers do cross-platform posting? They’ll start with a blog post and do a video and then put that on Facebook. And then maybe you mentioned on Instagram, but how do you approach a contract that is just on Instagram? Cause I know that’s really popular right now.

Alli (23:23):

Yeah. So if they just want to do Instagram, then you still need to take into account photography because you’ll still have to use an image. You need to take into account your audience in that reach and then anything extra they want you to do. So, stories or including a swipe up link or linking to them in your bio, that’s all going to cost them money. And these platforms we talked about, like Fhor and Social Blue Book, they’ll give you an estimate for the socials, but I just kind of look at my whole package price and then go down from there. And as you’re pricing in general, if it feels a little bit scary, you have the right price.

Megan  (24:04):

Oh, I like that. If it feels scary, you have the right price. I’m writing that down.

Alli (24:09):

Yes. I mean, if it feels outrageous, like tone it down, if it feels a little scary, you’re asking the right price. And the thing with Instagram that’s important to remember is, the algorithm will push down posts that use hashtag sponsored or ad or anything like that. And that’s, there’s nothing you can do about that. So when you are talking about your engagement, if you have in general, really good engagement on Instagram, just make sure the brand is aware of that. And that that’s something that’s out of your control. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, but I would just say, as part of the contracting there, I have to disclose that this is a sponsored contract. Sometimes that can affect engagement, but I do X, Y, and Z to make sure that I mitigate that as much as possible.

Megan  (24:57):

So I’ve talked to a few people about this, does it for sure reduce your engagement when you do a sponsored post on Instagram? Because I’ve heard some people say just a little and I’ve heard others say it does a lot. What’s your experience?

Alli (25:10):

My experience, I’ve experienced both. I’ve had times when I have been really surprised at the lack of engagement a post got, and then I’ve had times where it only impacted it a little bit. And I think the easiest way for you to mitigate that, and I don’t know anything officially, that’s just kind of what I, what I’ve observed. But I think the easiest way to mitigate that is to always pitch recipes that you know, will just really, really do well. Don’t pitch anything that you’re iffy about. Just stuff you know is going to do well.

Megan  (25:42):

Yeah. And something that resonates with your audience. So that goes back to knowing your audience really well. Great stuff. Okay. So let’s get back to partnerships and move into creating lasting partnerships. We kind of started touching on this once your initial contract has been fulfilled. What are some other things to keep in mind if we want to move forward with a long term relationship with a brand we really love and really love working with?

Alli (26:07):

Yeah. So I think, I think you need to start thinking about this before you even do any work for the brand. So if you’re thinking, wow, this is a brand I really love and I really want to make sure that we can continue working together, set yourself up for success. So if you’ve ever heard the sentence “under promise and over deliver”, that’s exactly what you want to do. So make sure your contract asks for things that you can 110% deliver on and then do a better job. So communicate extremely clearly. Make sure your work is done on time. if not early. Make sure that you maybe include an extra post somewhere, make sure you’re following up with those stats. And all of that is just going to make the brand think, wow, this person not only does a great job, but they’re easy to work with. And we want to work with people who are easy to work with and worth our time and money.

Megan  (27:03):

I love what you said under promise and over deliver. That’s great advice in any aspect of food blogging. But I think especially when we’re working with brands, because really we don’t know what we’re getting with a brand, right. I mean, unless it’s a brand that frequently works with food bloggers, and I know that there are a handful out there that we see all the time working with food bloggers, but there are so many brands and you just don’t know what kinds of people are working for these brands. We don’t know what to expect and vice versa. They don’t know what to expect from us either.

27:35):

If it’s their first time working with a blogger, or you can tell that they haven’t done it a lot, make sure you giAlli (ve them some grace when it comes to negotiating and all of that stuff. Just always be kind and polite because they may not know. Or they may have just worked with bloggers who are okay with, you know, their contract or whatever. So if you are negotiating things, just make sure you always do that in a really positive and thoughtful way. And that way you’re not just doing work for the brand, you’re establishing a relationship with the brand.

Megan  (28:06):

Thinking beyond brand relationships. It’s more like the way that you create relationships in any part of your life. You want good communication. You want to be kind, you want to over deliver, you know, give them the best part of you. So it’s really like stepping back and thinking about how I would treat someone who I wanted to be a new friend? I like that idea. And I don’t think we think of it like that. It’s almost, in my experience, we are not against each other, but we are not friends, but approaching it the way that you do Alli is so much better and so much more effective. So I really like that, that’s refreshing.

Alli (28:47):

And that doesn’t mean that you have to give in or not hold your ground, but you can do that in a positive way. And something, I’ve had a great experience. I work with Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner, through the National Cattlemen’s Association. And I have a long-term partnership with them. And I love the people over there. I feel like we’re friends and we get along really well. And that doesn’t get in the way of me saying, oh, I looked over the contract, here’s a few changes. It doesn’t get in the way of negotiating. It’s not you can be friends or you can be in business together. I feel like you can be both.

Megan  (29:21):

Standing your ground basically. And like not letting people walk all over you, but still being kind, nurturing brand relationships. So give us some ideas for as you go through a relationship, ways that we can nurture. You’ve given us a lot of great ideas, but do you have anything else? What are some other ways we can help to nurture a brand relationship?

Alli (29:39):

Yeah. So if you’ve done a post on a brand and you really love them and they haven’t said anything about a long-term relationship, I just ask. I just say, do you ever consider doing longer-term contracts with bloggers? Again site how well your post went with data and stuff like that. And just say, I think that would be really beneficial for you, obviously for me, but also my audience, because it gives them continuity. If I’m always talking about you and that creates a lot of trust, right? My audience is here because they trust me. So if I can create a long term relationship with you, the brand, that will lead to them trusting you. Just ask them. And usually it’s either something they haven’t thought about or it’s something that they would like to do. And sometimes they’ll say, yes, we’re interested in that. We start all of our contracts in January. Or we saw our, all of our contracts in July, or something like that. And if that’s the case, just say , okay, can’t wait to hear from you. Then in the meantime, let me know if there’s any posts that you’d like to work on and then always follow up like a couple months later. Hey, just want to check back in and see if there was anything that we could work on together. Here are a few ideas I had.

Megan  (30:51):

Kind of to go along with that. Is there a good time to ask? Is there a typical, good time during the year that brands are looking for partnerships with bloggers?

Alli (30:58):

I’m not a hundred percent sure on this. In my experience, usually it’s at the beginning of the year because they want that trust established by the fourth quarter, because that’s when a lot of people are buying and that’s when the ad prices are really high. Sometimes it just depends on when their fiscal year for their business starts. So it’s either in my experience, being the beginning of the year or just kind of based on when they’re income for sponsored content is available.

Megan  (31:28):

Fourth quarter, everyone is kind of tapped out and maybe ready to reset at the beginning of the year. All of us, bloggers included. Well, is there anything we missed regarding brand relationships that you think is worth mentioning right now?

Alli (31:42):

I think just to reiterate what Alyssa said, just make sure you’re always authentic when you’re pitching a brand and that you’re always thinking of your audience in the back of your mind, because that’s why you have platforms, is because of your audience.

Megan  (31:57):

Yes. I love it. I want to reiterate some of the things you said, because you said so many good things. If it feels a little bit scary, you were asking the right price. I love that, because so many times it can feel just ridiculous. Like you said. Then, you know, you need to tone it back a little bit, but if it feels a little bit scary, you’re probably in a good spot. Under promise and over deliver super communication is key. And just building a trusting relationship. Think of it like a relationship with a friend. So that’s really great stuff, Alli. I love everything you said today. And I know food bloggers are going to find value in everything you shared as well. This is a hot topic right now. They will. It’s something I know a lot of people are thinking about doing, I know a lot of bloggers who have been doing this for a long time who have never worked with brands.

Alli (32:47):

I know, that’s always surprising to me.

Megan  (32:49):

Yeah. Yeah. And they’re like, well, I don’t even know where to start. So you’ve given us some good spots to start. Also good advice about how to get going with a rate sheet and how to navigate through those rate ranges that we see that are kind of overwhelming and seem a little bit ridiculous, because they’re so broad. But yeah, I think you’ve given us some really good stuff. So thank you so much for everything you’ve shared with us today.

Alli (33:14):

Yeah, of course, you’re welcome.

Megan  (33:15):

Before you go, do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with my listeners today?

Alli (33:21):

Yes. So I thought about this for a long time actually. And I think I’m just going to share some of my own words, if that’s okay. So I feel like when I first started blogging, you read all these posts about, “how I made $4,000 on one post” or crazy things like that. And I just want to let everyone know who’s just starting out or even if you’re not starting out, even if you’ve been doing this for three years, it’s okay and it’s normal if you’re not successful overnight. Most blogs are a slow burn, not an explosion. The way you’re going to grow is to really niche down. Don’t do everything, do one thing. Do it really, really well. Get to know your audience and trust your stats and trust your gut. Don’t do things just because you saw it talked about in a Facebook group, like don’t change on a whim. Niche down and stay there, get to know your audience, be strategic based on data and just go from there. It will grow if you just keep going and don’t just change directions whenever you hear a new idea.

Megan  (34:27):

That is such solid advice because food blogging is niche itself. So I think a lot of us feel, well, if I niche down, who’s going to ever find me? But I think it’s really great advice to do that and just stay there. I love what you said about don’t read a Facebook group post and then suddenly think, Oh, I’m going to do this.

Alli (34:47):

Well, it’s so tempting, right? Because people will be like, oh, I gained 2000 Instagram followers by doing this.

Megan  (34:55):

It is tempting. So be confident in where you’re at and then just stay there for as long as you can and keep going. One step at a time.

Alli (35:03):

I heard at a conference once, it’s kind of a unique conference situation, but they said at the beginning, the people who are here are the right people. And the topics we talk about are the right topics. And they didn’t have anything planned, but it’s called an unconference. So I try to think of that all the time in terms of my audience, because sometimes it’s not what you expect. A lot of people say, I have this post ranking, and I don’t really care about it. Well, you should because your audience does.

Megan  (35:29):

Yes. Right.

Alli (35:30):

The people who are your audience are the right people and the things they want to know about are the right things. So just be confident in that.

Megan  (35:38):

Don’t try to change that. I love it. I’m excited to re-listen to this episode because you have so many good nuggets.

Alli (35:43):

Oh, I’m so glad. I hope this is helpful.

Megan  (35:45):

Oh yes. Well it’s helpful for me and I am a non-brand person, but I’m slowly getting there.

Alli (35:51):

You’re going to be a pro at this, this time next year.

Megan  (35:54):

I, well, we’ll see. We’ll touch base in a year. Well thank you, Alli. Alli has a list of favorite resources relating to working with brands, and those can be found on her show notes page at eatblogtalk.com/AlliK. And that is A L L I . Tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Alli (36:17):

So my blog is longbournfarm.com and then I’m on all the socials at Longbourn Farm, but I’m most active on Instagram.

Megan  (36:25):

Thank you for listening today, food bloggers, and I will see you next time.

Intro (36:29):

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to Eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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