Five steps to ensure you successfully manage a blog collaboration
First of all…celebrate!
You saw, you pitched, you negotiated…and you got the gig. Congratulations!
Something I’m repeatedly guilty of is not taking time to celebrate those all important achievements. Instead the particular To Do item in question gets ticked off and I’m already focusing on what’s next.
Securing a brand collaboration on your terms is a big deal – give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy an indulgent treat. Any of the three C’s work for me: Coffee, Cashmere or Champagne!
“…up front prep
And then…move onto the real work of getting organised and ready to execute your content in a professional and timely manner.
To successfully manage a blog collaboration, up front prep is key and will turn it into a stress-free and enjoyable process.
Here are a few pointers that I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!), to implement over the last few years…
Pay Attention To Timescales
Find out what the brand’s deadlines are before fully committing as that will drive everything else laid out here.
Once you know the preferred blog post publication date, work backwards and think about how much of your time is needed to pull it off.
We’re talking planning, execution including shoot day, right through to writing the post, hitting publish and lining up the agreed social media content.
If you don’t allow for all of this in your regular blogging/work/life in general schedule and you’ve committed to other projects and deadlines too, then you’re heading for disaster.
“…throw a child & dog into the mix & shoot
time becomes even more limited!”
For me that includes the domestics of arranging child and dog care for the shoot day and making sure I’m here to take delivery of the product. If my in-house photographer (aka Mr OS), is being booked for the shoot then we’re pretty much limited to weekend only time.
Throw a child and dog into the mix and weekend shoot time becomes even more limited!
Confirm with your photographer the date that you’ll need edited photos by so that you leave enough time to ask for any extra edits if need be.
Think about the time it’ll take to actually compile the post and allocate time in your schedule. It takes me best part of a day to write a sponsored post to a standard I’m happy with.
Sometimes an unreasonable deadline means that you won’t be able to commit in the first place and thats fine. Better to wait for the next opportunity and get it right.
Get it down in writing
If you’re flying solo and don’t have agency representation, you’ll need to get the specific collaboration deliverables down in writing and share it with your brand liaison.
Speaking of which, I’ve tried both and I much prefer being in control of my own destiny
By confirming the key points in writing, the brand knows what they’re getting from you and you can prevent any requests that don’t fit with your blogging ethics being “dropped in” at the eleventh hour.
“On all counts the answer
is a resounding NO!”
On occasion, I’ve been asked to use Do Follow links, include something I feel is unrelated to the topic, not to declare it as a sponsored post and please can I re-word content in such a way that doesn’t sound like my voice at all.
On all counts the answer is a resounding No!
I stood firm and in all but one of those scenarios, I was still able to publish the content on my terms but it doesn’t feel very nice to be put in that situation. The other one I kissed goodbye to.
If by the way, the No Follow link issue still confuses you, there’s a simply put, helpful article here.
A content agreement document puts you in control
Having a content agreement document means you’re in control and makes the whole process a lot smoother. Plus it will form the basis of the checklist that you’re agreeing to deliver on.
Your document should include:
An overview of the collaboration, any key messages for particular campaigns and timescales.
EXACT deliverables should include what you’re committing to on your blog and social media channels. And this needs to be detailed down to how many tweets and Instagram posts etc.
Other specifics to get down in writing are your collaboration terms, the agreed fee, payment terms and method of reimbursement.
Design it in line with the rest of your media kit so that branding is consistent. It doesn’t need to be as “pretty” as the other components as it’s more of a functional document.
Telling The Story
Have a list of story elements and details in mind to communicate to your photographer, whether that’s a talented friend, boyfriend or husband who’s offered to help or your hired professional. Plus a list of the specific images featuring product that you NEED to capture.
There’s nothing worse than going through the photos post shoot and realising that you’ve been carried away on a cloud of creativity and haven’t captured the specifics you were meant to!
Make a quick secret Pinterest mood board and share with your photographer if it helps. At the very least, have a chat about the overall mood and aesthetic you’re looking to create.
If you need specific locations and have a few ideas in minds, visit them beforehand and check out the lighting and any limitations it might present.
Will it be okay for you to take photos in this place without annoying the owner or other people/patrons?
Don’t Forget The Practical Arrangements
Here’s where you need to turn into your own super organised PA! What are the arrangements for shoot day? Who else is involved?
Right off the bat, possibles I can think of are photographer, hair and/or make up artist and owner or liaison at the location. Ensure you have contact details for everyone and a pre-arranged meeting place. Drafting a quick call sheet and sending to all involved is really useful.
Do you have a load of props/product from the brand to bring along? And will you be sourcing other props yourself such as flowers, own clothing, food etc?
Lets talk weather contingency – my least favourite element as you can’t control it!
If it rains and your shoot is predominantly outside what will you do? Can you re-arrange and have left time in the schedule for that? For you and anyone else involved.
This might seem like overkill but you have no idea what can creep in on the day and how stressful it will be if you’re unprepared and left in a situation where time runs out.
The more time you put in up front, the smoother it will go on the day.
Communication Is Key
Stay in touch with your brand liaison at various points in the process and let them know how its going and when you’re meeting key targets.
Touch points might be:
When the product arrives, when the photoshoot has been successfully completed and simply confirming that you’re ready to publish on the pre-agreed live date.
Think about the collaboration from the brand’s perspective and what overall impression will they be left with of you as a blogger and business owner?
This goes a long way to build strong working relationships and gain you a great reputation as someone who’s a joy to work with. Chances are your liaison is juggling a gazillion other things as well as your project and will therefore will really appreciate your organisation and professionalism.
Behave like a pain in the butt and you’ll be kissing goodbye to many future opportunities.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – the blogging/marketing/PR world is a surprisingly small one!
I hope the points in this post come in handy if your preparing to execute some sponsored blog content anytime soon – on a large or small scale.
I’ve done more small scale collabs than big but I did have this one that required a LOT of organisation and it really helped to plan it out properly.
For me, there’s always a small element of anxiety in ensuring I can deliver to the best of my abilities and fulfil the brand brief in a way that sits naturally within The Online Stylist blog and social content.
By following a set process of steps to complete the project, you can allow yourself the headspace and creative freedom to ensure the content is perfect for both you and the brand.
Have you learnt any useful pointers for executing a brand/blog collaboration? Please feel free to share in the comments below!
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