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I’ve recently gotten a few questions from bloggers seeking advice in regards to working with brands and companies. Is this legit? Is this a scam? Should I accept free products in exchange for a review on my blog or Instagram? To #keepitreal with y’all, I am NOT an expert in this area of blogging, but I do want to give you the best advice that I can.
That’s why I’m super excited to be collaborating with my blogger friend Katherine Saviola McDermott of Slightly Savvy by bringing you a Summer Camp For Bloggers. Designed by PR experts and Katherine herself, it will to teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about how to work with brands AND make money from it while staying 100% authentic at the same time. Keep reading to hear my personal story of working for free stuff and an exclusive interview with Katherine about how Summer Camp can help you!
You guys know that I want to always give you information and advice that is 100% legit and authentic when it comes to growing your blog. I know a lot of you fall into the lifestyle realm and find joy in blogging about different topics. Some of you want to work with brands and eventually make an income from that, so I hope that this post can give you some really good and valuable info!
Who is Katherine of Slightly Savvy?
Katherine works in Public Relations (like, her actual job) where she represents a brand, or as she puts it: “the PR girl asking for a certain thing or being semi-annoying for my client.”
She’s the person on the other end of the email you’re corresponding with who wants to work with you and your blog. Basically, she’s MY go-to person when I need advice on working with brands. And now she can become YOUR go-to person as well.
She knows what brands look for and don’t look for in bloggers and influencers and dishes out all her PR secrets on her blog and Instagram (srsly go follow her!) I honestly have not seen any other bloggers out there like Katherine, so she’s already killin’ it from that fact alone.
Let’s look at my own journey as a case study
Like I said, I am NOT an expert when it comes to working with brands. I will be completely transparent and say that I’ve never been paid in cold hard dollars for work I’ve done with companies. (There IS one exception where I made $25 from a wish list I did a couple of years ago, but that was such a weird gig I don’t really count it.)
Here is a photo from 2015 when I did my first “big” collaboration where I worked with an eyeglasses company. Fun fact: I still wear the same exact glasses I got for free in exchange for a review on my blog. Am I frugal or what?
I think it’s time to let go of the shame I’ve felt at “failing” with my fashion and lifestyle blog because I don’t see it as a failure now. I see it as a huge learning experience that has brought me here today, writing this post from my heart and helping my readers along the way. THAT is what I’m here to do.
Although I’ve never been paid, I have worked with a lot of brands and companies…all in exchange for free products. Now I know I’m not the only blogger out there that works in exchange for free products. But I also know that there are also a lot of bloggers who advocate against it. This post is meant to bring these opposing sides together by opening the conversation and providing tips and actionable strategies to do what’s right for you and your blog.
Before I rebranded, In Search of Sheila was a fashion blog with a little mix of lifestyle. It took me about a year of consistently blogging until I landed my first “real” collaboration. And to be honest with you, I don’t even remember who it was with. Probably some fashion distributor in China that sells cheap clothes. I worked with a lot of those, ha!
They sent me some items that I picked out on my own, I shot photos of me styling them, whipped up a post with a little review, and linked the products. And that was it.
At the time here is how my thought process went:
- Wow, a company wants to work with me?! And send me free stuff?!
- It’s totally worth receiving free products in exchange for my review, right?
- I mean, I don’t have many readers and followers, so it’s justified, right?
- The brand will shout me out if I work with them and I could get more exposure and readers!
Now, I guess you can say that I “know better”
If I could tell myself one thing back when I was trying so hard to “make it” as a fashion and lifestyle blogger it would be: you’re worth more than just free stuff.
I think back to all the time and effort it took to 1) pick out the items 2) photograph the items 3) edit the photos 4) write the post and 5) promote the post
So.much.time. and all I got were free clothes? Guys, we can do better than this. Here are some reasons why I thought it was okay in my head to work for free:
- I was simply super excited to get free stuff. I grew up in a middle-class family and always wanted “more” than I had in my life. This materialistic mentality fueled my justification into receiving free clothing and products in exchange for my work.
- I underestimated my worth as a blogger. I didn’t have many readers or page views. I didn’t have a large social media following. I let quantity, not quality, dictate how I saw my worth as a blogger.
- I was too scared to ask for monetary compensation. I’ve never been the type of person to put myself out there and ask for more. I’ve always been shy and scared of rejection. This fear of unknown outcomes has contributed to a lot of lost opportunities in my life.
- I just didn’t understand the industry. Of course I don’t freaking know how to work with brands, there was no textbook or course that could teach me that.
You’re Worth It
I don’t want you guys to have these same thoughts as me. Since my blog is meant to help beginner bloggers build their blogs with intention and purpose, I want you to know that you are worth it. Even if you have a small following now, you DO have a voice that is unique and influential.
Fortunately for bloggers and micro influencers, brands and PR’s are realizing this too.
Now that I’ve shared my own story I want to share something with you that I have my heart behind 100% that would have saved me years of trial and error, maybe changing the course of my blog journey today. If you want to avoid wasting time and get a pass for the fast track to getting paid to work with brands, keep on reading!Even if you have a small following now, you DO have a voice that is unique and influential. Click To Tweet
A Summer Camp For Bloggers?!
So…did you ever go to summer camp when you were a kid? I actually never got to and was always jealous of everyone that did! But now I can fulfill my childhood dream in the form of a summer camp…for bloggers! Katherine is the brain child behind this awesome Summer Camp, designed to teach you the exact strategies on how to successfully work with brands and GET PAID FOR IT. No matter how big or how small your blog is!
Summer Camp will launch on August 7 and end on August 11. This is a time-sensitive program so I encourage you to sign up early to get all the benefits of the program!
What the heck is Summer Camp??
Okay, you’re probably wondering how this program will benefit you, right?
First of all, Katherine is one of my best blogging friends. We’re constantly DMing each other, always tweeting each other’s stuff, and I just genuinely think she’s a sweet girl. Oh, and I’ve talked to her on FaceTime too so yes, she’s a real person.
With that said, I wanted to get down to the nitty gritty with Katherine and ask her some no BS questions and get to the root of Summer Camp and how it would help my readers. Let’s hop to the interview!
1. Since you’re an In Search of Sheila reader yourself, you know that I’m all about blogging with intention and #keepingitreal. How will Summer Camp help my readers work with brands and companies while staying authentic and true to themselves?
First, In Search of Sheila gives me so much amazing advice on mindful blogging and blogging with purpose. I can get easily wrapped up in the branding and helping other bloggers work with brands aspect that I forget to be mindful of my own vision.
The ultimate combination is to work with brands you love and stay authentic to your readers. And that’s exactly why Summer Camp was built – to help bloggers work with the right brands for the right price in the right way.
- Related: How To Keep It Real As a Blogger
Especially for the In Search of Sheila community, you guys know how important it is to be authentic, real, and build a brand with a clear vision and intention. Building authentic relationships with brands is super similar to building authentic relationships with your readers. You focus on long-term relationships, not short-term monetary gain. You focus on what products and brands are going to resonate with your readers, and you turn down money from brands your readers won’t connect with.
Summer Camp is like an easy next step – learn how to build your brand with authenticity and then elaborate on that through Summer Camp on working with brands.
2. What are your thoughts on bloggers working with brands just for “the free stuff”?
If your goal is just to get free stuff, that’s just your goal. You do you. I just don’t suggest you depend on blogging long term, and I don’t suggest you spend your money on Summer Camp. And I don’t suggest you follow In Search of Sheila.
Also, if you are truly in the blogging game just for free stuff, you’re actually really wasting your own time. There’s probably a lot easier ways to get free products than allll the hours it takes to take photos, write content, edit pictures, build your post, promote on social media, respond to comments, etc. If free product is your game, you could probably think of an easier, faster way to get it than blogging.
But seriously, bloggers working with the goal of free stuff hurts the entire blogging community. By focusing on product as compensation, it undermines our entire argument of getting paid for work and getting brands to pay bloggers and influencers what they’re worth. Even if you have a smaller audience and following, I fully believe you can work with brands you love and get paid.Bloggers working with the goal of free stuff hurts the entire blogging community. Click To Tweet
3. Why would brands be interested in smaller bloggers and micro influencers? I mean, if they don’t have a lot of page views, are they really worth working with?
I am fascinated by how much brands are looking at smaller bloggers and micro influencers. I watched a lot of brands throw large amounts of money at bloggers or influencers with huge followings, and they didn’t see a single bit of return on their investment. Luckily, I think in the last two years, brands have started paying attention to numbers like engagement, return visitors, time on site, etc. more than a simple page view count of follower count.
Now, some brands are solely focusing campaigns on micro influencers. Brands from Ralph Lauren to Banana Republic are launching campaigns solely with Instagram accounts of less than 35k followers. On a smaller scale, smaller brands see the influence and results from micro influencers with 5k, 10k, or 15k followers as well.
Brands love micro influencers because the authenticity and the relationships are just there. And this is a huge opportunity for micro influencers to get themselves on the radar. Summer Camp is going to teach you how to price yourself and how to leverage the fact that you have a smaller audience and a smaller following. There’s a lot of benefits to being a micro influencer, and Summer Camp is really going to help you take advantage of that.There's a lot of benefits to being a micro influencer. Click To Tweet
4. What do you say to bloggers (like me at one point) who think they don’t have enough readers to get paid for their work?
Quality over quantity – sure, you can have 50,000 readers who kind of like you and kind of trust you.
Or you can have 7,000 ride or die readers who you are their go to girl. You are their inspiration, a girl they look up to for something, the girl they DM with any question they have.
Those 7,000 readers are going to be way more valuable from a brand and PR perspective as well. From a brand point of view, most likely you’re going to see more sales, more purchases, more brand awareness from a campaign with a blogger who has 7,000 ride or die readers. Those readers are much more likely to purchase something or interact with a brand because their favorite blogger approves of them.
Breaking this down into a real life example-say I’m Sanitas Skincare, a skincare brand geared towards 20-30 year old women who are focused on anti-aging and taking care of their skin with high-quality ingredients. What’s more valuable to me? Blogger A with 200k followers from ages 18-40 who care about fashion, or Blogger B with 8,000 followers ages 22-32 who are interested in clean living, organic skin care, and using preventative measures for skin care.
Sure, I can try to reach 200k people who might care about my product. Or I can reach 7,000 people who are primed and ready to engage with and purchase my product.
5. What is the major takeaway campers will learn?
The main thing I want to campers to walk away with is simply an inside look at how the flip side of blogging works. Knowing the ins and outs of how brands and PR agencies choose influencers, negotiate with them, and what they expect from them is simply invaluable knowledge you’re not going to get anywhere else.
Summer Camp is the only camp of its kind run by people who work in PR. We’re not talking about working with brands from our experience as bloggers; we’re teaching you how to work with brands from our perspective on the inside.
It’s a huge game changer when you can work with a brand on equal footing. When You can pitch yourself to brands you love, negotiate for more compensation, and overall, you can just make your experience with brands so much more beneficial for your blog.
Here’s what I think
Katherine really knows her stuff y’all, if you couldn’t tell from the interview she just slayed. Not only is she an In Search of Sheila squad member, but she totally gets my message of blogging with intention, purpose, and authenticity.
Her perspective as a blogger is NOT something you’re going to find anywhere. She’s a no-fluff kind of girl and is willing to tell you all the juicy secrets to working with brands AND getting paid for it.
If you have goals to work with brands down the road you can either a) take the time and effort to do the research on how to do it successfully or b) get all the information instantly delivered to you in 5 days setting you up to start pitching to brands within a week.
How much does it cost? $125
I want to be as open and straightforward on the pricing of Summer Camp because I know $125 is a lot of money, but I’d like to put some things into perspective. I know finances can be a struggle, trust me–I’ve been on that boat far too long. I DO believe in investing your blog in things that will help you grow.
If you have a clear idea of your goals and you definitely want to monetize by working with brands, Summer Camp is for you. Katherine vows that you can make 10 times the cost of Camp with brand collaboration in just 1 month by using the exact strategies inside Camp.
There are 5 modules inside the program, each targeting a specific area such as monetizing with Instagram, pricing yourself, etc. If you think of each video being priced at $25, that adds up to $125. But to be completely honest, each module is worth much more than $25!
Plus you get so much more. You will have access to a support system inside our Facebook group where you can chat with experts and other campers 1-on-1. There are also live Q&A sessions each day to discuss the modules plus you have the chance to get a personalized experience by submitting your own blog/Instagram to be used as real life examples.
You guys should know by now that I would NEVER talk about or promote anything on In Search of Sheila that I didn’t genuinely think would benefit you. Summer Camp is an investment that I truly believe in. If you read this post, you know that I highly recommend investing in education for yourself when it comes to growing your blog. You won’t regret it, I promise!
Interested in becoming a camper?
You can find out all the details and enroll in Summer Camp by clicking here. Katherine has laid out what each day will cover, from monetizing your Instagram, pricing and pitching yourself, what brands look for, and all things FTC to keep it legal AF (which I am ALL about.)
You can get a little taste of camp by checking out this blog post and video where Katherine interviews a PR expert on influencer authenticity and working with blogs from a brand’s perspective.
On top of all the great information, there will also be a private Facebook group to connect with the experts and other campers on a deeper level. Plus I’ll be there too! Come learn with us!!
Camp starts on August 7 and will end on August 11. Click HERE to enroll. Can’t wait to see ya there!
What is your experience working with brands and companies? Is Summer Camp something you think would help you? Let me know your thoughts and be sure to share the image below on Pinterest!