Blogger Boundaries, Reviews, and Collaborations
Recently, I’ve been bulking up on my reviews. If I find a product I love, I don’t just want to call my mom and talk about it. I want to share it with the world. I also want to share products that aren’t so lovely. I think product reviews are very helpful, and I know I tend to read reviews if I’m hesitant about making a purchase.
Whether there’s an affiliate link, promo code, or a standard blue link, I always give my honest opinion. Lately, I’ve received some emails and messages from companies who want to collaborate, but they want me to promote rather than review. They also don’t follow any typical blogger/brand etiquette, so I want to break that down a bit more and share the right way to go about collaborations.
Setting Boundaries as a Blogger
When I first started blogging, the idea of working with brands was magical, but I didn’t realize that I needed to set up boundaries. I thought just saying yes constantly was the way to go, and I’m so happy I’ve learned better.
This past week, I had a brand reach out to me through Instagram. Now, I’ve had this happen a few times, but it shocks me every time. The brand started their collaboration “pitch” by telling me I was pretty and so were my blog and Instagram. Then, they told me they “were willing to give me a discount if I promoted their products.” I was stunned.
First of all, I don’t just promote. I review and give my honest opinion. I wouldn’t just promote something without trying it out. Also, blogging is a job. I don’t work for free- a few years ago this statement would have made me feel rude, but it’s true.
Blogging is a real job that takes a lot of real time and effort. So, you have to set boundaries, and those may include setting up price points and your fees. Your work deserves compensation, and don’t ever feel guilty for it.
Personally, I will review for both gifted product and/or payment. If it’s just a gifted product review collaboration, I will do a minimum 300 word blog post as well as share to my social media platforms. However, some products fit into my monthly roundup category, so that is also discussed with the brand.
You have to set up your boundaries, and don’t let brands push you around. There will always be another company if it doesn’t work out with this one or that one.
Ever blogger is different. I can give you a standard estimate for what bloggers charge and how to develop a pitch, but it’s not so black and white. There’s follower count, word count, sharing, images, and so much more that goes into collaborations. A bigger blogger can probably charge more, because they have the numbers. Although, even small time influencers need to set their fees and boundaries, but there’s so much that goes into considering what to charge and what boundaries to set.
Some brands have limits and requirements. Some brands will give you creative freedom, so rather than giving you a cut and dry answer, try asking yourself some questions on where to start your collaborative blogging journey.
- Do you reach out to brands or the other way around? At first, I was intimidated about reaching out, but you can’t let the fear of rejection hold you back. There are 3 ways that land me my sponsored posts and brand collaborations: They pitch, I pitch, or we are connected through an influencer network.
- What are the brands looking for? My first collaboration was strictly for Instagram, and the company didn’t even mention a blog post. Some companies may want a blog post, video, or a social media post. Hell, I’ve worked with brands that requested all 3. The bigger the campaign and collaboration, the more work for me, which means considering compensation options.
- What should you charge? I had no idea what to charge the first time a company asked me my prices. I tend to go with $30 for at least 300 words, but there are so many factors that it’s not easy to set a standard price. Rates can depend on a bunch of factors. Not only do these factors vary from blogger to blogger, but they vary from project to project. Word count, whether no I have to create my own images and graphics, and where the campaign needs to be seen are the main things I take into consideration.
- Is gifted exchange a good option? I’ve heard established bloggers laugh at gifted exchange and say it’s only for novice bloggers. Then again, I’ve also seen established bloggers who love gifted exchange. It’s about what YOU believe is fair and what works for you. Personally, I love gifted exchange, depending on the products. I’m a mom and lifestyle blogger, so I enjoy being gifted a wide variety of stuff to review. It also gets my blog out there more and helps open up other doors.
- When do you say no? This is something I thought I’d never do, but I’ve given my fair share of “I appreciate the offer, but no thank yous.” A few weeks ago, I had a company offer to pay me to review a hemorrhoid cream. I haven’t had an issue with that since I gave birth 4 years ago. Compensation or not, I wouldn’t be able to honestly try the product and give my review. It still makes me laugh a bit thinking about that specific offer, but the point is that it’s okay to say no because not all collaborations will fit what you do.
These are just some of the main questions I try to ask myself. Honestly, there’s a lot that goes into considering a collaboration.
Becoming a Brand Ambassador
Working with brands can lead to doing giveaways, sharing Ads, and even brand ambassadorship. I’ve worked as a brand ambassador, but it’s not for everyone.
Being an ambassador can vary from brand to brand, but basically, the blogger is like a spokesperson of sorts. As an ambassador, you typically do regular posts about the company and what they offer. Depending on the situation, the brand may also offer free products, payment, or a continuous discount of their products.
I was an ambassador for a workout clothing company, and I was required to post twice a month and include images of myself wearing the clothing. I also received a promotional discount code to offer to others. If someone purchased clothing using my code, I would receive a percentage.
The discount I received was a fair chunk larger than the code I was given for my readers, and while I made some money doing it, I had to break up with that brand. I also wrote a post about breaking up with brands that you can read here.
Remember you are in charge of your content. You’re in charge of making the decisions of who to work with, what you charge, and what you’re willing to put out. It does take compromise sometimes, but remember this is your job. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, and don’t sell yourself short.
Remember not to try and fit yourself into a box. What works for some bloggers, doesn’t work for all. Every blogger is different, and that’s one of the magical aspects of what we do. You’re your own boss, and you got this. Set boundaries that work for your hustle.