This year, I attended BritMums Live with the intention of learning as much as I could about taking the next step on my blogging journey. I have been blogging since 2006, but apart from a couple of years freelance writing, I have never really focused on using the skills I have gained professionally. All this changed following my redundancy at the beginning of this year, so I was excited to learn that one of my favourite bloggers – Emily Leary from A Mummy Too – was leading a session called Turning Pitches into Profit.
Emily’s session was really insightful (as well as incredibly enjoyable, she really has a great presenting style!) and I thought it would be helpful to type up the notes I made for anyone who couldn’t make the session at BritMums Live last weekend.
As per Emily’s suggestion at the start of her session, try to keep in mind a brand that you’d like to work with whilst you read these notes. Consider whether they fit in with what you write about, and therefore what your audience will want to read!
The Basics of Pitching
- Pitching is not blagging – it is about proposing a mutually beneficial working relationship.
- A good pitch outline will include: who you are; your ideas; what you can bring to the brand; and your rates.
- Who are you? – Your blog strapline (if you have one) may well give you an idea for this. Keep it simple, 1-2 sentences to describe your blog. Remember this may change depending on who you’re pitching to.
- Who is it for? – Who is your imagined reader? PRs want to know about your demographics (use your stats, such as google analytics, for this). If there is a key statistic in there, use it, but don’t just rely on stats alone. You will stand out above others by knowing who your readers are. (At this point I was reminded of By Regina’s Ideal Reader Profile that I used when first developing a blog plan at the beginning of this year – you may find this useful too).
- What type of content does best? – Look at your most popular posts – what kind of post are they and why do you think these are so popular? Brands and PRs will often split their target audience into several subgroups, e.g. those who love to read and those who love “how-to” posts, so knowing which kind of content does best on your blog may help you here.
At this point in the session, Emily suggested we choose three pieces of our content which shows our best work. I realised the posts I am most proud of are not necessarily ones which are most relevant to brands, so it certainly made me think about this in a whole new light!
Finding Your Best Content
- You could start a Pinterest board that is dedicated to your blog and allows you to showcase what you can do. Alternatively you could create a simple list of links showing your best posts. This will then become something you can send to PRs and brands to show what you can do far more efficiently that sharing your entire blog (where you may have a lot of information that is irrelevant to that particular brand).
- If you’re written something specific (in my case, this would be posts on Endometriosis and HG) they may no longer be relevant to you and what you’re writing about now. But they will always continue to be relevant to others who are facing those things in their lives right now, and so they can still be some of your best content.
Know Your “Hero Stats”
- If you have received details from other brands, look at what language they use and what they are looking for. This can help you determine the best language and focus to use when pitching. You can also use social media and blogging groups to learn more about the brands you hope to pitch to.
- What is your reach? – Don’t just include your blog stats, include your social media following, number of subscribers, and any other stat which might create the right impact.
- Choose your “hero stats” and give the brands/PRs what they want to hear (think about how infographics and press releases only give you the key information you need to know).
- Keep all your stats in a folder on your computer for easy access – this cuts down on time without having to go to each place every time you need them (and update this regularly).
Working Out Your Fees
- There is no “magic number” of what to charge – someone with a smaller reach than you may still be worth more to a brand within their niche.
- It can be helpful to talk to other bloggers now and again to find out what the “going rate” is. (Blogging groups can be good for this, and if anyone is mean to you, leave the group… there are lots of supportive groups out there, you don’t need to stay in one where people aren’t friendly!)
- Fees will be determined by a number of factors, including: research and relevance; quality (this will vary); work involved (factor in travel, materials etc); and licensing (will it be used elsewhere).
- Top Tier bloggers (i.e. those who are top of the various blogging charts) earn, on average, £250-£500 per piece of content, with £250 being a very simple piece and £500 for very specific work.
- If you are relatively new to blogging, you may not get this kind of money, but remember that you are worth the time you put in and if you are working for less than the minimum wage, you need to question whether it is really worth it.
Know The Brand
- Research the brand you want to pitch to thoroughly – use publications such as PR Week and Marketing Week and find out all about their latest work as well as previous campaigns. This will tell you why the brand has hired a PR company, what their advertising does, and what their key message is.
- A brand’s advertising department will have their own targets that they have to meet, so you need to be aware of this. Make it easy for them to go to their bosses and explain why you would be a good choice!
Communication is Crucial
- Cold pitching is like cold calling – get in touch with the brand and start a conversation. Explain why you want to work with them and this will hopefully lead to a “warm pitch”.
- If you receive a press release, try pitching you idea in response (if it is relevant). For instance, you could explain that you don’t normally publish press releases, but at this time you have an idea and would like to work with the brand.
- Remember that you won’t win every pitch, but take every opportunity. There aren’t many PRs who will be annoyed by a conversation, as it is their job to engage. Even if you don’t win this time, you could still have made a good impression meaning they may contact you next time an opportunity arises. Slowly, but surely, the number of contacts you create will increase.
- Figure out your Terms and Conditions and make them accessible (e.g. they could be on a blog page that isn’t easily searchable but you can still link to when needed).
- Know the law and regulations
- Always disclose any sponsored work and be clear about this
- Remember that in all creative industries, some people will steal your ideas. It happens, unfortunately, so try to trust the brand before contacting them.
- Be super positive when talking to PRs
- Always be polite
- And always be enthusiastic
I really hope that I have done Emily’s amazing session justice in these notes and that they make as much sense to everyone else as they do to me.
I’ve written my notes from other sessions on the blog as well, as part of a new series entitled “Lessons from #britmumslive”. You can find the other posts below: