Yesterday I had the pleasure of stopping by Leeds to enjoy a day of blogging and networking. Her Icelolly, a holiday price comparison site, invited a group of amazing bloggers to its office for a beach-themed day. There were cocktails, palm trees, more cocktails, sun loungers, and…well…more cocktails. It was a lot of fun and I finally got a chance to meet a lot of the bloggers I’ve been tweeting with over the years.
look – there’s #gin somewhere in the frothy cocktails #blogatthebeach
photo posted by @mrsatwwah on August 1, 2015 at 6:16am PDT
I was thrilled when Icelolly asked me to speak about working with travel brands. Even though I work with a variety of brands on a daily basis, it still feels strange to consider myself an “expert” on a subject. She had two other speakers. Robb Frost, who spoke on SEO, and Greg Brand, who spoke on creating travel videos. For those of you who couldn’t make it to Leeds, here’s a little summary of what we all had to say…
My talk – Working with travel brands without losing your style
When bloggers collaborate with brands, we usually receive a product or service for free in exchange for blogging about it. When I say “without losing your style,” I basically mean “without selling out.” Working with brands is great, but it’s important to stay true to your blogging style and only work with brands that fit your niche.
It can be hard to say no to some “freebies”, so it’s best to only accept what you’re really paying for. Everything you write on your blog must also pass the “best friend test.” Would you wholeheartedly recommend a product, service, hotel, or company to a close friend? If so, blog about it! If not, please don’t write a glowing review just because you received it for free.
I used the example of a travel blogger I met who wrote great travel content. Then one day, I wrote a review of a washing machine. What? Sure, you need a washing machine, but there’s also time and space for writing reviews and travel blogs. It’s called a sellout in exchange for a free washing machine.
monica from travel blogging royalty @thetravelhack talks about pitching and working with brands #BlogAtTheBeach Photo posted by Frances B (@frances_m_b) on August 1, 2015 at 7:21am PDT
What brands want from bloggers
It’s very important to know what a brand wants from you as a blogger before you start working together. That way, you can be sure to deliver the results they expect and set expectations before starting the job. You can plan out the work you plan to do in advance so everyone is on the same page and no one is disappointed with the results.
What brands look for in bloggers
Personality – Don’t dilute your personality with your blog. Because that’s what brands want. They’re already paying copywriters and SEO writers, but what they’re really looking for is honest opinions and first-hand experience.
Professionalism – Most bloggers are hobby bloggers and do it for the fun of creating things online. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be professional, especially when working with brands. Always meet deadlines, create quality content, and act professionally at events.
Multi-skilled bloggers – Brands are looking for bloggers who can do it all. Writing, photography, video, and social media.
Statistics – No kidding here. Statistics matter and the more followers you have, the more people will want to work with you. By statistics we mean the unique views of your blog and the number of social media followers and subscribers. Icelolly staff emphasized that they always prioritize quality over quantity, and that engagement is also taken into account. Brands are aware, so there is no point in buying followers and fooling large audiences.
Niche – A specific niche helps you stand out from the crowd, attract traffic via Google, and become an expert on a particular topic. Don’t worry about fitting yourself into a box when it comes to your niche. You may miss some opportunities, but the right opportunity will find you eventually.
What to include in your pitch
If you want to work with a specific brand, you need to send a pitch to that brand. Here are 10 things to include in your pitch:
- Who are you?
- About your blog
- Do you have a specialty? No? Get one!
- what do you want?
- What will you offer in return?
- Why your brand fits
- Examples of past brand collaborations
- Testimonials (or links to media packs)
- Can you provide additional information such as videos, professional photography, extensive blogs, websites, coverage in print publications, etc that could provide something of great value or increase sales? If you can prove that, you can also work on paid collaborations.
We’re spending a day in Leeds with #BlogAtTheBeach. Let’s meet again!
Photo posted by Frances B (@frances_m_b) on Aug 1, 2015 at 1:08am PDT
Robb Frost: Digital Marking in 2015: A blogger’s basic guide
Much of it was technical advice, but here are some of my key takeaways:
Use WordPress (From my point of view, if you are using another platform and are considering switching to WordPress, you should do it sooner rather than later. Your blog will only grow, so you should switch sooner rather than later.) I wish I had.)
Rob emphasized that setting up your blog correctly is very important. If you’re not receiving the Google traffic you’d like, it’s worth talking to a professional to make sure your blog is set up properly. Many bloggers don’t set up their blogs correctly, or their themes confuse their settings, so Google can’t actually find your blog.
Use Google keywords to find the phrases people are actually searching for. Rob used the example of people searching for “Bali vacation” more than “vacation to Bali.” Don’t start writing like a robot or forcing keywords into your sentences. However, a basic understanding of SEO can have a big impact on Google traffic, so it’s worth knowing.
Optimize your posts for Google using the WordPress plugin Yoast or WordPress SEO.
Please include only one H1 tag in your blog post. Otherwise Google will be confused
Bing’s Webmaster Tools are much better than Google’s Webmaster Tools. Granted, no one uses Bing, but Webmaster Tools is worth checking out.
Track your blog’s rankings using Majestic.com and moz.com.
it smells like Mexico, thanks @thealchemisttl and @icelollyholiday #BlogAtTheBeachComp ?
Photo posted by Bee (@queenbeady) on Aug 1, 2015 at 6:12am PDT
Greg Brand – Travel Video Q&A
I’ve listened to Greg a few times over the years, and his passion for video production never ceases to amaze me. He has so much energy and so much great advice.
Here are the key takeaways from Greg’s talk:
Use as much natural light as possible
the latest trend in vlogging is natural video work. The footage isn’t perfect, but it has a raw, unedited feel to it. It’s time to step in front of the camera and be yourself.
Additionally, when watching videos, viewers want a lot of information in a short amount of time. It’s been said that our attention spans are getting shorter, but Greg says we’re simply used to receiving a lot of information quickly and not fast enough. I think you’ll get tired of it.
Greg recommends using Beme. A new video app that lets you record 4 seconds of video without looking at what you’re shooting. Click here to learn more about Beme.
“With Beme, video recording happens in 4-second bursts via the rear camera. However, instead of pressing the record button and looking at the screen to see what you’re capturing, the iPhone’s proximity sensor (front (the small dot next to the camera) to capture video.”
Greg recommends adopting an app like Beme early to gain more followers, especially if you’re new to video creation and have zero followers on YouTube.
I agree to some extent, but I think it’s hard to know which apps to spend your time on. New apps come out every day, and you never know which apps will become popular. So you can end up wasting a lot of time on apps that never catch on. We recommend sticking with the apps you enjoy using. At least you’ll have fun using it.
Collaborate with other bloggers to share your audience and create something new.
Grow your YouTube following by creating regular content – consider one video per week
YouTube ranks videos based on the number of minutes watched, not the number of views. The more minutes you can encourage viewers to watch, the better.
When creating videos, try to mimic the human eye. Our eyes don’t zoom, so don’t zoom on the video.
Use a stabilizer or gimble to stabilize your shots
it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you use. It’s all about how you use it. Greg showed us this video created on an iPhone 5s to prove that you don’t need anything special to create great content.
Where to find music for your videos:
- YouTube – free music
- AudioJungle and Pond5 – Get affordable music for about $30
- TheMusicBed and AudioNetwork – Expensive but great music
A huge thank you to our lovely friends at Icelolly for organizing such a wonderful day. This was one of the best networking events I’ve ever attended and it was so much fun.
If you have any other questions about working with brands or the #BlogAtTheBeach event, please leave them in the comments below. I will call you back.