EPISODE 030: HOW TO PRICE YOUR WORK AND BUILD LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS WITH BRANDS WITH ALLI KELLEY
About: At Longbourn Farm, I share simple homemade recipes - old classics remade from scratch and new homemade favorites. I believe that family meals create special moments and those moments become treasured memories. The kitchen is truly the heart of every home. In addition to tried-and-true kitchen favorites, I share practical farm and garden tips for the hobby farmer or avid gardener. I also give educational tidbits about farming and food production, as I believe knowledge and choices in the grocery store empower you to feel confident in the kitchen!
Notes from Episode #030: Building Long Term Relationships with Brands
Fun fact: Alli lives on a hobby farm with lots of animals. All of their sheep that are named after food. Mr Pickles, Fig, Maple and Peppercorn.
How to find brands contact info and how to price your work:
There are a couple of online tools to help you determine a rate to charge: Social Bluebook and Fhor are two. You can contact brands through these sites but Alli prefers to reach out personally.
Alli updates her pricing quarterly so she knows what to charge for her work.
These sites help you to generate a price to charge for your services, but they give you a wide range but that is just what you charge for your reach online. You also have to take into account: ingredients, materials, equipment, photography, video, recipe development, expertise and time. Don’t undervalue your expertise in your niche! That’s what they’re paying you for.
Your traffic increases at different times of the year so price accordingly. Ad budgets are tapped out at the beginning of the year so don’t charge 4th quarter rates then. You can do an average price all year but Alli recommends customizing it.
How to pitch a brand
Always be authentic when pitching and always be thinking of your audience!
Allie has a prepared media kit and a rate sheet. When she reaches out to a brand, she’ll find out who to speak to then she always focuses her pitch on something she notices they are working on, or a hashtag they are using. She’ll offer to send out her media kit and use that as a call to action with them. Alli doesn’t send the rate sheet with the media kit because she wants to pitch her highest package every time and then work backwards from there.
Alli has 4 different packages in her media kit - the full package includes -blog post, all socials, video, photos, standard licensing. Then she has smaller packages like Instagram packages too.
How to sell something that is just IG: Take into account your photography, linking to them in your bio, your time, etc.
-How to lead negotiations confidently and positively
A lot of brands aren’t familiar with working with bloggers, so you’re going to be the expert and you can positively lead the conversation for you and the brand. Feel empowered!
Go in with knowledge. Know your data. Google Analytics and analytics from your socials is important to know. You can’t pitch with confidence when you don’t know what your audience is going to relate to. Know your audience.
A brand doesn’t want a novel idea. They want a good idea. They want something you know you can pull off.
Understand all the legal parts of working with a brand.
Have a contract made up for you, or create one for yourself and then have a lawyer firm it up. Then you know what your willing to compromise on and what you’re not. Then if the brand doesn’t have one, you can provide yours. This will help you with confidence too by being prepared and professional.
Selling points: You need to know a few things when you’re pitching to a brand: does your audience responds to X?What will get engagement up? Where are you bringing this information - Pinterest? IG? FB? What keywords can you rank with over time (with your evergreen content you’re providing to a Brand). What kind of content will be successful for your audience AND the brand. Your audience should always be on the forefront of your mind as you pitch.
You write your blog for your audience. They pay your bill with ad impressions, engaging on a sponsoring post, tapping through an affiliate link, so your data provides that information to you.
Think about the time frame you’re checking out your data from - 30 days or more?
Ask your audience questions. This helps get a pulse of what they want and are interested in. Gives you great ideas of what they are looking for and what they want more of.
People get fearful that you can’t deliver to a brand but if you know your audience, you can deliver.
Alli uses a Trello board for each Brands that she works with. She doesn’t track pitches.
Some Brands use a platform that everyone uses and then all communication and documentation is in one spot. Alli recommends documenting some of it in your own system though.
At what point should you be charging for your work?
It’s always ok to be asked to be paid for your work. Who goes to work and does it for free?! This is just your photos, just your videos. This is just your time, just your expertise, just your audience. You are worth being paid.
Don’t be rude when interacting with Brand reps. If you are offered free product for doing work, here’s some ways to respond; I’m just so glad you love my content, and that you’re interested in working together. I’d love to send a rate sheet over. Let me know if you are working with a budget. If not, I’m happy to feature a product in my Instant Stories for free. By offering Insta stories as a free option, this also gives you data to respond to them with sharing what a response was to a product too and hopefully start up a partnership down the line.
Always charge for your time, unless it directly offsets a business cost for you. If you have a need for something that is a little more pricey, an appliance or something that costs more than you want to invest, you may want to start iwth that as payment. But otherwise, your time is worth money.
Pricing is hard but if it feels scary, you’re asking the right price.
How to have a successful partnership
Communicate clearly, make sure your work is done on time if not early, include an extra post somewhere, follow up with those stats. Let them know you’re easy to work with and worth our time and money.
Under promise, over deliver is the goal.
How to continue working with a brand after the initial contract is finished and create a lasting partnership
Think about the Brands you want to have long term relationships with before starting that relationship.
If you work with a Brand that you liked and it was a success for both, then it’s great to continue a long term relationship. Save the stats for a 30 and 60 days so you can have your own tracking and information. Then Alli recommends communicating with your contact at the Brand with these statistics. It gives you an opportunity to share what you’ve accomplished, then in the same email, you have the perfect opportunity to pitch a couple of more ideas to continue the relationship. This can be on this same project or a new one down the line to help launch working together longer.
Alli doesn’t include stats in her contract so this is an above and beyond tool she has for selling herself.
Always be kind and polite with the Brand. You never know their experience with bloggers, you’re establishing a relationship and setting the tone. If they don’t know how to work with bloggers, you’re setting the bar. If they have, maybe it wasn’t a good experience or they had a simple relationship and you’re providing more in this relationship so it’s good for both sides.
It’s normal and ok if you are not successful overnight. Most blogs are a slow burn, not an explosion.
The way you’re going to grow is to really niche down.
Don’t do everything, do one thing. DO it really well.
Get to know your audience and trust your stats and trust your gut.
Don’t change on a whim.
Be strategic based on data. It will grow if you keep going.
Don’t change directions when you hear a new idea.
Helpful references from the episode:
-Food Blogger Pro Episode 130 interview with Jenny Melrose
-Blogging FB groups are a great source of information
-Conferences like EFC and Tastemaker have great information on pitching, creating sponsored work, and contract writing.
-Hashtag Legal has great information on contract writing.
-Kind of old school, but the book How to Win Friends and Influence People was actually very helpful for me when it comes to creating positivity during negotiations!