Does it ever seem like some bloggers get all of the love from advertisers and media? You're not crazy, and the reality is that gifted product, sponsored features, CPM display ads, collaborations and all of the things that allow bloggers to go pro aren't spread evenly across the fashion blogosphere. Regardless of how you choose to monetize your site, chances are it's going to involve working with brands in some way. Whether it's a PR request for product or a larger collaboration, interaction with the marketing department or an agency to sell ad space, fashion and beauty brands collectively dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars each year towards advertising online. That's the good news, of course. The bad? There are a number of reasons why brands don't want to work with you, and won't invite you to take any coins from their ad budget pot of gold.
It's Not You, It's Them
Like any relationship, building a relationship with a brand usually depends on a number of factors. Some of them will be totally outside of anything that you can control, but there are a few “it's them” reasons that you can adapt to.
1. The Timing Is Off
Most of the advertising and publicity campaigns you see now were actually planned months ago. There were likely meetings where people working at the brands got together, looked at a bunch of numbers from previous months and years, and decided how much they were going to allocate to social media, and influencer (that would be you, the blogger) marketing, and display marketing and so on.
So while you may have an awesome series on swimsuits, that could have done really well with ads for sunglasses, or sunscreen or any multitude of related beach things, if you weren't on the radar of these brands in February or March while media planning decisions were being made, you'll probably be left out.
The Fix: Print is a dying, decaying dinosaur that's big and slow, right? Sort of, but as fast as tweets and blog posts can be published, the collective online asteroid that threatens to kill it hasn't taken it out yet. Your favorite magazine has their editorial calendar lined up months in advance. While cover stars and other specifics might change until the last minute, the general overview doesn't.
Year after year, Vogue always has a “shape” issue where they remind readers that there are clothes available for ladies with bodies of a different shape than the models and celebrities usually featured (who knew?!). Vanity Fair has their “Young Hollywood” issue because there are only so many cover stories you can do on old, sometimes dead Hollywood (still love you Marilyn M.). Take a note from the old school and plan out certain editorial sections a few months in advance. It might seem predictable, and a bit formulaic, but it's easy for advertisers and publicists to understand when considering how your blog can fit in with their planning.
Do This Right Now Hint: Now is the time to start organizing your pitches to brands for September and fall ads, when brands allocate more money to advertising. It doesn't matter if you're in a bikini taking long walks on the beach this minute, start planning and pitching fall fashion ideas now.
And in September? Make sure your gift guide ideas or whatever you're planning for the holiday season hits the inbox of those same brands
2. The Budget Is Off
This is closely related to timing, but an issue of its own, and applies to brands at every level. Part of why you need to get in early is because you have a better shot at getting the best rates. While it's not impossible for agencies or brand representatives to get an increased budget in the middle of or towards the end of a campaign, it's not as easy for publishers to get top rates once half the budget is already gone.
In other cases, even at big brands, there is no budget. While there may be a brand manager who really strongly believes that they should be working with bloggers because they influence people to buy, that person's boss may decide that the company will only work with bloggers on an unpaid basis – even if the brand could afford to pay. More than a few high end brands fall into this category. Those $70-100,000 per page magazine ads are how they've always done it, and it probably takes 10 meetings before someone who feels like fashion blogs are over will give the okay for even a test campaign. At smaller brands, there may not be an advertising or PR budget at all, so it's not just a matter of selling them on working with your blog, it's a matter of selling them on spending money on advertising at all.
The Fix: Find your data-backed, proven strength. Data and numbers can be a much more convincing argument than anything else when pushing for brands to work with you on a paid basis. Do you have a strong Facebook following? If you're a page manager, you can use Facebook insights to see what countries the people who like your page are from. Using Graph Search, you can also see what other pages or brands they're into. If you have a high concentration of people from a targeted country, who like brands similar to the ones you're pitching, that's a compelling reason why the brand needs to do business with you. Find out what it would cost to target those same people using paid ads, and use that to make the case for why advertising through your blog and social media accounts is worth what you're asking.
3. The Brand Is Changing
For those in the US, do you remember Burger King's ads with the creepy king, and the over the top overtures to the frat boy type of guy? Going on the fact that “the King” and his giant, nightmare inducing plastic head are gone, at some point brand executives decided to try something different. If you had a blog that appealed to that crowd, you may have been a fit with the old advertising and brand image, but might not be a great fit for current messaging or the direction they want to go in.
And these shifts are often kept private for months before they happen, so you don't get a convenient memo announcing “we're shifting from a focus on classic, professional style do edgy, downtown style for the next two seasons.”
So while your workwear focused blog may have been the perfect partner for a previous collection, if the current brand strategy is to target a more casual audience, you may not fit into the media plan any more.
The Fix: The answer here is definitely not to overhaul your blog focus on the whims of brands. If your audience trusts your opinion on a certain kind of fashion (and you're happy with occupying that niche), you'll attract other brands who do want to target your audience. Just as brand messaging changed once, it can change again, and being consistent in your own blogging will make your site even more appealing.
If you find yourself consistently being turned down for opportunities with brands though, it could be you. In the second part of this post, we'll explore some of the reasons why brands don't want to work with you when it's not them (it's you).
[Image Credit: Shutterstock.com]