Why I didn’t pick your blog to work with our brand

Why I didn't pick your blogOne of the benefits of talking to a lot of brands is hearing their thoughts on the kinds of bloggers they like to work with — the ones that get them really excited and the ones that leave them cold (sad but true).

If you don’t want to be in the latter category, we’ve compiled this list that helps you be a blog a brand wants to work with again and again. That requires taking a cold hard look at your blog, or even asking someone else to weigh in. It requires nerve and a pull-no-punches approach to a blog that you’ve nurtured and lavished attention on. Be bold, be brave and ask yourself these hard questions so you can become one of those blogs brands rave about.

Questions to ask yourself to become a blog brands love:

  • What kind of URL do you have? Officially, free WordPress blogs can’t carry sponsored content, so many are ruled out. Also, your own domain/URL conveys professionalism. Read this post about vanity URLs.
  • How does your physical blog text look? Is it clean? Can you clearly read it? That means be wary of reversed text (ie white on black), no coloured text, no “fun” fonts rather than a classic serif or sans serif typeface. Text should be flush left, not centred or — god forbid — flush right. Think The Guardian, Vogue, and BBC websites. If your type looks too different from these, it’s time to reevaluate.
  • Is your blog design clean and professional? What does it look like? Have you spent some time researching simple design? With beautiful themes so plentiful and cheap, there’s no reason to struggle with an ill-designed or dated design (how many times have you seen the standard Blogger blue/green template?). Lots of times a blog that looks good will be chosen over a blog with superior writing because first impressions count. Read this post to help decide if you need a design rethink.
  • Do you use images? Companies like Canva make it super easy (and often free) to incorporate drop-dead images into your social posts. Take advantage.
  • Are your photos high quality? You don’t have to be Ansel Adams, but how much thought have you given to your photos? Have you used natural light? Given any thought to composition? Bigger IS better. Pin-sharp focus is key. Here are 5 tips for better blog photos.
  • Do you engage with your audience? Do you take the time to cultivate a readership, or do you sit back and hope the comments will come? Do you have a good conversation going in comments? Do you respond to each comment? These actions make your blog vibrant and engaged. Without them, it can seem like a ghost town. We know one brand that specifically checks if a blogger engages with his/her readers and responds to every comment. To them, that’s a blogger who cares about his/her audience.
  • Are you working your social channels? Are you on the Big Five (Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram and Pinterest). Do you engage or is it all one-sided link sharing? If you are particularly good in one social channel, make sure you highlight that.
  • How impressive are your page views? While it is not the end-all, be-all, page views do matter. Be strategic and work to make sure your blog gets read (carve out 45 minutes to watch our hangout with Guy Kawasaki, where he blows away some misconceptions about how to get traffic).
  • Do you create great content? If your blog is all giveaways and product reviews, well, it looks like your just there for free stuff. It’s a real turnoff to brands if all of your latest content is reviews. A ratio of at least 2 “regular” posts to 1 “brand” post is a good starting point.
  • Most of the brands we work with will steer clear of bad language. #justsaying
  • How’s your spelling? A typo here or there can be tolerated. But a sentinse ful of then is not on.
  • Are you obsessed with rankings? It’s good to be ranked but don’t let them take away from other important concerns. Some brands love rankings, some don’t. Often, the top ranked blogs are inundated with opportunities and emails. Make sure that when someone looks outside the rankings to find keen bloggers, they find fresh content and an authentic voice.
  • Does your blog convey professionalism? That is, do you respond to your emails? Do you decline offers politely? Do you moderate your drinking at events? One blogger was at a blogger event and drank a wee bit too much (hey, it happens). The problem was they were a sloppy drunk, barking orders for yet even more drinks at the PR manager. Yah, embarrassing and cringeworthy.
  • Do you follow through? Have you ever agreed to a campaign, and then not delivered? Sometimes thing go awry (sick kids, unexpected snags). Alert the folks you’re working with, otherwise you become one of those bloggers that just can’t be relied on.
  • Do you go the extra mile? Do you share your posts on your social channels, even if you haven’t been asked? I know one blogger who revisits campaigns and reshares, copying in the brand. They love it!

You don’t have to have the biggest blog out there. Brands love your authentic voices, unique perspectives and the stories you tell. Focus on your niche, be the best you can, answer these questions and you’ll be the kind of blog quality brands want to know.

Homepage image: Girls before white doors by Fotovika via Shutterstock

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  1. 03 October 2014 / 13:12

    Really interesting post, and something that doesn’t get talked about enough. You can never please everybody – for every brand who’s put off bloggers who fight on Twitter, there will be those that like that and find it edgy, or aren’t clued up enough to realise. Some brands will back away from blogs with strong political content, or honesty about mental health issues. But does that mean we should stopping posting about that stuff? Hell no. The great thing about blogs is how free the are from the regular media publishing constraints, and how they will tackle subjects that magazines won’t. If that puts off a few brands in the process then that’s fine – they wouldn’t have been a good fit for you anyway.

  2. 03 October 2014 / 14:18

    Really interesting – easy to get tunnel vision sometimes I think, and forget what your blog looks like to someone coming to it fresh (unless that is just me).

  3. 04 October 2014 / 14:51

    I agree with Joanne sometimes brands do back away from blogs if they are seen as different, yet other brands see that as way of reaching a new audience. Brands are like people each one is different

  4. 07 October 2014 / 10:59

    Thanks for this. Really helpful article. I need to update my design and am to read the link you mentioned in your post 🙂

  5. 07 October 2014 / 11:00

    Thanks for this post, very insightful and definitely helpful to bloggers at any stage (we all need reminders). I like that you’re not focused on rankings as in my experience, that can impress some brands/PRs but the ones you really want to work with are those that have taken the time to appreciate your content and your ethos and can figure out if you’re a good fit for their campaign.

    As someone who works with brands via my blog and connects bloggers to brands, first impressions do count for a lot. A striking design and a well defined vision or voice are definitely some of your strongest selling points as a blogger!

  6. 14 October 2014 / 13:51

    That’s such an interesting post, thanks for sharing all this info!

  7. MsXpat
    14 October 2014 / 16:45

    Very useful information. Sometimes were never know why we are just missing the mark. Thank you for sharing

  8. 14 October 2014 / 16:47

    Very useful post. Great to hear the other side of the other of things. Some times you never know why you’re missing the mark.

  9. 26 October 2014 / 23:33

    Interesting read, thanks. Lots of the bigger brands tend to work with the same high traffic brands and as a marketer this makes perfect sense but as a blogger it can feel frustrating.

    The challenge is convincing brands you are a worthy partner despite not having the highest traffic stats

  10. 01 February 2015 / 18:16

    I have been blogging for a few years as a hobby but have just begun to seek out sponsored content. Your tips look really useful. I’m going to go through each one and test it against my blog. Thanks.

  11. 02 June 2015 / 20:28

    Such a brilliant post for new and experienced bloggers alike. I think having a professional, slick blog bursting with brilliant content, and importantly being professional yourself, and on your social media is key. Developing and nurturing those relationships and being good to work with is crucial too.