How and Why I Work with Brands as a Blogger

How and Why I work with brands as a blogger

Take a look in your wardrobe and at your shoe collection? Are all of those items, the shirts, jeans, trainers, boots etc all from the same shop? Same brand?

I’m guessing not.

Mine aren’t either. I have old faves and new items that are perhaps a bit trendy for me from Topshop, there’s a LOT of Zara in there. You’d be horrified at how much J Crew I have tucked into my cupboards and how many pairs of American Eagle Outfitters Jeans and shorts I have justified buying. And let’s not even talk about shoes…

Just like my everyday wardrobe is a gathering of pieces that I’ve liked from brands, collections and shops, so too is this blog. And it’s why I feel like it’s comparable to work with a variety of sports brands (and others) on this blog to bring you the best of what’s out there, pick my faves (and honestly review the others!).

Lets address the elephant in the room/on blogs currently (or at least the elephant that I’m super aware of…) and that’s the sponsored blogs.

Unfortunately, because of the way things have worked out with some delays in sign off, very last minute feedback, a re-shoot and some bad scheduling on my behalf, there will be a couple of sponsored posts over the next week. Not ideal and something I try really hard to avoid.

I like to share my honest life and training with you guys, the readers, and do the majority of that with unsponsored content. However, because I’m relying on this blog for some of my income to help me study to become a Dietitian (a four year University course that I’m enjoying but is £££ especially now that I’ve lost a lot of NHS funding after getting engaged).

I thought I’d open up a little on the subject of sponsored posts, as I know a lot of readers and other bloggers are very anti sponsored posts, while others like them.

How and Why I work with brands as a blogger

There are a couple of main reasons why I work with companies on collaborative content that I wanted to divulge;

To Share Information 

I ALWAYS try to give you guys some value added from the sponsored posts. I write something that I hope is interesting, useful, informative or at the very least, entertaining for you all to read and NEVER post regurgitated, pre-written content on my blog. EVER.

I’m actually really proud of some of the sponsored posts I’ve written, like this post I wrote on How to Choose A Healthy Ready Meal in partnership with Asda. The blog was designed to help you make an informed decision, regardless of where you shop and I hope that came across.

When new products/races/kit are released, brands will often get in touch asking me to share that information, whether it’s a kit review, a race recap, or event – if it’s something that I think fits with my blog, things I’m interested in and think you might too, then I’ll share it – like the North London Half Festival! I try very hard to ensure that the brands I work with are a good fit for me, the blog and you guys, the readers.

My promise continues to be that I will never be paid to write a review – instead I’d always rather include information about a product within a relevant, interesting post. I think it’s important to be able to ensure that the review blogs are honest and impartial… and I’ve definitely shot myself in the foot with this after posting some less than positive reviews on shoes/races etc in the past (like this one). However I feel that falling off the PR email list for a brand is worth keeping my integrity and authenticity!

I also acknowledge that I’ve worked with companies that you might not typically associate with a ‘health’ blogger – however, I am a huge believer in balance, and that our diets shouldn’t be perfect. So I do partner with brands like Robinson’s who I do very much use at home (we drink quite a lot of squash – a habit I can’t and won’t kick) but know they use artificial sweetener, which I don’t love. However, in my mind it’s better than a full sugar or fizzy drink. And if any gin brands come my way…you better believe I’ll be sharing that love on the blog 🙂

How and Why I work with brands as a blogger

To Create Content

A lot of the opportunities I’ve had through sponsored posts or collaborations with brands allows me to create content to share with you guys. For instance, working with Adidas allowed me to run the Boston and London marathons this year – meaning months of training content plus race recap posts and videos which you guys seem to like 😉

Quite honestly I wouldn’t have the awesome photos that I have on the blog and Instagram without sponsored posts. I pay Anna (and before that Will) for their creativity. I am really lucky to utilise her skills to help tell illustrate my words. I think it really adds to the look and feel of my blog, and I’m so proud of the content we create together. Great photos are definitely something that attracts me to blogs and Instagram accounts.

Plus there are only so many riverside selfies that I can post on both my blog and social media…

I work with brands on sponsored social and blog posts – sometimes they come to me with a full, strict brief, an outline or topic, or just a title. My favourite way to work with a brand is when they give me a product and allow me to pitch ideas that will work for my blog (and hopefully provide interesting content) – such as this blog on post-run/workout hair styles. I never accept pre-written posts or content, and always ensure that the post retains my own voice, thoughts and integrity.

Most often a brand will get in contact with me asking to work together, either with a structured plan or a vague idea (or sometimes no idea!) but occasionally I will get in contact with a brand that I want to partner with and pitch ideas to them – with varying degrees of success 😳.

Keeping it real – there have also been occasions where I’ve been asked to come up with content ideas, or been contacted about a campaign with a brand, only for them to say they’ve chosen someone else, don’t have the budget anymore or are going in a different direction. That always hurts, and makes me feel like I’m not good enough however I’m trying to learn not to take it to heart.

How and Why I work with brands as a blogger

Because it’s Cool 

Honestly, blogging at my level and those just starting up is probably the worst paid ‘job’ you can do. You work for hours and hours for nothing, or a pair of socks, working up to a free race entry, then trainers, then finally maybe a paid collaboration. After all, trainers will not pay my rent or keep my fridge stocked with almond milk. And often that’s OK. Heck, I made zero pounds from this blog for years and years (and spent a fair whack on hosting/design etc) because I loved writing, I loved communicating with you guys and I loved the cool freebies. I still do love all of that. But the money is a very welcomed added bonus.

However, working with brands on sponsored content is far from stress free. In fact, they are usually the most stressful blogs to publish. As brands become more blogger savvy, many of them send over detailed briefs, shoot lists, and the finished product has to go through multiple sign offs before it can be published.

Ultimately, I retain editorial control, which I stipulate before working with any brand, and have pulled the plug on partnerships that I felt became to ‘advertorial’ like. When I first started blogging, I was so grateful to any brand that got in touch that I would say yes to things I wouldn’t dream of now – however I do still feel imposter syndrome sometimes when a brand I love wants to partner with me and I have to pinch myself. I’m also very aware that there are a lot of brands who won’t work with me because I’m too opinionated, don’t have a six pack and do not look like a model!

How and why I work with brands as a blogger

Overall I feel like there’s a fine balance when it comes to sponsored posts. Unfortunately there are a few blogs (mostly from big YouTubers) that I follow that seem to only host collaborative content – it seems the bigger the influencer gets, the most paid posts they publish.

And don’t even get me started on the disclosure on Instagram – I get so angry when bloggers use the hashtags #sp and #spon instead of the ASA regulated #ad. Interestingly, regulations are much tighter in the US, and as I work with a lot of US brands, I’ve been adhering to the US guidelines which I think are much clearer for both the reader and the brand to differentiate sponsored and non-sponsored content online.

As readers, I would love to know your feelings on sponsored content?

Do you notice a big difference between a sponsored post and non-sponsored content on the blogs you read?

Any other questions you have about working with brands – either as a blogger or a reader? 

 

24 Comments

  1. 29th July 2017 / 11:00 am

    I don’t think you should ever apologise for sponsored content! I love reading your sponsored posts and in the past they have introduced me to new running gear etc. I think a lot of people don’t understand the hours that goes into making a successful blog. It’s not just simply writing a few words and taking some photos. The bloggging platform is constantly evolving and it takes so many hours of dedication to run a good blog. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and people don’t realise this. There is also that misconception that we are selling out for freebies, which again is not the case, especially when considering the work that goes into it. As a stay-at-home mum I have to write sponsored posts but I always ensure that they are posts I believe in, that fit in with my blog and that I think are of interest to my readers. I am also always honest and always disclose when it is sponsored. If we are doing that then I don’t see why people should have a problem. We have worked hard to establish our blogs and sponsored posts reflect the hard work and pay the bills too. We should never apologise. Our blogs:our rules. xx ps sorry for essay!

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:38 pm

      No no love an essay, thanks for taking the time to comment! I am so glad you enjoy my posts and that you’ve found some fun new running kit. You’re so right, I think it’s about making sure that everyone discloses properly and that brands start to understand the work that goes into blogs and pay accordingly!

  2. 29th July 2017 / 11:03 am

    I enjoyed this post Charlie and I’ve had a couple conversations with people about this. I think the grey area lies when you have too many sponsored posts or they don’t make sense or match the content of your blog. One of my biggest pet peeves and it’s also illegal is when it’s not disclosed. You should be proud of brands you’re working with, not trying to hide it. If you are trying to hide it by using “spon”, “sp”, then there is something wrong too.

    Blogging is not a high paying job, but it’s fun to do.

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:36 pm

      Thanks Hollie – completely agree with you. I love blogging and do it for the love, not the money!

  3. Karen
    29th July 2017 / 11:43 am

    I really appreciate the insight into the blog-sponsor relationship. I’ve unfollowed several blogs in the past year when posts became overly advertorial – there are still a few other blogs I have a love-hate relationship with because their “normal” posts are so great, but they’re interspersed with advertorials so obvious, I’m inclined *not* to buy the product. It’s interesting to hear about the creative control aspect with sponsored posts as well, and I’m glad that you stipulate editorial control. Thanks for the “behind-the-scenes”!

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:35 pm

      No worries, I’m glad you liked it! And I feel the same way about a number of blogs – some seem to change their tone and style completely when they have a sponsored post! Not cool!

  4. 29th July 2017 / 1:20 pm

    Thanks for the post and really interesting. I was asked recently about doing a sponsored post though I said no as it didn’t fit with my blog. I have no problem with bloggers doing sponsored posts, the main thing is whether or not they’re clear about it from the outset – if they are, fantastic, if no, I can feel a little duped. Keep it up and wishing you well with your course!

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:33 pm

      Thank you Sophie! I was told once that it’s very hard to gain reader’s trust but very easy to lose it, so its worth saying no to the opportunities that don’t feel right and wait for more appropriate partnerships in future! It will be worth it!

  5. 29th July 2017 / 4:17 pm

    I really appreciate your honesty on this. I don’t mind sponsored posts, especially when it’s something relevant to the blog and the blogger is straightforward and honest about it being sponsored. However, I’ve unfollowed blogs when they start doing only sponsored posts or several a week. I also don’t like when bloggers do a sponsored post for something that doesn’t really fit with their blog because then I really have no interest in reading it. I’d love to learn more about how you turned your blog from a hobby into something that makes money.

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:32 pm

      Thanks Kaci – definitely happy to put together a post on that! Will add it to my blog topic list 🙂 xx

  6. 29th July 2017 / 9:59 pm

    I actually think your blog is a fantastic example of how to ‘do’ brands properly. I follow blogs because I enjoy the content, the style of writing, etc, and I think it’s so important to keep that flow even when sponsored stuff is involved (but obviously with the correct disclosure!).

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:30 pm

      Thank you – seriously appreciate that! xx

  7. 30th July 2017 / 9:39 am

    I appreciate your honesty with this post, and across your blog generally! I love your blog because of how honest it is. I trust your reviews more than those of other bloggers because you’re not going to sing something’s praises if you don’t mean it. I think all of your sponsored content fits really well and flows very naturally and I never feel duped in any way. Thank you for being such a genuine blogger and providing so much fab advice!
    Lisa x
    http://www.whatlisadidnext.com

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:29 pm

      Thank you, that means so much! Thank you so much for reading and for your comment xx

  8. 30th July 2017 / 9:40 am

    I love how open and honest you are about everything. I’d love to be able to make an income from my own blog but I just don’t even know where to begin. I find a lot of the brands expect me to do the work for nothing! More bloggers speaking openly like you will hopefully help both brands, bloggers and readers to understand how it works and build better relationships with each other 🙂

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:28 pm

      Hi Christy, thanks so much for your comment and for reading! What sort of questions do you have about working with brands as a blogger – would love to help!!

  9. 30th July 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Your honesty is a big part of why I love following you! From kit recommendations to advice on nutrition, I value your honesty and approach to all your blogs and their content. Thank you for speaking your mind and not being afraid to do so! Your doing an awesome job, keep it up 🙂 x

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:24 pm

      Thank you!! Sometimes speak my mind too much 🙈!

  10. Renee
    30th July 2017 / 4:41 pm

    I think it’s great that bloggers can generate some income through sponsored posts! I’ve stopped reading a couple blogs that have turned into exclusively sponsored content — but, honestly, I think that was due to there being a lack of human connection and interesting writing than the sponsored content in itself. 🙂 This American loves reading your blog! 🙂

    • charlotte
      30th July 2017 / 5:21 pm

      Thank you so much! Really appreciate your comment and thanks for reading! xx

  11. Angela
    31st July 2017 / 12:26 pm

    I think it’s better to be honest because as you can see above most of us like that better than having things pushed at us. I appreciate your blogs being what they are.

    Though I am curious, how have you lost your funding for your course by being engaged??

    • charlotte
      31st July 2017 / 1:02 pm

      Luckily I haven’t lost all of it but a lot as they now use Tom’s salary to judge how much to award me which takes it down a LOT!

      • Angela
        31st July 2017 / 1:34 pm

        That’s annoying! So antiquated in the UK!!

  12. Amanda Murphy
    31st July 2017 / 12:39 pm

    I love all you posts. Sponsored and not. I can tell the difference between them but I like to occasionally see and learn about new foods / races / runners / etc.
    I also think you have a good balance, you blog isn’t full of promotions and is still relevant to your life

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