If you’ve been anywhere near social media this week, you’ll probably have seen the drama about a hotel and a blogger/YouTuber. You’ve also probably seen lots of these posts in response from bloggers, so I won’t repeat all the details, but in case you haven’t heard anything, this is it in a nutshell.
Basically a blogger/YouTuber emailed a hotel asking for a free stay in return for coverage in her vlogs. The hotel was not impressed and published said email (with her name blanked out) on their social media. It went viral. It caused a huge debate about bloggers, and pitching to brands and whether it was something you should do or not.
This whole drama got me thinking though. Should bloggers pitch themselves to brands and businesses?
My answer is: yes.
However, and yes that however is important, because I’ve written it in italic, there are certain ways to go about it.
I used to be very anti pitching. I’m not good at selling myself or being out there. If I ever went on The Apprentice, I’d probably be fired on the first week and would burst into tears in front of Sir Alan Sugar. I’m more of a ‘sitter back and wait for things to happen’ kinda girl. But when it comes to business and sometimes blogging, you can’t just wait for things to happen. You have to make things happen.
Sometimes if you don’t ask – you don’t get.
I’m going to tell you a story now (oh god here we go) which kind of applies to this situation (very loosely)
So I’m going to take you back to when I was younger, I’m going to say I was 8, as I can’t remember exactly what age I was, but I remember that my sister was only little so I can’t have been much older than that. Anyways, we were at a birthday party and just before the cake was about to be brought out, the Mum of the child’s party it was, announced that we were going to play a game. Now I can’t remember the prize exactly, but I think it was something to do with silver balls (you know the ones you put on a cake) so the Mum said ‘who wants to win (said prize)? Put your hand up if you do…’ So we all put our hands up.
Now being the well-behaved child I was, I thought to myself ‘I know, I’ll put my hand up nicely and be very quiet and smile politely. Surely I’ll win because I was being good and well behaved.’ So there I was being very polite and quiet with my hand in the air, when I noticed that the child in front of me, was waving up and down, jumping all over the place and being incredibly loud. I was thinking to myself- ‘this gobshite has absolutely no chance of winning. My oh my, what an annoying child who is currently bursting my ear drum.’ Then the Mum said – ‘I’m going to choose …’ (drumroll) And she shouts out the gobshite’s name. I was like ‘seriously?’
She said ‘Gobshite (well obviously she didn’t call the child ‘gobshite’, but you get my drift) was making the most noise so obviously wanted it the most.’
I was peeved. Just because I was quiet, didn’t mean I didn’t want those silver balls or whatever the prize was, less than Gobshite. I was just acting in a different way, that I felt was best.
It was a valuable life lesson. Sometimes you clearly had to shout and jump around to get what you wanted from life. Sometimes you had to be like gobshite.
That is how I feel about the world of business.
But I still used to be the polite, quiet girl who didn’t agree with the whole ‘asking’ or ‘pitching’ thing, especially when it came to blogging. I didn’t believe in the gobshite way of life, of being the loudest or putting yourself out there, because it didn’t sit right with me.
I think it’s because when I first started blogging in 2010, the blogging world was a whole different kettle of fish. There were no samples, or press events, campaigns weren’t a thing, and it wasn’t till late 2010/2011 that I started to realise that things such as blogging events, and samples were a thing. I remember my first press samples were some nail polishes from Models Own and I felt like I’d won the lottery. My first blogging event was in September 2011 and I went to London on my own for the very first time, and I felt like Carrie Bradshaw navigating myself around the city.
Soon, blogging started to change and brands started to take notice. People were listening and trusting bloggers cause they were real people. Blogging was changing how people consumed things. You no longer bought a foundation because it was in a magazine, you bought a foundation cause your fave blogger had told you it was good and had taken pictures of how it looked on their skin.
I remember when bloggers started to go full-time, I thought ‘wow this is something else!’ No one started their blog with the intention if it being a job, it just happened. Even in 2014 when I left my job to go full-time with my blog, I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it now!!
Anyways, when the samples started to get sent out in the early days, you soon started to hear horror stories. The stories of how bloggers had emailed PR’s with shopping lists of samples. I thought that was awful, and it used to rub me up the wrong way. I used to think how if you start a blog, it’s because you have a passion for it, it shouldn’t just be for free stuff. Which of course, I still believe now. Writing a blog is very hard work and if you’re in it just for freebies then you won’t last long.
I remember having a meeting with a beauty brand back in early 2014, and we were talking about this shopping list thing, and they said that yes they did have emails like that, but when a blogger emailed them to introduce themselves and tell them about their blog, they actually really liked it as it brought their attention to different blogs. They explained how there is so many blogs out there, and you can’t read/notice them all. So by someone sending a pitch as such, it brought them to their attention.
I had never thought of it like that before. But still this being said, it wasn’t till last year really that I started to send out pitch emails to brands.
I used to get jealous or frustrated that bloggers would be working with brands or getting campaigns that I wanted, but I never did anything about it. I couldn’t just sit and let fate bring them to me, sometimes you have to make things happen. So I started to pitch to brands more. Some pitches have been successful and some haven’t, it’s the way the luck of the draw goes.
I think that I’d never really realised my worth, and bloggers do have worth.
Bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, they all have huge influence.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought something because of a blogger?
Yes I think that’s all of us.
My purchases are usually because of bloggers. I get my style inspo from them, they give me life advice, skin care recommendations and I read blogs daily.
I know how hard bloggers work, and how not everyone is in it for the ‘freebies’ so it does make me annoyed when people dismiss bloggers as blaggers, or talentless, or should get a real job.
Let me just un roll my eyes.
So pitching to brands, let’s discuss.
If you do it right, then there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re not asking for a freebie, you’re asking for a work collaboration.
But you have to make it a partnership, it has to be beneficial for both of you.
I read this presentation by Kirsty, literally on the day that the hotel and blogger sh*tstorm hit, and I have to say this is a really good guide for pitching to brands.
Bloggers, you have worth. You aren’t talentless.
Brands would be lucky to work with you. Remember that.
But also remember how irritated we get when a brand offers you ‘exposure’ in return for content, or a £20 voucher for endless blog and Instagram posts.
It’s a two-way street.
Sometimes, brands may ignore your email or say no, which is fair enough. Other times, it may pay off. Do it for the right reasons and only if you have a genuine idea that will benefit both you and a brand.
Points to remember:
- Have an actual interest in the brand
- Have a genuine idea that will benefit both of you (tell them what you can do for them and what will they get out of it)
- Include info such as stats, and previous collabs (show them examples!)
- Don’t send an email with a shopping list
Remember though, that sometimes in life, you have to be like gobshite. Don’t just wait around for things to happen.
Christ, I should write motivational posters 😂
P.S I would love to know your thoughts on this- pitching to brands as a blogger- yay or nay?
P.P.S Would you buy my motivational posters? 😜