I work full-time as a freelance writer, focusing specifically on fashion and style; an important part of my portfolio is my personal blog, The Working Closet, where I write about my love of J. Crew and Neutrogena and anything else that interests me. There are a lot of perks to this job (the ability to work from my sofa in my pajamas, for one) but one of my favorite things is the opportunity to partner with brands that I truly love, for product reviews, giveaways, and larger media campaigns.
Why would a brand partner with a blog? Simple: Blogs are where people — particularly women — go for information about what’s hot and cool and worth spending their money on. According to Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media, and author of “Marketing to Moms,” “Trillion Dollar Moms” and “Mom 3.0: Marketing With Today’s Mothers,” online research and online sales sites are the most popular methods used by moms to find deals on the Internet. Blogs are often a go-to source for moms; a product review written by a trusted blogger is frequently more persuasive than a comparable traditional media ad campaign. Readers get invested in the blogger’s story and feel like they know her; when she recommends a product or brand, they trust her.
Contrast a blog campaign to a traditional media campaign with a celebrity as the spokesperson. Your customers may want to emulate that celebrity, but they probably trust the blogger — who understands their everyday mom life — more strongly, because she is more like them. And that can lead to bigger sales for your company.
I’ve worked with lots of brands, but far and away my favorite is Ellington Handbags. A small Portland, Ore.-based company, Ellington makes beautiful bags that are both multi-functional and reasonably priced. I frequently review pieces for them; as part of my reviews, I test out the bags, which is just like it sounds: I fill them with all my stuff and tote everything around town to see how it all works. Having a hands-on experience with a product lets me speak to its quality in an honest, organic way, which is what my readers expect from me. When I tell them that Ellington makes terrific handbags, they know they can trust me.
That’s exactly what a brand hopes for when they partner with a blogger. “Partnering with bloggers can be a great way to raise brand awareness — and if done right, a partnership can potentially generate significant sales, too,”says Amanda Carter, Ellington’s marketing manager. “Devoted readers trust the bloggers they follow, so when a blogger writes about her personal experience with a brand or product, it’s as if the reader is getting a recommendation from a friend. There is a value in that element of trust, which is something you don’t typically get with traditional advertising.”
Blog-brand partnerships, if done properly, are a win-win for the blogger and the company. Partnering with a blog is an innovative way to get your brand on the radar of all those moms who are turning to the Internet for shopping guidance. It’s also a way to get your product into the hands of the women and men who influence what we buy, both on and off the web. I can’t tell you how many times someone has stopped me at Starbucks to ask about my handbag. And I am always happy to tell them about Ellington — online or off.
Photo by Rita Ortloff, for The Working Closet