Fresh off of speaking at Alt Summit, Best Friends For Frosting founder Melissa Johnson is currently on cloud nine. With years of blogging under her belt, she knows firsthand what it takes to build a successful business while forming partnerships with brands that she admires. Not only is Melissa a true inspiration to all of us, but her career path is proof that if you want something bad enough, then you just need to make it happen! Here’s what she has to say about her love for blogging, working with brands, and following your dreams:
“Last week, I spoke at Alt Summit about how brands and blogs work together. I was on a panel with an inspiring lineup – Natalie Bowman of Microsoft & Bing, Trisha Antonsen of Wayfair, and Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange. I cannot stress HOW excited I get when talking about this topic. I have been blogging for 6 years and working on Best Friends For Frosting for 3+ years. Blogging is something I am SO passionate about. I created my dream job and it allowed my husband to quit a job he had been at for 10 years and absolutely dreaded. So perhaps he will never be as passionate about glitter and confetti and frosting in the same capacity I am in, but we are both so thrilled we can do something I love and not have to worry about requesting another holiday or birthday off for the past couple of years. Did I tell you his boss scheduled him on our son’s first birthday? Yes, that happened and I hope that never ever happens to you, so this is exactly why you have to read this blog post. ”
Create your dream job: It’s true – if you are going to take one thing away from this blog post, just remember that you have the power to create your dream job. With your passion and talents, your dream job is in your hands to create. My top tip on doing this? Infuse your personality and passion all rolled into one (no, I am not quoting a Meredith Brooks song). Think of all those amazing jobs you see out there – someone created those. They did not literally fall from the sky. ;)
What Ad Networks can do for you: They perform like real-estate agents – they find brands to reserve sponsored property on your website or as part of your brand in the form of: Sidebar Ads, Sponsored Posts, Sponsored Videos, Satellite Media Tours (click here if you are wondering what on earth a satellite media tour is) and Event Sponsors. A few ad networks I have either personally worked with or heard through the grapevine about are: Mode Media (Best Friends For Frosting is a featured creator with Mode), Martha’s Circle, Say Media, IZEA, Burst Media, Blogher, Clever Girls, Federated Media, and Tap Influence.
I bet you are wondering what on earth a direct partnership is? If you already know, you are one step ahead. YOU pitch & work directly with the brand versus using an ad network who is a middle man with a plan. The cool thing is that you have so much more creative freedom when working directly with a brand. It’s always a mutual authentic decision between the brand and the publisher. Also, another perk of working directly with a brand is that you almost always will receive payment immediately after your project has been fulfilled. Sometimes when you work together with an ad network, it can take up to 90 days to receive payment. From our own experience at Best Friends For Frosting, we’ve almost always received immediate payment directly through the brand with our direct partnerships.
Seriously, continued partnerships are like the ultimate high five. Remember that boyfriend who stayed with you for years? Yup, it’s kind of similar. The brand is telling you that they love you and your readers while you are telling the brand, we love you and are stoked to have an on-going relationship with you. There are so many perks to tailoring these kinds of experiences. At Best Friends For Frosting, we almost always prefer continued partnerships versus a single partnership. Here are a few reasons why a continued partnership is key: it builds credibility & trust with the brand and the publisher, re-saturates the brand name with your readership, keeps your audience updated with the brand’s new features / products to promote, your audience will be kept on their toes and your audience looks forward to the next project you do with the brand.
Here is one of my favorite examples of a successful continued partnership at Best Friends For Frosting. We have a yearlong partnership with Martha Stewart (so fun!). Above is a series of images from our on-going collaborations which have done really well on Pinterest as well as our other social media platforms. We are working on a video series to convert this content on to our YouTube channel. Do you subscribe to our channel? Get on the list here.
So, you’re ready to pitch a brand… let’s do this! When pitching a brand, keep these tips in mind. Include an e-mail: short, sweet, and to the point. Trust me, brands receive a ton of emails so it’s important to hit all your main points on target within 4-6 sentences max. Always address your contact by their first name. You can find out their email address and first name by using LinkedIn, Twitter, Google or reaching out to people you know who may have worked together with them in the past or currently. Share your genuine heart-felt interest for the brand – of course, you don’t want to make this too corny. Above anything, always make sure that it comes across sincere. Make sure the brand understands that you are very familiar with them and aren’t just hitting them up “just because.” So for example, I love Kate Spade so I would mention how much I’ve enjoyed their hashtag line and maybe include something from their current line that I am enjoying with specifics like color choices (pink – obviously). Always end your email email with a question – you want to leave curiosity so they feel enticed to respond. You can ask a question. At Best Friends For Frosting, we always ask if they would like to receive a copy of my media kit. Natalie from Bing mentioned that when people automatically attach their media kit, her email has crashed and she was not a happy camper. Natalie and Trisha of Wayfair both suggest sending your media kit as a drop box file and linking to it instead of attaching.
Speaking of Media Kits!! In my humble opinion, a Media Kit is one of your most powerful tools when appraoching a brand. It saves the brand from having to click to your press and about pages and stores everything a brand needs to know about you in a 1-2 page centralized location. A Media Kit tells them about you in a nutshell. It makes you stand out from other pitches they receive and it proves to a company you are worth their time.
Media kits are a whole blog post within itself so I put together 15 Must Have Items For your Media Kit.
That about wraps up the basics on how brands and blogs work together. I know this is an on-going topic, so I am sure you will have some amazing ideas everyone should know about. If I missed a beat, please leave it in the comments. I would love to build this blog post as a resource guide for all our friends to get involved as a go-to source.
If you have further questions, I am FINALLY offering a custom program called “The Get It Girl Blog Mentorship” where I offer a limited number of one-on-one phone consultations talking about everything under the sun to take your blog to the next level. At first, I was on the fence about offering this, but I literally receive multiple e-mails on a weekly basis (over 1300 emails over the past 3 years to be exact) asking me about how to make a successful blogging career and I felt it was my calling for Best Friends For Frosting to become a go-to resource as well as extending myself to help others create their dream job and support you. In regards to our plans for 2014, we will be regularly updating Best Friends For Frosting with free tips on blogging – so don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. There is so much I can’t wait to share with you on the blog.
PS. Your dream job does not exist, YOU must create it! Get it girl!!!!
Credits:Graphics on all images (minus image #1) by Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange Top Neon Green header graphic by Graphic Anthology for Best Friends For Frosting Image #3: Photo by Nicole Dianne Photography for Best Friends For Frosting Image #4, 7, & 8: Milou & Olin for Best Friends For Frosting Image #5: The Confetti Bar for Best Friends For Frosting