Friday, October 10, 2014

Bloggers: What You Need to Know Before Pitching Companies + Sample Pitch Letter

You're reading your favorite blog when you see a review on a product that you've always wanted to try. Below the introduction paragraph, you see a disclosure: Product and/or service provided without cost for review purposes. What does that mean, exactly?

It means that the blogger received the product for free in exchange for a thoughtful, honest review. Bloggers around the world are building relationships with brands in order to provide reviews on products or services that are relevant to their readers.

Wait a minute...

Before we jump into the nitty gritty, it should be noted that if you want to start blogging for the sole purpose of receiving free products to review, then you need to stop right there! Not only is this an unethical practice in the blogging world, but it's also unproductive. Pitching companies for everything under the sun, whether it's related to your blog or not is not valuable to your blog or your readers.

Bloggers work very, very hard to increase their readership, gain a loyal following, and to create a place on the web for high-quality, valuable information. By creating a blog just to get free stuff, you're not only cheating companies, but you're cheating yourself and your readers (if you happen to get any at all).

Pitching companies for free products to review should only be done if the product benefits or is relevant to your readers. After all, your readers are what make your blog successful.

So, how do bloggers build these business relationships?

There are a number of ways to receive free products to review on your blog, but perhaps the most popular are through brand/blogger connection platforms such as BrandBacker and Tomoson. While these platforms are great for getting products that your readers will love, it's difficult to build a business relationship through platforms such as these, because you rarely directly connect with the representatives.

A better way to build relationships with brands is by pitching companies directly. "Pitching" means you provide the company with an idea of how a partnership with your blog will benefit them.

Learning to pitch companies directly for product reviews is a fantastic way to not only step outside of your comfort zone, but also to build relationships that could be beneficial not only to you and your blog, but also to your readers.

What's the worst that could happen?

Well, you literally have nothing to lose. The worst thing the company could say is "no" or provide you with no response at all. And if they say yes, well, you'll gain exposure for your blog and have the chance to build a long-term relationship with the business--all of that, plus providing something of value to your readers.

Learn more about how to write a great company pitch for your blog.

1. Decide what your readers want.

Before pitching just any ol' company, think about your blog niche. Why do your readers come to your blog? Is it food-related? Does it deal with parenting and family? Once you have a general idea of your niche, search for companies related to that niche to start pitching.

Keeping your product reviews in alignment with your niche makes the content more relevant to those who visit your blog. On the other hand, if you're reviewing automobile accessories on your strictly-fashion blog, it just doesn't fit. Relativity is key.

2. Make a list of companies to pitch.

Do a quick search for "blogger friendly companies" to start crafting a list of potential business partnerships. Be sure that the companies you're looking into are relevant to your niche. Create a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Drive to reference later.

As you begin to build your list, you'll find out which companies are more inclined to work with you, versus those that are not. For example, you may receive a response from smaller companies, but never hear back from bigger companies. Don't let it foil your efforts--just make note of it and use it to your advantage.

3. Research the company before you pitch.

Prior to sending out your pitch, find out as much as you can about the company. The more you know, the better. Browse through the company's catalog and find a few items that you think your readers would really enjoy. Read testimonials. Follow the company on social media and start interacting with them. Get their attention and put your name in their minds prior to sending your pitch. This could work to your advantage when they see your name on the pitch e-mail later.

4. Get personal.

When drafting your pitch, it's always best to address the recipient by name. A quick search on the company's website will typically land you with a media relations, press, or public relations contact. Often times, you'll also find a name there as well. If not, do a quick Google search with the company's name, followed by "Media Relations Contact." If that doesn't land you a name, you can reference the recipient with a generalized greeting.

5. Create a media kit.

You will need a media kit readily accessible for the companies you are pitching. A media kit includes your blog's stats, including your unique monthly visitors (UMVs), page views (PVs), and your social media stats. Media kits save time, allowing you to reduce the amount of information needed in each pitch. It also allows the company to see exactly why partnering with you is beneficial to them. Media kits can be simple, or they can be elaborate. They may be in .PDF form, or placed directly on your blog. View Freelance Lady's media kit, located directly on the blog. Also, check out an example of an image media kit.

Keep your media kit updated. It's best to update it once per month with any changes in your stats.

6. Consider the company you're pitching.

Remember that the bigger the company, the less time they have to sift through emails. Individuals who work with large companies rarely have much time on their hands, so a brief pitch that is simple and to the point is the best approach to take.

While the above may be true is most situations, sometimes you need to establish exactly what you want in exchange for a partnership. In that case, your message will simply have to be longer.

Alternatively, you could attach a media kit to the email to save time and the amount of writing that goes into your email.

Pitching companies is all about opportunity. You must prove that the partnership will be equally beneficial by giving a clear-cut view of what you have to offer. Below, you'll find two sample pitches; one short and one long. You may use both of these as-is, or tweak to your liking.

Sample Blogger Pitch Letter to Company (Long)

Dear (Insert Name or Alternative Greeting),

My name is (Your Name), and I am the owner and author of (Blog's Name w/ Link). I am writing to you regarding a mutually beneficial opportunity.

I absolutely love your (Insert Product/Service/Idea That You Love)! I feel that (Company Name)'s products are relevant to my readers. It's because of this that I would love the opportunity to provide you with a product review.

(Blog's Name) has a current UMV of (Unique Monthly Views Your Blog Receives) and is a blog for (Describe Demographics). (Blog's Name) also has a social media reach of (Number of Combined Social Media Followers) followers.

In exchange for a free product shipped to me, I'm willing to provide you with two back-links, an honest, thoughtful review, as well as social media promotion of the post across all platforms that (Blog's Name) is a part of.

If you are interested in partnering with me, please contact me at (Your Email Address) to discuss this opportunity further.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!

Your Name
Your Email
Link to Blog(s)

Sample Blogger Pitch Letter to Company (Short)

Dear (Insert Name or Alternative Greeting),

My name is (Your Name), and I am the owner and author of (Blog's Name w/ Link).

I feel that (Company Name)'s products are relevant to my readers and would love the opportunity to provide you with a thoughtful product review. In exchange for a free product, I will write a 500+ word review with personal photographs, provide social media promotion, and two back-links.

Attached, you'll find (Blog Name)'s media kit with our current stats.

If you're interested in partnering with me, contact me at (Your Email) to discuss this opportunity further.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Your Name
Your Email
Link to Blog(s)

Soon, you'll be well on your way to providing your readers with honest, thoughtful reviews of products relevant to them--and build business relationships at the same time!

For more about blogging, check out Freelance Lady's blogging tips.

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