Working with brands as a brand ambassador
More and more companies are hiring bloggers to represent their company as brand ambassadors. The reason is simple – the right blogger may have a large targeted audience within the brand’s demographic. If you’re unsure, as a blogger, whether you would like to start working with brands, think about all the blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve poured into your blog over the years! Maintaining a successful blog is hard work and maybe - just maybe – you finally want to reap the benefits. I’ve been an ambassador for a variety of brands – including Frigidaire, Healthy Choice, Chuggington, Popsicle Brand, and Backyard Discovery – and can tell you from experience that finding a brand that is a good fit for your blog is a challenge, but once you do, it can be very rewarding for both you and the brand.
What does a brand ambassador do?
A brand ambassador is essentially a spokesperson for a company both online and off. This person must be knowledgeable about the brand and be able to talk about it and answer questions about their products or services. Since the brand wants to reach the blog’s audience, writing about it on a regular basis is a given. I try to limit this to no more than two to three posts a month, as I don’t want to risk turning my audience away.
The company may also want a prime spot in your blog’s sidebar, and may have you write content for their blog as well. Your brand promotion should extend to Twitter; tweeting about the brand regularly, perhaps with a specific hashtag, and maybe even hosting Twitter parties. On Facebook, brand ambassadors can be active on the company’s Facebook page.
There are many ways to represent a brand offline, such as by attending events on the company’s behalf. For example, as an ‘Ambassador of Backyard Play,’ Backyard Discovery, a manufacturer of wooden swingsets, covered all my expenses for the BlogHer ’10 conference this past summer AND gave my family a new backyard playset. (More on what I did for them at the conference in a future post.) The company also provides me with fun supplies to host backyard playdates for our friends and neighbors.
Transparency is key. You must always disclose that you’re a brand ambassador and are compensated for representing the brand when speaking about it, whether it be on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or face-to-face. The blogger and brand must sign a contract that includes exactly what each party’s responsibilities are, including a disclosure policy.
How do you become a brand ambassador?
Usually bloggers are invited to become brand ambassadors by a company’s public relations firm. They may already use the product or service and have written about it in the past, or their writing style may match the company’s ideals, thus they could potentially represent the brand well.
This was the case with Backyard Discovery. I’ve had an ongoing relationship with the PR firm that represents them, and when I saw a tweet from one of their reps inquiring about sponsoring someone for BlogHer, I pinged her back immediately, and well… that’s history! My daughters got a new wooden swingset to play on, and I got to “play” at the conference. I got lucky; it’s not always so simple. Sometimes you have to go through and application process, as I did with Mom Central for the Frigidaire Test Drive Moms program. Why do you want to be a brand ambassador for X company? Be prepared to answer that question and more.
It’s important to be proactive and not just sit around waiting for opportunities to come to you! If there’s a brand that you’d love to work with, contact their marketing or media manager. Hang out on the company’s Facebook page. Tweet them. You’re a fan – let them know it! They just may notice. Be sure to state on your blog’s About page that you’re interested in working with brands in this capacity. List brands that you currently have a relationship with and those that you have worked with in the past. Once you work with one brand, and do a good job, odds are you’ll be contacted with another opportunity in the future. This is why you see so many of the same faces over and over again.
How much do brand ambassadors get paid?
While you may only consider your blog to be a hobby, working with brands is a job. Don’t work for free! To be clear, a simple product review shouldn’t be compensated, but a brand ambassadorship goes beyond a mere write-up on a blog.
Brand ambassadors may be compensated in the form of free products, an expenses-paid trip, or receive a paycheck for their services. I’ve gotten all three, or a combination of. Make sure it’s tangible compensation! A new Frigidaire washer and dryer for writing a handful of posts and uploading a couple of videos was more than enough compensation for my time. A few boxes of cereal for writing weekly content on a cereal company’s blog? Not so much. And I made that clear. While the offer of a backlink and exposure on the brand’s website is a nice perk, I don’t consider this to be proper remuneration. A blogger must understand the brand’s expectations and be properly rewarded for their time.
The actual amount that a brand ambassador charges depends on many different variables. Is the brand supplying you with content to post, or is it a creative piece that is unique and takes a significant amount of time to write? Are you including your own video and photos? This takes time to edit and upload. Are you hosting a giveaway? This also takes considerable effort. Breaking your work down into hours, while challenging, is a must. Add up how long it takes you to complete your tasks, and make sure that what you’re making per hour is worth the time away from your family.
Coming up next: Representing a brand at a conference. What you do? What does the brand get in return?