Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Pitching to brands as a small blogger

A flatlay against a white bedsheet featuring a MacBook with a brush stroke sticker, a mug of coffee, dismantled camera and calendar reading 'all my planets are dead'
After tweeting, “over the past month, I have started pitching to brands and engaging more with other bloggers. It’s true what they say, don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, GO GET THEM!”, I received an abundance of messages asking me to share any tips and advice on how I have increased my engagement and started pitching to brands as a small blogger. I am no expert so take my tips and advice with a pinch of salt, these are things that I have been doing and have worked for me.

Before you pitch 
At the beginning of March, I looked at my current stats and set myself some milestones. I found that the best way to increase your following is to be engaged. You can publish your content and wait for people to see it or you can actively share your posts by tweeting them out during peak times, posting on Instagram during peak times, using hashtags like #bloggingsgals, #girlboss, #discoverunder1k in the comments section of your post, to make sure your content is seen. If you are using a specific brands product or service, tag them in the post, a lot of the time the brand will like the photo, comment or regram your post, which brings new traffic to your profile. 


Increasing engagement is not just about putting your work out there, follow other bloggers and comment on other bloggers latest posts. @bloggerstribe on Twitter do a comment thread every Friday and Sunday at 8pm where you reply to their tweet with one link to your post and comment on other bloggers posts. Once you have commented on someone’s post, you give their tweet a like and let them know you have commented. This is not only a great opportunity to promote your work but a great opportunity to engage with other bloggers. 

Before I started pitching to brands, I made a media kit on www.canva.com – It is super quick to set up an account and the site is easy to use. If like myself you are not a creative person, there are premade templates and examples which you can use for inspiration or search “media kit” on Pinterest, there are lots of great examples there too.  A media kit should include your blog name, logo (if applicable), a summary of what you write about, your stats and followers e.g. total page views, the number of followers on each platform – that sort of thing. Your audience e.g. gender, location and interests, affiliations and previous work, affiliations you currently have and brands you have worked with in the past, what service you're offering. 

Two other things that I did before pitching to brands were improving my photography (bigger and brighter photos) and setting a schedule (posting weekly instead of fortnightly) to ensure I was being consistent. Consistency is something a lot of brands look for!  

Time to pitch
Pick a brand that you would like to work with, which of their products or services can you use to produce a post, series or whatever it is you would like to use them for. Find out their pr email either by going to their site or sliding into their Twitter or Instagram DMs. If you are successful, they will give you their pr email and you are ready to go. Start with a greeting, keep it professional. Write a few lines telling them who you are, why you are emailing them and what you have to offer them in exchange for their good or service. End the email by stating that you have attached your media kit, outlining your current social stats/page info and that you look forward to hearing from them or something that shows that you are genuinely interested in working with them and would like a response. If you try and fail, just remember that the first three brands I ever pitched to, either did not reply or declined the opportunity to collaborate with me. Do not let a few disappointments stop you from pitching. If you want opportunities, go get them!


Francisca
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Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Things I wish I knew when I started blogging

A shot of me viewing my blog from an iphone
Last year, I was invited to a blogger workshop hosted by Three Pipe Reply, a London based brand performance agency. I had the opportunity to network with the team and other bloggers while being 'talked through the best blog layouts, SEO tips, media kits and general do's/don'ts of working with brands. 

I found this event to be extremely helpful and I wish something like this had been around when I started my blog many years ago. I thought it would be helpful to write a post on what I learnt at the event and hopefully help anyone thinking of starting a blog, beginners or those who've been doing it for years, there's always room to learn something new and improve our sites. 

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SITE
  • Is your site visually appealing?
  • If a brand wanted to contact you, is your contact page accessible? Is your email address professional?
  • Is your navigation bar split into categories?
  • Do you have a short blurb telling visitors and potentially brands wishing to collab, who you are? 


"Prioritise your blog over your socials. Socials e.g. Instagram should support your blog, not replace it" 

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SOCIALS
  • Is your real location visible on your site and socials?
  • Use hashtags correctly, mix them up with each post, don't copy and paste and keep a spreadsheet
  • Use different fields of hashtags ranging from high ranking ones e.g. 104k posts to low ranking ones e.g. 400 posts, to guarantee you're being seen 
  • Don't buy followers or bots, pretty self-explanatory but you can spot fake engagement, likes and followers from a mile away. Don't do it and don't be tempted to!
  • Post regularly and consistently. What days are you going to publish new blog posts? Are you posting on Instagram daily? I heard from a Youtuber that according to Instagram, you should post daily or twice a day to grow. This is something I need to work on
  • Engagement is the most important thing (even for micro-influencers, you can have a small following but have a high engagement rate)
  • Stay on brand and professional throughout your socials, everyone knows everyone in this industry
  • Quality over quantity. Don't post for the sake of posting!

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SEO
SEO is short for search engine optimization, it is the practice of increasing the amount of traffic to your website through search engine results.
  • Update old posts with current dates, information and images. Tag old related posts to your new posts e.g. if you're going to Italy and it was on your travel bucket list, link the post so that it can gain more traffic 
  • If you're using WordPress, optimise metadata. The Yoast plugin makes it easy for you to control titles, meta descriptions, set your targeted keywords and track how often you're using them
  • Compress images before uploading and add alt text to your images 
A self-discovery, a lot of us have been using ALT text wrong. ALT text is supposed to be used to describe the image and make your post accessible to those who are visually impaired and rely on screen readers.
  • Aim for posts to be a minimum of 500-750 words 
  • Proofread your posts. Install Grammarly onto your desktop and read posts back to front to make sure it flows
Improving your SEO will improve your DA. DA is how well a website will rank on search engines. The higher your DA, the more likely your site is to appear on the first page of search engines.

A CHECKLIST FOR YOUR MEDIA KIT 
A media kit is a CV for your blog and can be used when pitching to brands. Below is my old media kit from 2015 and an example of what a media kit should (roughly) look like:
A screenshot of a media kit created using canva.com
  • Have you included blog details? Your name, URL, your niche
  • Are your social media links and stats up to date? Try to update them monthly
  • What services do you have to offer? Personal posts, reviews, collabs, social media packages, unique content. 
  • Don't give a price, just say what you offer. You can discuss how much you charge for your services via email as it may vary from brand to brand and as your stats increase
  • Have you included an overview of the brands you've worked for? Get some testimonials to strengthen your pitch
Sites that you can use to create a media kit that offers free templates: Canva, Powerpoint & Word 

DO'S AND DON'T FOR WORKING WITH BRANDS
  • Read pitch emails thoroughly and don't respond until you properly understand what is being asked of you
  • Respond to emails even if you're declining
  • Don't wait until last minute to cancel
  • Avoid burn bridges with brands via social media
  • Avoid gossiping about collaborations via social media. Everyone knows everyone in this industry 


"Closed mouths don't get fed. Email brands and pitch your ideas" - Marissa

The last piece of advice we were given by Three Pipe Reply is to be yourself. Sounds cliche but don't copy what everyone else is doing and create artificial content just to fit into the blogosphere.
Francisca
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Wednesday, 10 June 2020

How I edit my photos using Lightroom

A shot of Cambridge Satchels in-store
A lot of you asked for this post and I’m finally delivering, giving the people what they want. So, you’re wondering how I use Lightroom to edit my photos? I start by saying that I’m not a professional. I wouldn’t even class myself as a beginner, is there anything lower than that? Whatever it is, I’m that.

What do you use to take your photos?
To take my photos, I use EPL7 Olympus pen with a 14-42mm lens or an iPhone 11 on either photo or portrait mode.
How do you edit?
I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of trial and error. This is the before of the satchel photo:
A shot of Cambridge Satchels in-store pre editing
And this was the process of getting the after:
LIGHT
A shot of Cambridge Satchels in-store during the editing process
Exposure -0.15
Contrast -22
Highlights -76
Shadows -35
White +29
Black -31

COLOUR
A shot of Cambridge Satchels in-store during the editing process
Temp -10
Tint -3
Vibrance +13
Saturation +20

EFFECTS
A shot of Cambridge Satchels in-store during the editing process
Clarity 100
Dehaze -1
Vignette -15
Midpoint 50
Feather 100
Grain 50
Size 28
Roughness 50

And for other photos, I up or lower all the above. Very rarely do I use the detail tool as I’m not a fan of photos that are too sharp, I prefer the grainy effect.

What apps do you use to edit your photos?

Francisca
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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

June TBR

A flatlay of a open book placed on a white bed sheet with brown reading glasses on top and a brown throw peeking out from the left corner
What a week. I've had an overwhelming feeling of sadness following the murder of George Floyd but the global response has given me hope. Hope in my generation and hope in the generation that follows. 

I feel heavy and the things that usually bring me joy, aren't bringing me joy and so I've taken to writing and writing leads to reading. I have always felt peace when I am offline, sat on my bed with a black tea, two sugars and I'm reading. For a few hours, you escape and forget. This feeling is temporary but its what I need right now, a few hours a day to just escape and forget. To the black community, keep fighting but remember to step away as and when you feel like it, find those things that bring you joy.

I've been reading Anika's blog Chapters of May for years and she's inspired me to start doing book content here starting with a June TBR. 

The Prison Doctor by Amanda Brown
'Dr Amanda Brown treats inmates in the UK's most infamous prisons. From miraculous pregnancies to dirty protests, and from violent attacks on prisoners to heartbreaking acts of self-harm, she has witnessed it all from her patients.'

I've been reading this book since last year but university life comes at you fast and suddenly, the books you read are gathering dust until the summer. I'm determined to get this finished by the end of June so I can review it! 

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
'Hidden away from the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In this longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true piece of freedom is betrayal.' 

I love dystopian fiction and I've been meaning to properly read this for months. If you have any dystopia novel recommendations, leave them below. 

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
'Sephy Hadley and Callum McGregor have been friends since childhood, and they both know that's as far as it can go. Theirs is a world full of prejudice, fear and mounting violence - where Noughts and Crosses are fated to be enemies.' 

I started reading this in April and put it down to start watching the BBC series but like the prison doctor, I'm determined to power through it and come back with a full review. 

What books are on your June TBR?

Francisca 
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