A POINT OF DIFFERENCEAn endless stream of consciousness is no longer enough; if there's one thing that the most successful bloggers have in common, then it's their ability to carve a niche or cement a point of difference. As more and more magazines close their doors, we're turning online for our hit of aspirational imagery and editorial content - and we always want something more. Right now the bloggersphere is incredibly saturated, which makes it increasingly hard to stand out from the crowd - so it's more important than ever to have a point of difference. Why would a brand want to work with you (and pay you) over 1000 other bloggers? Whether that's your incredible photography, the way you write, the topics you cover or even the age you are (30/40/50+ bloggers are definitely having a moment!) it really is the first thing you need to focus on. What do you have over everybody else that's basically irresistible? Write everything down and determine a brand identity and mission statement that will aid your pitch when you decide to make the jump.
AN ENGAGED AUDIENCENumbers are no longer the be all and end all of blogging, especially as so many of them can be artificially inflated at the click of a button. Brands aren't necessarily always interested in working with bloggers that have an insane reach, but instead are starting to look for more targeted and niche partners that can act as genuine ambassadors. 'Micro-influencer' may be the buzz word of the moment, but that's because us smaller bloggers tend to have a far closer relationship with our reader than those with six million subscribers, which at the end of the day translates into trust; that is something that money can't buy. Focus on building up that relationship by responding to comments and talking to people across social media, and instantly your presence has value.
A PORTFOLIO OF GREAT CONTENTContent is definitely king right now, and from my experience brands are starting to wise up to the power of a blog post over a traditional press ad. A blog post remains indefinitely and provides shareable content that can be used across social media platforms of both the blogger and brand - in most cases for months and years to come. (Some of the brands I've worked with over the past seven years still tag me on Instagram and Twitter, as they continue to get the most out of the collaboration.) Focusing on creating amazing content, imagery and words is the biggest investment you can make. Your blog and social channels are the online portfolio that everyone else looks to, so always ensure they're the best you can make them; if that means you don't publish a blog post for a few days or skip off Instagram for the weekend, then so be it. Don't post for the sake of posting.
A BUSINESS PLANWhat do you want to achieve and how much money do you need to make to survive? How are you going to get there over the next twelve months? Deciding you want to go full time with your blog is not enough; you need a way of turning your dreams into reality and specific goals to achieve along the way. It's absolutely vital to work out how much money you need to pay your bills and live comfortably, translating that into XYZ collaborations in any given month: is that a reasonable expectation? If not, do you have savings or a side hustle that will help you stay financially afloat? A blog is no less of a business than a shop or agency, so do your calculations and get advice from those you trust to get you to where you need to be. A formal business plan may not be suited to all, but writing everything down and regularly checking back to see where you are is always a good idea.
A NETWORK OF CONNECTIONSIt's not what you know, it's who you know. Those connections you've made at events, via emails or even on social media are an invaluable resource that are essential if you want to transition into full time blogging. They're the gatekeepers of the budget, so you need to know who to talk to and where to send your pitch; without a network of connections this blog would be nothing, so I would always recommend taking the time to build relationships over coffee as you never know when they could pay off down the line. (Side note: thank you to all the lovely PRs that have ever paid me and allow the LBQ dream to remain alive!)
A POWERFUL PITCHEnsuring a guaranteed income from your blog isn't as easy as deciding you want to do it, then sitting back and waiting for it to happen. You need to be proactive and create an pitch that's both powerful and realistic; this may be as simple as a media kit that includes your key statistics and unique selling points, or a full proposal of what you want to do and the benefits for the brand in question. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed about pitching out to brands you want to work with - they love to hear ideas and quite often they may link into something they're already considering internally. This is your opportunity to verbalise exactly why your blog is unique, valuable and a worthwhile investment; do as much of the work for them as possible, presenting full ideas rather than concepts and including as many statistics as you can - because brands love numbers.
A TOUCH OF PATIENCESuccess never comes overnight, despite what the media tells you. Most of us worked relentlessly for years before we were able to make the decision to leave our 9-5s, then taking 6-12 months to see if we could really make it on our own. Having a nest of savings is important before you make the leap into uncertainty, as is the ability to be patient and work hard until it all starts falling into place. Your transition may take six months, a year or even two - it's not a race, but you do need to ensure you're set up to succeed rather than falling at the first hurdle. Patience really is a virtue.
If you're considering making the leap now or in the future, I hope my tidbits of advice have helped. If you're a full time blogger or currently making the transition, do you have any other wise words to pass on?
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