“When one grows… we all grow..” is the motto that inspired Ana Flores to launch the We All Grow Summit. Isn’t it true that when a member of family, a network, a community grows, the ripple effect is inevitable, immeasurable, and undeniable?
Imagine a room full of Latinas, bloggers, entrepreneurs, business executives, moms, sisters, daughters…women, all connected for one purpose: to inspire and be inspired. It’s been many moons since this sacred time with them and I still feel uplifted. It was one of those experiences that overflow your cup and fill up your lamp.
[Tweet “”When a woman grows, the ripple effect is inevitable, immeasurable, and undeniable.” ~ Elayna Fernandez #WeAllGrow #mindsetformoms”]
While it’s true that all blogger conferences are a ripe field for opportunities, sisterhood, and growth, the WeAllGrow summit was exponentially so, PLUS it brought such a sweetness and heart to an unarguably business-focused event.
I was truly “in my element” because I wholeheartedly believe that our personal growth is the foundation for prosperity, and not the other way around.
I am so grateful. I had an emotional feast, surrounded by like-minded and like-hearted women and brands. I laughed, cried, got chills, and experienced healthy and beautiful emotions. I was pampered, beautified, and showered with goodies, too! #BloggerPerks 😉 I literally could write pages and pages of moments that made my eyes swollen, which is why I didn’t write it for so long: my heart was truly overwhelmed with greatness.
For now, I’ll share what I promised in my title: the top mistakes to avoid as a blogger working with brands… because whether you are thinking you’ll blog someday, are already doing it, or know someone who blogs, I think it is insanely amazing and cool to hear from the brands and agencies themselves how avoid doing it the wrong way…and how to fix it.
During the panel “The Next Level: How Influencers And Brands Connect,” moderated by Roxanna Sarmiento, the WeAllGrow attendees had the opportunity to hear from Susan Stipcianos @dreamteamsusan, Jesùs Chavez @jeschv of MiTu Network, Danica Kombol @danicakombol of BeEverywhere, Holly Hamann @hollyhamann of Tap Influence, Hugo Perez @newzdude, Debra Hotaling @debra_hotaling of Ford Motor Co, and Robin Santos @robinmsantos (all pictured below, from left to right*).
There are 7 practices the experts agree are lethal mistakes when it comes to influencers connecting, building a relationship with, and working with brands. Let’s go through them!
Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid as a Blogger Working with Brands
Not being authentic ~ All agencies and brand PR representatives confessed that their major pet peeve was to see bloggers copy-pasting a press release their team wrote! This is personally a pet peeve of mine, as well, because Google will penalize you for duplicate content, so when you do this, you are hurting yourself more than you know.
Brands want to partner with you because they want your authenticity to shine. Your voice, your personality, your original words is what they want to see in sponsored posts, social interactions, and collaborations.
So go ahead and pour your heart out… you know you want to! I always say that vulnerability is the only ingredient in your writing that people can’t find anywhere else.
Not engaging ~ The panelists all agreed that brands don’t need you to create numbers or reach… they have that… they can get that. Have you thought of that?
What is most valuable to brands and agencies is the engagement you can spark, because you have a real relationship with your audience. So rather than stressing out about how many followers you have (or don’t have), start thinking of ways in which you can engage your audience and create community.
To me, it definitely goes back to being authentic, because when you genuinely care about your audience, you are not focused on yourself and can think more creatively.
Show me a person who overthinks, I’ll show you a person who is being self-centered. Show me a person who is focused on serving others, and I’ll show you a person who finds it easy to take the next step, because that’s how love works.
Not being professional ~ This was a “let’s shake our heads” moment of truth for every blogger in the room: the brand executives and PR agency representatives all agree that most bloggers are late, too casual, and don’t do their research on the brand values to make sure the values are represented on the post. Yikes!
Their advice: be on time, dress appropriately, be a partner who shows enthusiasm and is in alignment with the brand’s message.
While this sounds simple enough, the reason behind it is not that simple. In my work mentoring, coaching, and guiding bloggers, I see that they don’t mean to be late, casual, or seemingly unappreciative – I mean, who does? I have observed that the root of this is a lack of planning.
When I share the story on how I read a letter at 2 a.m. declaring me a single mom because the other parent decided “it was too much responsibility,” most people go “Well, shouldn’t he had decided before marrying and having two kids?”
We all do that. We say YES before truly committing. Commitment implies that you will plan, schedule, and have resolved you will stay the course through the challenges that will inevitably come up.
Not being transparent ~The brand executives and PR specialists shared 3 rules: don’t hide, don’t lie, don’t mislead. Being that truth is one of my highest values, this is something that I require in all my relationships.
When someone is trained to work with bloggers and influencers, they have tools to determine whether your numbers are exaggerated, your followers are fake, or your accolades are really earned.
It’s not all about whether your numbers are real or not or whether you disclose that or not, it really matters that you are open and honest about what you are willing/not willing to do, as well as your expectations.
This is something you must decide in advance and communicate in writing. As a business owner and mompreneur, it is paramount that you establish guidelines for yourself, your family, your partners, and everyone who is affected by how you choose to conduct your business.
Not being a storyteller ~ This was an ongoing theme during the entire panel, and seems like the answer to many of the questions that were asked by the summit attendees.
Brands sponsor your content as a blogger because they want you to capture your audience emotionally, not to recite a commercial. They provide you with briefs, key points, and guardrails so that you are effective in bringing the point home with your story in a way that your audience can relate to and connect with.
I have long defined myself as a storyteller. I must be wired in a weird way, but I could not collaborate with a brand without satisfying my burning desire to add my opinion – in my flavor – to what I write.
Sharing my stories to infuse hope and encourage healing is why I started my blog and why I have kept at it over the years, so my idea of a partner is one that will facilitate that.
Not being responsive ~ One of the panelists said: “If 90% of success is showing up, in blogging,100% of success is answering your e-mail.” Many of the experts confessed that sometimes the selection process is quite simple: the blogger that replies first gets chosen!
I am a big fan of working on SEO so our blogs can be found if the agency, network, or brand is conducting a search, rather than sending an application. I love it when they pitch me ideas and fall in love with my content! I’m sure you do, as well, but when they contact you, they expect a quick turn around, too!
Not being patient ~ Patience is a virtue that we need both in motherhood and mompreneur endeavors in epic proportions, and your possible brand partners agree.
Brands do want you to introduce yourself, let them know what you are working on, and pitch to them, because most brand representatives practice the top of mind concept: if they know you, they’ll think of your first.
However, they also demand respect, and want to work with influencers who know that things will happen at the right time. They are people and relationships matter… A LOT to them. Relationships are not built overnight, and I think that’s why they are the key to succeeding in any industry.
The panelists stressed the fact that many bloggers confuse what is a great idea to them personally with what would be a good business proposal for the brand.
Their advice is to keep in mind that campaigns are often worked on months in advance, so while you may not participate in what the brand is up to at the moment, you can choose to support them and think on mutually beneficial ideas on how to work together in the future, rather than giving up on them or putting yourself down.
As someone in the panel eloquently put it: “brands may date you off and on, but the ring is coming!”
[Tweet “Elayna Fernandez shares @dreamteamsusan @jeschv @danicakombol @hollyhamann @newzdude @hollyhamman @robinmsantos mistakes to avoid as a blogger working with brands. #weallgrow”]
I have learned so much from brand executives and publicists over the years because they are excited to share from the heart. I would encourage you to stop assuming what brands want and just ask them.
Brands and publicists are eager to collaborate with people like you and not only do they publish all their campaign content across the web, they want to give you every tool and piece of information possible to make sure you can help them reach YOUR common audience.
What do you think of these tips? Which tip is the most valuable or interesting to you? If you are a blogger, I’d love to hear your tips to succeed when connecting with brands in the comment section below.
And speaking of brands, thank you Boden PR, Crest, Domain.me, Dove, Ford, Gaiam, Los Angeles Tourism Bureau, Minted, Neutrogena, Opoli, Origami Owl, Pinesol, Scholarshare, Suavitel, Tap Influence, Vive Mejor and YouTube, for partnering with We All Grow Summit to make this outstanding event possible.
PS ~ *Photos by Robson Muzel and #WeAllGrow Summit 2015