In mid-2015 I interviewed full-time fashion blogger Amber McNaught of ForeverAmber.co.uk as part of a series of articles about influencer marketing.
I’m republishing it here because her answers are a great resource for anybody starting out. They’ll help you get an insight into the lives, priorities and frustrations of online influencers, so you can build a lasting, beneficial partnership for your brand.
1. When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging in 2006, and it was basically just an extension of the diaries I’d kept since I was a child, and the livejournal account I’d opened as soon as I discovered it existed.
I had no idea back then that it would ever turn into a career (or that it was even possible to make money from it), but I’ve always been a writer (I worked in journalism before becoming a blogger), so it seemed natural for me to write about my life, and the things that caught my attention.
2. How many hours a week do you spend on your blog?
I shudder to think! It’s hard to keep track because it’s the kind of job you never really switch off from – you’re constantly having to try to keep on top of social media, scribbling down ideas for blog posts, grabbing a quick photo opportunity etc. I’d say I definitely work as many, if not more hours as I did in traditional employment. I get hundreds of emails every week too, many of which are completely irrelevant to what I do, so I do have just quickly scan most of them.
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3. I’ve noticed you’re using an agency to handle some enquiries. Why is that?
I actually deal with most PR and media enquiries myself – the agency deals with all of my advertising, including sponsored posts. I made the decision to sign with an agency earlier this year, because I was getting overwhelmed with the amount of enquiries I was receiving.
It was also because although I love blogging, I’m not great at asking people for money. I felt I was under-selling myself a bit and doing a lot of things that weren’t worth it for me, purely because I was too embarrassed to ask for more money. The agency deals with all of that for me, which allows me to concentrate on running the blog, without having to worry about negotiating rates with people.
4. Which types of brands approach you as an influencer?
All kinds. I get everything you can imagine, from fashion and beauty brands, which are relevant to my blog, to brands selling things that are totally unrelated. It’s a real mix.
5. What sort of things do they ask you to do?
Anything and everything, really. Most begin by simply asking me to write about them, without any incentive at all; others will offer a product to review or giveaway. Some brands will offer to send me a product and leave it up to me how I choose to write about it, while others have very specific requirements and will ask me to style it in a certain way, or something like that.
6. What’s the ideal scenario for you and your blog?
Because my blog is a business, I have to get paid. It sounds very mercenary, but this is my livelihood and I can’t pay the bills by giving away products, unfortunately. Each post represents several hours’ work for me. If I’m going to write about something, it has to justify the time I’ll put into it.
Giveaways, for instance, are very time-consuming to put together and run, and they normally don’t have any real benefit to my blog. I find that people who follow me purely to fulfil the requirements of the giveaway will normally unfollow as soon as it’s over, so there’s no long-term benefit to me or my blog.
7. How would recommend people get in touch? Is it enough to send a speculative tweet, or are emails best?
I prefer to be contacted by email: I really dislike being contacted on Twitter, especially when it’s someone tweeting to ask for my email address or something else that’s on my blog. It just tells me that they haven’t actually looked at my site, so are unlikely to be seriously interested in working with me.
I also don’t like the idea of having to discuss the running of my business in public – it just doesn’t seem professional to me.
8. What’s a definite no for you?
In terms of contact, using Twitter (or any social media) is a big no-no, as I said above. I particularly dislike it when someone uses direct messaging on Twitter to approach me.
In terms of actual collaborations, I hate the current trend for brands to run “competitions” whereby they ask bloggers to write a post on their blog about the brand, in the hope of winning something. It just seems cheeky and exploitative to me. It’s basically a way to persuade people to work for free, which doesn’t sit right with me.
Obviously as a full-time blogger, I can’t afford to spend time working on a post advertising another business, purely in the hope that I might get paid for it (or win something, normally of low-value), but I get so many of these requests that I’ve had to add a disclaimer to my contact page saying that I’m not able to respond to them!
9. What are your pet niggles when it comes to people asking for your help?
I think the thing I find most frustrating is vagueness: I get a lot of people approaching me (either by email or Twitter) and simply saying something like, “I have a collaboration I’d like you to be involved in: let me know your thoughts!” The problem is that I can’t actually have any thoughts on something so vague, All I can do is ask for more information. Even then I’ll often get a vague response that doesn’t tell me what they’re actually asking me to do.
I get that these people are probably just trying to open a conversation, but because I get such a lot of email every day, I don’t really have time to go back and forth, trying to work out what they want from me, and if it turns out to be something I’d never have considered anyway, it ends up being a waste of both our time.
It’s much more helpful if you can get straight to the point and tell me exactly what you’re looking for from me, so I can tell you right away if I can help.
10. Is there one thing you would recommend our readers do if they want to make an approach?
Look at my blog first: I have a lot of information on my About and Contact pages about the kinds of collaborations I do and don’t get involved with. I also provide the currents stats for the site, so if you read those before getting in touch, it’ll save us both a bit of time!
This article was originally posted on SoSocial.com. Visit the site to read the full influencer marketing series.