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How to launch a successful blogger outreach program: Budgeting and resources

How to launch a successful blogger outreach program: Budgeting and resources
Should you use an outside agency to manage your blog ambassador program? Do you need to pay bloggers? PR pro Kate Finley has some answers.

This is the second in a series of posts that will walk through the mindset, resources and strategy needed to launch and maintain a thriving blog ambassador program for your natural product line or brand. Read part one by clicking here.

As you begin to lay the groundwork for your blogger outreach strategy, you'll want to stop and think critically about the monetary and resource investment that should accompany your program. As mentioned in our first post, common investment considerations should include: costs associated with video and visual content to support blogger coverage of the brand, giveaways and incentives for bloggers and their communities, and the investment to employ an agency or compensate your internal team.

Can I conduct a blogger outreach program in house, or should I outsource?

Whether you are launching a national, long-term blogger initiative or you want to experiment with a regional or campaign-driven approach, there are some resources you may be able to keep in-house, while others would require the input of an expert. If you have marketing staff available to manage social media, create content in-house or help manage blogger giveaway shipments, you can bring on agency or consultant partners to handle strategy and bringing influencers matched to your brand or product line.

In most cases, agencies or consultants can train your team to take on some of the more time-consuming elements within your blogger outreach program, like blog content creation and social sharing, while an agency can assist in social media strategy, compelling creative elements and identifying which bloggers would be best suited to your campaign while cultivating those relationships.

If you don't currently have internal team resources, you can outsource your entire blogger outreach program to an agency. Just ensure they have extensive experience in your industry and in blogger outreach, influencer identification, social media engagement, content creation and creative elements.

Often, it can be difficult to find all of this expertise under one agency roof, so be open to the possibility of contracting a creative agency and a public relations agency. Agency pricing will vary depending on the size of your blog investor program. A good starting ballpark would be anywhere from $2,500-$5,000 a month for a smaller campaign and $5,000-$20,000 for a full-scale, national, long-term campaign.

Do I need to pay bloggers to review my product?

Once you've identified your internal team resources and contracted an agency to outline strategy and supplement, it's time to identify costs associated with working with bloggers. Although a growing number of bloggers have media kits and require monetary compensation for posts, there are still an abundance of bloggers who are happy to partner with brands that align with their blog’s community preferences. These bloggers are open to in-kind compensation for reviews and exposure to their community.

If you determine that you want to work with a blogger on a paid basis, make sure you clearly outline expectations for coverage from that blogger, including social media engagement, cross promotion and custom recipes or video blogs. This is another area where an agency can assist your team with their knowledge of average costs for social media shares and sponsored content, as such one-time fees can range from $25 to several thousand dollars depending on the influence of the blogger and his or her audience size.

Giveaways and Sampling

Key to budgeting within your blogger outreach program are giveaways and sampling. There are a number of opportunities to incorporate giveaways in your blogger outreach program, and this sort of in-kind trade is a great way to keep from having to pay for sponsored content.

You can use giveaways and sampling in some of the following ways, and you should be sure to allocate resources and investments appropriately to support whichever avenues you choose:

  • Introducing new bloggers to the program with samples to try for consideration of being a blog ambassador.
  • Sampling and vendor fees associated with blogger events like BlogHer.
  • Vouchers to compensate bloggers who are not a part of your blogger outreach program on a large scale but will occasionally share content on your brand's behalf.
  • Product giveaways within blog posts shared by bloggers in your program.
  • Special contests or sweepstakes unique to your blog outreach program that would require additional resources like tickets to an event, travel accommodations or shopping cards.

Weighing the Cost

Like any worthwhile relationship, blogger outreach programs take time, investment and care. There is most certainly a monetary and time investment associated with these programs. However, if you do your research and spend time on the front-end outlining budget parameters and required resources, you’ll decrease your potential for unexpected costs.

Remember to keep the end goal of a long-standing, positive relationship in mind and you will build blog ambassador relationships for life that you can then engage for additional product lines or deeper engagements.

Now that we’ve identified the “hard part” of budgeting investments and resources, our next post will outline research and tools to assist you in identifying influential bloggers tailored to your brand’s target audiences.

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