I love attending blog conferences partly for the amazing knowledge I gain. I recently had the joy of attending SoFabUOTR in Minneapolis where there were great speakers all day long on a variety of topics.
The first chat of the day was a fantastic panel on how to improve your sponsored content. Many bloggers write sponsored content – or want to – but aren’t sure how to get to the next level of really having it stand out and get selected for more campaigns and opportunities.
Several Collective Bias employees sat on a panel to discuss how to improve your sponsored content and gave great tips. The information below is captured from that panel that included Ali Kirby, Kim Janocko, Laura Ostein, Darcy Zalewski, Alicia Peiffer, and Sharon Williams. Much of the information included is specific to Collective Bias, but there is also quite a bit you can apply when thinking about how to improve your sponsored content in general.
Collective Bias is a shopper social media company here to solve clients’ problems through the influencers in social media.
Who are clients, and why do they hire bloggers?
Clients range from Coca Cola to local stores. The clients for us are responsible for how Coke is performing at a specific store. The want more people to be know what are the products, where are they located, and so forth. Many of the biggest opportunities to help clients is in creating usage occasions. For example, creating fantastic Halloween recipes with M&M’s so that when people search for Halloween recipes, M&M’s comes up in an appealing recipe that induces the reader to then buy M&M’s – hopefully from that particular retailer, as well. Social Fabric is the community of fantastic influencers that makes this happen. Collective Bias would not be here as a company without Social Fabric. The members create motivational and inspiring stories.
What is a campaign and how does it work?
It is a project where a client hired Collective Bias to solve a need. It consists of many different things. The blogger component is part of all campaigns whether short form posts, long form posts, or within social media in general.
There is a social hub often, as well, where all posts from a campaign are visible on one website. Many campaigns also include a twitter party, sweepstakes, and more depending on needs. The sales team works with the client on the objectives, and once they have all that information, the Collective Bias team creates a shoppertunity, which is where the bloggers come into play.
This setup includes thing like the guardrails around what can and cannot be said, the demographics the client requires, and what kind of influencers are they looking for in general. The application process gauges the interest in the campaign, as Collective Bias wants to have bloggers opt into campaigns that appeal to them rather than simply being assigned work. Collective Bias won’t beg people to do the work. The bloggers are enthusiasts of the retailers and the brand. Collective Bias doesn’t have people write things about which they don’t care. Then the internal team starts to select the right bloggers to fit the client’s needs.
How does someone join SoFab?
Visit the Social Fabric website online. There is an apply tab that leads you through a series of questions. Once you complete them, you receive an automated email. If you are accepted, you will receive a response within 48 hours. If you don’t receive a response, you were probably not accepted to SoFab at that time.
The automated response has a contact email included with it, and you can reach out to ask for guidance on what you need to do to have your application to SoFab accepted.
Why would a blogger want to join SoFab?
The community – The thing you need to know is this community cares about each other. We talk and see what other campaigns are going on and get inspiration. We are able to see how others are creating content and grow and learn from them.
Shoppertunities – There are a ton of blogger networks. SoFab is different because the shoppertunities are not just once or twice a month. What are the odds that you will get work from a network with only a few opportunities a month? SoFab has dozens of campaigns running at any one time with a huge range of topics whether you are a foodie or a craft or hobby blogger or anything. If you aren’t passionate about one topic, there is something else just around the corner. SoFab is also going into new markets with additional opportunities.
Application process – In many networks, you fill out a huge application for every opportunity with all your social numbers. When you join SoFab, you add your numbers into your profile, and the numbers update automatically. SoFab doesn’t ask you to do it again, so the application is six or eight questions that are geared toward the campaign to ensure you are the best fit for it. The more specific you are in your responses, the better it is for the internal team to see what you intend to do with that shop and make the best decision.
Education – We all are on a journey as bloggers, and we are all in different places. We all need to continue to learn and grow, and we often know something others don’t know. Within SoFab, we can continue to learn with online courses on a huge variety of topics, and they’re free. You can listen to podcasts while in a car and learn even. This is a great opportunity to improve all your sponsored posts and nonsponsored posts, regardless of who they are for.
Traffic – We all have traffic issues, too. Who doesn’t want more pageviews? The paid promotion of sponsored posts that SoFab does is a huge benefit. When SoFab sees a fantastic post, they will put their money behind it. They will pick an outstanding post and promote it, which means the traffic goes to that blogger. SoFab believes in us as bloggers.
What part of the application process lets bloggers stand out?
First, apply only for campaigns you’re truly interested in. If you don’t have a passion for it or a truly great idea, that comes through in the answers to supply to questions. On the application, there are different types of questions, and the most important is around what is your idea and why do you want to participate. “I like the brand” isn’t very compelling and isn’t likely to get you selected. If you can’t talk about why you want to participate, it’s hard to select you. The more creative you are, the better your chance at getting the shop. All posts within a campaign shouldn’t be for a bacon cheeseburger, for example. You don’t have to apply right away. Take the time to think about your idea so you can share a great idea in your application.
Read everything before you apply – some campaigns are retailer specific or you can’t have worked with another competitor. SoFab wants to be sure that you are a good fit. Think out of the box. There are 10,000 M&M’s cookie recipes on Pinterest. As good as they are, you probably won’t be picked because the campaign needs a more unique idea.
Don’t completely pigeonhole yourself into your niche when you see campaigns because creative ideas of how you can use the client product can be a great way to get selected. For example, a snack bar isn’t just for foodies. You can use that snack bar as a fashion blogger to talk about how you get through your shoot, or a mom can share about how she survives her day with it in your purse.
SoFab asks for a related link with every application. Make sure to share a link, and share a link that shows something in that genre of the campaign that proves you can do it because you’ve done it before. If you are pitching a recipe, show a recipe post. If you’re pitching a beauty campaign, provide a beauty post. You can share more than one link, especially if you want to clarify that one post shows your great storytelling while another shares your photography skills. The most important, however, is to share a relevant link.
Pay – SoFab does pay bloggers for their work. Pay for campaign is based on the tasks you’re asked to do. The pay doesn’t vary by client. Are you writing a blog post, do you have to go shopping, how many times to o you have to syndicate, do you have to do a YouTube or Instagram video, do you have to host a party? You also get reimbursed to purchase the product.
When you put together the blog post, most campaigns come in the $150-200 range. The more tasks you are asked to do, the more you get paid. SoFab is also working on getting some higher paid opportunities for higher reach bloggers.
What is the SoFab payment process?
SoFab also recently changed the payment process. Payments used to come via PayPal, but SoFab was getting charged a lot of fees, and PayPal isn’t that friendly to work with. There were a lot of delays, but SoFab prides itself for paying bloggers on time. You get prepayment within 7 days, though you shouldn’t wait to receive this before you start shopping because you may miss your deadline. SoFab pays the final payment 30 days from the time you finish your work. Unfortunately, PayPal had a lot of issues with timing.
Collective Bias as a company did research into other ways to pay and just switched to a direct deposit. This is the standard now, and there is no choice. It is all done in house, which allows for more control. You fill out bank information in your profile, but it is SSL secure and not visible to anyone. You can’t go back to check what the details of what you put in, so if you want to change it, you completely replace and overwrite it. If there are any problems with your account and getting paid, the accounting department within Collective Bias will reach out to you and tell you what the problem was so that you can update the information as needed.
If you’re leery of this process, open a separate banking account for your blog. That way, it’s separate and not with your household accounts. This is the way many bloggers already operate. At this point, you are unable to apply for any shops if you do not have this filled out. If you haven’t completed it, please fill this out ASAP
How do I know I’ve been paid?
You receive an email saying a payment will be deposited in your account. There is an attachment that shares what the payment is for with a P-XXXX code that you can match to your instructions to determine which campaign is associated with the payment. The direct deposit arrives in your account 2-3 business days later because the bank takes that long to process the payment. Don’t panic when you don’t see money in your account that same day you receive the payment notification.
What SoFabU classes should you take first?
Start with the Shoppertunities class. It’s in the process of being updated, but it is hugely helpful. It lays out all the expectations for the campaigns and explains what you and how you need to complete each of your tasks.
The photography classes are great. Better photos with better lighting and better composition, regardless of the kind of camera you us, will improve your posts both with SoFab and in general. More photography courses are coming, as well. There are some great food photography classes, as well.
Pro party styling is another fun course. If you want to do party shops, take this class. It has great ideas for printables and styling. There are also some great ideas for thinking outside the box to help you stand out.
There are also storytelling courses, courses on monetization, courses on video, and more. There’s a great course on How to write a sponsored post that doesn’t feel sponsored. It’s a great one to help write your posts so they don’t feel like an ad. Again, the storytelling courses are another really great place to start.
How do I get a shoppertunity?
Here’s the number one recommendation: be sure that you’re relevant and interesting to the client.
Here’s a blogger: I would love to do fashion. I have every pair of Crocs, and look! There’s a Crocs shop. If you’ve never written about it on your blog, you won’t likely get picked. If you want to write about something paid, then post about it yourself on your own to show what you can do. It doesn’t have to be exactly that brand, but you want to show that you know that niche. This will show the history on your, and the campaign team will see you as a viable candidate.
A lot of clients want to not see all sponsored posts and want to see a good mix with organic content, as well. Don’t get stuck in the rut of only writing sponsored posts.
What is the Anayltics plugin?
The analytics plugin has a third party that can validate a lot of the information about your blog. It is really important to the clients to see that the data Collective Bias reports is legit and tracked by a third party. It’s another way to provide credibility, and it makes the big time clients feel very comfortable so they keep coming back. It gets more business for Collective Bias which then needs more bloggers for those campaigns, so it’s a win for everyone.
What other opportunities are there for members of SoFab?
SoFab loves to use its community members to fill a variety of roles. Get familiar with the community and the campaigns, and then you can start to see where you might find a place to grow within the company outside of “just” campaigns.
You can apply to teach a course through SoFabU. If you have an expertise in a certain area, you can contact Darcy to get hired as an instructor.
SoFab Writers are sourced quarterly where you can get hired to write for the SoFab blog on selected topics.
SoFab Mentors are also recruited from the community. They mentor bloggers who want extra TLC and provide insight about how to take their mentees’ blogs to the next level. That can range from organization of the blog, creating a more authentic feel, whatever the bloggers’ needs happen to be. The mentors are a guide to really excel both in SoFab and as a blogger as a whole
Creative Council – clients coming to Collective Bias asking for ideas for campaigns, so bloggers from the community are hired on a quarterly basis to give ideas of what SoFab can do for the campaign to give some unique perspectives and really create a return for the client.
CL – If you want to get onto the organization side and help bring the campaigns to life, you can apply to be a campaign leader and see more of the behind the scenes side of SoFab and Collective Bias.
Twitter party panelists – there is an application process where you can be paid for participating in Twitter parties as either a panelist or host.