Emily Schuman, the founder of Cupcakes and Cashmere, is proof that blogging is a bona-fide business.
After working in advertising at Domino and Teen Vogue and managing media campaigns at AOL, in March 2008 Schuman launched her lifestyle blog, which touches on topics ranging from neon coral lipstick to Super Bowl-themed cupcakes to job interviews. Now with more than 6 million page views a month, a second book project, annual revenue of more than $1 million and Creative Artists Agency negotiating deals on her behalf, the Angeleno has parlayed her cyberspace stature to designing a bag with Coach, creating a video series with Juicy Couture and guest-blogging for Estée Lauder.
As blogs become essential to brands’ marketing campaigns, Schuman provided an outline for companies that seek to collaborate with bloggers. For starters, companies need to set goals and scan the blogging landscape. Once they figure out whether they want to create awareness for their brand, drive sales or engage with consumers, they can find bloggers through an Internet search, social channels like Pinterest and services such as Signature9, which ranks the top 99 fashion bloggers, and Fohr Card, which compiles user and traffic data.
Picking the right blogger also takes consideration. Working with a popular blog means a brand can tap into its wide reach, well-known status and legitimacy. However, that top blog may have already worked with numerous brands and charges a lot of money. In addition to a blog’s traffic and social reach, a brand also needs to assess whether the blog’s voice aligns with its own. In some cases, a small, up-and-coming blog could be more compatible, Schuman advised.
“Being able to target a specific niche and having a highly engaged readership is more important potentially even than page views,” she said.
What’s also important is developing a strategy with the blogger. Whether it’s a one-off post, a series or a long-term partnership, companies need to determine a schedule, the number of social media blasts, an aesthetic for the posts and home for the posts, either on the blog, the brand’s Web site or both. An effective relationship is based on trust that the blogger knows the audience, as well as benchmarks to measure success.
While there may be blurring of lines between editorial content and advertising on a blog and skepticism that a blogger can maintain an authentic voice while being paid by a brand to integrate its message, companies need to realize that bloggers have turned their personal interests into professional businesses.
“I have been extremely selective about the amount of editorial promotions and sponsored posts that I’ve put on my site simply because I worry about becoming oversaturated in working with too many brands,” Schuman said, “but I think, when executed properly, it’s a really wonderful opportunity both for the blog and the brand.”
In a way, bloggers have become content marketers.
“If you’re looking for a word-of-mouth ad campaign, that costs money,” she said. “Your brand’s social strategy needs to be on par with all of your other advertising efforts.”