For most bloggers receiving freebies, or swag, is a goal of blogging and a mark of success. Equally growing a loyal fan base and accumulating followers is both an ego stroke and helps to grow prominence too.
Brands looking to get grassroots endorsement for their products often give bloggers freebies hoping to get some coverage for themselves.
So how do you, as a blogger or aspiring blogger, get yourself on the receiving end of these goodies? How do you bulk up your swag bag as you document your fitness? This guide aims to help you!
You may be just starting out, in which case all of this will apply to you, or you may already have been blogging for years in which case you will perhaps have already done large parts of it, but hopefully there is something in it for all fitness bloggers! None of it is complicated, but, like fitness, it does require a consistent effort.
Whether they admit it or not, as far as brands are concerned there are 2 main parts to the swag economy:
1. Size of audience / influence.
The more potential customers who will see their product, the better.
2. Likelihood of favourable review.
The more confident they are that you’ll love their product, the better.
So, to get flooded with freebies, we need to make the brand agencies confident that these two criteria are fulfilled.
Grow Your Audience and Influence
1. Grow your amplification network
Connecting with other fitness bloggers.
Find the other fitness bloggers whose blogs and social accounts you admire. It is very important that you actually admire their work, because you will be endorsing it. If you don’t like what they publish, find someone else who you can get behind.
Help spread their posts. Comment, retweet, like their content. Support their publishing efforts. If you are regular at doing this you will come to their attention. Start speaking with them, show them your efforts, tell them what you’re doing and you will find they start to support you too.
When you publish something you can start to tell them about it and, if they like it they’ll link to you and help spread your social media updates about your blog too.
What this does is simple, it makes more people see your blog posts. It grows the number of people who share your posts.
**This in turn makes your blog more visible to brands. **
It does require an ongoing effort, but this is the best way to promote your content for free.
It will grow your fan and follower bases too. Double win.
2. Be different, stick out
This is more difficult to learn. It is more difficult to get right and it will not always work, but when it does the results can be huge.
Not everything you do will take off massively, but it doesn’t need to. You’re just trying to stick out among a lot of other people. It will get you noticed by other people.
By having unusual content you give people a reason to notice you, you give them a reason to share your tips on core exercises if you do them with your pet cat on your back for example. The holy grail in this is to find a consistent style of being different – many people have already done exercising with cats, so you will need to find something more original, but you get the point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGVAR1m8gf8
And, perhaps best of all, by having your own particular quirky style, your posts become unmistakable.
3. Go beyond your blog
Wherever possible, volunteer your opinion to press, radio, television, conferences, seminars anywhere that will give you access to a wider audience who don’t already know you. The return on these in terms of pure audience growth is often small, but the validation to your current audience can be big. You go from just being BobsFitnessBlog.com to BobsFitnessBlog.com which I follow, AND saw on television this morning, AND therefore you are now more of an authority in my eyes, AND I’m now proud to be someone who followed you “before you were famous” etc.
The takeaway from this is that when you’re growing your audience and authority, don’t only focus on acquisition of new readers, but also look to strengthen your standing with existing ones!
4. Be thankful, empowering and in doing so further validate yourself
When others comment on and share your blog posts, thank them, interact with them, retweet them etc. This maybe seems either uncomfortable or repetitive, and initially it probably will feel both, but by doing so you show you are appreciative and approachable.
This is important to grow your audience and influence, but also when brands start to notice you it will work in your favour too. Which brings us neatly to part 2
Brands are already looking for blogs to send their swag to. You just need them to think you are worthy. This makes it easier for you.
1. Look at your blog
Be objective about it. If you can’t be objective ask that brutally honest friend, the one you can’t ask about your bum looking big. Does your blog *look* the part? Would a fitness brand be happy to be seen on your blog? Any brand that spends money on design and product will have a certain image they want to maintain. The shinier your blog looks the more likely they are to want to be in it. It really is that simple. Consider this a seduction or a flirtation. Making your blog look the part is the equivalent to brushing your teeth before a date. It is not an optional extra if you want to be successful.
2. How big is yours?
Brands might have found you thanks to a handy tool that details the size of your social following, but equally they might not have. Don’t risk them not noticing your follower numbers – have them on your blog, there are many plugins that allow you to display a “follow me” button – make sure you use one that includes your Twitter / Instagram / Facebook follower / fan count. Brands want to know that your audience is big – but don’t be tempted to try and fake these numbers, any brand worth their salt will also check the quality not only the quantity. The first part of this guide will help you to grow both quality and quantity.
3. Demonstrate you’re willing to endorse
If a brand is going to send you something to review they want to know that you’re likely to be positive about it. They already know their product is good, they’ve tested it long before producing it in quantity, but they want to know that you are someone who appreciates quality. And, more importantly, they want to know that you are someone who talks about what you perceive to be quality. So how do you do this?
Well, a simple way is to write about products, services, brands which you already own, use, endorse and show that you are exactly this kind of person. In doing so you have made yourself more attractive to brands. Remember the seduction analogy!
4. Be better than just a review
Once you start getting freebies, don’t simply write “I like this because it is great and you will love it, I promise” type reviews, or you will find you get low-end swag and even that will start to dry up over time. No, you should incorporate the brands as much as possible into your blog – work their products into your quirky uniqueness. Offer to run competitions for the brands to your audience for example “you’ve sent me a pair of shoes, I love them and am about to write a post about how they’ve helped my overstepping. I wondered if you might like to run a competition on my blog for my audience to be able to win a pair of your excellent shoes too?”
Help brands with their marketing and advertising beyond simply doing a review and a link (we’ve all been there with SEO agencies) and you’ll find you start getting the higher-end swag. And, you can often pass that on to your audience on behalf of the brand too – everyone is a winner.
A Final Word to the Wise
Unlike the cat’s nine lives your integrity only has one. If a product or brand doesn’t fit, don’t do it. Do not feel tempted to take anything. Your audience will not respect you for it. You won’t respect yourself for it.
By helping to promote brands, products and services you genuinely feel good about you put yourself in the sweet spot with your audience and the brands. You will start to reap the freebie whirlwind. Enjoy.