5 Reasons You're Not Being Chosen For Blogger Campaigns | Food Bloggers of Canada

One of the most common questions we get asked here at FBC is "why didn't I get picked for the last campaign?".  In fact, we get asked that all the time.

Despite the fact that we have said time and time again that traffic is not the deciding factor in how brands make their decisions, we know nobody believes us! (If you don't believe us, check out what PR professional Heather Travis has to say on small blog numbers!).

So before we get into the the reasons you're not getting chosen for brand campaigns, let's talk about traffic and social reach.

Traffic and Social Reach Matter - But Not as Much As You Think

Yes, your traffic matters.  So does your social reach. Think of yourself as a newspaper or magazine.  Your readership and social reach are like your circulation numbers.  When companies look at where to spend their advertising dollars of course they're going to look at your numbers.  That's part of making a smart business decision - they want their message to get in front of eyeballs.

But just like magazines - sometimes it makes sense to advertise in a smaller circulation magazine that's niche.  Let's say you make handmade dog toys.  You could choose to advertise in a large circulation lifestyle magazine, where maybe 30-50% of the readers have a dog.  But if you advertise in a magazine specifically for dog lovers (but that has a much smaller circulation), you know that probably very close to 100% of the readers have a dog, or are considering getting one.

That smaller magazine may be the better investment for your marketing dollars!  In the first publication you'll get a lot of eyes on your product but how many of them are potential buyers? In the second, you'll get fewer eyes but almost all of them are potential customers! The same holds true for blogs.  A small niche blog can be just as valuable (sometimes more so) than a general blog with a larger audience.  Something to think about!

So yes, your reach is an important piece of the puzzle - it's just not the only piece.  Virtually every campaign we've worked on has had bloggers with less than 5K page views chosen to take part - because they are the right fit for the brand.

Blaming your traffic numbers is an excuse that just doesn't cut it.

Let's have some real talk here.

When you apply for a brand campaign with FBC you are competing, on average, with 70 or 80 other people for 10 to 20 spots.  The vast majority of people who apply are in the same traffic bracket - we know because we see the stats before they're sent to the brand or PR agency. The people with the monster stats, rarely apply. They don't need to - they're commanding dollars that are much higher than most of our public member opportunities provide.  (When they do apply it's because they see the opportunity as having more value than just the dollar value.)  So you're rarely competing with them.

When everyone applying for the same 10 spots has very similar traffic numbers, brands have to look at everything else - and they do.

So here they are - the top 5 reasons bloggers don't get chosen for brand campaigns (and you may not like the answers)

1. Your Photography Just Isn't Good Enough

Hands down, the number one reason we hear from brands is "the content's good but the photography just isn't great compared to these other blogger.s"  If you want brand opportunities and you're not getting them, take a good hard look at your images.  Are they well lit? Are they blurry? Are they styled well? Are they orange? Are they too small?

When a brand is paying for advertising, they want their product shown in the absolute best possible light and food is a visual medium.  If you don't have good photography, you're not going to get the job.

If you think this might apply to you, invest in your photography.  Take a photography class, read photography resources and learn about post-processing.  You don't need the most expensive camera or lenses.  You just need to know how to light, style, focus and post-process properly.

RELATED:  Food Photography: Start With the Basics

2. You've Worked With the Brand's Competitor Recently

If you've worked with a brand's direct competitor in the last 3 months, 6 months, year (it depends on the brand) you're almost always struck off the list.  When brands have to cut 60 people from the list, they go for the most obvious issues.

Sometimes, identifying a competitor isn't as easy as it seems.  Think about a grocery store and how it's laid out.  Odds are good that if you worked with a product that shares shelf space very closely with another product, they're competitors.

3. Agricultural and Commodity Groups Represent ALL their Farmers

Agricultural groups and marketing boards usually represent and promote all the farmers of their product regardless of whether they're organic or conventional growers.  They are not in a position to promote one type of farming over another.  So if you are a blogger who heavily promotes organic ingredients you may not be the right fit.  You may be better off looking to work with brands that specifically identify with organic farming.

4. Your On-Line Behaviour

How do you behave on social media? Brands tend to err on the cautious side of things.  Now this doesn't apply to all brands but this is where it's important to understand a brand's positioning in the marketplace before you apply for an opportunity.  If the brand is conservative or family-oriented, they're going to think twice about working with somebody who's dropping f-bombs on their blog or social feeds. On the flip side, a brand that has an edgy, indie vibe might think that same person is perfect for their campaign!

Have you ever called out a brand on your blog or on social media?  How did you handle it?  Were you aggressive, passive aggressive, rude or antagonistic?  Other brands and agencies see that and you can easily find yourself on a "no go" list.   Remember, when you're a blogger, you are your brand.  How you behave on-line directly impacts your career.  Nobody wants to work with a loose cannon or somebody who's unprofessional.

RELATED:  PR Desk: What Do Your Digital Breadcrumbs Reveal?

5. Your Ad Placements

The practice of placing ads in the body of your blog post (as opposed to the sidebar, header or footer) is becoming increasingly common. But, be careful with the placement and quantity - especially the quantity.

Not only do ads affect your reader's experience, they can also deter a brand from working with you.  In recent months, we've had several potential campaign participants be passed over due to the number of ads within their post bodies.  While brands are concerned that a competitor's ad may appear in their sponsored post, most know that they can request the ads be turned off for their particular post.  Instead, they're more concerned about the overall reader experience when there is an ad after every second paragraph and they don't want their brand or product associated with a poor overall experience.

We know that for many of you, ad income is a big part of your blog's revenue model so we don't want to tell you to stop running those particular ads (and to be clear, this is not about ads you run in your sidebars, header or footer - those are fine. This is specifically about ads that appear within the body of your post).  Instead, try to find a balance between the number of ads you run inside your actual post content and the user's experience.

So, to summarize here are the top 5 reasons you're losing out on blogger campaigns, that have nothing to do with your blog's traffic:

  1. Poor photography
  2. Working with a brand's competitor within a recent time frame
  3. Not understanding a brand or organization's overall purpose and messaging
  4. Your on-line persona may not be a good fit for the brand
  5. Your ad placements may be perceived as providing a poor reader experience

Melissa Hartfiel is a co-founder of FBC and is the site’s Managing Editor. She’s a graphic designer who writes, doodles, photographs and eats chocolate and drinks tea. She blogs about food, photography and creativity at her own blog, Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach. You can follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebook or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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15 Comments

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

It definitely isn’t just about the numbers – there are so many reasons a brand says no. And these are just the 5 most common ones – there are many others!

Amanda (Peppers and Pennies)
Reply

Great read, thanks! I know for myself the opportunities and plain ‘ol reach and organic engagement has been night and day since I buckled down and really figured out a consistent photography style that I am slowly “mastering” (ha, if only). Having a niche can be very daunting at first as you feel you are “missing-out” from other opportunities or discussion you see yours peers involved with. But, if it’s not a fit don’t reach for it to be one.

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

Finding a photography style can take a little while but that’s part of the process. Nobody is a brilliant photographer overnight. But putting in the work will definitely pay off.
And it can be hard to sit on the sidelines of a very cool campaign but, in the long run, sticking with projects that are a good fit for your AND the brand is a much better strategy!

Mystique | Chef Sous Chef
Reply

Really well written and thought out article. It’s interesting to see how ads can influence the partnerships you receive. We also completely agree with the the niche requirements. It’s tough having to turn down a partnership because it doesn’t fit within your brand’s mission but you have to stay true to what you represent.

Thanks Melissa!

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

“It’s tough having to turn down a partnership because it doesn’t fit within your brand’s mission but you have to stay true to what you represent”
I couldn’t have said it better myself Mystique! Thank you!

Saskia Brussaard - Crave PR
Reply

Great advice. As a PR agency that specializes in food, we also consider how much sponsored content we see in the blog. It’s nice when the blogger writes about their own passions, interests and voice. Too much sponsored content could also affect your ability to retain, engage and attract readers. We also look for bloggers who deliver high quality writing, meet deadlines, and provide helpful summaries of their work. Some flexibility on budget is also appreciated – yes, some clients have healthy budgets but others still have an interesting campaign to share, or a cool opportunity to work with a brand – be a little flexible to work with us on those no-budget or low-budget projects to build a relationship that might benefit you when the next “big” opportunity comes around.

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

While we 100% agree that everyone should be willing to be flexible on budget in order to create long term relationships or work on things that are unique and out of the box, we also firmly believe that the “no budget” option is not an option. Brands must come to the table with a budget that compensates bloggers fairly for
a: at minimum their time
and
b: in addition to their time, their reach, level of experience and overall quality of work.

A recipe post can take anywhere from 4-16 hours to put together depending on the complexity, originality and whether or not video and social media sharing is involved. Those costs – whether they be the cost of a blogger’s time and energy, ingredients, camera equipment and internet bandwidth, absolutely deserve to be compensated fairly.

Redawna
Reply

Great information here!

I agree about having ads in between every second paragraph. I know I will leave a site when encounter that. It does make for a very poor experience.

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

I think most of us agree that as readers we hate them! (I know I do!) But I think most of us also know they’re good income generators and that’s hard to say no to. So a balance must be found!

linda cassidy
Reply

amazing tips thank you and as for the ad placement as a reader that is my number one irritant too. I have clicked off a blog over that issue

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

It definitely seems to have become very pronounced in the past few months and much more noticeable on mobile on desktop. Hopefully it will calm down in the months to come!

Jodi
Reply

Hi Melissa! Thanks for the great article. Just a quick question: I’m relatively new here and I’m just wondering how we can find out about these campaigns? I’m always on the look out for great Canadian Brands and I’d love to be kept in the loop about potential opportunities! Thanks for the extra info 🙂 Jodi

Melissa (FBC Admin)
Reply

Hi Jodi,

Members ops go out to FBC members who have signed up for the Members Opportunities newsletter. It looks like you’ve signed up to receive those my best suggestion would be to keep an eye out for them (make sure they don’t go into your junk or promotions email folder). They are usually call out campaigns with instructions on how to apply for them! Keep your eyes out for them!

Jodi
Reply

Awesome! Thank you so much Melissa! I don’t think I’ve received one yet but I will keep my eye out. x

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