When bloggers solicit brands and public relations companies for sponsored posts, recipe development or other forms of paid advertising, one of the first things they like to tout is how much traffic their site attracts in an average month.
Yes, it’s important to communicate this to brands at some point in the discussion process because most marketers have to report to someone, be it a client or boss, how many media impressions a specific website or cumulative campaign is generating for the brand. Bloggers should be upfront with that number.
However, on its own, a blog’s page views are not indicative of your blog’s overall worth and will not convince me to pursue a paid relationship with a blogger
What will convince me to pursue a paid relationship with a blogger? Well, a combination of quality (content, professionalism, design) and quantity (number of readers, comments, size of social network communities, page rank, domain authority, mozz rank). When negotiating with a blogger over paid work, here is what I, and many other publicists, do look for and evaluate.
They have excellent content. It’s great if a blog has a high number of readers, but is the content aligned with the brand I am promoting? Publicists and marketers do look at blogs to see if they’re rife with typos and misspellings (the occasional autocorrect is understandable) or if the blogger is actually putting time and effort into their work.
If a post is full of errors or inconsistencies, their work might not be as valuable as someone with fewer readers, but stronger writing skills. I also look for creativity…
For example: If a food blog starts every post with: “My husband really wanted me to make cookies, so I made chocolate chip cookies and we really loved the cookies!” then most of the readers are probably nodding off before they make it through the recipe’s headnotes. If I’m not engaged, I’m assuming readers aren’t either.
They have expertise in a subject area: If a blogger has a special focus, that is as important to a brand as a few extra zeroes in their Google Analytics. If I’m representing a natural foods client, for example, it might be appealing to them if a blogger has a nutrition degree or has worked in the health and wellness field. What you did in your “pre-blogging” life matters! A lot of people out there are “recipe developers” but “astrophysicist turned recipe developer” makes you sound a lot more interesting and well rounded.
They have highly engaged readers. That brings us to reader engagement. It’s great if you have over a million page views, but are those readers only clicking on your homepage because you pay a great SEO firm to keep your search rankings high or are they actual people visiting daily to browse your new content?
A lot of blogs have amassed huge amounts of internet traffic over the past five to 10 years since blogs have begun to supplant traditional media, but you also have to look at how and why their readers are getting there. There are a lot of bloggers who solicit brands to sponsor high-ticket giveaways (we’re talking cars, cash, kitchen renovations…not just the occasional blender or stock pot). Of course, these tend to attract a lot of page views because people like free money.
The bottom line: if we notice that a blogger has 4,000 comments on a giveaway post but 14 on a regular recipe of the day, odds are their readership is not coming back for their content, but for a chance to win an all-expense paid weekend in the Riviera Maya.
On the flip side, if blog readers are leaving meaningful comments on the posts, sharing the content (and not just the new content!) and following and engaging the blogger on social media, there is a good chance that they have a strong foothold in their category and would deliver valuable ROI.
They understand what ROI means. Speaking of the three letters: R-O-I, if a blogger can’t answer: “what will my brand receive in return for a paid relationship with you?” then it’s time to move on to someone who understands marketing. When a blogger answers the question with their page views, that’s also a red flag that they don’t understand that my brand has marketing goals and benchmarks to meet. Now, to be fair, some companies measure the success of a program solely in page views.
They have a well-designed, professional site. Brands don’t expect that every single blogger will spend $10K on a web design and marketing firm, but it’s nice to see that a blog has consistent branding, a clear logo and title and clean, easy to read layout that lets readers access content easily. I frequently decline blogs that have “giveaway,” “freebie,” or “coupon” in the title (of course there are exceptions) because they tend to produce content with respect to quantity not quality.
I can corroborate your reported statistics with a few clicks on Google. Whenever I receive a proactive or reactive pitch from a blogger containing their stats, I like to cross reference them on Compete.com, Alexa.com or in our media database, CisionPoint. There is always a margin of error, but if a blog reports 1 million page views and Compete.com says you have 70K, I’m going to be skeptical.
At the end of the day, most brands would prefer to work with a blog that has 30,000 quality, engaged readers who care about the blog’s topic than 900,000 who are less inclined to absorb, share or interact with the site. Metrics are important, but far from the only factor that influences brand marketing decisions.
Thoughts on new and traditional media, current events, life in Chicago and the occasional small Chihuahua photo.