#HLSBrandTalk Recap

by Heather on September 7, 2012

in 2012 Recaps


Blogging with Brands

When you start monetizing your blog, questions start to come up. How as a single blogger can you keep the division between business and editorial?  How do you maintain your credibility with your readers, is transparent enough? These are some of the questions that you as a blogger may be considering as you begin to develop yourself as a endorser, critic, or ambassador for many creditable companies. Working with brands is a not just about the free stuff, it’s also about taking your blogging career to the next level. Many companies recognize the need to market themselves in the blogosphere as the influence of bloggers has skyrocketed in the past few years. Last year, 29% of bloggers were influenced by reviews they read on other blogs and this year, that number jumped to an alarming 68%. Whether you are just getting started or consider yourself a seasoned reviewer, this session takes a look at both sides of the story, from the blogger to the business.



  • Opportunities are out there for you! Brands do notice bloggers.
    • We are influential!
    • The market is growing and getting more involved each day.
  • Don’t sell yourself short! It doesn’t matter if you are a new blogger, brands will want to work with you.
  • Be honest in your product and brand reviews.
    • It’s important.
    • It helps the equity of your opinion to your readers.
  • Talk about the brands you love!
    • If you’ve mentioned them in your blog and social media feeds, they may already know about you! Brands utilize tools which alert them when feeds mention their products!
    • Brands watch what you do and say in regards to other brands.  They are aware.
    • Brands are looking for creative ideas, too! Think outside the box and approach them with a fresh plan!
  • Your numbers do not define you.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to brands!
    • If you want brands to consider working with you, it’s a good idea to make a media kit. Katy Widrick is a great resource for this!
    • Approach brands at conferences and events for great face to face connection
  • What brands do you want to partner with?
    • What size of brands do you want to target?
    • Don’t forget about local brands, too!
      • smaller companies may not be able to pay, but building a relationship with local companies you love to support can be very beneficial to you and your blog
        • product-only reviews can totally pay off in the long run!  Don’t limit yourself to compensated only agreements!
    • Only work with brands you believe in!
      • if someone pitches you something you are not interested in, be professional and polite and decline.

alicia twitter

  • It is appropriate to ask for compensation.
    • Make a business proposal to the brand contact.
    • Know your value
    • Babble has a calculator to determine cost to charge.
      • How much time will it take
      • How complex is the project
    • Base compensation off the size of the brand.
      • Ask if there is a budget for working with bloggers or a specific project
      • Aim higher with hopes of meeting in the middle with a brand
      • If you really want to work with the brand, do it for free.
  • When you are partnered with a brand, make sure you know what the relationship looks like and what responsibilities you have to one another.
    • Make sure you understand the brand’s expectations.
  • Brands look at the whole package!
    • Photography is important, but it’s not the only thing, or the most important.
    • Monthly page views and subscriptions are important.
    • Greatist reach is always viewed – how many people will see their product/service?
    • Being active in the community is KEY.
  • If you try a product for review and hate it:
    • be honest with the PR person
      • be professional and have tact, too!
    • Consider asking for a different product from the brand that may be a better fit for you.

  • Brand & Blogger Relationships are like Dating Relationships
    • Learn the brands that you fit the best with and invest your time and energy into building THOSE relationships
    • These relationships take time to grow and develop.  Be patient and start somewhere!
  • Blog like you are NEVER going to work with a brand.
    • Write your blog about YOU and what you are truly passionate about.
    • Engage with other people and be yourself. That’s what truly matters.
  • Use your own voice in communicating with the brands and with communicating about the brands to your readers and followers.


"it's much more than a review and a giveaway; it's the depth of the conversation" #hls12 #hlsbrandstalk
Dori Manela

Know your value!! Think about relationships in the LONG term. Who is best for YOU, how can you help them? It's a 2 way street. #HLSbrandtalk

Brands want to know that the community aspect of your blog is active - not just the numbers. #HLSbrandtalk #HLS12
Kelly Nigl

Everything comes back to the tried and true: Content is king #HLS12 #HLSbrandtalk
Mary Baum

Work with brands you LOVE and make sense for YOU and YOUR BLOG. Otherwise you can lose credibility. #hlsbrandtalk
Clare Brady

"Only work with brands you believe in. There will be [other] cool opportunities." - @ #HLSbrandTalk
Rachel Wilkerson

Incredible #HLSbrandtalk session this afternoon. Great panelists, informative content. Such inspiring & successful women. #HLS12
Melissa Alicia

"Please do not think that what your numbers are define you. The more ... you are involved in, the better." @ #HLSBrandTalk #HLS12
Katelyn Block

Let go if you are scared to make a mistake. Talk with people and get more opportunities via @ #HLS12 #HLSbrandtalk
Mary Baum

looks like I will be making a media kit soon... #HLS12 #HLSbrandtalk

Its a bonus to start working with the brands you love. #HLSbrandtalk
Kelly Nigl

creating my "brands to work with wishlist" as the panel speaks!! #HLSbrandtalk
Shore to Run

Understand the expectation of the brand you are partnering with. #HLSbrandtalk
Sarah Matthews

Don't make your blog look like a garage sale #hlsbrandtalk

@: If you get something frm brand and you overdeliver, it will pay off for you in long run. #HLSbrandtalk #HLS12
Caitlin Croswell

Love that @ is honest about her fears web first starting #FitFluential. #hls12

PR agencies DO do their research when finding bloggers to work with!! You need to be active & have good content! #HLSbrandtalk
Clare Brady

Learning SO much at the #hlsbrandtalk right now! I need to make a media kit #HLS12
Hannah McGoldrick

It is completely okay to say no to a brand that doesn't fit with your personal brand. Be nice about it. #HLSbrandtalk

Refer others u may think fit! “@ think abt whats best 4u B willing 2say no to opps that r not fit via @ #hlsbrandtalk
carla birnberg


Losing Weight in the City: Panelist Theodora’s Recap of the Session
Healthy Happier Bear: Panelist Ashley Recap of the Session
Fannetastic Food: Panelist Anne’s Recap of the Session


Lauren Podolsky is the voice behind Say What You Need to Say where she chronicles her daily life of health, fitness, and food.  By day, she works for a large financial institution as the director of financial education and by night she puts on one of her many hats as writer, fitness instructor, social media specialist, and runner. Part time, Lauren works as the blog manager for Nuts About Granola, a local granola company in South-central PA and also as a social media developer for Shiloh Farms, a health foods producer based out of New Holland, PA.  Her plate is full but she loves every moment of her crazy schedule and is passionate about sharing her love of health and wellness to the rest of the world. If she could sum up her health philosophy in one sentence it would be, “the key to obtaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is ultimately found when one stops trying to be healthy and just lives healthy.”


Theodora Blanchfield is a writer and digital strategist and the blogger behind Losing Weight in the City, a blog she started in 2009 to chronicle her quest to lose 50 pounds. More than three years later, she’s kept the weight off and run thirteen half-marathons, two marathons and is training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Professionally, she works as a social media strategist, creating and implementing strategy for brands such as New Balance, DailyBurn and ScoreBig. She serves on the Management Council for the New York Junior League and she lives in NYC with her dog, Bailey.

Ashley Diamond is a 28 year old wife, friend, workout partner, and blogger who manages to find moderation in the city that never sleeps, NYC, as she balances corporate life. Her daily adventures in striving for a healthy, happier life in New York City are chronicled on her blog, which started in April 2009 as a place to chronicle the training for her first marathon, 2010 ING NYC Marathon. Since then, the blog has evolved into far more than she could have ever imagined. She attributes the blog to her happiness in New York City, helping her meet amazing people and have the opportunity for some unbelievable experiences.

Anne P is the writer behind the food and fitness blog fANNEtastic food, which she uses as a way to motivate others to lead happier, healthier lives through nutrition and exercise, whether encouraging them to try healthy twists on a traditional recipe, to go running for the first time, or to embrace yoga. Anne spent the past 2 years at UNC-Chapel Hill working on a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition and is now living in Washington D.C., finishing her dietetic internships to become a Registered Dietitian. Stop by her blog for delicious healthy recipes, running training plans, health tips, and lots of fun. You can also follow her on Twitter @fANNEtasticfood, or on Facebook.

Kelly Olexa, CEO, Founder, FitFluential. Kelly has been blogging since 2007, sharing her passion for all things fitness-related. After working with numerous brands as an influencer, Kelly saw an opportunity in the fitness space to build upon this idea. In April of 2011, Kelly foundedFitFluential- a nationwide network of highly influential fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and offline via multiple social media platforms. Four months later, the company had grown so fast, she took a leap of faith and quit her “day job” at a social media agency to run the business full-time. That jump out of the comfort zone paid off. As of August, 2012, FitFluential has 6000+ Members reaching over 140 Million people online each month. FitFluential is Fitness Found(TM).


Valerie Elston from Porter Novelli Public Services.  “Our mission at Porter Novelli is transformation. We make this happen by pairing deep immersion with a rich, data-driven understanding of what makes people think and act the way they do. And, our proprietary metrics let us identify, monitor and manage the relationship and reputation ecosystems between brands and individuals. This pairing of insights and analytics allows us to develop integrated ideas that transcend channel and discipline while weaving a compelling story. By building communities, identifying influencers and engaging advocates, we are able to change opinions, beliefs and behaviors of those who matter most to our clients.

Laura Stanton from Dancing Deer Bakery. “We are a company of people who are passionate about food, nature and aesthetics. We are dedicated to excellence in all we do! Our products are known for a truly superior taste, artful but simple packaging and pure, high quality ingredients. We blend traditional artisan baking with innovative flavor combinations and we package our products with professional, yet whimsical tone. We think packaging should be as artful, honest and as good as the food.”


Session Photo Sources:
@RunningwithSass Twitter Feed
Say What You Need to Say
@thewannabefoodi Twitter Feed
Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

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