There are almost as many homeschool businesses popping up as there are homeschool blogs popping up. I see new sites, new products, and new faces nearly every day. It is exciting, but also daunting as a homeschool mom to wade through all that I see to get to the meat of the issue…
Will it work for MY homeschool?
Homeschool companies often start because they have found something that worked for them and then want to share that with the homeschooling community at large. However, they often jump in and quickly begin to drown in the sea of homeschooling companies out there. They wonder how in the world they can get their heads above water, let alone get to a place where homeschool families actually recognize their products and want to use them.
That’s where bloggers come in!
Let me walk you through a few ways you can get bloggers on board to help spread the word about your products.
1. Blog Ads – There are two things homeschool companies need to keep in mind when considering placing ads on blogs.
- Ads are rarely free.
- How hard does this blogger work for her sponsors?
Before we move any further down this path, I need to explain something to all those budding homeschool businesses…you need to have an advertising budget and I would highly recommend bloggers be a part of that budget.
So, that said, blog ads are a great way to get the word out about your company, but they are not the be all, end all because they do not sell themselves…in the beginning, that is. Readers eventually ignore new ads (although this can be helped with ad plugins like WP125 and AdRotate and something else I’ll be explaining in a moment.) So, when you consider placing an ad on a blog, be sure to ask what that ad placement entails.
On Raising Arrows, a 3 month ad slot gets the most attention by me as a blogger. I feel those advertisers went the extra mile and so should I. They get a discount on the ad space and a free review and/or giveaway as well as social media shout outs here and there. It’s not free, but it is effective.
If you don’t pay for the blog ad, don’t expect much extra. If you do pay for the ad, be sure to ask what the blogger typically does for her sponsors in the way of promotion with an ad. You want to get the biggest bang for your buck and still be holding to the Win-Win Situation Method.
Additionally, a long term ad on a blog along with regular promotion of that ad, will eventually lead to name recognition. For example, Raising Arrows has been sponsored for quite some time by the cloth diapering company, Sweet Little Blessings. She has been a part of my sidebar and content for so long that readers know if they need something for cloth diapering, they can pull up my website and find Sweet Little Blessings from there, even if they haven’t bookmarked her site. That, is the beauty of long term advertising!
2. Reviews and Giveaways – Sometimes these are done by bloggers “free for product” and sometimes they require a fee.
Keep in mind giveaways and reviews are not easy posts to write. They require photos to be taken and edited, giveaways to be monitored, winners to be announced and contacted, and endless promotion. However, for your company, this is one of the best ways to get your product out there and recognized. If a blogger who has a loyal readership (notice I said “loyal” and not “enormous”) asks for product plus a fee, don’t automatically say no. Consider the benefit you will receive from this often nominal fee and make your decision based on that.
And a quick word on giveaways…when researching bloggers to ask to do giveaways for you, do not always look at how many entries they had on their last giveaway as the determining factor of their success. Sometimes there are 10 different entry possibilities which will bloat giveaway numbers compared to a blogger who only offers 5 entry possibilities. You also should be allowed some say in what type of entries are offered, but remember, bloggers do have rules and guidelines they must follow when conducting a giveaway.
3. Conference Sponsorships – These are a fairly new thing for homeschool companies and homeschool bloggers alike. Before the Titus 2:1 Conference (coming this month), there were no exclusive homeschool blogging conferences. You will also begin to see more and more bloggers seeking sponsorships to actual homeschool conventions as well. Many homeschool companies tell me these sponsorships have been incredibly beneficial to their business.
If you would like to jump into the world of sponsorship, it would be helpful to spend some time on the Twitter hashtags that correspond with the various conventions and conferences. Places like #2to1Conf #BEECHcon #Allume (not homeschool specific, but still a good place to look) and then in general at #hsbloggers. Bloggers will often give shout outs of a need for sponsorship via these hashtags.
Again, find out specifically what the blogger offers for a sponsorship. And as these conferences are often very social media driven, your best chance at being noticed during a conference is to have a twitter handle and facebook page ready for the blogger to use for promotion. You won’t realize the full potential of a conference sponsorship without these.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 and more ideas for working with bloggers!