Brand Biz: Tell Me a Story

olena

“Laurie’s big on creating story, which was completely new to me. She said, ‘Olena, you need your story, and you do have your story, like a very unique story. But you have to tell it. Like, you have to say it.’ ”

–Olena Osipov, iFoodReal

Well, you got that right, Olena! We ARE big on story over here.

We loved listening to Olena tell us her story on Food Blogger Pro, from immigrating from Kiev, Ukraine to a small town in Canada when she was 19 (with $100 in her pocket!) to dreaming big and buying her new waterfront home on Vancouver Island with its own studio. That’s what you call making it!

We also loved working with Olena to help her find her brand story, the one that ultimately helped her find her way, better understand her audience, reshape her content strategy and rebuild her website. She’s a graduate of our Brand Bootcamp, and we couldn’t be more proud of her.

What is Brand Bootcamp?

The CookIt Brand Bootcamp is an immersive, one-on-one course in how to shape, position and build your brand. Working with you to understand your goals and vision, we build a blueprint for your growth, ensuring you have all the tools and resources you need to take the next steps and become the influential, successful brand you are meant to be!

How does it work?

We start with your story (of course we do!). Getting there is a process, one that begins with a conversation/interview (as we try to get to the heart of what you believe in, and love to do). From there we go on to research your competition and evaluate your marketplace opportunity, summing up our work in a Positioning Statement that details the “what, who and why” behind your brand story. And that’s just session one!

A deep dive into your current audience sets us up to identify your Target Audience—those new readers who will be key to your growth and expansion. Once we know who we’re talking to, we can work on your Brand Voice, which comprises your personal voice, the brand itself and any team members you work with. How your brand talks to your readers is a defining element of who you are.

Content Strategy and Site Structure are up next. In these two sessions, we build out your plan for growth, helping you transition from blog to a larger, more impactful online resource, more like a magazine. Working with your story, we help you think bigger, and apply that thinking to your content, site design and user experience. By the time we’re done, you’ll have a plan that easily translates to wireframes and a site refresh.

Our last session covers content Production, as well as Growth Strategy. We help you better understand how to create a process for planning and producing content for your new site. (Spoiler alert: We’re big on monthly content themes and planning six months to a year out!) As for your growth, we’ll consider multiple ways to take your story “on the road,” from a podcast to a cookbook to a newsletter series.

Is It Right for You?

Brand Bootcamp is work! It requires guts, determination and a willingness to let go of some things and see others from a new perspective. You’ll come away from the experience with a refreshed way of thinking about what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for. We’ll find your story—the one you will go on to tell the world!

To listen to others who’ve graduated from Brand Bootcamp, head over to Food Blogger Pro and tune into Bjork’s interviews with Meggan Hill and Jessica Gavin. And to hear my chat with Bjork about perfecting your story, listen here.

Brand Biz: Are You Ready for an Influencer Manager or Agency?

food blogger

If you Google “How to work with brands,” there are over 932 million search results that show up. When you consider the amount of new influencers that pop up on a daily basis, the number of search results isn’t shocking at all. So as an influencer, you’re probably feeling the pressure to compete with your fellow influencers for sponsored content. You’re probably also searching for the answer as to why brands aren’t answering your pitches.

We get it.

It can be extremely frustrating not hearing back from a brand or not receiving any feedback as to why you weren’t selected. You may have heard an influencer manager or agency will solve all your pitching problems, and that they’ll magically provide you with ALL the sponsored posts. But not every influencer is ready to take that step.

What do you need to know and do in order to be ready? Here’s our tip sheet:

You know that an influencer manager or agency isn’t a quick-fix solution.

Many influencers will seek out someone to pitch brands on their behalf for a few different reasons. The reasons can range from a not liking pitching to not having the time or the right contacts. Usually, the expectation is that sponsored opportunities will begin to roll in regularly. For influencers who’ve grown their audience, consistently produce high-quality content, and are engaging that audience, this can be true. For others, they may need to put in the effort behind-the-scenes to build their brand.

You have a clear strategy for your brand.

Before you start your search for an influencer manager or agency, ask yourself if you actually know your brand story and how it differentiates you from everyone else. Also ask yourself if you think you’re creating the best content possible, with a content strategy based on your brand story. Brands see numerous pitches from influencers, so your first impression counts.

Want to identify your unique opportunity in the marketplace? Drop us a line!

You’ve worked with brands previously.

When you have a few brand partnerships under your belt, you’re telling an influencer manager or agency some important things about you: You’re willing to work hard; you get good results; and you’re most likely reliable. Having these past partnerships in place will only help your influencer manager or agency pitch you to more brands and land you more partnerships.

You’re ready to go beyond influencer networks.

Ask yourself this: Who is an influencer network’s client? Is it you, the influencer or the brand? It’s the brand. So opportunities provided for influencers are going to skew in favor of the brand. Plus, you don’t have someone in your corner who’s working specifically for you. That leads to our next point…

You want someone to be on your team and advocate for you.

How many times have you felt like it’s difficult to negotiate with a brand with your rates? It’s pretty common, especially if you’re using influencer networks. Having an influencer manager or agency puts someone on your team. They’re looking out for you and you’re their #1—not the brand.