You know what I don't like? Being sent a generic email asking me to give over an entire blogpost so that I can enter a competition and be in with a tiny chance of winning something. That's not working with bloggers, that's asking a huge bunch of them for a load of free advertising space but couching it in "Yay, competition!" terms. I'm sure it makes perfect business sense and if other people want to take part, great, but those emails really rub me up the wrong way. I'd so much rather companies were honest about it. Either pay for sponsored posts or send out products for review or do something else innovative but don't sneak around pretending that this is an awesome opportunity you've laid on specially for us when all you want is free advertising.
You know what I do like? Brands that get social media and use their Twitter account for things other than retweeting how awesome they are. Brands that want to work with bloggers and realise the benefits of it. Brands that understand building a community and a following are important. Get us on board: we like to shop and spend money, we like to write, we like to take pretty, arty photos of products. We have lots of readers. We can be useful to you and we'll be loyal if we like you. It's a no-brainer really, isn't it?
Here are two brands that I've been in touch with recently. Both of them rock. They're happy to work with bloggers, talk to us rather than at us and yes, offer us some free products as a way of promoting them and spreading the word. Nowt wrong with that!
I've never fallen into the blogger trend of owning a satchel. I basically don't like them. I love a good leather bag but they have to be something a bit special to win me over, so I was quite happy to stick with the massive handbags I already own. Then I went to a BBQ with Char a few weeks ago and on the way home I shared a car seat with her Brit Stitch Half Pint bag. It was so ridiculously cute I nearly stole it. Far too small for my needs, but then I discovered that they did a size called the Milkman and, well, come to Alex, my preciousssssss.....
You can fit a book in it! It's not a useful bag unless it passes this test.
It may not be quite as ridiculously cute as the Half Pint but it's even more beautiful. Such a gorgeous shape and colour. If I had room to store them I'd get one in every colour.
Check out Brit Stitch on Twitter and Facebook and say hello. Jen runs their social media stuff and she's doing a kick-ass job at it.
Brand number two: Sunglasses Shop, and their sister site Glasses Direct. Both are super happy to work with bloggers. I'm an awkward customer and need prescription sunglasses, which unfortunately Sunglasses Shop aren't able to send out for review (damn my wonky eyes!), but they very kindly sent me this cute Scout Marilyn pair of specs from Glasses Direct instead.
I showed them to the Mothership and she pulled That Face. You know the one. "I think they look bloody awful on you but I'm too polite to come out and say it so I'll just try (and fail) at keeping my face non-commital and go 'Mmmmhmmmm, very nice' instead". That Face.
Meh. Yes, they're probably a bit big for my face and no, I'm not the sort of pretty young thing that can wear massive specs and look cute and ironic. I just look like a dick who picked some glasses that are too big for her face but WHATEVER. I don't really care. I like them.
And I like Glasses Direct because they have awesomely low prices and their customer service is good. I've tested out the returns policy and I can assure you that a) they actually reply to emails, b) they're polite and helpful and c) they sort things out quickly. So I bought these Audrey glasses with a sunglasses tint as a treat for myself. Woop. First pair of prescription sunglasses I've ever owned. That's quite bad isn't it? My poor eyes.
(the rule about glasses being too big for your face doesn't apply with sunglasses. The bigger the better.)
Just for the sake of clarity, the bag and the specs are c/o Brit Stitch and Glasses Direct respectively. I bought the sunglasses myself. They're all great.