Curl Talk Q & A: How Do I Become A Natural Hair Blogger?
Q: It's been almost four years since I've started my natural hair journey, and I feel like I'd have a lot to offer the natural hair community. I'd like to start blogging and receiving products from well-known hair companies. Will they send me free products for reviews and tutorials? How do I get their attention? How does it work? Is there a specific way to go about it? How did YOU begin? Can I actually make money being a blogger? Sorry, I have so many questions. Any input would be greatly valued and appreciated. Forgive me if this is inappropriate. -RS-
A: Honestly, I accidentally became a blogger. Hmmm...Let's see. How DID I start? Before there was YouTube, I started an online hair journal on Fotki, just to keep up with my progress and to become motivated by the natural hair journeys of others. Eventually, I made my first video on YouTube. It was a photo slide, documenting my five year progress. Unexpectedly, people began to ask questions and let me know how inspiring my journey was. That made me feel like I was doing something to help other people, and it felt really good! Eventually, I started building my social media presence on different platforms, posting pictures of my hair styles, making more YouTube videos, writing articles for blogs, being interviewed (and recognized) on some of the greatest hair blogs out there. I'd see comments on some of my interviews and articles where people would state that I was one of their hair crushes, or that they'd been following me since my Fotki days. Very humbling, to say the least. All I wanted was to continue inspiring women and young girls to love their hair the way it grows from their scalps and show them how to care for it, so they could continue loving it.
Over time, brands started noticing and contacting me about doing reviews and tutorials. In the beginning, it's very flattering and most bloggers start out doing complimentary "shout outs" and reviews and/or tutorials. However, it becomes time consuming and it's definitely important to consider being compensated for your time and energy. Countless hours go into editing and posting pictures and videos. Not to mention, they'll gain access to your network. All serious bloggers should have a media kit. The larger the audience, the higher the investment brands are willing to make. It's basically a bio of you, what you've done, what you CAN do (i.e. emcee, reviews, posts, giveaways, etc.), and the investment a brand would have to make to book your services. Some brands will tell you that they don't have the budget to pay you, and that's fine. You can decline their business or sow a seed into their business and do it pro bono (free), but if you're like me there's only so much "exposure" you can get or free product you're willing to stash in your house. Other brands know exactly what it takes and they value your hard work, you, AND your audience. They'll either ask for your media kit up front, or they won't approach you until they're ready financially. Bloggers are a new avenue, where marketing is concerned. Just know that it's up to you whether you'd like to ask for compensation, or not. Depending on the situation, I may, or not.
Personally, I'm very protective of my audience. I try not to do a whole lot of product reviews or shouts outs because my network trusts me to be forthcoming with them. If you start reviewing TOO many products, they may start to view you as flaky, and God knows what else! On the flip side: Don't wait until they approach you. Draft a very professional e-mail, attach your media kit, and reach out to your favorite brands first. You can ever consider building a relationship with ONE of your favorite brands and become an ambassador for just them. You'd get paid monthly and receive their products to use. Who knows, you may even decide to start your own blogging site. Drive enough traffic there and you could earn a great living by enabling ads! Just beware of predatory brands that ONLY use products as payment and expect you to do everything in their time, as if you're actually on the payroll---OR, the brands who want you to continually advertise for nothing after you've already done it once or twice. You may get into it and decide to do it simply for the love of it! Whatever you decide, be sure to keep your eyes open, be creative, be smart, and have fun!