How To Get Sponsored By The North FacePosted on Sep 29, 2012 | 29 comments
This is a guest post by Family Trek blogger Clark Vandeventer. When Clark managed to get his blog sponsored by The North Face, I just had to know how he did it. Thanks, Clark!
I'm on a quest to work less, live more, and travel the world with my family.
And it's hard work. Really, really hard work.
Two years ago my wife and I began the process of reinventing our life. I had recently come off a congressional campaign (I lost) and we had a lot to figure out because I had bet everything on winning. I'd cashed out my retirement savings and put other career opportunities on hold in order to be a full-time candidate. Risky business for a 30 year old with two kids.
I want to live epicly. Sometimes things turn out, well, epicly. Sometimes I crash hard. This was one of those times that I crashed hard. Shortly after my run ended, we moved into my in-laws garage.
I was working again -- but again I was taking an entrepreneurial approach -- which meant I was making very little money. I'll always be grateful to my in-laws for taking us in. Because they let us crash with them, we could take the time to reinvent our life and slowly build up our income again, rather than reach for anything that would give us a paycheck out of desperation.
One night my wife and I watched the movie Julie and Julia -- the story of Julia Powell who started a blog about her adventures cooking recipes created by Julia Child. The blog became a smashing success (they did make a movie about it, after all). The rest is history.
Watching the movie made me feel a little melancholy. I always believed I was a writer, and I felt disappointed in myself that as life had rolled on that I had not really taken the time to write.
The next day I told my wife that if I could have any job in the world it would be traveling with my family and writing about it. In typical fashion, my wife pointed out that I could begin pursuing that dream immediately.
A few weeks later we started our blog FamilyTrek.org.
I have not yet achieved my dream of being a full-time writer. I am though, closer than I was two years ago. I've been a paid blogger for Vail Resorts with the Sprint Snow Squad. We make a little (emphasis on little) money at FamilyTrek.org. And we recently obtained our first sponsorship of our blog from a major brand.
When you go to FamilyTrek.org you'll see in the right margin a banner that reads, "Sponsored by The North Face."
I'm still a long way away from making "full-time money" as a blogger, but it makes me feel pretty good that a brand with 2.8 million Facebook fans would look at our little blog and say, "yeah, we'd like to work with you."
Of course when you score a deal like this and you happen to friends with tons of bloggers from all over the world, people start asking you questions. How did I get connected with The North Face? What was the process? What are the details?
I'm hardly an expert on this topic, but I did learn some things through my experience so far with The North Face that I think provide a roadmap for me and other bloggers interested in partnering with potential sponsors.
1. Just be honest about your stats. No BS. In my introductory email I said, "We get about one million unique visitors a day. Don't believe me? Okay, maybe I was exaggerating a bit. Attached are screen shots with some details on our stats."
2. Start small. I suggested something really, really small -- and then said I'd like that small thing to be the catalyst to a more elaborate discussion about significant work together. But I emphasized starting small. I offered a lot and asked for so little in return. I made it a "no-brainer" for the sponsor and gave them an opportunity to test us out.
3. Say you want to use unique tracking codes. I found they really appreciated I wanted them to be able to track the traffic we send to them. It was like that by suggesting this I put them at ease that I wasn't hoping to just get lucky in getting them to agree to work together when I knew this would never be that good for them.
4. Klout. If you've been wondering why Klout matters, here's why. Klout gave The North Face an independent, 3rd party they could look to in order to see how influential we are online and on what subjects we influence people. Through Family Trek and my personal accounts, we're influential in Travel and Tourism, Camping, Skiing, and Lake Tahoe. Those are perfect for The North Face.
5. Choose your potential partners wisely. Think about the brands and products you love. You love them because they fit your lifestyle. For us, The North Face just really fits our lifestyle -- from hiking and biking and camping in the warmer months to skiing in the winter. I think I'd have less success with a luxury brand. I don't see a partnership with Rolex on the horizon.
That last point -- thinking about what brands and products you love -- I believe to be most important. This fall our family is spending 6 weeks traveling through Central America and we're all traveling with just a backpack. Though we had some backpacks around our house, none of us had the type of pack we'd want on a trip of this nature.
I thought about the backpack I wanted and I immediately thought of The North Face.
We looked at their packs online and eventually went into one of their retail locations to try a few on.
Meanwhile, my idea for a partnership with The North Face was germinating. I thought they were a perfect sponsor for our blog and I thought that through the particular idea I had developed we had a lot to offer them.
And I just sent them a tweet.
I can sometimes fall prey to the trap of over-thinking things. This is one time I did not over-think. All I did was send a tweet. Actually, I sent 2 tweets. The first, which I sent from @famtrek did not get a reply but the second, which I sent from @ClarkVand did.
@thenorthface wanted to follow-up with you again. Do you work with bloggers? Have an idea for a collaboration with @famtrek
@ClarkVand @famtrek Yes, our Public Relations team does work with bloggers. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with more details. Thanks!
Just like that we were off and running.
The best part? I love The North Face!
Oh, and I'm one step closer to that dream job of traveling the world with my family and writing about it along the way.
Enjoy This Post? Stay Connected With Us.