Monday, March 25, 2013

Blogging at the High End: The Remarkables and How They Do It

I have just returned from 2 days at the Digital Parents Conference, which has been inspiring beyond belief. I learned many many things.  All of which I want to share with you, but today I am going to share the experience which resonated with me most.  That was the workshop moderated by Lorraine Murphy from The Remarkables.  Lorraine is a complete professional and during the course of her presentation, it became clear to me why her bloggers talent agency is so successful.

Lorraine's presentation outlined the the Win, Win, Win potential between Brands, Bloggers and Readers.


Lorraine produced a slide from A Nielsen Report called Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, The report, published in April 2012, is fascinating.  You can read it in its entirety here.

The take out message for me, was as follows:

"92% of consumers [surveyed]  globally say they trust 
earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations 
from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising." -Neilson

The Neilson Report also revealed, 70% of those surveyed, believe online reviews are the second most trusted form of receiving brand information.  An increase of 15% in 4 years.

 Neilson surveyed 28,000 people across 56 countries. Of those surveyed,  participants said they viewed television(47%), magazines(47%) and newspaper ads(46%), as trusted forms of advertising   A decline of around 25% for those mediums between 2009 and 2011. 


Lorraine was prepared to share some of the survey results gathered last year, in relation to The Remarkables' stable of bloggers.   Via a bar graph, Lorraine illustrated the reasons why those surveyed read blogs such as Baby Mac and Styling You.

The top reason those surveyed read Baby Mac, is because it "Feels like catching up with a friend".

The top reason those surveyed read Styling You, is because they want "Fashion Advice", but again, "Feels like catching up with a friend" was the third highest reason Nikki's audience visits her blog.

You can draw your own conclusions from the Neilson Report and The Remarkables surveys, but mine are that the power of blogging is evident, it's effective and it's now an important strategic element of the media mix a brand must deploy, as part of a successful marketing plan.

Although the link between reader engagement and actual point of sale transactions requires more research, blogs with an engaged readership, are clearly an effective channel to consumers.


Obviously the trust between a blogger and their readers is paramount.

One of the ways to keep readers engaged, is to offer them something every time they visit your blog.  This might be a recipe, beautiful photography, a giveaway or helpful tips.  It is not about the blogger saying "Look at me!", but rather,  it is about the blogger saying to the reader, "Here's what you are looking for".

  The Remarkables' bloggers will not work with brands that are not a good fit with themselves or their readers.  Blogging about stuff that does not fit with you or your readers, just creates a loss in credibility and is a complete turn off for readers.

Mrs Woog said she rejected a pitch from a brand on a giveaway, because she knew an online colouring in competition would not work with her readers and their kids.  She re pitched to the brand and asked readers to create a name for the new product.  It worked  because it was a good fit with the humourous themes running through her blog.  It allowed her readers to be funny along with her.   The brand was happy, because the giveaway got an overwhelming response.  The readers were happy because they were encouraged to engage in a very creative way and had the chance to win a fabulous kitchen appliance in the giveaway as well.

Trust is also maintained by clearly labelling a sponsored  post at the top of the page.

Interestingly, The Remarkables surveys showed 52% of readers read sponsored content, because they trust the blogger.

44% of readers didn't differentiate between sponsored content and free content.

The Remarkables surveys also revealed that readers understand the need for bloggers to make a living and are fine with sponsored posts, if there is a good balance between free content and sponsored content. Lorraine suggested 4 out of  7 sponsored posts a week would be way too many.  For me,  I think one every month or so is right for my blog.  I would love to be able to do one giveaway per week too.   I am only interested in offering prizes in giveaways I think you would love to have in your home, because I would too.

Lorraine suggested another benefit to blog audiences is that by reading bloggers they relate to, they are hearing from brands that will most likely be relevant and of interest to them.  For example, the famous 'Condom Dress' post on Mrs Woog's blog, which sold out the line at Seed and led to the crashing of their website due to excess traffic.  Engaging with a blogger the reader likes and trusts, means that brand "noise" is somewhat filtered.  Accordingly, readers will hopefully, only be exposed to brands that are relevant to their demographic.  Brands which may be worth knowing about, because they potentially fill a need for the reader.


I have to say I was very impressed with Lorraine.  She was prepared to share alot and it was appreciated by all the attendees of her workshop.

Lorraine revealed her fee schedule, which is a sliding scale based on unique visits. 

For those who don't know, the total 'unique' visits to your blog represents the actual number of eyeballs viewing your blog.  The number of pages readers view once they are there, is known as 'page views'.

The Remarkables minimum fee charged to the client for a sponsored post is $1500 for a blogger with 5000 uniques per month.  This increases to $6000 for the bloggers with the biggest number of 'uniques'.

Lorraine is clearly working hard for her bloggers and clients.  She also revealed that in the early days of the business, she contacted many PR's and brands and got very little traction in relation to agencies willing to pay for sponsored posts. This is now changing. She revealed that the budget for a blogger out reach event is often around $30,000.  This is where say 30 bloggers are invited to an event to liaise with the brand and learn about its products.  In addition to setting up the event, there may be an allocation in that budget to fly in and accommodate bloggers and  also to pay for childcare. This strategy can get expensive for the PR company, with little of the budget left over to pay bloggers for posting.  Bloggers are not under any obligation to blog about the brand if they are invited to theses events.  According to Lorraine, brands were finding that in some cases, only a small percentage of bloggers actually did blog about the event and/or the brand.  

 Lorraine said this business model is changing.  Brands are more interested in working with a smaller number of bloggers who are a good fit with their brand and sponsoring their posts.  That is, paying them in cash.  Her business now has so many enquiries, that she has had to take on another employee just to deal with all the interest from brands and PR agencies.

I queried with Lorraine the perception that the primary function of a PR company, was all about getting free publicity for a brand.  I suggested this was the reason PRs don't want to pay bloggers.  She said that used to be the case, but not any more.  PR's and brands are slowly realising they need to pay bloggers to get the level of engagement they are looking for.


The fact that The Remarkables have lots of new enquires about working with bloggers, inspired me.  It was here that I decided to throw my hat into the ring.  At the end of the talk, I waited to speak to Lorraine.  I wrote my current 'uniques' on the back of my card......a movable feast depending on which product you use...... but I am no shrinking violet and thought what the hell, I've got nothing to lose.  I handed her my card and the following exchange ensued:

 Lorraine: "Ah yes Desire Empire, I've heard of you, hello!"

Me: "Yes that's probably because you have already rejected me once before!" with a laugh.  

 Lorraine: "Oh no, that's because when you contacted us, we had enough work to service our existing bloggers, but that's changing."

Me: "Really?"....with a questioning tone

  I am all for putting it out there and seeing how the cards fall.  I've had plenty of rejection in my life and it hasn't killed me yet, it has made me a better, kinder person and definitely a more interesting one.
There is alot of debate out there about The Remarkables, but I embrace their business model.  Even if I never become part of their team, I respect the agency greatly, because it is leading the way for those who follow.

Blogging at the level I and many others blog at, is not sustainable without some kind of fair remuneration.  There is a lot of work involved. I love it and am passionate about it, but there comes a point to draw a line in the sand.  For those readers who cannot accept that bloggers get paid to write about things they like and love, they need to understand that if it was not for this, my blog  and many other blogs would have been taken off air years/months ago.

I have always said that blogging would be a great job if you were independently wealthy and could swan around to lovely events shmoozing with corporates and people who liked the same things as you. Or take delivery of gorgeous products from corporates who are hoping you will blog about them.  Unfortunately mortgages, food, and utility bills need to be paid.  There needs to be some sustainable level of remuneration for bloggers.  Journalists are a different kettle of fish, because they are paid by their employers Fairfax, New Ltd, Consolidated Press or Conde Nast etc to attend events and recommend products they love in their writing.  With the growth and development of online media the old PR model  (ie. free publicity via product placement and product launches)  is not sustainable in the long term,  particularly for bloggers.   I believe the growth of sponsored posts will free bloggers up to improve the quality of their content overall.   Fair remuneration for bloggers is an essential element required to maintain the diversity and integrity in this extremely exciting burgeoning industry, which I am so proud to be a part of.

In conclusion, to answer the question about what's in it for bloggers.  It's about working in a job you are passionate about.  It's about connecting with like minded people, who like the same things as you do and for those savvy enough, it's about trying to make a few bucks to pay those bills, which never seem to stop coming.


Speaking of sponsored posts.  I am giving away a $100 gift voucher to spend in a fabulous online homewares store, Allissias Attic Design here. The store is full of beautifully inspired French, vintage and Hamptons style pieces.  You really don't want to miss this one.   It's a good fit with my blog I promise and you my lovely readers, will hopefully love it too. 

If it's more blogging tips you want, have a look here

So what do you think?  If you have something constructive to say, lets have the conversation? 
  It's controversial but all respectful views are most welcome.
Today I am linked up here
Sunday Showcase
Coastal Charm
Table Top Tuesday
Dream to Reality
Wow Us Wednesday
Transformation Thursday
With Some Grace
Feathered Nest Friday
Say G'Day Saturday
Show and Tell Friday


  1. I have no problem with sponsored posts etc. I just don't feel like I have the time or energy to go that way at the moment.

  2. Love an ambitious woman, you go girl!!! xx

  3. GO FOR IT! You clearly have a passion. Great Post C! Lovely seeing you again xx

    1. You too Mrs W. Thanks for those words. I honestly believe you are the most engaging blogger in Australia. So bloddy funny.


    2. And that would be 'bloody funny'. I have just learned that I should not swear in Blogland. Or at least I should edit better.

  4. So interesting. I think bloggers should be rewarded for their effort - whether that be through sponsor ads or sponsored posts. Good for you. Keep us in the loop.

  5. Go for it! It sounds like you have the passion and drive, and a lot to offer. Good luck!

  6. interesting.. thanks for all the information!
    glad you enjoyed yourself.

  7. Interesting post Carolyn. I'm a bit of a 'small fry' in Australian blogging circles but seem to have the numbers. Its hard finding that balance between wanting to get the exposure because you know you've got the goods and to keep blogging for the pure joy of it. I'll keep 'plogging' along doing what I love.

    Great post!


    1. Ugh! I know what you mean! I am in the UK and have an "alternative lifestyle" blog, blogging about the stuff I like which is tattoos and art hotels and unusual places, events and people, with a dash of life advice. But lately my love for it has been waning as I have to pay for these things myself and I dont feel like I am getting the exposure I deserve...

  8. Hi Carolyn,

    Sadly I missed Lorraine's talk - I think I had to go see a brand when she was on but I saw her speak at Problogger and also love what she's doing. I'd love to have an agent like Lorraine and don't see where the controversy is. Bloggers are worth big money and Lorraine is helping them get it. All power to her and her team :)

  9. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Not only have you helped readers understand blogging from the blogger's point of view, but you've help me as a blogger to see how much I should be getting for sponsored posts based on my unique views readership. I am sitting at 3500 uniques per month at the moment but I know I can hit 5000 if I put in more work.

    As a lifestyle blogger, I pay my own way to go to events and try out products that I love, which is expensive, but I am hoping to eventually be paid to do these things, like a journalist would.

    I often get emails asking me to promote something, with no word of remuneration, so rookie bloggers should be careful about PR companies trying to get free promotion via your blog. This is why I would like to be part of an agency who can take care of that sort of thing for me one day.

    Awesome post, thanks so much!

    The Dame.

  10. Carolyn, what a great job of summarising that session, you must have taken a zillion notes whilst appearing to just listen/Tweet. Thanks for this, I am sure I will return to it.

    I'm glad I started my blog as a commercial enterprise - initially just to sell books. I do love the commercial-free zones that some blogs are too, but am delighted to read around the mini magazines like mine have become.

    One day I will alter my design to be less obviously time-based and more magaziney.

    Lots of opportunities swirling around, the big issue for me is to balance the family and the fab new and quite thrilling bloggy opportunities, been getting too hectic.

  11. Great post Carolyn. Thank you for sharing what you learned. I have forever rejected making money with blogs but have "as you say" drawn the line in the sand and rethinking everything. :)

  12. Carolyn - it's clear that you are interested in taking your blog to the "next level" so to speak, so I encourage you to pursue your goals. It can be tough, but I think you have the perseverance to make it happen. Good luck to you!

  13. Very interesting! Thanks for the information.

  14. Oh, all the stats are so interesting. Love that sort of thing. I missed the start of the talk so it's great to catch up on the news. I think it's fabulous that bloggers can get paid such a reasonable amount...which they are TOTALLY worth...every cent.

    Lorraine seems passionate and savvy, and I think she's doing a great thing for bloggin in Australia.

    1. Yes she so is.

      It was great to meet you at the conference too.

  15. Fabulous informative and helpful post - thank you for generously sharing what you learnt at the conference. It would have been easy to keep that info to yourself, but you magnanimously shared it with those of us unable or unwilling to attend. I find everything you reported absolutely fascinating - particularly the rates paid to the Remarkables. If only the rest of us could get a fraction of that! Isn't it wonderful that there are people and brands finally coming around to appreciating and recognising the value of bloggers and our influence and reach, and acknowledging that we are not just bored housewives typing away on our computers for lack of anything better to do! Bloggers unite and make the brands pay up - hopefully soon there will be an across the board understanding that you can't expect bloggers to blog and post about your brand or product for free, and that there influence and power has to be recognised and rewarded. Magazines don't give away free pages to advertisers, so which should bloggers. We are after all just a type of online magazine. Good luck with Lorraine - if she's heard of you you're half way there!

    1. Thanks Mel
      I knew this would be of interest to you.

  16. It's certainly an exciting time to be in the blogosphere. Not everyone can have the lucrative opportunities though when there is currently such a saturated market. $6000 per post sounds mighty fine though!! Fi xx P.S Great post

  17. To all you fabulous peeps up above thanks for your lovely responses. I often wonder whether you want to this kind of thing from an interiors and food blog. You have inspired me to write my other insights from the conference.

  18. good luck with it Carolyn - perhaps professional blogging is the career you've been looking for - you said recently you were looking for something else to do.
    Fiona x

  19. Great post. I was sorry to miss this presentation at the conference last week. Thanks for providing a great analysis of what was discussed. I have no problem with sponsored posts, in fact I like them if they are about a product I am interested in. I have purchased many different products that have been promoted on blogs and I've been consistently happy with the advice I was given. I would much prefer to get advice from a blogger I know and trust than from a magazine. I actually don't buy mags any more. I can't afford it! Good luck to you with The Remarkables. You have a lovely blog.

  20. Great post, thanks for all the information. Thanks also for joining TTT and I hope you have a very Blessed Easter. Hugs, Marty

  21. Thanks so much for sharing - I wish I had been able to go along. I think it's great that bloggers get the chance to work with brands and don't have a problem at all with sponsored posts. I'd love to be in that position myself (maybe one day).

    Again, thanks for sharing what you found. Lots to keep in mind - and makes me think I need to get better at promoting what I do!!

  22. Thanks so much for sharing this information I think its timely that bloggers are seen as the professional business minded people we can be and of course we should be getting paid for our time when working for products, nobody should work for free. I have saved the report to read later I am really interested in this kind of thing. Good on you for speaking up and handing out your card Im sure you are going to be going places soon and Ill be here to watch your journey :)

  23. I think you're absolutely bang on. It takes a lot of time and energy, and right now I have both, but it's not infinite. There will absolutely be a day where I scream 'SHOW ME THE MONEY' from the roof tops and if I haven't been able to put the structure in place to sustain myself, then I'll have to make another plan.
    It would be terribly sad, but family cannot live on words alone.

  24. This is fabulous Carolyn. I'm bookmarking it for future reference. Thanks for sharing it.

  25. Great post Caro. I would have loved to have attended that lecture however, as I didn't, this post is the very next best thing. It's great that PR companies are beginning to change and realise it's time they paid bloggers for what they do - enough with the expectation of freebies from bloggers who work so hard! xx

    1. Ditto a thousand times Charlie. So glad you a re back up on air.

  26. This is a fascinating post Carolyn. I'm considering working with brands a little more and this post has given me much food for thought. Good luck in taking the next step with your blog!

  27. I much prefer doing sponsored posts rather than offering advertising on my blog.
    However, I am very picky on what brands I work with and make sure I can always write my own content.
    I think it's great how The Remarkables are really shaking the industry. I do find the dollar figures that Lorraine mentioned to be interesting as it wasn't made clear if it all went to the blogger or if the agency received a cut and if so, at what percentage.
    Either way, it's very true that bloggers are playing a greater part in consumer marketing. Great win for us!

  28. The Remarkable's are a great group - not just for the Remarkable's themselves - but for all bloggers. Lorraine is establishing a benchmark and a standard that all bloggers will gain benefit from. Great summary - I listened to Lorraine at Pro-blogger and thought she was fantastic - great initiative with the business card! Wishing you every success xx

  29. Thanks for the information Carolyn. The remakarbles site seems to be suspended this morning. Do you know why? Does it only work for you girls? I am an older father with a blog about life with my 5 year old. and I want to expand, having only started a few weeks ago. Any help would be very welcome.

    1. Hi Mike
      Appears to be down at the moment.

      I just tried to contact you on your blog but couldn't. First thing is to link your blog to your google + page. Join the Digital Parents website here for loads of info and advice from fellow bloggers and connect big time with social media....particularly Twitter and instagram.

  30. Thank you very much, no wonder no one seems to be reading it!

  31. how did I miss this post Caro? How did I miss this presentation too (or was this when #spill #auspol was unfolding)????? So much to think about, I loved your insight and questions and sophisticated rich thought process.

    1. Yes it was a little bit like writing an essay, but I think a very interesting analysis by Lorraine of the potential of blogging for all. As for the Krudd spill that never I do believe this section was in the am. It was so interesting.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...