It’s hard to believe that Tea for Me Please will be turning 13 years old in October. Both the blog and I have changed quite a bit over that time. In recent interviews, like this one with Harney & Sons, I’ve noticed that I’m being referred to as a tea influencer. In this post, I’ll be looking at my journey so far, what it’s like being a tea influencer, and best practices if you are a tea brand looking to work with influencers or bloggers.
How It Started and How It’s Going
When I started my blog, it was to back up the tea reviews I was writing for the now-defunct Teaviews.com. I was already connecting with fellow tea obsessives on Twitter and avidly followed the few tea blogs that existed back then. After a few years, my blog started to take off, and I stopped writing for Teaviews to focus on my own site. That was when I really started branching out to go beyond just tea reviews. I was shocked when tea companies started sending me tea to write about it.
Fast forward to today; I’m still writing about tea and reviewing samples that are sent to me. My focus has shifted from ‘all things tea’ to education and spotlighting specialty teas that are directly and ethically sourced. Social media has also become a larger focus. Blogging isn’t dead, but there are so many other ways to reach my audience now. Instagram and YouTube.
Being involved in tea has connected me with so many wonderful people. I now count fellow bloggers, tea vendors, and other industry folks among my closest friends. We would never have met if I hadn’t started a tiny little blog all of those years ago.
What It’s Like Being a Tea Influencer
Being an influencer is a lot of work! My niche is so tiny (compared to others like fashion or beauty), yet I still find myself constantly creating content. Outside of writing, there are always teas to taste, pictures to take, and YouTube videos that need to be filmed. Like fellow Intellifluence creator Shayla McLeary-Jones, I try to structure my day around the tasks I need to get done.
One of my favorite things about being considered an influencer is getting press passes to industry events like the World Tea Expo, the Fancy Food Show, and more. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s new and network with interesting people from many walks of life. I’ve also had the privilege to speak at consumer events like the Chicago Tea Festival and Nomad Tea Festival.
All of that work makes it feel like a job, but the downside to tea is that it does not pay the same way other industries would. I have always had to find time to create while also working full time. That can be a big challenge when life throws curve balls. I do it despite the challenges because sharing tea with others is my passion.
Working with Tea Influencers
The idea of having someone to spread the word about your tea company is exciting, but I have a few tips for you before you start reaching out to influencers.
- Be personable – For every influencer, there is a real person on the other side of that screen. Take the time to tell us your story so that we connect with what you and your company are all about. And whatever you do, make sure that get our name right!
- Make sure it’s a good fit – Take the time to get to know us and our blogs/social media before reaching out. Read through the posted review policy before contacting a blogger in order to make sure that your products are a good fit. My review policy clearly states that I do not review flavored teas but I received emails from companies wanting to send fruity tutty blends every week.
- Be clear about your expectations – Make sure that you are upfront from the beginning of what your expectations are for the content surrounding your product. Nothing is more frustrating than for a company to send demands after I’ve already received the item, especially when most of them go against my own review policy.
- Consider compensation beyond free product – Free tea is great but it doesn’t pay rent. According to Forbes, you should not expect influencers to do work for free. Try to think outside of the box if you have a small budget. Many of us also offer affordable advertising spaces on our websites.
I hope this post has given some insight into my influencer journey. Here’s to many more years of sharing tea with the world!