‘Sponsored post’ is a phrase that is commonly used in the blogging community. Many bloggers do sponsored posts at one point or another as a way to monetize their sites while some have no idea what a sponsored post is or how to obtain them. When I started blogging, this was my very first form of monetization. I still remember getting my first email containing a sponsored opportunity. I hadn’t been blogging long and at the time, I had next to no following whatsoever. And what I say I had no following, I mean I had MAYBE 250 page views a month. No joke. So I was shocked when a company reached out wanting to work with me.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what a sponsored post even was or what I was supposed to do or how it even worked. Thankfully I had a few friends in the blogging community who were able to answer all these questions for me and put me on the right path. I figured I’d take on the opportunity and if I liked it then I could do more and if not, then I never had to do a sponsored post again. Well, I liked it. A lot. So I dove right into more opportunities that were available to me until finally I had achieved a stable, full-time income from it all in the course of a single year.
Now, I get quite a few questions from newer bloggers wanting to learn more about sponsored post and how they go about obtaining them. So if you’re looking for a new way to monetize your site, then this post is perfect for you! Today I’m hoping to address any and all questions you may have on sponsored content.
WHAT ARE SPONSORED POSTS?
First off, what the heck are sponsored posts? Well sponsored posts are paid blog or social media posts that promote a company’s products and/or services. Essentially you’re getting paid to market the products you love with your readers and followers through your blog and various social media platforms.
HOW DO YOU GET A SPONSORED OPPORTUNITY?
- Wait to be contacted. As I mentioned above, I got my first sponsored post opportunity when a company directly emailed me through my blog. Once your blog starts to grow and gain engaged followers, then companies will usually start to reach out. But this can be a slow process and you may not always get the same opportunities as some of your blog friends. So in this case, you can always reach out to them yourself!
- Reach out directly. I honestly don’t do this too often, but if there’s a product I’m wanting to try out then I’ll find the best contact for their PR (public relations) department and reach out to see if they’re interested in collaborating. Sometimes I’ll get an email back and I’m able to form that collaboration with them and then other times, I may not get an email back at all. This is totally fine! It’s not guaranteed that they’ll respond. But I’ll go over more about this later…
- Blogging networks. Another way to gain sponsored opportunities is by joining blogging networks. These are networks that connect bloggers with sponsored opportunities. If you see an opportunity that you want in on, then you simply just apply to the campaign and pitch your creative idea and then wait to see if they accept you. Being that there are tons of bloggers in these networks, you really have to be creative with your pitches. Companies are looking for out of the box ideas that no one else is pitching to them. So it’s important to stand out.
WHAT ARE THE BEST NETWORKS TO APPLY TO?
There are a TON of networks out there that connect bloggers with sponsored opportunities. Here are some of my favorites as well as those that are very commonly used by bloggers:
- Social Fabric
- Influence Central
- Acorn Network
- Activate by BlogLovin’
- Clever Girls
- Weave Made Media
- Pollinate Media Group
- Social Stars
These are only a very small handful of the many networks out there. Social Fabric and Influence Central are the two that I work with the most. I also work with MSB New Media a lot as well so if you’re a military spouse blogger, this is another good one to look into! Many networks have an application process in order to become a member and most have requirements when it comes to your social media following and/or page views. For example, some may only accept bloggers who receive 20k+ page views a month. Or bloggers that have over 10k followers on social media. To be sure to look at these requirements to determine which networks will be a good fit for you. The ones that you don’t quite meet the requirements of quite yet can be bookmarked so that you can go back to them later as your blog continues to grow.
HOW DO I FIND COMPANIES TO WORK WITH?
Think about the companies and products you already love and share with friends and family. Being authentic is so important. You will never see a product on my blog or social media profiles that I don’t truly love and want to share with you all. There have been a few times where I have taken on sponsored posts just to end up not liking the product in the end and removing myself from the campaign. It sucks, but I’m just not going to be fake with you all and share products that I wouldn’t personally use and recommend. If I’m sharing something with you all, it’s because I know you all will love it too!
Once you choose products and companies you love and want to work with, take the time to explore their sites or ask around to other bloggers to find the best contact information for that company. That Pitch Life is a great Facebook group full of awesome bloggers and business owners. If there’s a contact you’re looking for, chances are someone in this group has it! They’re also great at answering any other questions you may have as well so I highly suggest joining it if you want to work with brands.
WHAT DO I SAY IN A PITCH EMAIL?
Pitch emails will always vary from blogger to blogger, but mine always include: who I am, what I do, a little bit about myself, my site, and my audience, and what exactly it is that I can offer them. What sets me apart from all the other bloggers out there. And it’s important for them to know why you love their company and/or product(s) and why you want to work with them. You do not have to include pricing or a media kit or anything like that in the first email unless you want to. I’ll usually include the media kit, but not the pricing right off the bat. If they’re interested in collaborating, then we can discuss compensation from there.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I CHARGE FOR A SPONSORED POST?
Before you even begin to reach out to brands, it’s important to set your pricing. A lot of other bloggers suggest using Social BlueBook to determine pricing, but I’ve never really been a huge fan of it. I feel that it gives you a really low starting point. But some bloggers love this tool and use it as a guideline for their own pricing so if you love it, then use it!
If you’re still stuck on what to charge, then here are some things to consider:
- How much money do you need to be making to cover bills and blogging expenses each month? Let’s do the math here: if you need to be making $1,000 a month to cover your bills and you’re charging $100 for a sponsored post, then that means you need to take on 10 sponsored posts a month in order to break even and pay those bills. If you’re charging $250 per post, then you only need to take on 4 sponsored posts that month. Which one of these sounds more appealing? The month where you only take on 4 paid posts, right? Not only is this less work, but it’s easier to find 4 brands you love and want to work with than it is to find 10. Work smarter, not harder!
- How much time and work goes into putting together a sponsored post? (remember to think about research, planning out your content, typing up and proofreading your content, taking photos of the products and editing them, scheduling out social media content, SEO, creating graphics for social media, creating the Pinterest graphic, etc. etc. etc.). If you’re spending a good 5+ hours on a single post and are only charging around $100 for that post, then you might want to consider raising your prices. It’s harder to determine a good “hourly” rate, but don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth!
- Look at your engagement and social media following. This is where Social BlueBook comes in for a lot of people because it bases your pricing on your analytics and social following. If you have a smaller following, this doesn’t mean you have to charge far less than other bloggers. You still need to be able to make money. And on the other hand, if you have a larger than average following, then don’t be afraid to charge more. There’s nothing wrong with increasing your prices as your following grows.
If all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers for their rates to get an idea of where everyone else is pricing themselves. It would be especially good to ask bloggers who have roughly the same social stats as you so that you can kind of determine what that industry “standard” looks like.
IS IT OKAY TO DO A SPONSORED POST FOR FREE PRODUCT ALONE?
Every blogger has different policies on this sort of thing so it’s really your opinion. I, however, do not work for free. The only time I accept only a product as a form of compensation is if it’s a pricey product that I’m already interested in trying out and/or sharing with you all. If the product doesn’t equal the same price as my sponsored post fee, then I always ask for additional compensation. So for example, if the product only costs $10, but I charge $300 for a sponsored post, then I’m going to ask for that additional $290.
It’s a lot of work putting together a sponsored post and I do a lot of promotions with them as well. So it’s important to me that the sponsorships I’m taking on are 100% worth it. There’s just not enough hours in the day to take on work that I’m not getting paid for.
WHAT ARE COMPANIES LOOKING FOR WHEN THEY HIRE BLOGGERS?
This can vary depending on the company as well as the sponsored opportunity. But generally speaking, the two big things they’re looking for are high page views and followers as well as high engagement. Having both of these is a great combination, but sometimes companies favor one over the other. In my case, I had suuuuuper low numbers when I was starting out (as most bloggers d0) so I think it was the fact that the audience I did have was super engaged. And a good majority of that audience still follows me today!
My advice here would be to create an engaged community around your blog. Ask questions to get the conversation started and really take the time to connect with them. Seeing that your readers and followers care enough about you to interact with you is huge to brands. So I’d make this a high priority while working on increasing those numbers as well.
HOW AND WHEN DO I GET PAID?
Again, this is going to be another thing that varies from blogger to blogger. You have to figure out what works best for you. When I work directly with brands, I require full payment up front and all payments go through PayPal. I do this every single time. The only time I didn’t request full payment up front, I never got paid. They wouldn’t even respond to my emails when I tried to reach out. So I’m pretty strict on being paid up front now. I know a lot of other bloggers do this as well.
When I’m working with brands through blogging networks, then I typically get paid about 30 days after the post goes live. Most times, I get a direct deposit and then other times, it’s through PayPal. Again, it’s another thing that varies depending on the network and/or company you’re working with.
I’m hoping this post covers a lot of the big questions any of you may have on sponsored content. If there are any questions that I did not answer here, feel free to ask me below! But this should be a good post to get you all started and pointed in the right direction.
Do you write sponsored content on your blog? What are your top tips for new bloggers?