Let’s be realistic: As passionate as we may be about blogging, it takes hours out of our days that could be devoted to family, friends, and other endeavours. Whenever we feel at risk of selling out, we must be reminded that we deserve to be compensated for the amount of time and energy devoted to keep our blogs afloat.
Today I am here to show you how to get the most bang for your buck, holla from your dolla, ounce for your bounce, what have you, from blog sponsorship. You will discover that the sweet spot of balance between sponsored and personal isn’t necessarily easy to find.
Myth: Only sponsor blogs with a million followers.
Debunked: A better metric is monthly page views.
A high GFC count does not necessarily mean your ad will get clicks (Who reads from Google Reader anymore?) Generally, the higher the page views, the more exposure for your blog. If a blogger doesn’t properly disclose this amount, don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of their media kit. Bonus: smaller blogs often have more time and bandwidth to devote to promoting you each month!
Myth: Sponsor a blog within your niche.
Debunked: Branch out to different genres.
True, a blog with similar content to your own will catch the interest of like-minded readers, but by always hanging out where your friends do, how do you expect to meet new people? You will reach a whole new audience that otherwise may never have set eyes on your site. As a general lifestyle blogger (what’s that even mean?) I’ve had great success sponsoring fashion and mommy bloggers.
Myth: Sponsorship is easy money.
Debunked: Realize that with sponsors comes responsibility.
It is vital that you appreciate that another human made an investment in your blog with hopes that you would bring traffic their way. They are more than just a button sitting on your sidebar and deserve to be treated as such.
Treat your blog like a business if you are earning money from it. Sponsors expect to see results. They anticipate that you will publish a new post several times a week Don’t let them down or you will surely lose your street cred.
Once you begin accepting sponsors, you will spend exorbitant amounts of time: Promoting posts, e-mailing, creating sponsor spotlights, and organizing giveaways and guest posts.
Passionfruit has made our lives easier by eliminating time spent scheduling, sending Paypal invoices, resizing and coding buttons. The only downside is the monthly fee of $9 but entirely worth it if you are selling more than a few ads per month. They also have the best customer service I have ever seen. Jason will tweet you back within minutes and even gives out his cell phone number!
Myth: There is a magic number you must reach before accepting sponsors.
Debunked: This differs from person to person.
Here is my deal: Whispering Sweet Nothings was established February 2011 but didn’t start gaining followers until the end of the year. I swapped a few buttons with similar sized blogs for free in the beginning. From there, I try to sponsor 2-3 mid size blogs a month to get my name out there. Nowadays, I wait to sponsor blogs in months I know I will be posting consistently.
Peruse Passionfruit and search by topic, price, and location to discover new areas to advertise. Reach out to blogs and shops you admire and ask to collaborate. Many times, those with similar stats and followings will be willing to swap. The very worst you can get is a “no” from someone you will likely never meet. Are you really any worse off?
Myth: Followers will always become readers.
Debunked: Many times, people will give you a follow just for the duration of a giveaway and unfollow. However, no matter how great you are at blogging, if you don’t put yourself out there, people won’t magically stumble upon your blog. In my opinion, you aren’t “buying your readers” by participating in giveaways. They simply get eyes on your blog to develop the beginning of new blogging relationships.
Myth: Accept every offer that comes your way.
Debunked: Be selective.
Don’t be afraid to say no if a blogger, business, or product isn’t the right fit for your blog. If you want to keep the trust of your readers, only endorse products you would truly recommend. This will also keep things tidy and uncluttered on your sidebar. I want my spot to stick out. So do your sponsors.
Myth: Bloggers will always be clear on what services they are offering.
Debunked: Do your research so there aren’t surprises on what exactly you are (or aren’t) paying for.
Is it just my ad sitting on a sidebar or are bells and whistles included?
What exactly do they mean by “Social media love”? Tweets? Pins? How often will they promote you?
Is the giveaway included in the sponsor price or an optional additional buy-in?
Will a sponsor spotlight be at the bottom of a traditional post or a conglomeration with other sponsors?
Will they comment and interact on your blog?
Will the guest post go live on a weekend when blogland is quiet or Monday when it is thriving?
Myth: Sponsorship is a one way street.
Debunked: If you don’t do your job, I can’t do mine.
Do not sponsor someone unless you are planning on blogging frequently that month. You have to give the blogger fresh and quality content to promote, or what is the point?
Tried and true Advice:
1. Don’t blog just for sponsors.
You will come to regret it, I can promise you that. I did not start this blog to make money, nor continue for the money. My joy comes from writing, reading your comments, emails, and interacting with my readers. Disclaimer: My main reason I started accepting sponsors is to fund my ads on larger blogs, which in turn brings more people to my blog to view your ad! This here is a win/win situation, ay?
2. Offer reasonable prices.
This takes major trial and error. You may think you are worth $80 bucks a spot, but if no fish are biting, you should consider lowering your prices. On the same token, if you have several fighting for your spots each month, increase your rates!
In pricing, look beyond the number of GFC followers you have. Page views are the #1 most important statistic. You could have 34,456 followers with only 200 consistent readers. Advertise your pageviews and other social media statistics on a sponsorship page and have a media kit ready for inquiring businesses.
3. Proper promotion is key.
Don’t get me wrong, I am flattered by the #FF love, with myself and six other sponsors but I’d much rather them take the time to tweet out and promote my links. Find creative ways to highlight your sponsors and readers will want to become one of the crew.
4. Request feedback.
Send out a questionnaire at the end of the month for sponsors to rate what they loved and hated about your sponsorship program. Ask for testimonials to share on your page.
5. Create an eye catching button.
Make it bright, sparkly, photagraphic and fun so people are tempted to click onto your site! Here’s how.
6. Simplify your ad options.
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your customers. It’s been proven that when faced with too many options, humans will fail to make a decision at all. Here’s not one but two ways to take advantage of that PassionFruit ad shop.
7. Offer discounts.
But do so sparingly. We all know that sushi bar that offers BOGO Every. Single. Day. Why not just lower your prices? Stick to offering promo codes for special occasions such as holidays, seasons, and life changes for the best impact. Or when you write cool posts like this (code: DUMMIES)
8. Keep in touch.
I love sponsorships where I feel like bloggers are truly investing in me and taking time to connect and form a relationship. E-mail you to keep you in the loop for sponsor spotlight and giveaway days so you know to do a little more promotion that day, or schedule a quality post.
9. Don’t spread yourself thin.
Only take on as many sponsors as you can juggle at one time. What to do if a blog fails to deliver? Bloggers are human and real life gets in the way. Send the blogger a polite email asking if there has been a miscommunication in your sponsorship. Odds are they may have flubbed unintentionally on there end and will be grateful that you reached out.
10. Be grateful.
A quick thank you to those willing to invest in your blog goes a long way! Karma, people.
Sure, I’m no expert, but I have been around the block a time or two. Shameless plug: Use code: DUMMIES for 20% off any ad for this week only!