A sponsored blog post is when a blogger writes a post about a brand in exchange for compensation, whether monetary or product-only. Once you create quality content for your readers, you can consider working with brands. Don’t worry about not having a lot of pageviews in the beginning, some brands will pay for great photography of their product or a solid and informative review. Let’s review six ways to prepare and pursue making money through sponsored posts.
1. Clean Up Your Blog
You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it count. Before you pitch brands or apply to influencer networks, make sure your blog looks good and all your links work. Many brands won’t work with people who talk about controversial topics, so remove those if necessary. Some elements to consider when cleaning up your blog include:
- Easy-to-navigate menu: A way to gain opportunities with a brand is to offer easy navigation and a clear menu. Plus, a great menu is good for search engine optimization (SEO), so work on making your navigation user friendly.
- Working links: Make sure all your links are in working order to create a good impression on sponsors. Broken links create a frustrating experience for readers, and it’s also bad for SEO. You can use a site such as brokenlinkcheck.com to find your blog’s broken links.
- Sensitive content: Be sure to edit your content to fit which brands you want to work with. Audit your content to broaden opportunities to work with brands. Remove any content about gambling, alcohol, sex, and tobacco. For example, if you post about being anti-vaccine, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies would see that as a conflict.
2. Apply to Influencer Networks
An influencer network connects bloggers and brands, and it’s one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. The brand pays the network, and after you’ve delivered the required content, you get paid by the influencer network—typically within 60 days. Working with a network allows you to reach brands you might not otherwise get to work with, as many of the huge household brands will only work with influencers through a network. Some influencer networks to consider include:
- Cooperatize: There aren’t many campaigns with Cooperatize, but it’s still my favorite network. It’s meant specifically for travel influencers. You bid on a campaign, and once you reach the number of pageviews you’ve agreed upon, you receive an instant payout via PayPal.
- Activate: Part of the Bloglovin’ network, Activate offers campaigns with large brands. Many of the campaigns you can apply to request your bid or quote, meaning how much you charge for the deliverables. You want a firm understanding of your blog’s rates before applying.
- Soapbox Influence: Soapbox is another fast-paying network—you will usually receive payment within 10 business days of the campaign end. Their rates also tend to be higher than other networks because it’s a smaller network with little overhead.
- Linqia: With Linqia, you get paid for each click delivered, which often requires you to promote your blog post significantly more than you would compared to other networks. This is a great benefit to the brand, but not necessarily to the blogger, so consider other ways to monetize your blog.
3. Create a Media Kit
You use a media kit to showcase your blog’s accomplishments and often send this to brands when you want to collaborate. Your media kit is different from a rate sheet. A rate sheet is a list of your blog’s packages and prices, whereas a media kit will usually list your blog’s stats, bio, an example of brands you’ve worked with, and any media you’ve obtained.
I have two media kits that are almost identical to each other. One of them lists my personal contact info, and the other asks the brand to complete a form to inquire about collaborating with me. I place the latter media kit on my blog, and I use the media kit with my contact information when I pitch brands. This way, I’m protecting my private information.
I’m a huge fan of using Canva to make media kits because it’s super easy to go back in and edit it as your blog’s statistics or branding change. I especially like to edit my media kit as soon as I acquire more media features. If your blog isn’t getting media attention yet, learn more about building a personal brand.
Add these elements to your media kit:
- Your bio: Your bio should show who you are behind the blog. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your expertise in your niche and even mention your hobbies or what motivated you to start a blog.
- Blog synopsis: Tell what your blog is about and who you write for. Do you write for the wannabe cooks? Or the budding chef who wants to experiment with molecular gastronomy?
- Services offered: What types of opportunities are you available for? For example, can you do press trips, be a brand ambassador, or host a tour? Maybe you are open to speaking at an industry conference, representing the brand at events, or doing product reviews.
- Metrics or analytics: Tell how many pageviews your blog gets, and what kind of following you have on social media. You don’t necessarily have to list every single social media channel, but you should at least include your strongest ones. If you have an email list, you should include the size of it too.
- Demographics: Brands care where most of your audience is from. For example, if the brand can only sell its product in the United States, they definitely want to know if your audience is most UK or Canada-based. I also like to include age ranges and breakdown of male/female ratios. You can find these details in your Google Analytics.
- Why a brand should choose you: Do you do things differently when it comes to working with brands? For example, most bloggers take several weeks to publish their blog post after a press trip. Offer to be faster than that. I try to get mine up within 24 hours, but tell the brand I post within a week (under-promise and over deliver is my ethos).
- Pictures: If you’re not the only person contributing to your blog, share pictures of the other bloggers. Because I do a lot of press trips with my family, I share pictures of the five of us. You can also share examples of your photography skills if that’s a focus of your services.
You can download a media kit template to use in Canva below. You can change the fonts, colors, images, and layout to suit your brand. Otherwise, you can hire a freelancer on Fiverr to create one for you. Fiverr is great because you can get a media kit done in a weekend for as little as $5.
4. Pitch Brands
If there is a brand that you want to work with, put together a pitch, and send it to the brand’s marketing director or media contact along with your media kit. There’s a chance you won’t hear back, but you can always follow up. Sometimes, the answer is “not right now,” or the brand will inquire further about your rates. However, the answer is always no if you never ask.
When pitching a brand about a collaboration, it’s important to focus on what’s in it for them rather than what you’d like them to provide. To do this, you should outline the ideas you have for collaborating. For example, tell the brand some blog title ideas, or a video you’d like to create. You should also include relevant examples so the brand can see your work.
If the brand is interested in pursuing a collaboration with you, at that point you need to send your blog’s rate sheet. Some brands might not have the budget to pay your rates, which is why you can negotiate. Perhaps the brand wants a blog post and three social media shares, but your package is for a blog post, one social media share, and a video. You can adjust the package to suit the brand’s budget.
5. Follow Sponsored Post Best Practices
When I first started blogging, I made the mistake of accepting so many free products that I found myself surrounded by little gadgets and gizmos that probably cost the company $5 to produce. Meanwhile, it took me half a day to write an entire blog post on this little product.
I learned really quickly to only accept products I really wanted and to require payment for my services instead of just free products. It’s rare that I accept product-only unless it’s a press trip with expenses covered or a high-ticket item I want anyway.
To keep track of my sponsored post activities and deadlines, use a project management free tool such as a Trello board specifically for brand work. You can assign due dates for each deliverable so that you’re notified when the deadline approaches. I also like to set a due date for payment, so that I can follow-up if the payment is behind. This doesn’t happen often, especially when working with a network, but there have been a few instances where things have slipped through the cracks.
6. Deliver Links and Analytics to Brands
The key to receiving future collaboration invites from a brand is to create a stellar experience the first time. I almost always include extra social media shares when working with a brand, and provide every link on a spreadsheet. This is pretty unusual for bloggers, but brands really appreciate the effort I put into the collaboration.
It’s also incredibly helpful if you can share the analytics for each blog post and social media share after 30 days so the brand can track its return on investment (ROI). For example, a brand can’t usually see how many people view your Instagram or Facebook story, so sharing the results is super helpful to the brand.
If you’re working with an influencer network, there is usually a platform to upload your links to. Smaller networks won’t usually have this, and instead, ask you to submit your proof via a survey form or spreadsheet.
How to Handle Receiving Pitches From Brands
There are a lot of brands that take advantage of new bloggers and simply ask the blogger to link to them. Or, a brand will ask for the moon and stars, and new bloggers might not know that the brand is being unreasonable. However, there are times when it makes sense to work with a brand for free, or in exchange for product only.
In the case of charities, I will often promote its cause without expectation of payment. Another example of a time I’ll consider working without monetary compensation is when a brand is offering a product that will usually cost a lot of money like a trip, a new bed, or an appliance. In fact, every single collaboration I’ve done with Best Buy is in exchange for product only.
How should you respond, though, when you receive a pitch from a brand and they want to pay you in product only and you’re not interested in just product? You absolutely want to respond with respect and confidence (brands talk, and you don’t want to get blacklisted). Explain to them in a professional way how you work. Sometimes brands just don’t know any better, particularly if it’s a newer company.
Use the following email to respond to brands in a way that helps build bridges rather than burn them:
No matter how you choose to work with a brand, you can get started as soon as you have a service or skill to provide a brand. For example, if you don’t have a lot of pageviews, focus on how much a brand can benefit from your photography or videography skills through a sponsored post.
To make money through sponsored posting, you must have a reliable web host. We love Bluehost because you get a free domain name, SSL certificate, and free business email. You can get started for as little as $2.95 per month.