We are lucky to live in a day and age where bloggers are seen as trusted resources. People value our opinion and take to heart our recommendations. The statistics show that people buy things when they hear it from a trusted resource, rather than an ad. This is excellent news for bloggers, we are that trusted resource.
Now, more than ever I've been working with sponsors and brands to spread the word about products, technology, and things that I truly love. There is no shame AT ALL in this. I have an audience, and I should share with them what I like and get profit in return. I try to always give an open and honest opinion and share my true thoughts.
But it can be hectic. There are contracts to look through and sign, deadlines to meet, payments to be made, social shares, photos to be taken and more. This year, I got SUPER organized and made a document to track this all. Not only has this helped me in the process dramatically, it's also helped to ensure I'm paid and on time. Plus, this helps me remember who I've worked with and more.
Before we get into how, there is a lot of flack about making money blogging. Many people will tell you that you need a certain amount of page views, followers, etc. They are wrong. Your audience inherently unique and therefore an asset to the sponsor you work with.
Another argument is that working with sponsors cannot turn into real profit. That is also just plain wrong. The MAJORITY of bloggers make money with sponsored posts and affiliate links. Period.
Now, how can you make money with sponsors? Should you reach out to them? Let's go through this so you can make money!
Focus on what YOU want
Before you worry about people contacting you, or not contacting you, think about what you care about. What are products, services, entertainment, etc that you already use. I keep a running list of things I like.
Let me give you an example. I love Pura Vida bracelets. I happen to also think they work well with my Instagram feed. I decided I'd reach out to see if they wanted to partner with me. I wasn't in it to make tons of money, I just sincerely liked their product. The next day, they sent me 10 bracelets and an affiliate code to use.
So, the lesson here is you don't need to wait around for people to contact you. You CAN make money from your blog and you can reach out to people as well.
Join a Blogging Network
Blogging networks bring together bloggers and companies to help spread the word about their products. The blogger generally agrees on a certain amount ahead of time and the network lays out the terms. I love these networks because many pay very well and are fairly easy to work with. You're not having to deal with the company directly. Be aware, there are usually some pretty strict rules, aka, what to post, when and what to share.
Here are some of my favorite ad networks:
- Pollinate Media – They pay well and on time and usually have awesome post opportunities. They offer a range of sponsored posts that you want to actually blog or share about on social media. Usually, you fill out your information and then come up with a short pitch as to why you should be chosen for the project. They have dedicated team to remind you of posting and any post to-dos.
- IZEA – This is a super simple and easy to use platform. You typically browse what they have to offer and then submit a bid for posting. Some posts already have a price and you can negotiate with this. They will also reach out to you personally for posts and social mentions. IZEA, in my opinion, pays very well and have straightforward objectives. You write the post and paste it on their platform to get approved. It's a simple process and there are no requirements for number of page views or followers.
- CleverGirls – Much like Pollinate Media, you'll get emails about new sponsored opportunities and be able to apple for them. They pay well and I have worked with them on posts like Lenovo and Bose. They have great products and give you ample amount of time to create your posts.
- BlogHer – once primarily an ad network (like Google Adsense) they now have a network that invites Bloggers to spread the word about their sponsors. They reach a LARGE audience and you also have the added benefit of getting reposted by BlogHer if they like your post. I have worked with them for a number of years and worked on campaigns like MaryKay and more.
- FullBottle – this is a newer network but quickly becoming one of my favorites. Much like IZEA there are various opportunities that you can apply for. FullBottle, however, focuses on Instagram and you are paid per like. This is great for both the advertiser and the influencer. They are encouraged to create a great post so they get more likes, which means more exposure for the advertiser.
- Coopertize – You get to say how much you want to be paid for posts and you're emailed opportunities based on what you have in your profile – simple as that! Super easy platform to use and you decide on the opportunities you want to take.
Curate a Pitch
This is probably the most important and often overlooked part. You need to create a pitch as to why someone should work with you. Whether your audience is small or large or you have a big follower count or not, the advertiser wants to see how you're going to showcase your unique perspective. This needs to be relatable to your readers but also work for the brand. I break down a v very clear idea, with example on how to write a pitch in this post, but the basic idea is you need to think about this if you'd really like to work on this campaign.
A great way to increase your profits with sponsors is by growing your reader base, your page views, and your social media followers. Improving your traffic is a big key in monetizing any site. A few ways to do this? Have a clean site design, be consistent (on your blog and social media), have a point to your posts, write interesting and engaging content, and share images that your audience would like. Also, it's awesome if you can create evergreen content that will be posted and shared 1,000s of times. My post on The Ultimate Guide to A Weekend in Nashville has now been shared over 45,000 times and daily I get hundreds of hits from that single post.
Check out my full guide on Making Money as a Blogger.
Follow Best Practices
It makes me cringe when bloggers don't disclose that they've worked with an advertiser. You just have to. It's part of the FTC guidelines. It doesn't take away from your post! So just do it, okay?! Also, follow the rules. I wrote a post that I thought was great. Come to find out, I couldn't mention a single other product in the post. Welp, the post was all about toothpaste and I talked a lot about lipstick. I ended up not posting about it at all. I lost out on making money and more importantly I wasted time and effort writing a post and taking and editing photos that will never see the light of day. So follow the rules. And if you don't know the answer, ask.
Now, you need to be able to manage and track your sponsored posts. This is the exact tool I use to track all of my posts, the money I make, and the more. Download it here:
Free Sponsor Tracker
Get paid and make sure you have everything set up for success on your blog.