As a blogger, there are a few main ways to make money: sidebar/in-content advertisements, affiliate marketing, programs, and working with brands to create sponsored posts. For more on the first 3, check out this blog post: How to Make Money as a Blogger. And now, here are my best tips for how to work with brands as a blogger.
Tips on How to Work with Brands as a Blogger
I’ve been blogging since 2009. Over the years, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with a lot of my favorite brands to create sponsored content here for the blog. (Want to see all my sponsored posts? Here they are: sponsored content.)
Through these partnerships, I’ve learned a lot about best practices in the world of influencer marketing and blogger/brand partnerships. I’ve also spoken at a number of blogging conferences over the years on the topic of how to work with brands as a blogger!
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating sponsored content for your blog or social media channels.
Only work with brands you believe in
Don’t take an opportunity with a company you don’t believe in just because it’s a fun one or because everyone else is doing it. Stay true to you! There will be other cool opportunities that come up in the future.
If someone pitches you (you directly, not just a huge mass email) for something you aren’t interested in, respond politely. Say thank you for reaching out, but let them know you’re not interested at this time.
Often, these emails are from PR firms that might work with other brands you are interested in later, so it’s good to build a relationship. Even if you aren’t interested in the current brand they’re pitching, you can mention that you’d be open to other opportunities in the future. Ask that they please keep you in mind for those.
Don’t be scared to reach out to brands. The worst they can say is no!
When you reach out to brands with partnership in mind, be specific about what you want. Treat it like a professional business proposal.
For example: “In exchange for xx (e.g. money, or product, or sponsorship to a conference), I will give you xx (e.g. x amount of tweets, x amount of blog posts, x amount of Facebook mentions or Instagram shares). THIS is why it will be beneficial to you (e.g. I have xx amount of impressions on my blog per month, xx amount of twitter/facebook/instagram/etc. followers, many of my readers are ____ (female, xx age, athletes, moms, whatever) which is a great target audience for you because ______, etc.)”.
Networking with brands when you attend conferences is also a great way to facilitate future partnerships. A lot of my partnerships have grown out of an initial meeting in person at a conference or event. Sometimes they come full circle and you end up working WITH them at that same conference the following year (in this case, via a recipe demo)!
Even if you don’t have a specific pitch or partnership idea in mind, after the event, send the brands you are interested in an email saying it was great to meet them and to please keep you in mind for future partnership opportunities. Fostering those connections can go a long way!
Having a media kit is really helpful
If you often pitch companies that you don’t know or don’t have a relationship with yet, having a media kit may be helpful. It can quickly give them an overview of who you are and what your blog is all about.
Media kits usually contain information like:
- Contact information and a photo
- Short summary of your blog, title, blog address
- Links to social media channels + stats per channel
- Website stats (monthly pageviews & unique visitors – use Google Analytics to find this out)
- Examples of previous sponsored partnerships
- Any information you have about your audience – demographics, etc.
- Services offered and rates (e.g. for sponsored posts, recipe development/photography, product reviews)
Reach out to local companies
Smaller companies may not be willing or able to pay for content or product reviews, but building a relationship with them can still be beneficial to establish yourself in the local scene. (And in helping to support small, local companies you believe in!)
In addition to local brands, local exercise studios or gyms are also often open to partnerships. For example: a free membership in exchange for blog advertising/promotion. Don’t be afraid to pitch yourself using the tips above. Be sure to show what’s in it for them!
You can also try reaching out to local media for writing opportunities. In the past, I wrote a twice monthly blog post for Chapel Hill Magazine (when I lived there, obviously). It was unpaid, but a fun way to connect with the local community and get some new readers from the area. Plus, getting exposure this way can lead to future opportunities!
Make sure you have a contract
It’s important to be clear up front about exactly what your sponsored relationship entails.
Many companies and PR firms nowadays will create a contract to cement the details of the relationship. But if they don’t, consider putting together a short one yourself. Include the deliverables of the partnership, any dates/deadlines, and the agreed upon fee.
For example: exactly how many blog posts and social shares are expected in exchange for what they are providing (money, product, free membership, etc.)? Are there any specific requirements for the posts or shares? Is any travel involved?
Be Sure to Disclose
It is required to disclose when you publish a blog post or share something on social media that has been paid for, or if a product was gifted to you for free.
Be sure to use #ad or #sponsored on social media, and in blog posts, disclose at the beginning of the blog post that the post was sponsored. Readers will thank you for being transparent!
If you don’t like a product, be honest.
Never accept money to say you like something if you don’t. Be clear with the company up front that your review will be honest but fair. If you really hate a product you try, email the company and ask to try something else instead before you do your review. Maybe you’ll like something else they have.
End a product review with: “Would I buy this product with my own money?” Yes or no.
How to Work with Brands as a Blogger: Final Takeaway
With all of that being said… write your blog post like you don’t care if you’ll ever work with a brand or not.
Your blog should be for you and your readers. If you’re only blogging because you want free products or money, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. 🙂
Please feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments!
And if you’re interested, here’s a relevant post: Tips for New Bloggers.