How to Earn Your First (and More) Sponsored Blog Posts
So, you’ve got your own blog. You might write about anything from flower pressing to cricket games, but did you know you can make money from it? You can get your content sponsored by companies eager to get their names out to your readers.
That’s right. Brands are prepared to pay sometimes large sums of money upfront for an endorsement in one of your articles. This could represent a new source of income, giving you greater financial freedom and even new professional opportunities.
An affiliate program can be another great way of earning money from sponsors. What is an affiliate program? Well, it entitles you to part of the profit from each purchase your readers make.
This article reveals, in 10 easy steps, how to attract and work with your very first sponsor. It will also show how to continue this process to work with more sponsors in the future.
1. Create high-quality content that attracts an audience
The first step to gaining sponsorships is to make sure you have something to offer. The better the advertising opportunity, the more a sponsor will be motivated to work with you.
This means creating content that naturally attracts an audience. You need to provide current and useful information that matches the interests of your readers. Improve your blog by creating compelling content with real relevance and insight.
Simple things like making sure your blog posts are well written and correctly formatted will improve the appearance and appeal of your content.
2. Create a sponsorship proposal or media kit
An example media kit to send to potential sponsors. (Source.)
Above is an example of a media kit, sometimes known as a sponsorship proposal. It’s like an ad for your sponsorship opportunities so needs to reflect the best parts of your blog.
It should contain information about you and your background. Sharing your audience demographics and being able to describe how you relate to your readers is helpful.
You should detail how many views the sponsor can expect. That’s what they’re paying for, after all.
Including prices is optional but can set you apart from competitors if the sponsor is unsure. However, it will mean you can’t negotiate down the line.
You might include documents specific to individual sponsors following their first contact. These could contain details of how you would incorporate their product into an effective blog post designed to make them look good, for example.
3. Reach out to brands you’re interested in working with
Contact companies via email or VoIP phone, and keep trying even if they don’t initially respond. Contacting brands you’re interested in working with may seem simple enough, but it can quickly become frustrating.
Much like applying for a job, you may be disheartened by the lack of replies and constant rejection. This is partly because of the low number of opportunities available. As can be seen in the following graph, in 2020, over half of surveyed companies said they’d worked with 0-10 influencers in the past year, illustrating that there isn’t much space in the influencer sponsorship world.
However, it’s important to keep going and not let these rejections affect your ambitions of securing sponsorship. After all, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be you over some other hopeful.
The results of a 2020 study in which 4,000 marketing agencies, brands, and other industry professionals were surveyed. (Source.)
4. Make sure the brand is right
Having said that, just because you’re interested in the brand and the brand is interested in you, doesn’t mean you should work with them without thinking about it. Whether it be croissant slippers, a .ae domain, or an elephant inflatable, you need to perform your due diligence.
Readers care about your integrity and values, so make decisions that are in their best interests. Make sure the product or service being featured is of sound quality and will be enjoyed and appreciated by your audience.
A lot of bad press can come from endorsing a product that doesn’t work or is of negligible quality.
5. Negotiate a price
Now comes time to discuss the terms of the arrangement. Provided you haven’t already stated your prices, there’s an opportunity to negotiate how much the sponsor will pay and how much you think is fair.
When discussing your terms and reaching an agreement, make sure every communication is noted down somewhere. You may want to look into how to record phone calls (you must always inform the sponsor if you are recording).
As this is your first sponsorship, it may be tempting to offer the sponsor a low price to increase your chances of working with them again. However, your first sponsorship will require more research and collaboration than those down the line. So, assess whether spending more time should mean a higher price.
6. State it’s an ad
Forecasted figures for influencer marketing global spend, 2015-2020. (Source.)
In recent years, many changes have been made to the influencer marketing sphere. Spending has increased rapidly in the domain, as shown in the above graph. And, with influencers earning more on average for each post, there’s more at stake when it comes to the influence this has on customers.
This could be why, in many countries, laws have been created or updated, forcing content creators to make it clear when something’s an ad and when it isn’t. For example, in the USA, the FTC has ruled that ads must be declared.
So, don’t get caught out. To protect yourself, your sponsor, and your audience, always make sure to declare if a post is an ad.
7. Thank your sponsor privately and publicly
Make sure to let the sponsor know how much you appreciate their funding. Suppose you ran a small business and someone bought a product. You’d most likely thank them for their custom. This exchange is no different: the sponsor is paying for a service you’re providing.
Thanking them will ensure you remain on good terms. Consider sending them a small note or gift to express your gratitude.
You could also thank them publicly in the blog post itself. This is a great way to get in the sponsor’s good graces and may also encourage other sponsors to get in touch.
You could add gratitude posts into your blog content calendar so you don’t forget.
Even a small note will do. (Source.)
8. Maintain relationships
Keep in touch with sponsors and let them know what you’re up to. Allow them certain privileges when it comes to your products and events. For example, you might invite them to a launch event for one of your new products.
Maintaining a good relationship will help you in the future should you wish to work with them again. It will also be beneficial for your reputation. Sponsors will speak highly of you in their circles.
When it comes to sponsors, it’s not as easy as using lead generating strategies to find new ones. Good and viable sponsors are hard to locate. However, paths cross in different ways at different times, and you never know who you’ll end up running into again. So, whenever a potential networking opportunity comes your way, be sure to capitalize on it.
9. Use the sponsorship when reaching out to new sponsors
Every new experience you have with a sponsor can be used to persuade future sponsors. You can add sponsorship examples to your media kit, illustrating the benefits of working with you. Including these is useful as it helps sponsors see how they might be featured on your blog.
Once you have several of these examples in your portfolio, sponsors will be able to see the different ways in which their brand could be represented. It will be easier to have important discussions. You could even collaborate using sharing technology – for example, find out about the best screen sharing app to walk them through what you’ve done before.
Of course, you should stay open to new ideas when it comes to sponsorship representation, and let sponsors know they don’t have to stick to the status quo.
10. Keep updating your terms and prices
A graph showing total sponsorship spending in four different regions. (Source.)
As you gain more experience and build your following, it’s only right you increase your prices and renegotiate your terms on an ongoing basis.
The above graph shows how sponsorship spending has increased over the years. This means there’s the potential to earn more money as time goes on. Take a second to review the going rate via some quick research.
The more experience you have of having sponsors, the more you’ll be able to charge. This is because you’ll be able to accommodate sponsors better and provide superior content for their endorsement. The project timeline is also likely to be shorter and the overall process more efficient.
Know your worth and adjust your rates accordingly.
Keep going with it
Using this simple guide, you can capitalize on sponsorship opportunities time and again. Although success won’t come overnight, keeping up with changes and continually producing great content will keep you on the right track.
Some of this work is repetitive, so you might want to use RPA to fulfill certain actions. What is RPA? It involves using automation to carry out repetitive tasks. It can save a lot of time when it comes to putting together a media kit or reaching out to several sponsors at once, for example.
Whichever way you choose to conduct your activities, keep it up and don’t lose sight of your end goal.
Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform and one of the industry-leading cloud phone systems for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.