Sponsored posts are big business, but if you’re a new blogger, you may well be wondering, “How do I get to write sponsored posts?” and then, “How do I actually WRITE a sponsored post?”
Fear not. We’re here to help.
What’s a Sponsored Post?
A sponsored post is the blogging equivalent of advertorial – a brand, PR agency or SEO agency will pay you a fee to write and publish something on your blog. It might be a review, a new product announcement, an infographic or even a video. Whatever it is, the intention is to promote a brand, and to drive traffic to their website.
Payment for sponsored posts can vary enormously – from £20 for a very quick and easy post (for example, something the brand has already written, that you simply pop on your site) to more than £200 in some cases. These higher rates are generally paid to more established blogs with a higher Domain Authority (find out yours here) and a larger audience.
How do I get sponsored posts?
There are a range of directories and websites around that will share your blog details with brands – the Foodies100 being the most obvious. And the best *modest face*.
But it can be hard to be noticed, after all there are thousands of blogs out there and brands may be commissioning only a small number of posts at any given time. A good way ‘in’ if you’re new to sponsored posts is to ask bloggers who DO write these posts to pass your details on to their clients – agencies are often looking for new writers to publish sponsored content. Join Facebook groups where opportunities are shared.
So I’ve been offered a sponsored post. What now?
The first thing to do when working on a sponsored post is ensure you know upfront what exactly the brand (who is your customer) is asking for. Check the brief to see what topic is being covered, what links the brand has asked for, whether there are any specific facts, images or graphics to be included. Do you need to Tweet your post, or mention the brand’s social networking accounts?
And you need to agree a price. This can be awkward because rates for sponsored posts vary enormously. So how do you handle it?
Possibly the best way is by preparing a media kit for your blog – there are some tips on making a blog media kit here – and having it to hand when PR and SEO agencies make enquiries. A media kit should spell out your pricing and also provide basic traffic, subscription and Domain Authority figures, so that agencies can see WHY you’re charging a particular rate.
Don’t think a media pack HAS to be a specially designed document – many successful bloggers simply have an email template with a couple of paragraphs that explain their rates, while others have created PDF files incorporating graphics and text. It’s really up to you.
It’s very normal for there to be some negotiation with rates – if a brand offers a set fee for a post, you can certainly reply and ask for more – you won’t always get it, but nobody will think any less of you for asking. Similarly, feel free to turn down an offer if you feel the rate isn’t high enough – sometimes you might be told there is no flexibility, but other times you might just persuade the agency to pay a little more.
Basically, though, make sure you know what your customer expects, and what you expect in return (and when you’ll get it) before publishing anything.
One important thing to understand is whether the post you’re being paid to do will include follow and no-follow links. If you’re being paid to include specific links in your blog post, then Google’s terms and conditions say these links should be no-follow. This means adding a small bit of code so that Google doesn’t take your link to Brand X’s website into account when it’s ranking sites to appear in its search results. We have a simple guide to follow and no-follow if you’re new to this topic.
If an approach comes from a PR agency or brand, then they will probably be happy with no-follow links but SEO agencies will almost always ask for follow links in sponsored posts – these posts generally pay more, but do carry with them the risk that your blog will be penalised by Google and demoted in search results.
In short: make sure you know what’s expected of you, and that you’re happy to deliver it. If you are being asked to provide follow links in a blog post, we suggest having a written agreement that you reserve the right to remove those links if Google has a problem with them. Some bloggers also agree with clients how long posts will remain live for – this is an important discussion to have. I remember once commissioning a post on behalf of a client, and the client getting in touch at the end of the month to complain the post didn’t exist – it turned out the blogger had taken it down after a week, because they viewed sponsored posts as companies “renting” space on a blog by the week. It’s your blog, so you can set your own rules, but make sure your clients know what the rules are, too!
Writing the Post
If you are creating sponsored content yourself to a brief, then bear in mind you’re not just writing this post for your PR customer. You’re still writing on YOUR blog for YOUR readers, who will expect this post to be just as good, and interesting, as your other posts.
A good idea is to try and weave the sponsored content into a personal story. Kicking off with an anecdote about how this product/service relates to YOUR family is a great way to engage your readers, and more fun than a post that reads like an advertisement.
By all means ask for pictures from the brand or agency that commissioned you. But if you have a product you can photograph yourself, so much the better. Unique, original photos of a product being used by a real-life family are worth their weight in gold. Pinnable images are even better – we’ve got some tips on creating great images for Pinterest you might find useful.
Don’t forget to search-optimise your post so that it will be indexed by search engines, and hopefully lead new readers to your blog via the sponsored post. Use the product name and brand in the post title, and remember to add suitable category tags, and keywords in the relevant part of the post.
When your post goes live send it to the PR – it’s also worth tagging the brand on Facebook and Tweeting at their Twitter account – every new share might lead to a new reader!
Promote your post – share it on Facebook and G+, and Tweet the link. If you can, make a note of the URL of each share, so you can share that with the brand.
You should always disclose to your readers when you are paid to post. Although the guidelines on when you MUST disclose can be confusing, imagine the issue from your readers’ point of view – they’re unlikely to begrudge you earning a little extra money, but if they find out you’ve been paid to post something without telling them, they will almost certainly feel a bit cheated. Full disclosure is the very best way of respecting your readers and protecting your own – and your blog’s – credibility.
Keeping it Real
You have worked hard on your blog, to build up a voice, and content that people enjoy reading, sharing and engaging with. Flooding your blog with articles about car insurance, the latest baby products and that “must buy” range of scarves will eventually turn off the readers you’ve worked hard to attract.
Try to work with clients that enhance your blog and add value for your readers. Imagine you love reading a blog about green parenting or thrifty living – a post about disposable razors or an expensive spa will seem out of place, and could end up with you losing credibility with your audience. If you can, limit your sponsored content so it doesn’t overwhelm everything else on your blog. Putting time and effort into writing really interesting sponsored posts means you’re more likely to attract better quality advertisers, with bigger budgets. Over the long-term, a blog with higher quality content will allow you to charge more for sponsored content, so you shouldn’t lose out by being selective.
One approach that can work well is to have a set number of ‘slots’ per month available on your blog and book these in advance. This gives you visibility of your cash flow on the blog over the year and if your wait list starts to grow, that’s a sign you can put up your prices!
Post first shown on Tots100
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