There are tons of different ways to make money on your blog. One of the most popular ways to make money blogging is sponsored posts. But what exactly are sponsored posts? What are the pros and cons of featuring sponsored posts on your blog, and how exactly do you make good money with sponsored posts? Read on to discover how to make money on your blog with sponsored posts.
I recently shared a post in response to a question I get asked A LOT! “How do blogs make money?”. I shared how there are many ways to make money, but basically it boils down to 5 main categories: traditional advertising, affiliate links, sponsored posts, products and services.
That post is a great overview of the main ways blogs make money, but I wanted to go a bit deeper into the nitty gritty of exactly HOW to make money on your blog via these 5 ways: the pros and cons, the steps you need to take and what you need to do to make some serious money.
I’ve already shared how to make money on your blog with advertising and how to make money on your blog with affiliate links, so today I am turning my attention to the third category: how to make money on your blog with sponsored posts.
What exactly are sponsored posts?
Sponsored posts, sometimes called collaborative posts or brand collaborations, are a subtle form of advertising, a bit like an advertorial in a magazine or newspaper. You feature a particular product or service within a blog post in return for a fee.
This can take the form of a review, a giveaway, a recipe, a roundup, a gift list or any other kind of post which features the particular brand in question. The particular kind of blog post is usually determined by the brand, but sometimes this is up for negotiation.
Pros and Cons
Sponsored posts can be very lucrative, especially if you have good stats and/or a tight niche with a loyal and engaged following. The latter is often more important to brands who would rather reach a small number of the ‘right’ people than a larger but more general audience.
Sponsored posts can also be great for raising your profile. Working with big household names gives you kudos in the eyes of your readers and followers, as well as other brands, who may be more inclined to work with you if they see other big names have worked with you in the past.
Sponsored posts can also increase your exposure, as the brand will often feature your post on their social channels and, if the brand asks you to run a competition of giveaway on your site, this can dramatically increase your page views and social media followers.
Sponsored posts can also give you (and sometimes your family) some incredible experiences and opportunities that you otherwise could only have dreamed of (all expenses paid holidays in exotic locations, meeting celebrities, attending fashion shows, premieres and other exclusive events…)
The downside is that sponsored posts, when done well, can often take up a lot of time. And, if you are not good at negotiating, you may find you are not being paid much (if anything!) for your time and effort.
Also, you have to be super careful to make sure that the sponsored post is right for your blog – they may be offering you a lot of money but if it’s not a good fit for your blog, it is just going to look weird and spammy, and ultimately alienate your audience. Instead, you want to build your readers’ trust and loyalty. So, just as with affiliate links, only feature products in sponsored posts you truly recommend, and you know your readers will love too.
The other problem is that opportunities for sponsored posts tend to come in dribs and drabs. Some months you may get more opportunities than you can physically handle. Other months there may be nothing but tumbleweed. It can be highly stressful and for this reason I would never have sponsored posts as my ONLY source of income (but as part of a mix of other income streams, such as ads, affiliate links, products and services, they are great!).
So how do you go about it?
There are a number of ways you can go about getting sponsored posts. Often as not you will find that, once your blog is established, you will get requests from brands dropping into your inbox on a regular basis. If you do receive an email from a brand, be careful – they often don’t mention money in their initial email. Always go back and find out what sort of fee is available. Or alternatively you can reply back with your list of fees.
I get a lot of these type of opportunities dropping into my inbox and I have a pretty standard email that I send back, which says something along the lines of, “Sounds great – I’d love to be involved! Can you tell me more about what you are looking for and the budget you have available for this project?”
Often brands will have a budget available, but not all of them do. If they reply back saying they have ‘no budget’ and “would you be willing to do if for free product alone?”, you have to make a judgement call. If it’s a very high-priced item, or a one-off opportunity (like an all expenses trip for you and your family to the Caribbean) then it may be worth doing it for free.
But if you are serious about making money with your blog, make the ‘free’ sponsored posts very much the exception not the rule. If the PR replies saying they have no money, it is quite alright to reply back (politely) saying you only take on paid work. I have another stock email which is super polite but basically just says “As I run my blog as a full-time business, I only take on paid opportunities, so I’m afraid it has to be a ‘no’ this time. But if you have any paid opportunities in the future, I’d love to hear from you!”.
You may think – oh what’s the harm in doing a few freebies? But actually, if you want your blog to make serious money, there are better ways you can use your time.
Alternatively, you can go out and seek opportunities for yourself (which is something you could be doing with your time, instead of writing free sponsored posts!). You can identify and research brands you’d love to feature on your blog and write an email pitching an idea to them (or their PR agency, if they have one) on how you’d like to feature them (and remember to include your fees!).
Or you can join networks and agencies that seek to match bloggers with brands. If you are in the UK, one of the best networks to join is the Flea Enterprises Influencer Platform, a digital marketing company that manages the Tots100, Trips100, HIBS100 and Foodies100 blogger charts and communities. They have lots of good sponsored post opportunities and many of them pay well. In the US there are other networks such as Massive Sway and BlogHer.
How to earn lots of money with sponsored posts
To start with you need an attractive blog with a well targeted and engaged audience. So initially you will need to work on building up your blog with great posts and growing your readership. You will also need to work hard on your social media following and engagement as this is often a very important metric for brands.
You will also need to get good at negotiating. If you want to make good money, always try and negotiate a good fee for every sponsored post you do and if the brand does not have sufficient budget, be prepared to walk away and use your time to do activities (such as working on SEO or your social media engagement, or directly pitching brands) that will be more lucrative in the long term.
If you want to make serious money, join networks and also pitch brands directly. Don’t wait for opportunities to land in your inbox.
When you do do sponsored posts, ensure you are clear on what is required, complete the brief to the required standard (ideally always try to over deliver) and before the deadline, and invoice the brand promptly. Brands will remember bloggers who are easy and professional to work with and you are likely to get more work from them in the future. Also, PRs and Brand Managers move around. If you are known as polite and easy to work with, you will be remembered, and this may lead to further opportunities with different brands in the future.
Find out more…
Find out more on the topic of making money with your blog from the following posts:
- How to make money on your blog with advertising
- How to make money on your blog with affiliate links
- How to make money on your blog with products and services
And for a good overview to the subject of making money on your blog do check out this post: How do blogs make money?
Don’t miss a thing!