There isn’t a single blogger out there who will tell you that figuring out sponsorships for your blog, as well as advertising on others is easy. When I first took the jump into sponsorships I’ll admit I had no idea what the heck I was doing. Thankfully there’s grace in learning from your mistakes, and moving on. This post is obviously specifically for bloggers, sorry everyone else.
I just don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I did, and cost you lots of hard work and money. In this post we’ll be covering both buying and selling of sponsorship ads.
Let’s talk about buying an ad space. I wish it was as simple as: buying an ad + ad approval on target site = thousands of new visitors to your blog and potentially followers. Sigh. That’s hardly ever the case. It may take some time at first figuring out great blogs to sponsor. There’s nothing worse than randomly picking someone because they seem to have a lot of followers, and you get less than 10 clicks to your blog the entire month, or the person doesn’t deliver on what they promised would come with the ad (i.e. giveaways, spotlights, shoutouts). Its. so. frustrating. Let me give you a few tips on what may help you avoid those problems.
- Find a blog with similar content to your own – Ladies (and gentlemen). This is so important! You need to have something in common with the blog you’re wanting to sponsor. Why? Because her/ his readers aren’t going to be looking for a dog grooming blog if they’re into fashion, I’m sorry they’re just not. I have ads on both lifestyle blogs and travel blogs. Although most of my posts are about traveling, IT IS my lifestyle. I work domestic posts in there every once in a while as well. Catch my drift?
- Have an attention grabbing button – I can openly admit I had a terrible button when I first started buying ads. I’m not sure why I thought it was good enough, but there was NOTHING attention grabbing about it. I still see it floating around every once in a while, and I cringe every time I do. The key is to have something that pops. Color is key. Green and blue tend to catch my eye, what about you?
- Look at the blog’s stats: their followers AND pageviews – Yes, followers are important when deciding on what blog to sponsor. But guess what is as equally important? Pageviews. The thing is, a certain blogger may be giveaway or blog-hop heavy and don’t necessarily have very many committed readers. Less pageviews = less exposure for your blog.
- Check out what they are offering with the ad sale (giveaways, promotions, spotlights) – Sure you may have an ad sitting on a sidebar of some blogger who looks like a rockstar. If you’re lucky maybe a few bystanders will give your cute button a click, but let me tell you, the real bang for your buck is if the blogger promotes you!!! Her readers trust what she has to say about basically everything, and if she gives you a wave and a head nod, they will too. Giveaways are great for quick followers, but be sure to have awesome content or they won’t stick around for long. Promotions are so helpful. There’s nothing better than having a blogger get behind what you write! Twitter is my favorite way to promote, but I’ve also used Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
- Are other blogs sponsoring them? This isn’t a huge red flag, but you should probably check into who is sponsoring them. The blogger may be new and you’re wanting to give them a chance, and that’s totally fine and awesome of you! However you’ll feel miles more at ease if you see one of your blogger pals sponsoring them would you not? It may even be handy to send them a quick message and see how they liked sponsoring ‘so-and-so.’
- (BONUS) Look for promotions – Hey guess what? It’s back-to-school time! Do you know what that means? Promotion galore! Everyone’s wanting a little ad space for the fall, and you may be in luck with quite a few blogs! Be sure to follow your favorite accounts on twitter, I know many bloggers do exclusive ‘twitter only’ ad sales.
- What to do if a blog doesn’t deliver? So a blogger promised you a giveaway and you never got it? Maybe a spotlight or a couple social media mentions were hinted to you and you saw nada? Well it happens…and when it does trust me I’m right there with you with pitchforks and grenades ready to go after the one responsible. Listen, take a deep breath. Maybe there’s a reason why something didn’t happen for you this month. One time I sponsored a blogger and I hadn’t heard a peep out of her for a while. Turns out her mother-in-law was in the hospital under serious condition and they didn’t think she’d make it. Don’t forget bloggers are real people. We all live our life outside of blogging, and there are just some things a little more pressing than blogging (and in some cases a lot of things). Advice? Send the blogger an email. Politely ask them if there had been a problem with your information or if you had missed your spotlights/giveaway/social media messages. The nicer you are, the nicer they will be back! You never know, something may work out even better in your favor.
Ok Amanda, I get buying a sponsorship. Now tell me, how do I go about starting my own ad shop? Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. First you need to examine yourself and your blog. Do you think you’re to a point growth-wise to start sponsorships? I waited until I had at least 200 followers and was growing consistently each day. I didn’t want to let my sponsors down by getting no clicks and no ad impressions…way to start off with a bang eh? Also look at yourself: do you have the time to dedicate for all you promise to your sponsors? If you feel like you’re ready to take the plunge, maybe these pointers will help you ease into it better.
- Find a good ad shop – I use Passionfruit Ads and absolutely love how user friendly it is. The company is always there for you 24/7 if you have any questions or concerns, and I can customize my ad spaces to however I darn well please to have them. Passionfruit charges a flat rate of $9.00 dollars a month for their service. The monthly charge sways quite a few people away from using their ad shop, but for me it works perfectly. Another ad shop that’s making waves is Adproval. I haven’t used this service yet, but it seems similar to Passionfruit. They charge 10% for every ad sold, and do not charge for ad swaps. Honestly, if you’re first dabbling in ad sales Adproval may be the way to go for you. I can’t speak for their customer service though. Passionfruit’s service is unmatched in my book.
- Sell your ads at a reasonable price – Seriously now. We all know you’re eager to make money, but you’ve got to work up to it. Selling an ad for $20 right off the bat for a blog that has less than 100 followers isn’t going to do much for you. Start at a reasonable price, and as your blog grows, so do your prices. Don’t worry your sponsors will understand. They’re just excited they’re getting better service from you!
- Promote – Where would I be without social media. Honestly I think half my sales (if not more) have come from promoting on Twitter. I can almost 100% guarantee you a good majority of bloggers out there are spending more time clicking on/touching that little blue bird every day than they are on one specific blog. Run good deals on Twitter, give testimonials, retweet good posts from other bloggers! It shows you’re invested and willing to give your sponsors what they’ve paid for.
- Live by your word – Speaking of giving sponsors what they’ve paid for, don’t be that blogger that gets a million emails from your sponsors wanting to know what’s up! If you’re doing it right, your sponsors deserve to know what the heck is going on. Don’t leave someone clueless and panicky, that blogger won’t feel taken care of. I absolutely ADORE it when I get emails from the bloggers I sponsor wanting me to get my info in so that they can schedule when everything will be. That goes to show me they have their SH** together and I should too.
- HAVE FUN! – I mean it. Most of your potential sponsors are only going to stick around for a month or so unless you do something really dynamic and make their time unforgettable. Now as I’ve said before, we all have lives. I’m not saying you have to constantly be drinking the blogging cup of communion 24/7, I’m saying do something original. Have funny questionnaires for your gals/(and guys) to give out or think of a crazy cool giveaway everyone can participate in! IF ANYTHING email your sponsors and ask what you can do to make their month awesome.
That. Is. All. There is so much to say about sponsoring that I’m sure I didn’t cover. Please leave your suggestions below, I’d love to hear!
In honor of this post I’m offering 30% off all ad spots for the next 48 hours! Use the passionfruit code: blogging101. Go get ya some!