A great way to monetize your blog is through the publication of sponsored posts. Brands contract bloggers and digital influencers to write about a certain product, place or service in exchange for compensation. Some companies also do social media shares or campaigns for compensation. For example, I work with a number of digital marketing agencies and blogging collectives to produce content (for brands) on this blog and for sharing through my social media platforms.
Blogging is a job for me, so sponsored posts are a source of income and also a way to offset expenses I incur with running my blog and social media platforms. When I first started blogging I used to do these types of posts in exchange for a product, but as my blog and influence grew, I gravitated more towards campaigns that offered monetary compensation.
Over the last few years, competition for paid blogging jobs has gotten pretty stiff, since more and more people are starting to blog and it’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd. Through applying for A LOT of different campaigns, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I have learned to help successfully land sponsored posts:
Sell Yourself in the Sponsored Post Application
Sure, it’s great to have really high pageviews and follower counts, but that’s not all that counts when it comes to social media marketing. If you know your audience really well and they trust your opinion, you have A LOT of influence and don’t sell yourself short! Your influence is really valuable!
Have Samples of Your Best Work Ready to Share
Sometimes a sponsored post application will ask you to share samples of your past work of which you are most proud. Try to choose a post that is most similar to the brand’s campaign. For example, if you are applying for a recipe creation post, share something food-related. If you don’t have a recipe, get as close as you can to what they are looking for.
If you are a new blogger or don’t have a lot of experience with sponsored posts, create some posts that are similar to what you would write for a brand (but don’t use any brands in the pictures or it might exclude you from certain campaigns). If you show the brand or agency an unbelievable post you wrote with beautiful photographs, you would be surprised by how often they will choose you even if you don’t have any sponsored post experience!
Read the Campaign Requirements Very Carefully!
The very first thing you want to do when you get chosen for a campaign is to read the campaign instructions VERY carefully. Take note of all of the due dates for drafts, social media shares, special hashtags to use, etc. If you have a question regarding the messaging or deliverables, e-mail the campaign leader ASAP. Campaign leaders have to go over blogger’s post after they are submitted, and it saves them a lot of work when they don’t have to come back to you with corrections or missing items that were laid out in the initial instructions.
Brainstorm and Outline Your Post
Sometimes the brand or digital agency will give you prompts to help you determine what to write about, and other times you have complete creative freedom. The first thing I do when I sit down to write a post is brainstorm some different topics that will help me create evergreen content (content that will not be dated and can be used over a period of time).
Once I have determined the theme of my post, I outline the post in WordPress and sketch it out with different headings (usually Headings 2 and 3). Not only does this help organize your thoughts and writing, but it also makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your material.
Draft and Proof Your Post
Once I start writing, the process actually goes pretty quickly (depending on the distractions I’m facing at home!). I spell check the post as I go and right after to double-check I didn’t miss anything. I love using Grammarly because it will pick out grammar mistakes in addition to spelling!
After I’m satisfied with the post, I will send a link (using the Share a Draft plugin) to my husband, so he can look at it as well. I highly recommend asking someone else to take a look at a sponsored post before you publish it. Since you are getting paid to write it, you want to make sure it’s the best content you can produce with absolutely no errors!
Gather Supplies Needed for Photo Shoots
Sometimes I take the pictures first, and other times, I wait until after I draft the post before I take photos. Next, I will think about the different photos that I want to include in the post. I always have a feature image that captures what the post is about and is very visually appealing. Other photos might include a flat lay picture (of items or ingredients), photos of the branded product or recipe, etc. I then gather the supplies and props I need to set up the photo shoot.
I take a TON of different pictures (always in natural light if possible), so I have plenty from which to choose. I usually load them onto my computer right after shooting, so I can make sure I have what I need. After selecting the photos I will use, I edit them in Photoshop and then pop them into the post.
Submit Your Links and Give Campaign Feedback
After you publish your sponsored post and accompanying social shares, you will need to submit your links either through the dashboard of the agency or via e-mail (whichever they specify). Make sure know what the deadlines are for entering your work, as some companies will penalize you for late submissions.
Now you can sit back and relax and wait for your paycheck OR you can add this beautiful post to your portfolio and start applying for other campaigns. You can check out the list of blogging collectives and digital agencies I work with HERE.
Consider Adding Your Work to Your Media Kit
I like to highlight my work with clients on my media kit. You don’t have to list each sponsored post or brand you’ve worked with, but it’s helpful to highlight the bigger names or pieces that you are really proud of and want to share. Including previous brand experience helps to give you more credibility with brands and agencies, so if you don’t have a media kit already, it’s time to start creating one! Get step-by-step instructions on how to make one and what to include in my e-book (only $10!).