This post is specifically written for online businesses, small businesses and handmade businesses alike that typically work with bloggers to promote what they have to offer. If this isn't you, it will likely be a boring post for you to read. Soo uhhhh, see you tomorrow? ;)
I think we can all agree that the pace of blogging is changing. It's moving quickly, tough to be seen, and it's difficult to know where to advertise. Side bar real estate isn't equally as important on every blog and "button trades," while great for starting out bloggers, seem to diminish the value of sidebar ads. When every sidebar is cluttered with ads that aren't really bringing revenue to the blogger, it seems that the value is lost. Everyone wants to make money blogging even if their material and content they produce isn't worth it. This makes advertising dollars that we budget a confusing expense. Where do I spend it? How many blogs do I sponsor? What's the best way to get genuinely promoted?
I've tried hard to make it worthwhile for my sponsors with a community feel. By signing up for three months, shops & blogs have an opportunity for a 30 minute brainstorming session with me. They ask the questions and set the pace. I candidly and openly answer questions they have for me. Not that I'm an expert, but I do feel that I have a bit of wisdom and encouragement to share with those who want to listen. If they want help promoting a blog series or new product line, all they have to do is shoot me an email and ask. I'm on it. I also am very diligent in pinning blog posts and products from my sponsors. Not because they paid me to, but because it's an easy way I can support them. It's a simple way to support handmade and other blogs. It's a great way for sponsors to feel & know that I genuinely want to promote them.
With that said, there are a few times when people are obviously disappointed in their sponsorship at the end. Maybe it didn't yield the results they wanted. Maybe their expectations were too high. Maybe they wanted something from me, but didn't ask for it and were frustrated I didn't read their minds that I wanted to retweet that specific post or product. Maybe the sponsorship//ad didn't pay off because they only gave it 30 days and didn't participate in the traffic driving giveaway. I thought it would be helpful to give y'all some tips on how I feel you can make the most out of a paid ad or sponsorship on a blog. Some I've learned from my own experiences. Some I've learned by watching others. I hope they're helpful!
1. Know what you're getting into. Read their info sheet carefully and know whether or not you are getting "side bar real estate" and a feature or just the ad space. Unmet expectations are a killer. It's okay to ask lots of questions to make sure your money will be well-spent, just don't grill the blogger//ad host with tons of questions for a week and then just stop responding. It's rude and a waste of time for everyone involved.
2. Participate in the giveaways/featured offered. If there is a group or individual giveaway/feature being offered, TAKE THEM UP ON IT. It's essentially what you're paying for in a sponsorship & it will be the best chance of gaining a spontaneous sale and/or a loyal customer. Even if you feel that you don't have any extra to give, give it anyways. I promise it will pay off. The more people get excited about ((winning)) your product, the more likely it will result in a sale if they don't win. Include a discount code. Even if it's 10% off, some people won't purchase unless there is some sort of incentive. If that means you need to permanently add a dollar to your prices to compensate, then do so.
3. Give it time. This may be the most important one. So many people expect to pay for one month and have instant success. That just isn't the case...so much so that I have often wanted to take away one month ads as an option. It takes time for people to see your ad. It takes time for continuity to develop. Sometimes, it takes time for someone to save up money to buy your product. If your ad is gone after one month and they can't find your shop because you gave up on advertising, that's a customer lost. Success isn't grown overnight for most. My general rule is giving an ad 3 months to gain momentum, excitement & awareness. Again, give it time.
4. Stay in contact. Putting an ad on a blog should be about networking and building relationships. Shoot an email to them every now and then just to say hey and comment on their blog posts. When your ad is up, don't just stop responding to the ad host/blogger...especially if they're asking if you want to renew. It's totally okay if you don't have the income to renew or if you want to try another blog to advertise on. However, communication is key. Harder feelings will be developed over you flaking out and make the blogger not want to support you as much (that's not necessarily right, but it's business). When people are honest and respond saying they can't or maybe they'll be back in a few months, I'm much more likely to keep pinning & promoting their products or posts because I feel that I've made a connection with that shop owner//blogger.
5. Equal Partnership. Don't ask someone to trade ad space if they have thousands more followers and a 5 year developed readership if you're just getting started. It's somewhat insulting and trades are supposed to be equally beneficial. If you don't have the readership to make it beneficial for someone to advertise, then don't have ads. You will grow soon enough and then it will make it worthwhile for both parties involved.