Monday, April 8, 2013

((handmade monday: small biz tips)) 10 ways to make the most of your paid blog sponsorship

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 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.

6. If you got it, send it. If you can send free product to your ad host//blogger, do it. Genuine product mentions via social media and random blog posts can drive SO much traffic and sales to your shop. Just recently, an "undiscovered" shop made over 100 sales the month they had an ad on my blog because they sent me product beforehand and I promoted the heck out of it. If I believe in you enough to have an ad of yours on my blog, then I believe in you enough to show off your work. It's such an honor when people send stuff my way. It's the least I can do to show it off. 9 times out of 10 it will pay off ((sometimes ten fold.))

7. Don't forget where you started. If a blogger helped you out when you were first getting started, don't get too big for your britches and never work with them again. This is kind of along the same lines as number 4. They promoted you genuinely and will likely continue to do so. Come back every now and then and join forces in some way. After all, if you've grown as a business, then it will be even more mutually beneficial than it was before. Win-win. 

8. Make an attractive ad. This should be a "duh" but check out the other ads on their site to see who you'll be "neighbors" with. Make yours stand out. If there are a lot of faces, use a product. If there are a lot of simple branding graphics, use a portrait and/or a product. If there is a lot of white space already, make yours colorful. Add a border if you need to. If you have text, make sure it's large enough to read. 

9. Add a discount code. Again, everyone loves an incentive. My most successful sponsors have been the ones with a discount code ON the ad. Just make sure it doesn't look too cluttered! This will inevitably result in more impulse buys.

10. Make sure it's a good fit. I hate turning people down, but I feel much better about telling them it's not a good fit then taking their hard-earned marketing dollars for something my readers won't be interested in. Just because you like reading a blog, doesn't mean that your products will be a good fit. Make sure your styles are cohesive and that it's relevant to their readers. For example: I don't scrapbook. I'm sure some of my readers do, but I never partner with scrapbook companies that contact me because, well, I don't want/need free stuff that badly. If I took the time to write up a post about the product, my readers would be aware that I did it for a free item and not because I believed in that product. Another example: When I got pregnant, I started working with more handmade shops that sold products for moms and babies. What wouldn't have worked well before, is now relevant to me and my readership. where as before it was only relevant to my readers. 



  1. i can't tell you how much i needed to read this! i just started offering sponsorship on my blog, and this has helped me make a few needed changes. thank you!

  2. Great post. I am actually in the process of building an AD campaign for my jewelry and accessories line so this was right on time. Thank you!

  3. Great post! I've been interested in having a sponsored ad but haven't bitten the bullet yet. This advise is great to help me get the most from blog advertising. I just relocated to Boulder and I'm just finding my new community and customer base here, off to read over your ad offerings!

    1. Boulder a great place. I lived there for 4 months at the Hostel over 10 years ago. It's got some good life there. I'm sure you'll make some good contacts and connections all around.

  4. Nice work Kim. You're right, blogging is in a transition which is a good thing for those starting or expanding their blogs/brands, etc. Giving it time is one of the most critical points you made, along with giving YOURSELF time--meaning, if you are starting out, it will take a bit to get a feel for what you are doing or trying to do. But just have fun and keep at it.

  5. I would love to share this post on social media but you have no share buttons:( Great post by the way!

  6. Lots of great tips here! I love it when seasoned bloggers share their tips and advice they've learned.

  7. Great post! It actually made me seriously think about advertising with someone again. Thanks :)

    LC from the world of ellesee

  8. Really, really great post with a lot of valid points. I think #3 is especially important and something most of us don't encourage enough. (This post is also how I found your blog. So glad I did!)

  9. great word, Kim! I totally agree about the blog world changing and giving it time with ads.

    I'm curious if you have advice for attracting/retaining sponsors to your blog?

  10. This is seriously one of the most helpful articles I've read on the business side of running a handmade business. I've been floating around advertising on different blogs, seeing what works, and I'm so bad at just doing one month here, one month there. I'm also SO bad about 'connecting' with people online, whether it's staying caught up on e mails or making an effort to connect with the bloggers I advertise with. Thanks for sharing!

  11. This was something I needed to read and will help as I take my blog/etsy store down the road. Thank you for taking the time to write this out and share.

  12. Get daily ideas and methods for making $1,000s per day ONLINE totally FREE.


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