Here’s the thing. When you sponsor my blog, all that money is reinvested so that I can sponsor other blogs, bringing more readership in. When I started blogging, I quickly realized that sponsoring had the potential to grow my blog, if I did it correctly. I had to fail at sponsoring and make bad choices of where I chose to spend my money in order to learn what works and what doesn’t, what is worth the money and what isn’t, and what I need and look for in a host blog. The goal here is to help you better navigate which blogs to sponsor and also help us all be better hosts to the blogs who sponsor us. Sound good?
Like I said, a lot of these tips come from learning the hard way. Maybe they weren’t awful experiences but I didn’t see a return on my investment or something just worked better. So here are my tips and tricks and the criteria I use when pulling the trigger and sponsoring another blog.
1. The Great Debate: Sidebar or Signature?
This was the first question I had when I started to sponsor blogs. Should I sponsor a smaller blog and be the signature post (which appears at the bottom of every post and usually comes with more benefits) or should I go to a huge blog where space is at a premium and I can only afford to be on the side bar? Here is the thing. There is a reason that the “signature sponsor spot” costs more. I will admit that it has depended on the blog and the host (more to come on that), but if I can, I always go with the signature spot. The return I see (and I do measure…see below) is just a lot greater and most of the time it is worth the extra money to be there.
There are exceptions to this rule. I have been on the sidebar and the blogger has tweeted out my content weekly. What a great deal! Also, it’s great if I am in the signature position and they post two times a week…not. That’s simply not worth the money.
Now…here is the cold hard truth. I have paid to be a signature sponsor and gotten nothing out of it. Nada! And yet, I’ve been on the sidebar and gotten plenty out of it. So, really, why is that?
2. How Much Work is the Blogger Willing to Put into Promoting Me and My Content?
Sometimes you don’t know the answer to that question until you are actually sponsoring a blog. But if you are a reader of the blog you are sponsoring (I recommend this for many reasons both relational and having to do with brand alignment) then you can get some idea of how much work a blogger puts into promoting their sponsors. When I decided to write this post, I didn’t want to call anyone out. But the thing is, if you just stick me on at the end of the month and ask me what my favorite song and book is and link back to me…No one is going to click on the link to read my blog. Not only do the numbers prove this, but just logically, as a reader, I am not compelled by that. Are you? Do you click to read those blogs?
Ask yourself if the blogger presents the sponsors in a compelling way. This is not a commercial for me and how I do it (I really want to focus on how I choose where I sponsor) but I really put a lot of thought in how I present my sponsors for the sidebar. I wanted it to be compelling and I think I have achieved that. I look for that in the blogs I sponsor for sure.
Just some other questions to ask yourself: if you tag them, do they retweet you? Do they promote your content on twitter and other places? Do they stay in touch with you? Do they comment on your blog? THIS is huge for me. I have paid people a good deal of money and they can’t even take the time to read my blog and leave a comment every now and then. If that’s the case, and depending on how I answer those other questions, I won’t sponsor there again because to me that says they really don’t care. I am just a banner they put up and money in their pocket.
That’s a reality you have to face. People only have so much time in their day and if they don’t have time for you (and this has been the case even with bloggers I adore as people and as blogs) then you need to take your money elsewhere because you are paying for a service…unless the lingo on their sponsor page just says I plant your image on my page for a month and do nothing else in which case, you get what you pay for. 🙂
3. Promo Codes
I use them. Most bloggers give them out and I use them. (See the end of this post)
4. Keep Track of the Success and Failures of Your Sponsorships
If you are sponsoring through Passionfruit, you can see the number of times your ad has been clicked on and how often it has been viewed (which has to do with the page views the blog gets). Also watch where your traffic comes from. I have sponsored blogs and gotten ZERO traffic from them even though I am in the signature spot and they get plenty of page views. What’s the deal? It’s probably a combination of their readership and the blogger’s lack of promotion.
Relationally speaking, is communication open between the blogger I am sponsoring with? Does she tweet my content? I may not get solid numbers from those two questions but they are important to me.
5. Relationships: They Make the World Go Round
Again, I need to feel like a person. I gave you my money in good faith and I need to see, is this a simple transaction for you, the blogger (which is fine as long as you get me the results I paid for)? Does the blogger genuinely care about her sponsors? You have to think of these blogs as people you are doing business with. Is this someone you want to do business with? Are they genuine? Do they follow through? How is the organization? Everyone makes mistakes and I believe in grace, so much grace (goodness knows, I have needed it) but overall. This isn’t me trying to be touchy feely; I have noticed a correlation between the bloggers that genuinely care and the amount of promotion I get as a sponsor.
Also, I have worked with super organized people who could not give a rip about my blog and I didn’t see a return on my investment.
Even as a I write these, they are good reminders for me as a host of the bloggers who are willing to sponsor here. You get what you give. Treat others the way you would like to be treated and so I hope, or at least I try, to go above and beyond for my sponsors because when I spend money somewhere, I hope that person will go above and beyond for me and my blog. And I’d like to think I’ve gotten smarter as time has gone on about where I spend my money. But this is what I’ve learned and this is how I decide where I am going to go.
And because I love my sponsors so much, there is currently a promo of 20% off any sponsorship with the code: BIRTHDAY
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