Blogging Basics: Choosing Where I Sponsor.

howichoosewhereisponsorHere’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

Was this helpful? Please let me know! If it was, I have other topics to cover later but what questions do you have?



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48 thoughts on “Blogging Basics: Choosing Where I Sponsor.

  1. Madison | Wetherills Say I Do

    All of these are great points! I think that it’s important to try and stick around at least two months with a blog before completely writing it off, and to be willing to say something if things aren’t going as you had hoped! It can make a big difference! And to me, I would appreciate being called out rather than the person never returning and I don’t know why!

    1. Nina Post author

      Madison, I completely agree with both of those things. As a sponsor, I usually do try to stay for more than one month (if I can afford it 🙂 ) and as someone who sponsors, I definitely want feedback on how I can always be improving! Thanks for the input. Excellent points.

  2. Biana Perez

    Really great points and tips!! I’ve actually never sponsored a blog nor have I paid for a sponsorship…but you’ve given me a few things to think about!

  3. Dollie

    Loved this! I too sponsored with a huge blog and got zero activity and interaction with the was so disappointing and really made me take my time with the next blog I chose to sponsor. But I have to say, sponsoring your blog renewed that faith =)

    1. Nina Post author

      Thanks, Dollie. I hope this post isn’t about me so much as lessons I’ve learned and mistakes I’ve made through sponsoring. I’ve seen so much good come out of it and great relationships but I’ve learned some lessons too. I’m glad your experience here was a good one.

  4. Lisa Pray

    Nina, these tips are super helpful!! I’ve been trying to sponsor more blogs the last two months, and I’ve just been picking blogs that I already read. But I feel like my readership hasn’t changed because the a lot of the same people read my blog and the person I’m sponsoring. Any thoughts on this? How do you diversify? (I don’t want you to give away all your secrets, but I would be interested on hearing your thoughts!)

    1. Nina Post author

      Haha I don’t mind giving away my secrets. I think diversifying is important. I think it’s okay to sponsor with blogs that are within your readership as long as they are also aggressively trying to grow their own blog. Does that make sense? If I see that with someone I read, then I am fine with sponsoring even if I know we share a lot of readers. But I also try to reach new audiences with new blogs. The combination of those too things together is kind of my current solution and it seems to be working well. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions, Lisa!

  5. Gennie

    These are great tips! I’m still new to the blogging world, but when I first started, I thought doing things that would cost me the least amount of money and be able to do them more (like the small sidebar ads) would be more effective. Turns out, that was completely wrong, and I should have been looking for ways to do the signature posts or guest post or giveaway with sponsorship. I have started to do this, and it has made a difference! 🙂

    1. Nina Post author

      Most of the time, in my experience, it is signature but it really depends on the blog! Hope this helped you!

  6. Rebecca

    These are such great tips! You have been one of my favorites to sponsor for these very reasons. You genuinely care about your sponsors and their content and that’s why I will come back time and time again. That and because you are just a genuinely wonderful person. <3

    1. Nina Post author

      Aw this seriously made me blush! I hope you know and I hope this shows that these are lessons that I’ve learned as I have sponsored blogs and not patting myself on the back because I DO NOT have it down! You are so kind though!

  7. Sarah @ 12 Twenty Seven

    NINA! Your desk space is adorable and your tips are fantastic! I recently decided to go no sponsor but I’m definitely keeping these tips in my pocket so I can reference them if I do decide to sponsor again!

    1. Nina Post author

      Thank you, Sarah. It is kind of my dream space, at least for now, squashed in my little studio apartment. I am doing a tour through blogland next week so you can see more. See ya tonight!

    1. Nina Post author

      I hope this provided some guidance. I am not an expert…just someone who learned the hard way 🙂

  8. Amanda {Kids and Cabernet}

    Thanks for this, such great tips. I haven’t participated in any sponsorships in a while because I wasn’t sure if they really worked. I have done a couple in the past, and never saw much of an influence or change in my numbers. Now I know what to look for if I decide to participate in any. xoxo

    1. Nina Post author

      Amanda, I think really is who you sponsor with and the way they approach sponsorships. I’ve had some work great for me and be huge and others not so much. I’ve come to learn (the hard way) that these are things to look for (although I am no expert!) in order for me to see a return on my investment.

  9. Trish @ The Trish List

    I love reading posts like this. It helps me see what works and what doesn’t for others so I can see if its just me or a general concensus! Very helpful and I am happy to be sponsoring you this month!

  10. Kasia Górska

    Thank you SO MUCH for that post, now I will know how to focus more on the advertising I am offering, and I am certainly adding a signature option ad.

    Thank you!

  11. Susan

    It is SO frustrating when you sponsor someone and she then turns out to be a dud. I have sponsored some “big” bloggers and expected more of a return or even more of a relationship, at least for that month… only to find myself disappointed. I think it is very obvious that you care about the people who sponsor your blog. I hope to have that same feeling come across with my blog. These are all great points. xxoo

    1. Nina Post author

      I’m no expert so I hope this helps you. When it comes to being a host I just try to do the best job I can and do the things I would want done for me. Pay it forward, my friend.

    1. Nina Post author

      Ashley, great questions! Maybe I will do a post on how to be the host? Although I am no expert. I think starting with button swaps is the best way to go about it at the beginning then when you start to grow a following you can charge. When is the best time? I would consider if you have time in your life to add sponsor duties to it. If you do, really be honest with yourself about your traffic and influence. Do I have enough to charge? Also look at comparable blogs to see if they are charging. I’ve seen blogs have paying sponsorships open and no one ever take them up on it because of the price point compares to the siZe of the blog or just the limited reach. How do I keep track of what social media I give my followers? I try to give everyone something once a week but I also want to keep it organic for my audience. I only tweet links that I love or I think are powerful or will help people. Usually at week’ send, I can tell if someone hasn’t gotten as much love and I will try to give it to them but I have to be true to my own brand first…the content I share has to be meaningful or worthwhile to my readers. Does that help? Feel free to ask for clarification or more questions.

    1. Nina Post author

      I’m no expert but I am glad it was helpful. I just tried to share things I’ve learned along the way.

    1. Nina Post author

      It’s just things I’ve learned a long the way through my experience. I am no expert but I hope it helps!

  12. Katie

    This is a great post. I’ve had a frustrating time with sponsorships lately. I totally agree with the whole “they can’t even take the time to comment on my post?”. That one hurts the most. I’ve found that what works best for me are guest spots. The whole tweeting and promoting things seems tiring to me. And sometimes feels like it doesn’t come from the heart. They’re just doing it to do it..which I GET. That’s what I’m paying them to do, but I still want it to sound honest….It’s a gamble out there!

    1. Nina Post author

      It can be a gamble but these tips have helped me and just clear communication going both ways with the blogger and myself! Hope it helps!

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  16. All that's Jas

    I love how honest you are…I’ve been blogging for a while and only recently realized that is not just a hobby but a full-time job (that doesn’t pay) if you want any results. And I’m not even talking about making money but just getting traffic. So overwhelming and time consuming. I wanted to give up so many times. Never thought of sponsoring but will consider thanks to your tips. Would love to be affiliate or add ads to my blog but apparently you have to have a high number of blog visitors for that. Or is there another trick that I don’t know know of? Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week! Hugs 🙂

    1. Nina Post author

      Your numbers do matter but I know of some that will grow with you. Feel free to email me and we can talk more specifics!

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