Writing sponsored content is one of several ways in which bloggers make money. But, for me personally, it’s a win-win because of what that means for you, the reader.
I don’t normally write about blogging.
I’m not a blogging blogger, after all. I prefer to stick to my regular themes of homemaking, motherhood, healthy living, and saving money.
But every so often I will delve into the world of blogging because:
- It’s something I’m asked about all the time.
- I seek to be 100% transparent with my readers.
- When criticized, I want to set the record straight.
Although I wrote a short series on blogging a year or so ago, I’ve never delved into individual posts about the several streams that make up a professional blogger’s income.
Today, I want to tell you a little bit about sponsored posts, which became my number one or two income source in 2015 (my top two sources were almost tied!).
In a nutshell, sponsored posts are when a company or brand pay a blogger to write about their products.
Posts can either be arranged privately with the sponsor communicating directly with the blogger, through a PR representative of the brand, or through a third-party agency who lines up posts and payments on behalf of the brand but does not work for the brand itself (or for the blogger).
Although I do work some with private sponsors, for the past year I have mainly worked through third-party agencies and PR reps to secure my sponsored posts because, honestly, it’s just less work to have someone else handling payments, etc.
Why I Turn Down Many Sponsored Posts
Because sponsored posts are a high income generator for me, it might come as a surprise that I turn many of them down.
In fact, some of the highest-paying posts I’ve been offered are the ones to which I’ve said “no.”
I turned down over $6,000 for a series of posts that would be written for eBay. (When I crunched the time investment, the hourly wage was just not worth it).
I turned down a multi-post campaign with Reddi Whip that would have paid me thousands of dollars for very minimal work.
Would I ever eat Reddi Whip if you served it to me in your home? Probably. Would I buy it and serve it in my home? No, I wouldn’t. It goes against the healthy living standards I promote on this site as well. Simply put, it didn’t fit.
I’ve turned down thousands of dollars offered from companies that I simply cannot endorse for one reason or another.
To me, it boils down to authenticity.
My criteria for whether or not I will take a sponsored post is simple:
1. Is this post for a brand I would use in my home?
It might come as a surprise that I don’t say “yes” only to those products that I am already using.
Why not? Sometimes, I will jump at the opportunity to try out a product that I’ve been wanting for a while but hadn’t invested in.
The recent post sponsored by Leesa (a mattress company) is an example of that. We needed a new mattress and had been wanting a mattress safer than what we had been using for the past decade. I could wholeheartedly endorse this product because, once they sent it, I knew I loved it.
If the item I am asked to write about or mention is not something I would ever buy myself, then it’s a no-go for me to mention it on the blog.
There have actually been many times I have canceled posts after receiving products from the brand because, once they arrived, I realized it was something I could no longer endorse. I give my honest opinion on products, so if the opinion is not going to be positive, I will usually cancel the post.
2. Is this product something that would be valuable to my readers?
If it’s something I think you should know about, then I am more likely to accept the post–but only if it meets criteria #1 first.
And even if it meets #1 but is something I don’t think you would be interested in at all, then I won’t be accepting the post.
How to Make Sponsored Posts Relatable
My absolute favorite types of sponsored posts to write are those that provide valuable content to my readers.
For this reason, in 2015 I stopped writing as many reviews and stuck to accepting posts that allowed me more editorial freedom.
(I only offered a review and giveaway week in December of 2015, and this year I plan on smaller quarterly review and giveaway weeks for small businesses.)
Sometimes, the brand will give me some suggestions or requirements for things that I need to include in the post, but other times they leave it pretty wide open.
Here is where I hope my creativity kicks in, so I can mention a brand but still give my readers value–that they are getting for free.
The Leesa post is also an example of this. Although I was excited about getting the mattress, I felt a basic review post would fall dry.
I was horrified when one of my children wet the bed on the new mattress, but then I realized a silver lining in the whole situation would be to write about how we got the urine out of the brand new mattress.
I knew this would serve as valuable content to my readers as well.
Why I Personally Enjoy Writing Sponsored Content
If you don’t know much about blogging, you might be thinking: Wow! That sounds amazing! Bloggers get paid to write about brands?!
Yes, it is amazing, but what’s amazing about it to me is that I can make a living blogging and it never costs my readers a penny.
And that is why I personally have chosen to make writing sponsored content one of my main income generators (for now).
As I have written about before, there are many different ways in which bloggers can make an income.
But most of these ways require that the reader make some kind of purchase–whether it be buying the blogger’s eBooks or eCourses or other products or buying another product that blogger promotes and gets an affiliate payment for.
While the above do make up a portion of my blogging income, I love the win-win of writing the occasional (less than 25% of my content is sponsored) sponsored posts because I get paid, but it doesn’t cost you anything.
Besides the fact that blogging is our family’s primary income source, our expenses each month to run this site cost us more than my husband’s entire monthly paycheck. (Yes, you read that right! While blogging can be a cheap start-up business, the expenses grow as the platform grows.)
It’s a huge bonus to both my husband and me that we can make an income from home without charging readers.
Sponsored Post Agencies
If you’re a blogger looking to start writing sponsored posts, one of my favorite agencies is TapInfluence. For the most part, they send me posts that are very on-brand. I mainly work with them and some PR reps from a couple other agencies.
Since I want my sponsored content to not exceed 25% of my overall content, I have a limit to how many posts I can accept per month!
Some other agencies include:
- Linqia – This agency pays per click, whereas the other agencies pay a flat fee.
- Cafe Mom – This one is by invitation only.
- The Motherhood – The ladies who run this agency are super sweet. Post opps come via email.
- Mom it Forward
- Izea/Social Spark
- SITS Girls/Massive Sway – This is one of the first sponsored posts agencies I began working with.
- Clever Girls Collective
- Activate (formerly Sverve) – This one has a rating system where bloggers rate each other. I’m not a huge fan of it, but some bloggers like it!
- Collective Bias – This agency requires that bloggers go out and shop for the item they’ll be writing about.
- Mirum Shopper – My friend Mandi recommended this one.
- One2One Network
- Sway Group – This agency is a premium sponsored post agency under the same umbrella as SITS Girls/Massive Sway.