The Ultimate Guide to Selling Sponsored Posts on Your Blog
Making money with sponsored posts is easy when you have the right system. Discover how you can get paid thousands just for publishing a simple blog post.
Sponsored Posts: Where to Find Them and What You Will Make
Sponsored posts are a great way to monetize your blog. Personally, I don’t recommend them as a primary source of revenue, as the income stream is unpredictable. But they make an excellent source of secondary income, especially if you have a popular blog that targets a valuable audience.
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In case you are not familiar with sponsored posts, this is how they work. A major advertiser such as a big brand may contact you and ask you to publish a blog post on their behalf. The blog post will typically promote one of their products, or the brand itself. You get paid a flat fee for publishing the post and promoting it to your blog audience.
How Much Can You Make from Sponsored Posts?
There is no simple answer to that one. The amount you will get paid depends on the size of your audience and the nature of your blog.
At the lower end of the market, you may get companies offering you as little as $50, or even just offering you free products as an incentive to run the post. Personally, I would steer well clear of these. Instead, focus on building up your blog so that you attract advertisers with real money to spend.
At the upper end, payments can be a lot healthier. Bjørn of PunchofYum.com says that he and partner Lindsay set a minimum payment level of $1 per thousand per monthly page views. Seeing as they get over three million page views a month, that works out at over $3,000 per post. Not bad for a couple of hours work. However, it is definitely possible to negotiate higher rates.
But if you have a moderately successful blog, you can expect numbers somewhere between those two extremes – maybe a few hundred dollars per blog post. However, there are ways to maximize those numbers, as we will discuss in the next section.
Creating Your Asset
One big mistake bloggers make with regard to sponsored posts is failing to see things from the advertiser’s view. They tend to hope that big brands have lots of money to slosh around, and won’t mind splurging it on the first blog they come across.
That’s not how it works.
Publishing sponsored posts is a competitive business. Advertisers have plenty of options when it comes to choosing which blogs to sponsor…so why should they choose yours? What is your Unique Selling Proposition? What makes your blog stand out as one that deserves a percentage of their precious budget?
You have to start thinking about your blog as an asset. Think carefully about your value proposition. Are you building an audience that has real value to potential advertisers? If not, you may need to rethink your strategy.
For example, it’s no accident that this blog is about money. Personal finance is a niche where advertisers pay very high rates. After all, we all need insurance, investment advice and banking services, and companies in those markets have very deep pockets. So I know I can attract advertisers who can pay top rates.
It’s also no accident that this blog primarily targets American moms. Advertisers know that women make the majority of spending decisions, and that the ‘mom’ stage of life is where spending is at its highest. Consequently, this ‘American mom’ audience is extremely valuable.
So I have a high-spending audience to offer to high-spending advertisers…that’s pretty much the perfect combination! I am very happy with the value proposition I have to offer to banks, insurance companies, investment newsletters and other financial advertisers.
What about you? Have you nailed down your blog’s value proposition?
Create Content That Rocks
The second element to your value proposition is creating a blog that stands out from the crowd. That means quality design and layout, good navigation and a great user experience.
Most of all, it means creating great content. You need to publish high-quality articles that engage your audience and reflect your value proposition. And you need to publish regularly – at least once a week, preferably more frequently. You don’t want a potential big-spending advertiser to come to your blog and see that no content has been added in the last three weeks. That’s a deal breaker right there.
Building Your Audience
Once you have knocked your blog into shape, you need to work on building your audience. No advertiser wants to buy a sponsored post from you blog if no-one visits except you and your mom. So work hard on building up traffic and maximizing page views. The bigger your blog grows, the higher your sponsored post income will be.
Be sure to build a mailing list while growing your blog. Your subscriber count is another important factor. And remember to work on your social media following, too. These are all metrics that advertisers will use when evaluating your blog. So you need to work on building up followers on the key social networks. The bigger your social footprint, the better.
Attracting Sponsored Posts through Your Blog
Once you have a decent level of traffic – let’s say, 20,00 page views a month – you are in a position to start attracting sponsored posts. And your first step should be to create a sponsored posts page on your blog.
The purpose of this page is to sell your value proposition – and sell it hard! Tell potential advertisers exactly why your blog should be number one on their list of possible publishers. Talk about all the benefits you can offer, and the value your audience has to them.
Give detailed information about your blog traffic, subscribers and social media followers – and remember to keep this information up to date. Better still, using a service like SeeTheStats.com to display your stats transparently, so that advertisers can have total confidence in the numbers.
Some advertisers will do a Google search for blogs that accept sponsored posts in a particular niche. So optimize this page for keywords such as ‘sponsored blog posts submissions’ and ‘accepting sponsored blog posts.’
Pitch for Posts
The majority of sponsored posts are found through the various networks and agencies that exist to connect bloggers with advertisers. All of these can work well, and they can be a source of regular and profitable sponsored post opportunities.
But you should be aware that they will nearly all take a cut of the money. The arrangement varies, but expect the network or agency to take anywhere from 10% to 50% of the money. That might seem a lot, but you would be unlikely to get most of these commissions without their help.
You won’t get sponsored posts by being a shrinking violet. You need to go out and aggressively pitch for business. Typically, an advertiser will list an opportunity, and bloggers then pitch to win the placement. Many other bloggers will be competing for the same opportunities as you, so you have to pitch hard to win the spot.
There is a whole range of networks and agencies that operate in this space and the names change almost weekly. But here are some good places for you to start pitching. Sign up with all of these and see which ones are a good fit for you.
The Importance of Disclosure
When you run a sponsored blog post, it is important to let your readers know that you are being remunerated for publishing the post. There are two reasons for this.
First of all, it is a legal requirement. Most of the blog posts you get will be from US-based advertisers and/or targeting American consumers. So you need to comply with the FTC regulations on disclosure. That means you need to let people know up front (at the start of the blog post) that this piece of content is sponsored.
Secondly, it is in your long-term interest to be honest with your readers. You need to build trust with your blog visitors, and you can only do this if you are open and up-front with them. The vast majority of readers will have no problem reading a sponsored blog post.
Do Follow or Not Do Follow…That is the Question
Bloggers debate endlessly whether links in sponsored posts should always be no-follow. If you are not sure what do follow and no follow links are, you can get the full story here.
Generally speaking, Google doesn’t like marketers trying to manipulate its algorithm by paying for links that boost their rankings. Therefore the recommendation is that paid links should be no-follow links so that they don’t pass any link juice.
But in my view, sponsored posts are different. Advertisers are paying you primarily to reach out to your existing audience with their editorial. The purpose of a sponsored post is not to manipulate search engine rankings, in most cases.
So if a serious advertiser asks you to make the links in their sponsored post to be do-follow links, I don’t think that is much of a problem. You really don’t have to worry about Google hunting you down and penalizing your site over this issue.
The only way you could run into trouble with this issue is if you started publishing lots of poor-quality sponsored posts from marketers who just wanted the link, and didn’t care about the content and reaching your audience. That is search engine manipulation, and can land you in trouble with the great god Google. But as long as you stick to publishing good quality content for ethically-sound reasons, you have little to worry about.
Landing sponsored posts is all about taking action. You need to sign up with a number of sponsored post networks and check them regularly for new opportunities. Sign up with one new network a day from the list above, and you could be on your way to a lucrative source of income.
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