Before blogging, the only time I’d heard the word “sponsor” was for alcoholics and marathon runners who needed donations. You can probably guess that the first instance I saw it as a link on someone’s blog, I was beyond confused. Now I realize that it’s just a form of advertising, and can be a great way to grow your income and community. Ready for the low-down on blog sponsorships? Let’s get to it.
What to Consider Before Sponsoring a Blog:
Before shelling out money for my first ad, I was ridiculously meticulous about who I’d sponsor. Clueless-me thought they should have great content, lots of followers, a pretty design…and cost $5. Sounds reasonable, right? So what did I do? Spent $85 to sponsor Story of My Life. (Most of my life decisions make as much sense). Given my previous circumstances, why oh WHY would I spend so much money on my very first sponsorship? Well, her blog followed a LOT (if not all) of the criteria I still use before clicking that “buy” button. Here’s my pre-purchase checklist:
1. Do you adore their blog? This is the #1 thing for me. If I’m thinking of sponsoring a new blog, I almost always follow them for awhile first, just to see if I really do love their blog (and them) or not. Of course, I want to get the most bang for my buck, but I also don’t want to feel like a used car salesman and sponsor blogs I dislike just for a few extra visitors. Remember, your face and blog name will be on their site. And more than that, you’re supporting their creative space. Support people you love and it will pay off for both of you.
2. How many monthly pageviews do they get? Let’s face it, followers are not very indicative of readership or community. How do you know those people are actually reading that blog? You really don’t. Which is why focusing on pageviews will do you a lot better. Lots of bloggers post their monthly pageviews on their sponsor page, but if not, you can always ask for a media kit! Don’t be afraid – this is your money.
3. How many comments do their posts get? Besides pageviews, I always check to see how many comments a blogger’s posts usually get. This is one of the biggest deal breakers and factors for me. Why? Because people who get quite a few comments have built a community on their blog and an engaged readership. Those are the types of readers who will click your ad and stick around on your site. Not to mention, the blogger must be doing something right for people to take the time to comment.
Related: 10 Ways to Build an Active Community on Your Blog
4. What does the ad include? When I sponsored my first few blogs, I expected to suddenly get people pouring into my site. Nope. And that is really just the reality of sidebar ads, in my opinion. However, that doesn’t mean sponsorships are totally pointless. Not at all! Now, I always look to see what else a sponsorship includes besides just the ad. A guest post? Spotlight? Giveaway? In general, those are the things that are going to bring people to your site and give you the best exposure. If a sponsorship only comes with a sidebar ad, I usually don’t feel it’s worth it (unless their blog is totally rockin’ #1!).
5. How similar are your blogs? My blog is kind of a travel/lifestyle/positivity/I-seriously-don’t-know-what-category blog. But I know that it’s not a DIY blog and even though there are pleeenty of DIY blogs I LOVE, I wouldn’t be as keen to sponsor them. It’s like putting up an advertisement for a rave at a little league baseball game (Did I just compare my blog to a rave?). Consider the audience you’re marketing to.
6. Do people renew their sponsorships with them? This is a great indicator! If the same people sponsor them month after month, then you can probably assume they’re doing something right and fulfilling everything that they promised to give.
7. There are perks to sponsoring big and small bloggers. I think sometimes there can be the misconception that you should always sponsor blogs with more followers/pageviews than you. I see the logic, but in reality I think there are tons of positives to sponsoring smaller blogs, too. One of the best things is that they will probably give your sponsorship more attention and really put their all into promoting you. This isn’t to say hugely popular blogs don’t care about you, but they probably just have less time and more sponsors. Try sponsoring a mix of both.
Related: How to Grow Your Blog Like a Boss
8. Go for the bigger size. You might feel tempted to spend less because you’ll still be on that person’s blog, but usually for a few more dollars you can get much better exposure if you buy a larger sized ad.
Here’s a picture of me making a weird face that has nothing to do with this post.
How to Create Blog Sponsorships on Your Blog:
Now that we’ve talked a bit about what to look for when you purchase ads, let’s chat about how to create a bangin’ sponsor program on your own blog.
1. First of all, how do you get sponsors? My best advice is to do three things: focus on making your blog kick ass, connect with your readers, and network with other bloggers. If your blog kicks booty and you have friends in the blogging world, there’s no reason people won’t want to sponsor you. If you need help figuring out how to reach out to other bloggers, I gave some tips here.
Related: How to Earn Money Blogging
2. Is selling sidebar ads enough? Personally, I don’t think so. Check #4 in the section above for my thoughts on this one. Let me add one thing – don’t be scared of failing. What I mean is that when I first started offering spotlights with my sponsorships, I was really scared that no one would buy them and I’d have one awkward sponsor spotlight that only emphasized how few people sponsored my blog. Breathe out. Don’t worry! It might take time, but people will come hither and they’ll love you just for trying! Be confident in your little piece of the web – I’m sure it rocks!
3. Sponsorships are more than just money. Since they’re essentially advertisements, it seems like sponsorships would be all about making the moolah, but trust me, they’re more than that. Sponsorships are a great way to make new blogging friends, network with other bloggers, and just plain get to know people around the world. If you take a look at the sponsors on my sidebar, I talk to almost all of them regularly and many of them have become my bloggy buddies. Lots of those friendships happened just because they decided to sponsor me. Focus on building a relationship with your readers and soon you’ll have a bunch of new friends and sponsors knocking on your door.
4. How much should you charge? I think this question is hard to answer because there are a number of factors to consider, for example, is it just a sidebar ad or do you offer other perks, like the option to do a guest post? Some other factors that might go into it are giveaways, spotlights, social media mentions, how often you post, and more! From what I’ve noticed, the most expensive ad that a blog sells is usually about .001 of how many monthly pageviews it gets. For example, if a blog gets 5,000 pageviews a month, then their largest ad might be around $5. This is not a foolproof formula by any means, but take a look on some blogs you love – you might find that it’s more or less accurate. One last thing, I’ve seen some blogs whose ads are booked for months. Unless you only take a really small number of sponsors each month, if your ads are always booked for months at a time, then you’re probably charging too little.
Related: 9 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic By Updating Old Blog Posts
5. ALL THE PERKS?!?! Okay so selling an ad with social media mentions might get you more buyers, but does knowing that mean you should give your sponsors your first born if they asked for it? No! Do what you feel comfortable with. If you don’t want strangers guest-posting on your blog, then don’t make it an option. If you don’t want the stress of doing a monthly giveaway, then guess what? You don’t have to offer it! It’s easier to add options than it is to take them away. Having sponsors can be a lot of work and at the end of the day, your blog should still be full of what makes you feel comfortable and happy.
Phew! That was probably longer than most of my college essays. I hope there was some info in here that was helpful to you. If you have other questions, feel free to ask me in the comments.