Yesterday I wrote about how you can increase your chances of getting paid for the content you create. How to monetize a blog is one of the most requested topics among the #Blogchat community, so today I wanted to talk about another option for making money from your blog:
Getting a sponsor.
The problem that many bloggers run into is that they want to start making money as soon as they launch their blog. Which is understandable, but they simply don’t have the large platform and readership that most advertisers are interested in. Years ago I was approached by one of the major blog ad networks about having them place advertisements on my blog. At the time (this was 2009 or so) they told me that a blog had to have a minimum of 800,000 monthly pageviews before they could accept them. I had about 1% of that at the time.
Many bloggers will add Ad Sense ads or something similar to their blogs as a way to generate revenue. The problem is this usually gives them pennies at best, and ends up detracting from the reader’s experience and clutters up the content on the blog.
But a sponsor can be a much better solution. First, it gives you control over who the sponsor is. You can bring on someone you are comfortable, and that’s a good fit for your blog’s focus, and your readers. Second, you have control over what the sponsorship entails. Third, if you’re smart you can work with the sponsor to enhance the experience on your blog, not detract from it, which is what a lot of ads do.
While I don’t have sponsors here, I have been selling sponsorships at #Blogchat for the last 3 years. It’s worked out pretty well for everyone. Here’s the framework I follow with #Blogchat and you can easily do the same with your blog.
First, make sure the sponsor understands what the sponsorship does and does not include. I have created a special page for sponsoring #Blogchat so that potential sponsors know what they are getting. You should do the same for your blog. Think about what you can offer sponsors. Will they get exposure on your blog itself? As part of the #blogchat sponsorship, I give sponsors the option to have an ad on the right sidebar, and 1 sponsored post for the month of their sponsorship. I also promote the sponsor here and on Twitter. I let them know the bare minimum of exposure they will get but I always try to go a bit above that so that they will be pleased with the coverage they are getting.
Second, make sure the sponsor is a good fit for you and your audience. This is highly subjective and you will have to figure out what works for you and your audience. Basically I have two rules for potential #Blogchat sponsors: That they understand that they cannot use the #Blogchat chat itself as a promotional tool, and that their sponsorship doesn’t detract from the #Blogchat experience. As I tell any potential sponsor, if the #Blogchat community is upset with the experience of the chat based on a sponsor’s involvement, then that makes both myself and the sponsor look terrible. And yes, I have turned down sponsors that wanted to use the chat itself as a promotional tool for their business. My suggestion is that you not promote a sponsor on your blog to the point that the sponsor is overshadowing the content. If that happens then your readers will notice and likely be disappointed.
Third, create a win-win-win situation. This is where you need to get creative. You want to find a way for the sponsorship to benefit three parties:
1 – Yourself
2 – The sponsor
3 – Your audience
If you can bring on a sponsor and have all three parties benefit, then you’ve hit a home run.
First, think about what you want. Do you want cash? Do you want a product? Do you want a service? Again consult yesterday’s post for some great ideas on how to get paid.
Second, explicitly ask the sponsor to tell you what they want to happen as a result of the sponsorship. Do they want to drive traffic back to their website? Get more downloads of their new white paper? Encourage more free signups of their new software product? Ask them to tell you what they want, because that will greatly influence how the sponsorship is structured.
Finally, how will your readers benefit? At bare minimum, you don’t want the overall experience on your blog to suffer as a result of the sponsorship. The last thing in the world you want is for someone to read your blog on November 1st and think ‘Aw shit, he’s got another sponsor!’ You want them to either not notice the sponsor is there or (the best alternative) you want them to be excited that the sponsor is involved!
When I bring on a sponsor for #Blogchat, I am always careful to think about how the community will benefit as a result. For example, when I bring on a sponsor for #Blogchat, the topics get set for the entire month at the start of the sponsorship because I work with the sponsor to cover topics that interest them, that will also appeal to #Blogchat. So there’s one benefit. Another is that each sponsor gets a guest host, so #Blogchat knows if we have a sponsor for the month, they also get an expert guest-host. Finally, the sponsor will frequently offer #Blogchat members a special deal or discount on a product. For example, this month’s sponsor, AllergEase, created a special offer to give away its product for free to #Blogchat members.
How to Get Started Landing Sponsorships on Your Blog
1 – Create a page spelling out exactly what a sponsor gets. Here’s mine for #Blogchat as an example. This communicates to potential sponsors that you are accepting sponsors, and tells them exactly what they will get.
2 – Figure out who your ‘ideal’ sponsor would be. For example, if you are a tech blog focusing on startups, then tech startups. If your blog focuses on parenthood, especially new parents, then a company that makes products for toddlers and newborns might be a good fit.
3 – Do your research and figure out if these companies are active on social media now, and more importantly if they are already working with bloggers and doing sponsorships! From the above example of a parenting blog, let’s say you do some checking and uncover that Graco is currently sponsoring other bloggers (I have no idea if they are), then you could reach out to them and let them know that you are offering sponsorships on your parenting blog and explain to them how it would be a good fit for their brand.
4 – Focus on the win-win-win. Figure out how a sponsor’s involvement on your blog will enhance your blog, not detract from the experience you have. What do you get from the sponsorship, what does the sponsor get, and what do your readers get?
If you are willing to do your homework and some leg-work, you should be able to start getting some sponsors for your blog. Something else I have noticed with #Blogchat is that it is MUCH easier to sell sponsorships when you are selling sponsorships. I went all year without selling any sponsorships to #Blogchat, then suddenly over the course of 3 weeks I sold the sponsorships for September, October and November. So if you can ever start getting sponsors on your blog, it become much easier to keep getting them!
If you accept sponsors on your blog, what has worked for you?