If you’ve been blogging for a while then you’re probably familiar with the term ‘Sponsored Posts’. To put it simply, it’s an understanding between a brand and a blogger, where the latter writes a post for the former, based on agreed upon conditions that are mutually acceptable. The brand then pays the blogger for the effort.

In today’s post, we’ll look at this topic from the bloggers’ perspective and also talk about what brands should do in the blogger-brand relationship. As a part of this exercise, I’ve also spoken to some bloggers who write these posts and shared their thoughts on the subject.

First and foremost, I’ll start with full disclosure. I write sponsored posts mostly on my parenting blog and it’s something I began doing about a year ago.

It was a bit of a learning curve while I stumbled through the process and here’s what I’ve learnt about it.

4 Tips for Bloggers doing sponsored posts

1. Why you should do Sponsored Posts:

They are great as a way to make some money with your blogging. As you can tell, I am not mincing words. To be frank there’s nothing wrong with doing it, either. Some of us rely on our blogs to help make us extra money while for many freelancers it can often be the only way to make the same.

They are the best and the easiest way to monetize my blog. They are not intrusive like advertisements and also the pay out does not depend on clicks, like affiliates.

-Jaibala Rao, My School of Thought

There are more reasons to earning money than you might think.

They let me monetize my blog and help me achieve one of my blogging goals, which is donate my earnings to charity.

~Vidya Sury, VidyaSury.com 

Building your reader base also helps in leveraging your power as an influencer in social media while enabling you to network with other brands and bloggers as well.

Being approached by a brand also shows that the blog has readers and companies are willing to tap the potential.

-Parul Kashyap Thakur, Happiness and Food

This is something most of us bloggers echo as well.

It helps make my presence felt in the world wide web thereby offering more such opportunities.

-Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Eloquent Articulation

2. Find posts that fit in with your expertise:

Not all of us are experts in everything and there’s a reason for that. Our passion drives us and makes us interested in certain fields more than others. Now while I would gladly write a post on parenting or social media I wouldn’t venture to write one on advanced technology. Pick your niche and write accordingly. In other words, learn when to say ‘No’.

Bloggers need to think out of the box as well as get creative while doing sponsored posts. Else it just becomes run-of-the-mill-stuff and it affects the blogging community as well.

~Sid Balachandran, I Wrote Those

3. Don’t compromise on your voice:

I know bloggers have to abide by a brief that the brand provides them. This does not mean that you sacrifice your authenticity in order to write a sponsored post. Work in your personal angle and your unique voice so people can still connect with you, the person.

When sponsored posts are not honest and do not reflect the voice of the writer due to commercial pressures from the brand, it shows! Also sponsored posts sometimes do not gel with the blog’s genre and content.

~ Rachna Parmar, Rachna Says

4. Quote the right price:

I’ve been guilty of under-quoting on many occasions.  Under or over quoting can hurt not just you but other bloggers in the same niche as well.

Bloggers need to be more aware of market rates as well as not under quote or over quote.

-Sid Balachandran

Do remember  that your visibility as a brand, your page stats, your traffic, your social media presence and your analytics will all come into play when you quote a price. Keep these handy so you can share them with brands if they ask you for those details.

If that was the blogger’s side of the equation, we now come to the role of the brands and what we expect from them as writers. We hope you’re listening.

Money, sponsored posts

6 Tips for Brands asking for Sponsored Posts

1. Identify if the blogger fits your brand:

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve landed on a blog to be turned off by a totally misplaced sponsored post. I understand you want to leverage your reach as a brand, but it helps to find out if the blogger is actually familiar with that niche.

Undervaluing the power of genuine story telling and not understanding the way content marketing works are the big problems facing sponsored posts today.

-Jaibala

2. Understand the effort we put into the post:

You’re the boss where your brand is concerned, of this I am certain. You are also well within your rights to ask for revision of facts if needed. But do keep in mind that you must allow some scope for expression and creativity, else every post is going to look identical!

The blogger knows the kind of audience/readers they get, and how to make the content appealing to their readers. Having too many rules cause unnecessary friction between the brand and the blogger.

-Sid

3. Ensure your PR person for the brand is right:

In a recent interaction with a brand, I was frustrated by the utter lack of professionalism or etiquette by the person handling the campaign. The person was rude, downright offensive and curt in response to my queries. To my surprise, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in this situation. Many bloggers had similar stories to share!

Some PR agencies aggressively follow up for sensitive information (blog stats, bank info, PAN card copies and cancelled cheques) and then disappear into oblivion. Of course we have the choice not to respond and use our discretion, but even the well-known, trusted ones do this. Once they gather info, and the post is published, they become silent and incommunicado.

-Vidya Sury

Brands, I request that you have the right people handling this angle. Don’t let one person destroy the image you’ve worked so hard to build up.

4. Pay the blogger and pay on time:

This, by far, is one of the biggest grouses I’ve heard from bloggers. Lack of timely payment can hurt you as a reliable brand and in the world of social media, do you really want to risk delaying payment?

A badly-worded review can hurt your image more than you know. Please, just pay on time.

Being prompt about payments is very important. All hard work seems to be wasted if payment isn’t on time.

~Parul

There are several organisations that want you to write a post for them including a link but don’t want to pay. The manner in which majority of people undermine writing, really makes me angry. After all, you wouldn’t ask an ad agency to promote your product for free, would you? 

~Sanch, Living my Imperfect Life

5. Pay cash:

I’m all for vouchers, when I win them in a contest. But if I am investing time and energy in writing a post tailored to your brand’s specifications, a voucher is not going to cut it.

For one thing, it limits my purchasing power. For another, it’s not cash. Redundant, I know, but there you have it.

Too many advertisers still like to pay “in kind” instead of cash, but, they should realize that Flipkart vouchers cannot pay for our domain and hosting costs.

-Chicky Kadambari, miss_teerious

6. Promote our blog posts on social media:

It seems rather unfair for the brand to expect us to write the post and share the same liberally on our social media handles while most of them sit back and do nothing. I’d think it was standard practice to expect that of the brand.

One thing I would like to change would be more promotion by the sponsoring brands & products being endorsed.

~Inderpreet

So, dear bloggers, are you more comfortable with the idea of sponsored posts now?

And brands, do these ideas help you? We hope so.

*Special thanks to all the bloggers here who wrote in with their responses when I asked them to share their views on this topic.

*Featured image of man holding bank note: Shutterstock

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58 thoughts on “Sponsored Posts: What bloggers & brands should know

  1. So I know you’ve written this a year ago and I’m only just reading it…these are great tips but I’d like to add one more. Bloggers should disclose they are writing a sponsored post and brands need to be ok with it. As a reader I feel cheated if I’m reading a post and halfway through, realise the real agenda is to promote a brand. On the other hand, if it has been disclosed and I’m reading it by choice fully knowing that, it’s a different feeling. No t sure what your thoughts are on that.
    Sanchie @ Living my Imperfect life recently penned this post 3 most overrated books #FridayReflectionsMy Profile

    1. I’m with you on this one. I’ve considerably reduced my blog reading, especially if bloggers persistently write posts without the sponsored tag. I think it’s a value that you, as a blogger, owe to your audience.

  2. Quite an interesting take on PR and paid reviews. I think a common ground should be reached with emphasis on quality content and good pay. I did refuse a couple of time but not for money reason. Rather, personal since the blog is quite personal. You see, the journalist in me! Hehe

  3. Thank you Shailaja for such an awesome and much needed post. I found the post very useful as a blogger and yes you did answer many of my queries related to a sponsored post. However I must say when it comes to discussing brand payments, bloggers aren’t very comfortable sharing that information with other bloggers. Also for beginners, writing a sponsored post help them reach audience and brands who might consider them for future posts.. and that’s one reason bloggers end up writing free of charge as they feel the brand is also adding value to their blog that might get them more brand invites in future. Your views on this?

    As you rightly said, we get underpaid most of the time, what according to you is the best way to find the market rate for sponsored posts… as each brand might offer different rates ? Do you suggest bloggers sticking to a fixed rate for all brands or we should vary according to the popularity of the brand.? Would really appreciate your views on this. Thanks again😊

    1. Hi Manjusha, Thank you so much for reading and for raising pertinent questions. I agree that writing sponsored posts improves visibility in the online space. There’s a reason most bloggers don’t divulge their rates for posts though: For one, it depends on how long they’ve been blogging. For another it depends on the quality and reach of their blog. That will vary significantly from one blogger to the next.

      For you, I suggest joining a platform that connects you to brands such as blogmint or Influencer so you get a clear view on what is expected of you. After 6 to 8 months of consistent branded posts you can try and create a media kit of your own to showcase to brands who reach out to you personally. I am not sure of the prevailing rates, but anything less than 5/= per word is not worth it, in my opinion. Please understand though that this will depend on the quality of writing, the brand’s faith in your ability to bring them traffic and how comfortable you are balancing both.

      Wish you all the best.

  4. Such a detailed, well thought-out and well-structured post, Shailaja! This is an area I’m not familiar with and have not given it much thought. It’s, however, similar to the many paid projects open to writers out there. The quotes are never clear or discussed and chances of being exploited are high. This information will definitely help bloggers who aspire to venture into the monetizing aspect.

    Just in case you’re wondering about how I landed on this post after so long, I’ve been spending some time on twitter..had even forgotten my password :-p
    Uma recently penned this post Things to watch out as you transition into a bigger platformMy Profile

    1. I am so glad you’re spending time on Twitter 🙂 To be honest, there are more opportunities for paid writing available on Twitter over FB. FB is a very social network where people share pictures and moments. Twitter is very work-driven and if you use the right hashtags when searching as well as sharing content, you find some valuable tips for writing, blogging, publishing and more. Trust me on this 🙂

  5. This post is very informative. And a true guide that one can use while approaching a sponsored post issue.
    The reviews of other bloggers seriously helped!

  6. It covers it all. Great post, Shailaja. I am all for sponsored posts, it’s a win-win situation. The price quoting part is something that bothers me. Have experienced the effects of both under and over quoting. In the last Tata Zica meet at Goa, a fashion blogger was sharing that all the bloggers in her niche share their price quotes for various things viz blog post, tweets, youtube video, photos etc… so all are aware of the market rates and there are no hurt feelings.
    Shilpa Garg recently penned this post Change It UpMy Profile

    1. That’s really interesting, Shilpa! Yes, i think the more we collaborate and share quotes, it’s easier for us to function as a group. But there may be differences in terms of blog quality/readership/writing style that may impact the quotes. Certainly helps to have a benchmark figure though. Worth thinking about.

  7. A much needed posts, as I know many bloggers who are still iffy about doing sponsored posts. Good to read others’ perspectives and thoughts. I have so many stories to tell about this topic! It is sad that not all brands come through as professionals or keep their commitments.

    Thank you for including my quote. 🙂
    Vidya Sury recently penned this post 5 Essential Daily Visualization ExercisesMy Profile

  8. Well curated and very informative Shailaja. You are right many bloggers do shy away from sponsored post. One of the major reason is not all bloggers find their niche. And many of the book bloggers are still toggling with between should I or should I not do sponsored reviews. It is one of the biggest delimna a book blooger is facing. Your thoughts ?

    1. Hey thank you Rubina!

      As for book bloggers and reviewers, my take is a bit mixedt. I understand the need to be paid for the effort of reviewing a book, but as a reviewer who has a responsibility to the readers it would help if the review is always balanced and honest. What I’d suggest is to do the reviews on the blog , initially, because you enjoy doing them and do it in the authentic voice and not worry about sponsored posts.

      Then, if you do get asked for a commissioned review, it should not affect the voice at all. Meaning, you won’t change it just because you’re being paid for it. I feel this would help both parties involved, to be honest. It would also ensure reliability of the blogger as a good reviewer who has no personal axe to grind, so to speak.
      Shailaja recently penned this post Vanished #MicrostoryMy Profile

  9. Of course, I like the post. I’m mentioned in it multiple times 😛
    Just kidding, Shailaja. A much needed post for the present times and lots of handy little tips and suggestions that can be taken abroad by both bloggers and brands.
    Thank you for featuring some of my responses and here’s hoping for a better ‘connected’ future for bloggers and brands.
    Sid recently penned this post Odd man out: Confessions of a #SAHDMy Profile

    1. Thanks Jaishree. Yes, it’s time we spoke out for bloggers everywhere, especially to the naysayers and the ones who sneer at those of us who write sponsored posts.

  10. This is an excellent post Shailaja. I remember being so confused when I was asked for my first quote… as to the expectations from brands.. that is so right… Why does the blogger have to run after them for the payment?

  11. Perfectly curated! And I agree with each of the blogger comments above. I have turned down so many sponsored posts because of vouchers. I do not understand why it is so difficult for the brands to pay cash. I have been in marketing and I know how it works. And that tells me why they want to save (or make more) money by issuing vouchers of well-known brands. Works well for the brand as well the one issuing the voucher. And quoting the right price makes all the difference. I have myself under-quoted most of the times. I hope this post reaches the right ears and helps brands as well as fellow bloggers like us.
    Rekha recently penned this post Beyond Spaghetti Tops, Sling bags and DanglesMy Profile

    1. I’ve been asked to write for far less, Rekha and it was tough for me to learn to say No initially. If I really love a cause, I will even do it for free but that’s my prerogative and cannot be imposed. Like you said, I hope more brands are listening and paying attention to what the bloggers are saying.

    1. Hey thank you so much, Jaspal! Do you have any other questions that you’d like answered? Do let me know 🙂

      Thank you so much for stopping by and welcome to my blog!

  12. I’ve not ventured into the sponsored space. I want to, but never knew where to start so I just let it be, never actively tried.
    This post is really useful and may I add: It looks so crisp and professional.

    1. Aww thanks Sreesha! You know me, a bit OCD about the layout and the format of posts 😉 Trust me, if you do take it up, you have plenty of people at BAR who can help you out with tips/suggestions.

  13. I’ve done sponsored posts just once in a while and never did take to them mostly because it is such a grey area. For a long time I have felt money and writing don’t mix too well for me. I’m never sure whether I am under quoting or over quoting – whether I’m doing justice to the brand and/or to the readers or to me and my blog. But your post makes me rethink. I wish more people would do posts like this – serves to demystify the whole idea – making it sound doable. Thanks Shailaja.

    1. I used to be the same way. I wouldn’t like getting ‘paid’ for my writing and then I figured, hey, I write so much for fun anyway, might as well make some money doing it and spreading the word about relevant campaigns.

      I am very very choosy when picking brands to associate with, so you don’t see too many sponsored posts on mine. Ultimately you have to go with your gut and decide if the post is worth writing or not.

      You’re most welcome and I hope you do take up more posts. Knowing you, you’ll do a fab job of it too!

  14. Nicely covered, Shailaja. I think what is also very important is for the brands to know why they want to do a certain campaign. Sometimes their confusion drives the blogger nuts as they are not really clear as to what they’d want. Bloggers also need to know that while they need to be honest while doing reviews it must be constructive criticism. No brand world pay for h astrally worded paid reviews. Be kind to the brand while yet maintaining your integrity. There is a tricky balance on both sides when it comes to Sponsored posts. As I operate on both sides of the spectrum, it is quite interesting to watch.

    1. Very well said, Rachna. I think we need to be kind to the brand too provided they are reasonable in their demands. I’ve only had one bad experience as you know and that was I think resolved after they changed the person handling the campaign. It must certainly be fascinating for you to see it from both sides of the coin!

  15. Thank you Shailaja for writing this post. It is helpful for a new blogger like me who wants to try out sponsored post. I have not been applying for any as of now especially after the bad experience, with blogging site/brand, I had previously. It was my first time and I wasted a lot of time in trying to contact them numerous times through different mediums to know the fate of my draft (revised as per their directions) whether it was accepted or rejected but they never responded. I hope the brands are noticing our voices through your post.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently penned this post Changing Mindsets, Sharing Responsibilities – #PledgeforparityMy Profile

    1. It helps to go through a platform at first, Anamika, say like Blogmint, when you are still building your visibility in the blogging space. Once you’ve been out there long enough, brands tend to approach you directly and you have a little more flexibility in terms of the assignments you can choose.

      Good luck and remember that you can always reach out to any of us mentioned in this post for any assistance 🙂 Good luck!

  16. I don’t know much about sponsored posts. Yet to venture into that. But I do agree that not all brands are to be written for. Life youb said choose your niche and stick with it.As a reader, if I spot someone writing something that so doesn’t suit the blog they have been maintaining, it just lowers the interest on that blog and the expectations from that blog.
    Brands should also be punctual with their payment timings.

    1. Completely agree. So often the brand that approaches you has no idea about your audience demographic and it’s up to you to learn how to say No. Sadly, many bloggers make the mistake of accepting the brief just for the monetary angle. That hurts them more than they know.

      Thanks for visiting, Red! So good to see you here 🙂

  17. You have covered everything here, Shailaja. What annoys me at times is when I’m told instead of payment me writing for them will ensure traffic on my blog. I think they need to understand that they are not doing us a favour. We will write even if they don’t give us work. Moreover, they don’t even have to pay us as much as they would have to pay an advertising agency. So, they need to do the math and not swindle us..

    1. Agree, Naba. I hope brands understand that the traffic generated to their site through our posts is actually far more valuable to them. Quoting a good market price will ensure this, in my opinion. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    1. Thank you Inderpreet 🙂 I also know that many bloggers shy away from sponsored posts because they aren’t sure about the nuances. Hopefully this will help them out. Thanks again for your input 🙂

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