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. I’ve broken 10 tips into two groups: 4 tips for bloggers and 6 tips for brands. Hope you find these useful.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, dear bloggers, are you more comfortable with the idea of sponsored posts now?
And brands, do these ideas help you? We hope so.