When I tell people that I am a professional blogger, I frequently get one of two facial reactions: the one that indicates confusion (because blogger? What do you mean by “blogger”? *insert condescending voice and real air quotes*), or the one that indicates amazement with a hint of suspicion (because celebrity bloggers have basically tarnished the image of all bloggers by creating an image of someone who is part fabulous and part creepy — or simply put, a basement-bound recluse).
Regardless of their initial reaction, everyone’s first question when they’ve fixed their face and found their voice again is, “So, that’s your job? How exactly do you make money?”
Many assume I run some seedy casino ads on my sidebar and wait for people to click on them to earn cash.
You know, mostly.
Yes, I run ads on my sidebar, but they’re neither of the seedy variety or even a very significant part of my blogging income.
In fact, based on my reader demographic and current site traffic, the monthly ads I run make me enough to buy a really cute pair of shoes. And a coffee. And maybe gas to get to the store. Certainly not enough money to qualify as an actual job.
For many of us in the profit-blogging game, sponsored posts are a more lucrative way to earn a viable income.
For sponsored posts, you’re hired to compose a branded story to run on your site and promote it across your platforms. And, while they’re not my only source of income, and maybe not even my most lucrative, these posts are the most consistent means for earning money.
Which is why I’ve made it my mission to become an expert sponsored post writer.
Not to toot my own horn, but when it comes to sponsored post creation, I’ve found my niche. I excel at creating sponsored stories that resonate with my audience, while also effectively promoting the brand message in an authentic way. #CrushedIt.
Tips for writing sponsored posts
If you’re like me and interested in the sponsored-blog game, you’ll want to check out these tips to help you create more engaging, authentic and effective posts.
1. Choose wisely.
It's easy for me to create authentic content even when the posts are brand sponsored, because I carefully choose to work with clients who are already part of my daily life.
I'm not creating a story around a brand; I'm telling one that already exists.
I get sponsored pitches on a daily basis that I have to turn down because they’re not a lifestyle match.
2. Time them carefully.
My sweet spot for sponsored content is no more than two sponsored posts in a week where I create five posts total. I carefully manage my editorial calendar so that my site doesn’t become a commercial. I don’t want people fast-forwarding through me!
3. Make them image rich.
People love photos, particularly ones of you actually using the product or enjoying the experience you're writing about. But not those hi-res images every brand offers. For the most part, I skip those because my readers like to see me bringing the content to life.
4. Hit the key points.
But do it organically. Highlighting the brand message is integral to ensuring you get hired again, but don’t beat your readers in the face with it. Let them learn while also being entertained. Give them tidbits of real life info they can use as they go out into the world and utilize the product.
5. Maintain your voice.
Voice is a major part of my site. I have a certain cadence — I write like I talk — so when you read my work, it feels like we’re hanging out. Sponsored posts read no differently. The conversational feel is the same — it’s like you’re another mom on the sidelines listening to me tell you about our cleat-shopping experience.
6. Tell the truth.
If the product or experience wasn't all sunshine and roses, don't make it out to be. That doesn’t mean your sponsored post needs to be a thorough review of a product. Personally, I'm terrible at true reviews because I don’t like to waste my time telling my readers about things I hate. Instead, I find things I love and write posts about those experiences; however, in the event that your product gives me explosive diarrhea or some other horrifying outcome, please know I’m going to keep it real.
7. Use a variety of mediums.
I include videos, photos, memes and gifs in my brand posts just like I do in my non-sponsored ones. These elements liven up the text for your readers and allow you to create content that is multidimensional and easier to engage with.
8. Disclose properly and naturally.
You want your readers to know, from the outset, that you have a relationship with the brand, but you don’t want it to seem forced or sell out-ish. Give them something basic (I post a sponsored button in the corner and a disclosure at the bottom). You want to get the point across while letting them know you weren’t bought to say nice things, you were paid for the time you took to write something about the nice things you received.
9. Use humor ... maybe.
It always works, provided you know how to work it. I’ve determined that all people can’t do funny, and if it’s not your thing, don’t force it. Bad humor is really more damaging than boring writing.
10. Know your audience.
Just like you need to be particular when selecting brands to work with, you also have to ensure they’re a fit for your audience. Finding a brand that is both a perfect fit for you and your readers will ensure a return on investment you can all be happy with.