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What bloggers need to know about sponsorship opportunities

money blogging

Once you enter the realm of blogging publicly, it can open a lot of doors and bring a lot of opportunities your way. Some bloggers seek to score advertising, write sponsored posts, and many strive to build up a freelance writing portfolio, using their blog as a stepping stone to a bigger career.

If you’re new to the blogging or social media industry, it can be hard to weed out the legit offers from the shady ones and figure out who to trust and who to disregard. Unfortunately a lot of people seeking writers are willing to pay next to nothing for your skills and time. Or they just want to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the industry.

A few weeks ago a company approached me offering sponsorship by means of placing links within some of my posts. I’d previously gotten a couple of emails with similar offers that I disregarded, but I gave this one a look. Here’s what I learned along the way.

Ask for advice

In the email was an offer to sponsor 4 of my posts, because “We love Genie in a Blog!” Well, color me flattered!

But I still wasn’t sure if this was a legitimate offer. So I dialed up my resident bloggy pro, my friend Corrin from Oh Hey, What’s Up? Corrin has been blogging “since before blogging was cool” and is a wealth of knowledge about the business side of things. I hit her up for answers all the time. No, you cannot. She’s mine.

Ask for more details

Before you commit, ask as many questions as you want about the offer. Corrin gave me a few sample questions:

  • How much were they offering?
  • What would I need to do?
  • Were the links to remain for a set duration of time, or indefinitely?

Get as much information as you can so you can make an educated decision as to whether or not this offer fits in with your brand.

Yes, you can negotiate

The client was an education company who was looking to place four separate links in four of my already written posts. All for one agonizingly low payment of $20.

Corrin encouraged me to counteroffer, I did, and after a couple of emails back and forth, we settled on an amount.

Make sure the offer fits with your style and brand

The client was very specific about the placement of the links. Each proposed post would have one link each, with anchor text that related to the nature of the post.

For example, in my post Progress Reports. In My Head, they wanted to put a blurb similar to the one below, after the first paragraph:

“The fact is that all children need good teachers. People who want to help kids and look into teaching can find info at {link here}.”

Unfortunately, I disagreed with the placement. I didn’t want a link, even with text, interrupting my awesome content. I felt it compromised and cheapened my writing that I had worked so hard on. So I offered to place it at the end of the posts. The client agreed.

Yes, you have to disclose

Once the client agreed that the end of the post was fine…they added “as long as they are not labeled.”

RED FLAG! RED FLAG! RED FLAG!

Basically, the client wanted to pay me to display their links, but pass it off to my readers as my own suggestions.

Bad client! Bad!

If you as a blogger receive payment in the form of cash or free products or services in exchange for writing a post, you MUST disclose this to your readers in compliance with current FTC guidelines. While they’re not laws, it’s good business practice to adhere to the guidelines if you plan on working with brands and businesses. In addition, your readers may feel misled if they find out that a post they connected with was indeed sponsored and you didn’t state that fact. And one thing you definitely don’t want to do is lose your readers’ trust.

 

As a blogger, working with brands and businesses is a great way to expand your reach, make new connections, and even earn a little money in the process. Before you commit to that sponsorship, write that review, or place that ad, make sure that:

  1. you have answers to all of your questions;
  2. you are satisfied with what they are asking of you and what type of compensation, if any, you are receiving;
  3. if you are receiving compensation, you’re following good business practice by adhering to the FTC guidelines.

For more concise info about FTC guidelines, check out the following:

 

 

Big thanks to Corrin from Oh Hey, What’s Up? and Liz from Eli Rose Social Media for their added advice and information.

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Leigh Ann Torres
Writer, artist, wife, cook, maid, bookkeeper, mom to twins plus one...all around genie in a bottle, except you only get one wish, and it has to be reasonable.
34 Comments
  1. This is all great info! Thanks for passing it on!

  2. Good guidelines, Leigh Ann. Shady stuff out there.

  3. I got a VERY similar proposal just last week I told them yes until they asked me not to disclose. Total deal breaker

    • Yup. I wonder if they actually get enough people to say YES to these “sponsorships” and that’s why they keep trying!

  4. I get emails all the time for someone asking to place a link or publish a post on my blog. I typically delete them.

  5. Great advice, Leigh Ann, thanks for sharing!

  6. It’s shady of that company, but even more so? I think bloggers need to say no to shadiness like that if they want to maintain their credibility with their readers. It’s always a sad day when a blogger follows the money trail vs staying true to themselves.

    Go you, you rock star!

    • Very true, Liz, Even in the past year that I started reading more blogs, I’ve seen some go down that road. I don’t want to read one sponsored post/review after another.

  7. Great advice! I always get semi-excited if I get an email from someone that want’s to sponsor my blog, but then I usually don’t end up doing anything about it becuase I am afraid it’s a scammy thing!

    • It’s hard to tell, right? That’s why asking questions is so important! As is knowing someone who’s been there and can give you some guidance.

  8. Great post my friend!
    So much info here that I need right now!
    Thank you! Xo

  9. Good post Leigh Ann. Very shady of the company. They just wanted more more and more. Also great info in this.

  10. You show ‘em you know your stuff, girl. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you learn along the way and hopefully the advertiser does, too. Some of my best partnerships developed from hashing out the details with companies that didn’t know the ropes. (Obviously there’s a limit on how much counsel to give, but sometimes it’s worth it.)

    • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your guidance, Corrin! You’ve definitely taught me a lot, and hopefully you won’t start charging me consulting fees. ;)

  11. Always struggling with the will I/won’t I decision for this.
    Great insight. Thanks :)

    • I’ve struggled with it too, Lady E. Now that I have received some opportunities, I only apply for or say yes to the ones that I feel fit my blog and my current content. I don’t mind doing sponsored posts as long as I get to approach it the way I want, and I don’t mind doing a review if it’s something I feel would be of value to my readers.

  12. Yes. Yes. And yes.

    Love the negotiating part. I’m reluctant to do this for some reason. Nice to have a “Yes! You can!” affirmation.

  13. Great advice. I tend to ignore most of the ridiculous offers I get… Like $10 a year for a link on my sidebar. Riiiiiight.

    I think it’s important to not sell yourself out because the readers WILL notice. I know I’ve unfollowed a couple of blogs for selling out.

    • Great point, Carri. I’ve seen some head down that road too, and while that may be the direction they want to take their blog, it’s not what I’m interested in reading.

  14. This is such a great post. I’m in a constant struggle with who is legit and who’s just wanting to just gain exposure from my tiny little blog at minimal pay. Though I use affiliate programs, I only pimp out those companies that I truly love and use. Readers visit to read content, not to buy stuff. Too much stuff, I believe, makes people unsubscribe.

  15. Thanks for writing a post that talks about sponsored posts in layman’s terms – I actually understood it!

    I’m on the fence about sponsored posts. On the one hand, I would like to build those brand relationships and possibly take my blog to a new level with increased traffic and more paid gigs.

    On the other hand, the entire industry is so confusing and overwhelming and there are a lot of companies out there who, at best, aren’t worth the time and effort and, at worst, completely shady. And I honestly don’t have the time to weed it out the good from the bad. Maybe if I didn’t work full-time it would be different. But I barely have enough time as it is to write for my own blog and visit and others’, much less essentially begin to treat blogging as a business.

    It’s a fine line to walk. Thanks again for making it a little less muddled. :)

    • I hear you, girl, and I don’t even have a full time job. I admit there are some that I let slip through the cracks or never responded to because I didn’t know if they were legit or what the point really was. And I didn’t have time to look into it. Glad you found it helpful!

  16. Awesome tips! I couldn’t agree more – has to fit with your brand. I had someone before who didn’t want me to do a disclosure as well. Huge red flag like you said. And I didn’t end up doing the post because they refused to let me disclose.

  17. I have simply stayed away from it all .. and now I will probably continue to do so .. unless you allow me to put both you and Corrin on a retainer ;)

  18. Awesome insight as usual! Thanks for the reminder to be vigilant on this. So far, I haven’t received any shady offers…but I am always suspicious when I receive an email out of the blue from a company.

  19. Really good stuff here. Thanks for this!

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