Even if you have only been in the blogging world a short time, I am sure you have heard about sponsored posts. Sponsored posts are a great way to promote brands you love and make some side hustle cash, but they aren’t as simple as you may think. there is a lot of work that goes into these sponsored posts, but if you know the game then you are more likely to land that gig that you have been wanting! You are here because you want to make money blogging right? Well, come on in and take in all of what I have learned along the way.
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What Is A Sponsored Post?
Let’s start out with the basics shall we. A sponsored post is one where you are given a monetary incentive to post about a product. Now, some people will say that sponsored posts also include when you are sent an item for free. I personally do not include this as “sponsored” because typically you are under no obligation to post about those products. With most sponsored posts, you will sign a contract stating your obligations in exchange for payment.
How Do I Get A Sponsored Post?
Again, start at the beginning. In order to start getting sponsored posts, there are a few things you need to do first. Obviously, you need to start your blog. If you haven’t done that yet, I have another post all about it that you can check out. I recommend you be self-hosted on your blog. Free WordPress does not allow for sponsored posts, and most companies want you to have your own domain and site authority. You will also want a decent and engaged following before applying for opportunities. Join some Facebook Blogging groups, grow your social media, and interact with your target audience. You don’t need a huge following though, I promise. I was able to start getting some sponsored posts within two months of starting my blog.
Where To Get Opportunities
Now that everything is all set up it is time to find those opportunities. There are a few ways you can go about this.
Work With Brands Directly
The first way is by reaching out to brands directly. I have had some success with this, but it is not my preferred way to get sponsored posts. It is a bit more tedious and I feel there is a bit more risk involved as to ensuring payment. The brands I have worked with in this manner have been wonderful. Honestly, brands aren’t going to be hunting you down at first, so you will need to find them and pitch to them. We will talk about pitching in a bit, so stay with me. One of the best ways I, and other bloggers, have found opportunities this way is to see what other bloggers are promoting. Is there a sponsored post with a particular product that you keep seeing? Chances are if you reach out to that company, you can probably land one yourself. Just don’t be afraid to hear no, because you will hear it and you will hear it often.
Work With A Network
I personally prefer working with networks. There is a middle man that ensures you will get paid, which I enjoy. I recommend applying to a large number of networks to see which ones you like best. I recently did a post with the top 15 Influencer Networks if you want to check out that list. My favorites though are :
When you sign up for a network, you will be able to see their opportunities for bloggers. You can apply for any that you think is a fit for you and your brand. If you are accepted, you will get further instruction on the post, deadlines, and no-follow links to include in your post. I have had really great luck working with networks, even as a smaller blogger. So don’t let your numbers deter you, a lot of the brands will pick a variety of larger and smaller influencers to participate in their campaigns.
No matter if you are going directly through a brand or with a network, you will need to have a strong pitch. First you will want to do a little bit of research on the brand itself. Check out their website and their social media pages and see what they are all about and what their mission statement is. You will want to use this when you pitch to them. With network opportunities, there will be a description stating what the brand is looking for, so use it. Your pitch is where you sell yourself and your brand. It will need to be short, sweet, and to the point. Tell the brand what you can do for them, and why you are perfect for this opportunity. They will also want to know a bit about your audience. Don’t oversell and not be able to deliver, but you do want to let them know all that you have to offer. You don’t want this to be too long either, like I said short and too the point. Brand managers will be reading hundreds of these a day and don’t have time to read a novel. They want an attention catching pitch that sells your brand.
I Got The Gig! Now What?
Congratulations! You have just landed your first sponsored post, now it is time to get to work. You will receive an email typically regarding the exact specifications that the brand requires. This can include specific links they want included in the post, as well as where to send drafts for approval. Many times, brands will want to read your post and do potential edits before it goes live. This will be done in a word document, and will include all of your pictures and links. I personally like to draft my draft in WordPress, then paste it into word so I know my SEO is on point. Once you get your draft with edits returned to you, don’t change it or edit it in any way. You will post it as is to your site. Make sure you are diligent about your time schedule as well. There will be specific submit draft dates and specific post by dates that need to be adhered to in order to get paid.
Drafting Your Post
I have found that for most sponsored posts, the brands don’t want a “review”. They want you to tell a story and incorporate their product into that narrative. You know your audience better than anyone, so stay true to yourself and your brand, they hired you for a reason.
Now that you have had your draft approved, it is time to go live! Many of the brand will want you to turn off the automatic publicize option, so be sure you do this before hitting publish. You also want to go over and make sure all of your disclosures are in the right places. With sponsored posts, you must disclose your relationship with the brand. This disclosure needs to be evident from the beginning, and come before any links within your post. I typically italicize mine to make it more noticeable and have it right around the first paragraph. Many times you will also need to place a second disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
The reason many brands want you to turn off the automatic publicize, is to ensure proper disclosures in your social media posts. You need to use #ad #sponsored in all of your posts to abide by the FTC guidelines. Facebook has recently updated their branded content policy and added a “branded” tagging button for this reason as well, you can read all about that here. You will also have brand specific hashtags and tags that they will want you to use as well. Some companies even have you submit your social media amplification for approval along with your post draft to ensure it meets their standards.
This will vary depending on if you worked with a brand directly or with a network. There is even variance between networks. I have found I get paid faster when working with a brand directly. When working with a network, there is typically a payment window from 30-90 days after the end of the campaign. So say you did a sponsored post and the campaign ended on April 31st. It can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days for you to actually receive the payment. Also, when working with networks you will have to have a W9 on file for tax purposes. They will NOT withhold taxes, this is up to you. You are an independent contractor, so hold taxes out in a specified account so when you file for the year you won’t find yourself searching for this money that you will owe. It is always better to overestimate, so I personally put about 25% in an account for tax purposes. Keep a spreadsheet of all of your income and expenses as well, this will help you in the long run I promise.
Now Go For It!
So there you have it, all of my tips and tricks to nailing sponsored posts! The best advice I can give you is to go for it! Don’t let the numbers scare you, and the worst thing they can say is no. Be prepared for rejection, but for know that there are campaigns out there just for you! Nothing great ever happens by waiting, you have to take life by the horns, get out there, and do it!
Jessi is a working mom to two living in Central Florida. She has a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies but decided to make her career in social media marketing and content writing. When she isn’t cooking up something new in the kitchen, she is traveling with her family and looking for new adventures!