When we published our first post just under a year ago we had very little idea of how we were going to make money blogging, other than the idea if others were doing it, so could we. We quickly discovered affiliate links and advertising, but the notion of sponsored posts took a while to sink in. Even when we kind of figured it out, we assumed that such posts were for when we earned our big-girl panties (e.g. 10,000 pageviews).
Oh those elusive 10,000 pageviews. We have yet to get there. To be honest, our monthly views range from 4K-6K these days although they are trending upwards. We’re actually quite proud of these numbers. It wasn’t that long ago that that we’d be excited to get 30 pageviews a day (including our mom and aunts)!
Yet, even with these numbers we were able to work with several brands in our first year of blogging. It’s important to note that although ideally cash in hand is the payment for a sponsored post, there are other ways to be compensated when working with brands including exposure for your own brand as well as free products or services (which can be like cash in hand if you were going to buy them anyways). Here are three ways in which we were able to make (a little bit of) money through sponsorships in our first year of blogging.
1. Special opportunities through brand networks
Several months ago we applied to the Collective Bias advertising network and associated Social Fabric Community. If you haven’t explored it as a blogger, you should take a look. Although there weren’t many opportunities to apply for sponsored campaigns as Canadian bloggers, we’ve learned so much about blogging through their educational and mentoring programs.
In addition, we applied for, and were selected to submit a paid post ($65 USD) through SoFabFood.com . Thus, although technically this wasn’t a sponsored post the opportunity was afforded to us by our involvement with the network. That’s one of the fascinating things about blogging: you never know where opportunities will arise.
What we learned:
- you can’t win if you don’t play. If we hadn’t been a part of the Social Fabric community, we wouldn’t have known about the opportunity and wouldn’t have applied for it.
- sometimes it’s OK to apply for opportunities that you know you won’t get: it helps to get your name and blog out there which may lead to other opportunities.
2. Brands finding us
Every now and then we’ll receive an email asking us permission to republish some of our photos or to share resources with our audience (typically for free). However, when the first email came offering an opportunity for a sponsored post, we did the happy dance! Big leagues, here we’ve come!
And then it sunk in… Now what?
At that point we turned to an e-book that came highly recommended to us by some of our other blogger friends, “Bloggers and Brands”* by Shannon Acheson of AKA Design. Shannon’s perspective is utterly valuable for beginning and established bloggers: it’s not all about the pageviews, but about the relationships you can develop with brands.
With this perspective in mind and all of the information in the e-book we were able to confidently draft a response email for this opportunity which we now use as a template when others contact us, or when we reach out to brands. Using the tips in the book we were able to secure not only $100USD for the post (which feels like $5000 CAD these days!), but also a $50 giftcard to giveaway to our readers. At the sponsor’s suggestion, this giveaway was run across several blogs which helped to increase it’s reach.
What we learned:
- ask for more than you’re comfortable with; the worse they can say is no.
- there’s a lot of negotiation in working with brands and even if your pageviews are low, you likely have other assets such as your social media accounts to leverage in these discussions.
- if you don’t feel you have a large enough audience to approach brands on your own, partner with other bloggers in your niche. Maybe your collective numbers and audiences will have that extra appeal for the brand.
3. Us reaching out to brands
While there may be other opportunities for sponsorships we are trying to be really selective in who we partner with to ensure that we share philosophies and goals and that we are providing extra value and resources to our readers. We decided that we wanted to expand our yarn-arts category of the blog, but focus on using sustainable and natural fibers in the process. Upon doing some research we discovered an Ontario-based farm, Topsy Farms, who produce and sell 100% pure wool yarn obtained through ethical and sustainable farming practices. Now this sounded like our kind of yarn!
We sent an introductory email, using the same template mentioned above and got a response back! After some additional telephone calls and emails we settled on a partnership in which we will receive over one hundred dollars worth of materials to try and share with our readers in a series future blog posts including one on the benefits of pure wool which we’ve recently posted. It has been really great building this relationship and we are optimistic that the brand will see the value and attention they are able to receive from us “small-time” bloggers, and want to continue the partnership even longer.
It’s important to note that we have reached out to some other brands without the same success. I has to be the right fit for you and the brand, but you won’t know unless you try. And again, as Shannon would say, the worst they can say is no.
What we learned:
- we may have more success as a newer blog in partnering with smaller brands rather than larger ones who already have many relationships with more established bloggers.
- sometimes you just have to go for it even if the chances of success are low!
Moving forward this coming year we are excited for the opportunity to work with new partners. We’ve recently revamped our “About Us” page with help from a great post by Melyssa at The Nectar Collective. Check it out and let us know what you think. In addition, we’ve finally prepared a Media Kit with the helpful information in post by Shannon at AKADesign.ca. Now we feel more confident for the next time we reach out to a brand, or one contacts us (any day now….).
Do you have any helpful tips for working with brands during the early stages of blogging?