Over the past year, I’ve written about how to set your sponsored post rates and how to write ethical sponsored reviews… but I haven’t covered how to find blog sponsors in the first place. So, today is the day we talk about getting sponsors for your blog!
First and foremost, I will mention that you can take the “if you build it they will come” approach. This does not meant that you can just start blogging and suddenly have sponsors emailing and calling you. You have to have a significant amount of traffic for that you happen. In my experiences, sponsors start reaching out when you have around 1000 pageviews per day and at least 5000 social followers on any given account.
Follow this link to learn more about the blog traffic guide I recommend if you want to start getting more pageviews today: How I Went From 17K to 350K+ Monthly Page Views in 9 Months – I’m an affiliate for this ebook, and also purchased it myself. It is packed with great advice!
If you’re proactive about finding sponsors instead, you can make a nice chunk of change, even if your blog is fairly new. Plus, you’ll be working with sponsors you actually like!
So… let’s play offense and find sponsors for your blog…
How Much Traffic Do You Need for Sponsors to Say “Yes”
When you are sending out emails to find sponsors, you’re going to get “no” a lot. A lot, a lot. Don’t take it personally! Some brands just don’t have a marketing budget to work with bloggers or think you are not a good fit.
The number one reason sponsors will say no, however, is that you traffic isn’t up to par.
So how much traffic do you need to start hearing “yes” instead?
In general, it isn’t about a number. It’s about making sure your blog is a perfect fit for the potential sponsor. If your readership fits like a glove for the sponsor, they will say yes as long as your prices make sense.
Let’s say you write a fashion blog, for example, and you get just 5K pageviews per month. No matter how cheap your sponsorship prices, you probably aren’t going to be an attractive option for a food brand. But what about that online boutique that sells beautiful scarves, just like you wrote about in your last post, which was shared on Pinterest more than all of your other blog posts combined?
It’s all about how you frame your pitch. Talk about what you are bringing to the table. You shouldn’t try to hide your small stats – always be honest – but you should talk about the stats that are most impressive. Put your best foot forward.
For example, maybe you don’t have many pageviews yet, but your bounce rate is super low, which indicates that people really love your content and want to read more. Could you sell a multi-post sponsorship deal, where the posts are all inter-linked?
Or maybe your traffic is building slowly, but your Instagram account has taken off. Could you sell a shoutout on Instagram with a follow-up blog post as an extra bonus?
Or maybe your traffic is on the low side, but 50% of your visitors are local, making it a perfect fit to highlight a local business. Could you knock on some doors and sell some sidebar ad space?
In short, if you have a blog with any traffic at all, you can start selling sponsorships, as long as your pitch highlights what you can offer. Don’t focus on the numbers as much as you focus on the fit of the sponsor.
Influencer Networks for Finding Sponsors
Now that I’ve convinced you that you’re ready for sponsors, let’s start talking about exactly where to find them. Again, you can take the “build it and they will come” approach, but that path does rely on you having more traffic. You can get away with smaller traffic numbers if you play offense! 🙂
The first place to start your search is with blog sponsorship networks, commonly called “influencer networks.”
Here’s how it works: A network does all the work to find blog sponsors. They set a price per blog post that the sponsor will pay, and then have the entire network of bloggers apply to the opportunity. Bloggers who are a good fit are selected from the list of applicants, are mailed review product (if relevant), and write the sponsored post/do the sponsored social promotion.
With this option, the average price per post is around $150 and the average price per social media promo is around $20, but it depends on the network and the sponsor. Some only pay you for pageviews or clicks, rather than a flat fee.
Here are a few influencer networks you can join:
- Clever (formerly Clever Girls) – this is my personal favorite blog sponsor network, because they always have new and interesting campaigns open for applications and expectations for your posts are very clear
- Massive Sway from The SITS Girls
- Blog Meets Brand
- Momentum from BlogHer
- One2One Network
- CreatorExchange from Tidal Labs
This is NOT an exhaustive list. If you Google “Influencer Networks” you’ll find dozens of other options. These are just the networks I currently use or have used in the recent past.
The Pros of Working with Influencer Networks:
The best thing about working with an influencer network is that you can connect with brands who want to sponsor you without doing the legwork to find blog sponsors yourself. Because you’re part of a big network, you’ll also attract bigger sponsors.
See, any brand that is a Fortune 500 company is going to measure their advertising and marketing budgets in tens of thousands. In other words, they don’t get out of bed to spend $100 with an individual blog, even if it is a good deal. They need to spend bigger amounts of money at once for it to be worth their time.
Alone, you can’t attract their attention, but if they can pay a bulk sum to an influencer network to work with hundreds of smaller bloggers, you might make the cut.
Influencer networks also shoulder the burden of getting and distributing payment, usually within 30-60 days after you complete a campaign. You don’t have to worry about a disgruntled client not paying you. As long as you do the work, you’ll get paid.
The Cons of Working with Influencer Networks:
Not all influencer networks are built equally, so everything I’m about to say may or may not apply to each specific network… take it with a grain of salt.
In general, if you have 50K pageviews per month or more, you’ll get paid less per sponsored post/social shoutout when you work with a network. Remember, they have to take their cut, and they also negotiate prices keeping in mind that a lot of the bloggers completing the campaigns will be smaller. Still, you can weigh this against the fact that you don’t have to do the legwork to find sponsors and negotiate prices.
However, once you get into the 100K+ range, it often doesn’t make sense to work with networks at all, unless they have higher-paying campaigns for you or you are willing to take SIGNIFICANT cuts in the amount you’ll be paid. If you are in the “big kahuna” blog traffic club, you should probably bite the bullet and find blog sponsors yourself or hire an agent to do it for you.
The other main disadvantage of working with an influencer network is that you don’t have direct communication with the brand. You just fill out the form on your network dashboard saying that you are interested in working together, and often the form gives you little opportunity for any kind of meaningful comment. You simply submit your links and numbers. When you have the change to speak to sponsors directly, it is easy to convince them to say yes, even if your blog is small.
How to Find Blog Sponsors Through Affiliate Programs
If a brand has an affiliate program, that is a good sign that they understand the benefit of working with bloggers who can send traffic their way.
To find brands, check out large affiliate networks such as Commission Junction and Share-a-Sale (these are the two affiliate networks I use the most).
Then, simply reach out to these brands to ask if they’d be interested in working with you to do a sponsored post or sponsored social media shoutout.
Of course, as an added bonus, if you find blog sponsors this way, you can add affiliate links to your sponsored posts (unless the brand has a problem with this) to boost your sales even more. Fee + residuals = happy blogger!
How to Find Blog Sponsors Through Other Blogs
Another way to find brands who are already interested in working with bloggers is to look at which brands are sponsoring posts on other blogs in your niche.
I follow over 100 bloggers in my niche, and whenever I see one of them write a sponsored post, I make a note of it on a spreadsheet. If I know the blogger really well, I might reach out to them to ask if they feel comfortable connecting me to the sponsor in question. But most of the time, I just contact the brand directly.
Please understand that this does take work, because many brands work with PR agencies. The only contact information they list on their website is a customer service email. So it might take a few days to hear back, and you’ll get shuffled around from person to person until you find the right marketing or PR person to pitch.
How to Find Blog Sponsors Through PR Companies
Speaking of PR companies… get on their lists! Yes, it is annoying to go through even more emails every day, but it is definitely worth it. Once you are on their list, you’ll get pitches coming to you all the time!
Unfortunately… most of these pitches will be “can you write about these products?” with no ability to pay you. Don’t get mad. It is the job of the PR rep to get as much exposure for their client for as little money as possible, so they’re going to ask, ask, ask! But you can use this as a way to get your foot in the door to get free product and sponsorship payments.
As an example, last Christmas, I decided to do a wine and Christmas cookie pairing on my food blog. I thought it would be a cute post. I happened to know a certain PR agency who constantly pitched me to write stories about their winery clients. So, I pitched them. I knew I was going to need to buy wine anyway, so I asked them to send me wine to review, and in exchange, I would include the wine in my list IF I liked it.
Normally, I don’t promote brands for free, but in this case it made sense, because what they were sending me was product that I would have had to buy out of pocket. They sent me around 10 bottles of wine, which retailed anywhere from $10 – $50, so the total ARV was around $250. I wrote the post, they got exposure for their clients, and everyone went home happy.
I have also been able to get PR reps to agree to a per-post fee when the fit has been perfect. Remember, it is not just about your traffic numbers. It is also about how well your audience fits the needs of the client.
Finding Sponsors Through Events
I love attending events! They are perfect for finding sponsors. If you haven’t already, consider heading to some of the bigger tradeshows in your niche. Visit every booth and hand out lots of cards. Then, follow up after the event with anyone who seemed interested in getting promotion on your blog.
You can also find sponsors through events that you don’t even attend. Most tradeshows publish a directory or map of the show floor which gives you the names of every brand attending. It’s better to have the personal connection you get when you speak to someone face-to-face, but if you can’t travel, this is an excellent want to find sponsors interested in promoting their brands.
Again, it’s not a super quick process, because you have to search for contact information, and then spend time getting shuffled from person to person… but it can be done!
Finding Sponsors the Hard Way
Last but not least, you can find sponsors the hard way… simply by searching for brands that are a good fit for your blog and contacting them. It does work. It’s just tedious.
Start with brands you already know and love. For example, if you have a parenting blog, think about the products you already use around your home that relate specifically to your kids. When I am looking for sponsors this way, I ask myself two questions:
- Is the brand small enough to care about working with a single blogger? (see above – large brands need to spend tens of thousands at a time rather than working with individuals)
- Does the brand have an online presence? Local boutiques, etc. aren’t going to be interested unless you have a lot of local traffic.
Regardless of who you contact and how, not every brand you contact will have a budget to work with you. If you want to find blog sponsors, be prepared to put in a lot of work at first!
Of the people I contact, I estimate that only about 20% are even interested in possibly working together period. The other 80% have no marketing budget, don’t want to work with a blogger, or just don’t get back to me. However, once you work successfully with several brands, opportunities will start to come to you. People talk. 🙂
Make sure you have a media kit ready to go so that when sponsors get back to you with a “maybe,” you are armed and ready with the tools you need to convince them to turn that maybe into a yes. This is an excellent post all about media kits from Twelveskip, which gives you links to downloadable templates and examples.
Remember, even though you can get started with sponsored posts as a new or low-traffic blogger, you’ll be able to command higher rates if you get more traffic. My favorite guide to blog traffic is How I Went From 17K to 350K+ Monthly Page Views in 9 Months – I highly recommend checking it out if you want to make more money as a blogger.
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