The main way I make money blogging is through sponsorships, which is also sometimes lumped into the broad category of influencer marketing. Essentially, brands pay me to tell other people about their products and services.
Win-win, because I get to recommend cool new stuff to my audience! Often, I get to try out a product or service before it is even available to the general public, so y’all go on and be jealous 🙂
It took a long time to get to this point.
Like many of you reading this, I spent years struggling as a blogger, just trying to get any sponsor at all to work with me.
I was lucky to get free product in exchange for all the review work I was doing.
Today, I work with a very wide range of sponsors. Some of them still just send me free product, and I work with them because A) I love their brand anyways, B) the product is worth a pretty penny and/or C) my audience has been asking me to review the product in question.
But my biggest sponsors pay $5,000+ to work with me for every campaign. And they come back time and time again because it is worth every single penny. I have one sponsor who has, to date, spent nearly $20,000 on sponsored campaigns.
So how do I do it?
The answer may surprise you… because I do not get millions of pageviews! Yes, traffic matters, but you can work with high-paying sponsors even if your traffic is less than 50K pageviews per month. Here’s exactly how to do it:
Step 1: Figure out what you can provide.
The reason I have sponsors returning to me again and again is that I give them a good ROI, or Return on Investment. They pay me $500 or $1000 or even $5000+ because they see results that are worth that money. Namely, a boost in sales, either directly or indirectly.
So your first step is to figure out what you can best provide to a brand. Any brand. Don’t start with a brand in mind. Think about yourself as a blogger. What do you do well?
For example, when I first started working with brands on my food blog, I was only getting around 5K – 10K pageviews per month. Small potatoes (haha, because it’s a food blog, get it?)
I could not provide pageviews to my sponsors. At least, not enough to get the kind of money I needed to make blogging a full time, sustainable job.
Instead, I thought about what I could provide.
For me, the answer was access to other bloggers. I had grown Facebook group for food bloggers, so while I personally did not have pageviews that excited sponsors, I could be a doorkeeper to connect them with hundreds of other bloggers with combined pagesviews in the millions… weekly. (At this point, daily, our blogging community has exceeded 50 million pageviews per month.)
What do you do well? Can you, like me, provide niche access? Or maybe you can provide stellar product photography that your sponsors can use for their marketing material outside of a sponsored post? Or maybe you are an excellent how-to writer who can provide instructional content for the sponsor’s blog? Or maybe your pageviews are on the lowside, but you have raving fans on Youtube? Or maybe…
You get the idea. What do you do well?
Step 2: Find brands looking for your unique skills.
If you don’t have the traffic, some brands, maybe even most brands, are not going to be interested. However, now that you know what you do well, you have a much easier job of finding brands that are a good fit.
Using myself as an example, knowing that I could provide access to a large food blogger community, I began to reach out to brands specifically looking to run marketing campaigns across several blogs at once, typically to promote a new product offering. I also narrowed my search to look for brands in a specific food category so I could better pitch specifically to their needs.
It would be great if brands came to you. And hey, eventually they will. That’s the dream, at least.
But I’ve been focusing on sponsorships for 4 years now and have been blogging for over a decade, and I still have to go out and find sponsors. Only about 25% of my sponsors reach out to me first. Most of the thousands of pitches I receive are for free product, no budget, or a poor fit.
Do not wait for them to come to you! Go out and find them!
I use BuzzStream to track my sponsor interactions. It is not a perfect tool, because it was built for link building/tracking, but it is the best and most affordable I can find for my needs for sponsor outreach.
Step 3: Perfect your pitch.
Okay, if you completed steps 1 and 2, you know what you can provide and you have a list of brands that need what you can provide… so you have to pitch them in a way that makes them truly understand what you have to offer. Here are my best tips:
- Keep your pitch short. No one likes to read a ten-page email.
- Give them the main benefit (i.e. what you figured out in step 1) in your first 1-2 sentences. Make sure this is extremely clear, especially if you are pitching something other than a normal sponsored post.
- End with a question so they feel obligated to respond. Example: “Would you like more information about…?”
- Do not include an attachment or media kit until they ask for one. Attachments can make your email go to spam/bulk folders, where they will languish and die.
- Provide “proof” that you can do what you say you can do. For example, link to past work with another sponsor. I do not recommend having more than 1 link per email, however, or you could be sent to spam.
- Give some kind of deadline. Example: “I’m planning my schedule now for July, so let me know by end of the week if you are interested in a July sponsorship spot.”
- Say thank you. Always.
And that’s pretty much it!
I do recommend a follow-up after about 7-10 days if you do not hear back from your first email, but I do not recommend following up a third time. At that point, you are just being annoying. Take a hint and give them some breathing room for at least 6-12 months before pitching again.
Now, you do have to set realistic prices. that’s the other important piece of the equation here. No one is going to pay you $5,000 for a sponsored campaign if they aren’t going to see at least $8,000 – $10,000 in benefits.
Let me know in the comments if you’re going to try out this way of approaching sponsorships, and then come back to tell me if it has worked for you.