There's a chicken-and-egg conundrum that seems to happen when you're dipping your toes into the sponsored post pool — you want to work with brands and open up your site to sponsored posts, but there aren't any brands banging down your door to work with you . . . yet.
Great news — there's a way to get your feet wet before you try working with the big boys, and all it takes is a bit of effort, drive, and determination on your end.
Here's what you do:
Work with local businesses that you already know and love in exchange for services.
I preach a lot about charging more for your sponsored posts in order to actually make a living on the work that you're doing (and I totally, 100% stand by that) but for those who have never created a sponsored post before, there are benefits to going pro-bono first.
- You'll gain experience — Not only will you get real life experience in making sponsored post deals (pitching, negotiating, setting and meeting deadlines, reporting back on your results, and more), but you'll also gain the confidence you need to make deals with much larger brands in the future.
- You'll work out the kinks in your process — If there's a hiccup in your process, these early sponsored posts will find them. And honestly, it's better to work them out now, so that when a brand is shelling out $500 for a sponsored post, your process will be SEAMLESS.
- You'll get some great testimonials and social proof — One of the reasons that brands price so low to start is because there's no proof that you CAN produce a sponsored post worth investing real dollars in. After you've got some work under your belt, you can create case studies of your past work (who your client was, what their goals were, how you helped them achieve those goals, and results from your sponsored post), and set minds at ease. Plus, you'll be seen as a real professional that they'd be more than happy to work with.
- You already know and love the business so it'll be easy to create content and get from A to Z — Whether it's your favorite hair or nail salon, a wine shop, restaurant, or dog sitting service, when you love something you want to tell everyone about it, so coming up with some ideas on sponsored posts should be a breeze.
Bottom line? You've got to crawl before you can run. And if you're looking at your blog as a business, you'll see these first few exchanges as an opportunity to gain the skills required to work with much larger brands in a professional way in the future.
However, you might be wondering why any of your worldwide readers would care about a local business post on your blog.
I'm glad you asked!
The sponsored post does not have to focus on the business itself. In fact, it shouldn't. You want to create a post that anyone, from anywhere, could read and share. And, by the way, this is exactly how you should look at all sponsored posts from here on out.
Let's say you've got a beauty blog and your favorite hair salon has agreed to do a sponsored post in exchange for your next cut and color. You could position your stylist as an expert, interview him or her, and create a post about:
- Color maintenance tips you didn't know about
- How to find the right color for your skin tone
- An "encyclopedia" post of the different types of cuts (bob, lob, a-line, etc.)
- Questions your readers have about hair cuts, color, styling, or hair care.
- A tutorial of a cool style. Just grab your camera and someone who knows how to hold a camera.
Your sponsored post should be totally relevant to your audience, but showing the salon and stylist some love via links back to their site (using no follow!), credits, and appropriate messaging they'd like to convey.
This is the key to amazing sponsored content that gets shared: making it super relevant to everyone, and integrating your brand partner into the post in an authentic way.
Have more questions about sponsored posts? Drop them in the comments below or on Twitter. You can also join the Launch Ladies Facebook Group and talk blog business with other like-minded bloggers. Want to know more about how to make money from your blog? Download this FREE REPORT, 7 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into a Moneymaking Machine, by clicking the button below!