Do you want to know the basics of selling your own sponsored posts? I'm sharing a lot of information about how I sell my own sponsored blog posts so I don't have to rely on blog networks.
Last week, I shared my tips for securing sponsored posts through blog networks. This week, I want to talk to you about selling your own sponsored blog posts directly.
While working through a blog network is the easiest route, you can usually ask for a higher fee when you sell your own sponsored posts since you’re cutting out the middleman.
Of course, that means you’re spending more time on administrative work. So, you have to find your balance between spending time on administrative work and creating content.
If you decide you want to sell your own sponsored blog posts instead of or in addition to working through blog networks, I’ll share some tips that I have learned over the years.
How to Price Sponsored Blog Posts
When I first started selling my own sponsored blog posts (this was way back before I even knew about blog networks), I was overjoyed to get paid $25 for a post. I think I only had a few thousand monthly pageviews at that time. If that’s where you are, that’s okay.
I know a lot of experienced bloggers give newer bloggers a difficult time about underpricing sponsored posts. The thing is, you have to start somewhere.
If you’re new and your community is small, you have to price your posts accordingly. Once you build up your portfolio of sponsored content, it will be easier to increase your prices in the future.
I started blogging back in 2009, which was before there were a lot of resources available teaching how to be successful in blogging. It was the wild west and we were all just discovering what this blogging thing was all about. So, I just found my way along day by day and year by year.
I started out quoting $25 for a sponsored post and just kept increasing my prices until I found my happy spot.
Every time my stats improve, I increase my prices again. That happens about every six months.
At this point in time, I’m okay with fewer brands being able to afford a sponsored post on Happy Mothering. As much as I love working with brands I adore, I do have to consider the value of my time.
My blog is a business for me, not a hobby, so if the work I’m doing isn’t adding value for me and my readers, then I have to pass on it.
Another thing to consider is that, for the most part, sponsored content gets a much smaller reach on all social media platforms.
From my experience, I get far less traffic to sponsored posts from Google search when I compare them to my non-sponsored content.
Algorithms are smarter now, and they can tell when the content you produce is sponsored, no matter how great you are at putting out organic, evergreen content and weaving disclosures in naturally.
This means you need to be prepared to spend some money to promote sponsored blog posts if you want them to have the same reach as your other posts.
Here are some other factors you'll want to take into consideration when pricing sponsored posts.
Turn Off Those Display Ads!
When you publish a sponsored post, many brands will require that you turn off in-post and in-image ads. So, not only do sponsored blog posts typically get less traffic to them (which means you need to pay to promote them), you also lessen your ability to earn passive income from them (at least for a specified time period).
I’m not saying this is true for every blog, and every blogger, but this has been my personal experience with Happy Mothering.
Time is a Factor
Another factor to consider is your time. I typically spend twice as much time writing a sponsored post as I do an unsponsored post.
Because most sponsored campaigns have a very detailed list of requirements that you have to be very cautious to follow precisely.
So, I spend a lot more time making sure the key messages are woven into my story as naturally as possible in an honest, truthful way.
That takes more time than a post that flowed naturally from my heart without any prompting.
I price sponsored blog posts with that in mind as well.
Consider Your Niche
If you have a high traffic, highly niched site, then you may be able to charge a premium price to a brand that is a prime fit with your audience. Especially if it’s a high value item.
Cost of Living
Factor in your cost of living. Someone living in NYC will likely need to charge a higher fee than someone living in the rural areas of the mid-west for sponsored blog posts to make good business sense.
Validating Your Fees
Social Bluebook is one free resource that will give you a good estimate on where to start with your pricing. At first glance, their prices did seem a bit low compared to what I charge.
However, when you understand that Social Bluebook's suggested rates do not include production costs, representation fees or creator strategy fees, then their rate suggestions align pretty close to what I am able to charge.
Definitely sign up for Social Bluebook and see how they estimate the rates you should charge.
My best advice to you after you consider all of these factors is to sit down and figure out what the value of your time, expertise and audience is to you.
Once you have that number, offer that price the next time you are asked about a sponsored post you are interested in pursuing.
They may say yes or no right away, or they may come back to you with a lower rate (wouldn’t it be cool if someone came back with a higher rate?).
If they said yes right away, then you can try asking for a higher rate the next time.
Don’t start lowering your initial asking price until you’ve gotten a few no’s or negotiations in a row. Keep adjusting up and down until you feel like you’ve found your sweet spot. Every blog is different!
One of the questions I get asked most frequently by bloggers newer to sponsored content is, “How do I pitch brands?”
For a long time, I didn’t pitch brands. I relied upon the sponsored blog posts I received from blog networks and from the many inquiries I get to my inbox every day.
When I first started pitching brands, it was to ask for prizes to give away in big group giveaways that I used to organize for the Green Moms Network.
They were very successful events, and brands were happy to be asked to be included.
As I’ve progressed in my experience and through lots of trial and error, I have found the best way to approach brands is also the simplest approach.
I suggest simply sending an email to the marketing contact at the brand introducing yourself and your blog.
Tell them who you are, who your audience is and what you may be able to offer them.
- Don’t throw out prices.
- Don’t send your media kit unsolicited.
Simply see if a relationship might be beneficial to both parties.
A pitch letter I send might be as simple as:
Hi CONTACT NAME,
My name is Chrystal Johnson, and I’m the influencer behind the popular lifestyle blog Happy Mothering – https://www.happy-mothering.com.
I’m reaching out to you today because I just love your brand. It has made my life with my toddler so much easier! Seriously, it has saved me so many times. (you can elaborate a bit, but not too much)
I would love to connect with you about how we might be able to work together to share my story about your brand with my readers. We have an engaged audience with over 250,000 pageviews per month and more than 90,000 social media followers.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in discussing, please let me know and I can send over some more concrete ideas.
Thanks so much!
I like to keep that first email simple without any sort of presumptions or demands. Building relationships in this industry is key, so keep an eye on that.
If they respond that they aren’t working with bloggers at this time or that they don’t have a budget, I usually respond with something simple like this:
Thanks so much for getting back to me. I totally understand. Please keep my information on file in case anything changes in the future. I’d love to work together!
If they respond they’d like to learn more, I usually come up with a couple of options for them to look at.
One may be social media promotion only, one may be a single sponsored post with social media promotion and the third may be a multi-post campaign with social media sharing. Then I’d share the add-on price to have a video created for each level.
Even if you don’t outline what they want perfectly, it will give them a framework to look at and respond to. They may ask, “How much for 3 blog posts instead of 6?” or “How much to do 5 extra social shares on option 2?”
The point is to give a starting point for discussion. It’s a lot easier when they have something to react to.
I might send a short proposal that looks like this:
Hi CONTACT NAME,
Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! I love that you want to learn more. I’m attaching my media kit so that you can understand more about our readers and how we work.
Here are a few ideas on how we could work together:
Option 1: Social Media Promotion
Our rate for one image posted on Instagram, and cross shared to Facebook and Twitter, is $XXX. If you’d like to upgrade to an Instagram video, our rate is $XXXX. Product must be provided.
Option 2: Sponsored Blog Post with Social Media Promotion
Our rate for one sponsored post on Happy Mothering, including one social share each on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ is $XXXX. The post will contain high-quality, original images. To add a video to this option, our rate is $XXXX.
Option 3: 6-Month Brand Ambassador Program
We’d love to work with your brand long term! Over a 6-month period, we’ll write a total of 6 blog posts for your brand. Each of these blog posts will be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. We will also do two Facebook Live videos, two Instagram videos and twelve Instagram stories. The rate for the full 6-month program is $XX,XXX. We would remain exclusive during this period and would not publish any sponsored content for brands in your niche during this time.
We can customize any of these options to meet your needs. Let me know what questions you have after looking through them.
I recommend including the options in a PDF attached to the email, or you could put it directly in the email if it’s brief.
Be sure to include ideas on the topics for the sponsored blog posts so they can picture how you might position their product to your readers. If you’re pitching a 6-post series, then be sure to include AT LEAST 6 post ideas.
If your readers respond to giveaways, include a giveaway as one of the post topics or as an option to add on to one of the posts.
I found a really cool tip on ProBlogger a while back about using Google Analytics to support your pitches.
If you’re pitching a food company to create a recipe, find a few similar recipes on your website and check their traffic in Google Analytics.
Find the most visited and shared posts that are related to that brand and use them as a case study.
You can say something like:
My readers love recipes created with almonds! Here is one of their favorite almond-related recipe posts. It has received 20,000 pageviews over the last year and has been shared 2,000 times on social media.
I think they’d really love a new almond recipe featuring your brand. Here are a couple of ideas for recipes I could create. Does one stand out to you?
Provide ideas here:
That way they can see how your readers might interact with their product. It’s not a promise of similar results – never make that promise.
The blogging and social media industry can be quite difficult to predict results. Some posts you expect to go viral tank, and ones you expect to do just so-so go viral. But sharing a successful post for a similar product can give them context for how their product will be positioned.
I often get asked how to discount multi-post agreements. If I charge someone $1000 for a single sponsored post and they want 6 posts, I might provide a 15% discount across the board.
So, instead of paying $6000 for 6 posts, they’d pay $5100. If you add anything to the posts, like videos or extra social shares, then factor that into your final price as well.
The more they want to work together over a longer period of time, the better discount I’m willing to discuss with the brand.
I hope that this gave you everything you need to start selling your own sponsored posts! Be sure you've joined all of the blog networks that offer sponsored post opportunities too!