So you’ve landed a paid gig, now how do you turn this into a longer relationship with the brand. At the very least, you should try to get the brand to feel that working with you is worth their money.
**There is a printable checklist for everything you should be doing for sponsored posts at the bottom of this email.
These tips can help you impress a sponsor that you already have in addition to attracting new sponsors. In general, these are things that a sponsor wants to see:
Make sure you are presenting the brand/product in a very flattering way in your photos. Don’t take a picture of clothing from sponsors wadded up on your bed. Either model with it on or lay it out nicely on a plain surface to showcase the piece. Companies are more likely to work with you if they see that you have photographic talent and can envision their product looking great in a set of photos on your blog.
Improving your photography skills can make a huge difference in the way your blog looks and how brands view your photos. We use a Canon 70D and a Canon 5D Mark 3, although you can take really great photos with the latest iPhone too. See all of our photo equipment here: http://www.katiedidwhat.com/things-i-use-to-blog/
A bonus here is that if your images of a company’s product are exceptional, they might even share your photo on Instagram and tag your account. I’ve had opportunities that I have accepted at the low end of my rate turn into something really great because the brand tagged me in an Instagram post and resulted in me getting 100+ followers. That’s just some added incentive to take great photos.
It is very important that communication is open on both sides. There is nothing wrong with only accepting sponsored opportunities that pay a certain amount of money. If your standards are at that level, don’t assume the company knows that. You just need to be clear about it up front so nobody’s time is wasted and there are no surprises. Cover how and when payment will take place and exactly what is expected of you. The last thing you want is a sponsor asking for this, that and the other thing after your post has been published.
Before proceeding with a sponsored post, you should try and iron out details such as how many images and links you will include, link destination, social promotion and maybe even word count. It will eliminate awkward emails in the future. Don’t assume that just because Company A worked one way that Company B will work the same way. Cover all necessary details early on. This will help cover your back and will make you sound like you know what the heck you are doing. Companies are more inclined to work with someone who comes off as confident in what they want and what they can offer.
This can be a tricky area. Google does not allow you to put ‘do-follow’ links on sponsored content. If you are found to be doing this, your site could get de-indexed from Google, which could cause catastrophic damage to your blog’s traffic. This means you have to use the ‘no-follow’ property on all paid links and sponsored post links. I choose to address this very early on now if I get a sense that the expectation is a ‘do-follow’ link, because too many sponsors ask for links to be changed from no-follow to do-follow and I am simply not willing to do that.
‘No-follow’ links tell search engines not to count the link toward a page’s rankings. This is used for links that are paid for, or incentivised. Google only wants to reward real, earned links. In that case, we use the ‘do-follow’ property. (Most sites have all links automatically set to ‘do-follow’ unless you make them ‘no-follow’.) A lot of people try to get bloggers to provide ‘do-follow’ links in exchange for payment or products. This can be harmful to both parties. See more from Google about this here.
Additionally, find out where they want the links to point. I have been surprised sometimes by random places that people want me to link and have refused sponsored opportunities because they just didn’t fit with my content. Do the same thing with your blog. Make sure the sponsors you are taking on fit with your blog and your message. I had someone contact me wanting to write a guest post about women’s fashion and link to a gambling website. Ummm. No and no.
If you are putting content on your blog for money or rewards, you must disclose that fact. It is the law as stated by the FTC. See more about the details here. Unfortunately, there are shady companies out there who want you to hide the fact that they are paying you to write about them. DO NOT ALLOW THIS. If a company asks you to not disclose a sponsored post, walk away. Getting $100 for a sponsored post is not worth the potential fine or shutdown from the FTC. Plus, it’s not fair to your readers to withhold disclosure when they assume (unless stated) that they are reading your unbiased opinion. Transparency is key. Your reputation and credibility should NOT have a price tag.
*Sorry for all the caps here, I am just very passionate about disclosing sponsored content!
Let’s face it – if companies are paying you for a sponsored post or ad space, they want to see results from it. Many of you have sponsor pages with your site’s stats right on the page. Others share that information directly with the advertiser/sponsor. Whatever you do, don’t inflate your numbers. You are generally given a dollar amount based on what a sponsor thinks they can get from you and giving them false numbers will only lead to disappointment. The last thing you want is a disappointed sponsor/company. Many companies work with PR agencies who have large lists of clients and you definitely don’t want to end up on any PR “black lists” at all.
Once you’ve secured a relationship with a PR agency or a brand, do everything you can to get them the results that you promised or eluded to. If that requires a few extra social promotions or a link swap with another blogger, then so be it. If you make a habit of making sponsors happy, good things will continue to come your way.
Here’s a printable that you can use when you are doing sponsored posts: