Sunday, March 18, 2012

Paid sponsorship thoughts

This is a post written mostly to other bloggers. About my experience with paying to sponsor another blogger. Read at your own risk.

I have some questions for you guys who have paid to sponsor another blog.

What are your expectations of a blogger when you pay them money to promote you on their blog?

Has it been worth it for you?

Have you seen your blog grow from it?

Orrrr do you think it's just a get (a little) rich(er) quick scheme (of sorts) for the blogger you are sponsoring, with little return on your investment?

Next set of questions.

Do(es) the blogger(s) you are sponsoring with money correspond with you, follow your blog, and/or interact with you while you are sponsoring them?

Would you be disappointed if they didn't?

I have experienced sponsorship of both kinds. Of the three blogs I have paid money to sponsor, three of them I have had some swell, dandy, and grand experiences with. Ahem, Krysten and Digger. Oddly enough their rates were way low, but their services were above and beyond. Then there was one other. The one that cost me the most. That one was completely lame and totally not worth it. But that's just my opinion.

Here are my thoughts on the whole sponsorship business. What? You didn't think you'd get more of MY opinion? Pssh. Please.

I think with some of the larger blogs it's a bit contrived. Me thinks most (definitely not ALL) bloggers who accept paid sponsorship are looking at it merely as a way to bring in some side cash. Not because they want to help other bloggers be more successful. It's a bit like this: "Hey. Pay me money and I will tell everyone I like your blog. Even if I don't. But I will do it just this month. Want my love affair with your blog to blossom and continue, all while your blog grows larger? Well then pay up for next month too, sister."

This past month I sponsored a blog and it was pretty much like that. Except my blog didn't grow from it. And no. I am not going to tell you what blog it was. Well OK. Snail mail me a box of Girl Scout Samoas and I will leak it to you. Maybe.

I know I am a total noob to paid sponsorship. I did, however, do my research when I was looking to invest some money in it. I chose a few blogs that I genuinely liked. I then assumed that after learning I was interested in sponsoring them and accepted my money that they too were feeling my blog and writing style. I think I was naive in that thought process. Does that make me silly for thinking that way? Maybe. I dunno. But a good part of me doesn't think so.

So when this particular blogger that I sponsored took my $20 (yeah, it was only $20--NBD in the end really) and then didn't say boo to me until February was almost over I was a bit annoyed. Not like I lost sleep over it, but it made me realize that this paid sponsorship business is so not my bag. Or at least she is not my bag.

And this may alienate me from the blog world (wait, that probably already happened when I admitted to hating Harry Potterhead and TOMS) but I thought I'd offer a bit of unsolicited advice to those bloggers who accept paid sponsorship. Some food for thought from this noob. Who may or may not know what she is talking about. Doubtful it will be read by some big box bloggers (my guess is that they don't read my little ol' blog) but maybe it will strike a nerve with a blogger who eventually will accept paid sponsorship down the road. And maybe my rant won't all be for naught.

1. Don't be fake. I can smell fake a million miles away. Others can too. Genuine is a much nicer fragrance. Wear it.

2. But if you are going to be fake, at least be good at being fake. I have an unofficial BS degree in BS. I learned how to point out a BS'er a long time ago. I am also sometimes full of it myself (but not right now obvi). That's how I know a few (dare I say a lot?) of you BBB's (big box bloggers) are full of BS. So either cut the crapola (ala #1). Or be a really, really good faker of genuine.

3. If you can't pull off #2 then consider this: Don't accept a sponsorship from someone you can't see yourself making a modest amount of time to interact with here or there during the month(s) they are paying you. Regardless of how much they are paying you, consider them your best paying sponsor. Yes. I think its important/awesome when a sponsored blogger goes above and beyond. In the end this is a business transaction, and those who pay you money are your customers. Right? Whether this blogging biz is your side gig or the only way you make money, its important to remember the basics of customer service. Don't be lazy and do the bare minimum. That sucks. Any good business person knows they should want to exceed the expectations of their client. And no. I am not expecting us to ride off into the sunset and be besties forever, and ever, amen. Not at all. But it would be nice to be wined and dined just a teensy bit during the time that I am supplying you with some extra ching ching to spend on quirky Etsy products. Plus if you do this then you don't have to worry about the things mentioned in #2. If you only accept sponsorships from people you can genuinely appreciate and be on the same wavelength with, then you don't need to be fake about it, right? You will want to visit these blogs that sponsor you. You will be excited when they update their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, what-have-you. Hey, you might even show them some comment love (and don't act like you are more evolved than that). I know it will suck having to possibly tell a blogger that you don't think they'd be a good fit for your blog. Gasp! What if the word got out that you didn't dig a certain blogger? Cuz that's basically what will be happening if you deny them. People wouldn't sponsor you. You wouldn't get money. You'd have to go back to writing the way you did before people paid you to do it. Well guess what? I also have a solution for that. Act apologetic and tell the interested sponsor that you juuuuust filled the last spot for sponsors like four minutes before you got their email. Yes. That technically falls under #2. And its lying. But if you are good at it then you will come off genuine and you may not even lose a reader. Win-win. But just don't try it with me. I will see right through you. And cry myself to sleep because you don't think my blog is worthy.

So there you have it. Did I say too much? Did I not say enough? Highly unlikely. I am sorry if I offended anyone with this opinion. But really I am not. Oh well. If you don't like my blog then get your own. But you probably already do have your own blog. So what gives?

On an unrelated note: I just found out I am going to be jobless for approximately six weeks in April and May. I thought about backpacking through Europe for several weeks, but then I remembered I am a broke ace foo. So instead I will probably dig myself a hole and live there, and off the land until I am making money again. I will keep you updated on how that all pans out.

52 comments:

Jes said...

loved reading this.
i haven't done any paid sponsorships and all the buttons on my blog were swapped free.
also, i can't believe you hate harry potter... but i won't be alienating you!
xx jes

Michelle said...

I love you for posting this. I've wondered/thought a lot of the same things. The whole return on investment thing scares me. I'm not sure how I feel about sponsorships. One day I think it's a great idea, the next I hate it. If that makes sense :)

Amira said...

Amen sister, I absolutely agree with you. If you are going to take money from someone to sponsor your blog, then it should be in that person's best interest to help you grow your blog, and at the very minimum correspond with you via email and comments. It's pretty unfortunate when you discover they took your money solely to place your Ad on their page :-(

Miss Jewells said...

Honestly, I'm so glad you posted this. I haven't done any sponsorships but have thought a lot about it. It's hard to know what/if to do without hearing some honest feedback about other people's experiences, so thank you for that!

And I'm sorry to hear you'll be jobless for 6 weeks. Wouldn't it be great if times like those came along with a magical money-growing tree so you could go to Eurpoe for 6 weeks?!? I wish! I want to go to Europe SO BAD! Good luck! Hopefully the 6 weeks will fly by and you'll be back in the swing of things in no time.

Digger said...

I couldn't agree more with ANY of this!! I hope I haven't left you wanting and annoyed! But on my part, I've LOVE getting to know you better!! :) You crack me up on a regular basis and I count you as one of my dearest friends! :)

All The Love!
Digger

Emily Hope said...

Everyone should listen to you! I was considering paying a larger blog for a sponsor spot - but this really makes me step back and think about it. It's unfortunate that not all bloggers have the same etiquette when it comes to paid sponsorship. I am a huge advocate of free button swaps. No strings attached. I am proud of you for posting this.

Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

I've done 2 paid sponsorships to promote my blog, aka bought advertising in the sidebar on two blogs. IHeart Organizing and Making This Home (she no longer does sponsorships though).

Both were fantastic and my traffic grew. Both included a mention in a monthly sponsorship write-up. That helped drive traffic, I'm sure.

I've also done the same only advertising my shop. I've done this with more blogs. Some offered more exposure and more traffic than others, but I thought that all offered at least what they promised in their advertising info.

I don't think that they come with an expectation of their interacting with you, but at the same time if they totally diss you except when it's time to get paid, that is disappointing, for sure.

I think it's totally hit or miss.

Sorry about the temporary unemployment :(

Cassie @ Live.Laugh.L0ve. said...

I love this post and this is exactly why I haven't put my sponsor ad on a "big" blog yet. Because I'm worried with the 50 million sponsors they already have - it's going to get me no where.

I have paid sponsorship on my blog but I try to promote the heck out of my sponsors. Social media, Sponsor spotlights on Saturdays, have them guest post on my blog if they like, having a sponsor page for them. I also follow their blogs - because how else in the world am I going to promote them if I don't "Know" them!

I love promoting my sponsors and I can totally see when some blogs don't, unless it's just - their favorite person in the whole wide blogging world -

Go for you for putting this out there!

Anna said...

I can't answer any of your questions (I'm new myself!) but I'm glad you asked them! I've been wondering a couple myself (as I start sponsoring others) and there are some that hadn't crossed my mind at all! I think the 'customer service' comment is completely accurate. It won't be long before the blog-that-shall-not-be-named won't have return sponsors if they're treated the way you were. (sorry for the harry potter reference, I know how you feel about it...)

Michelle P said...

I definitely agree with what you said! They should at least try to correspond with you.

Amanda said...

(I followed Digger's tweet).

Okay. I agree with you. My worst experience ever was with a "big box blog" whom I paid for 3 months advertising. I had to e-mail her to find out when/if I could finally host a giveaway and a week before my advertising ended she sent me her standard "advertising package information." By then it was too late to do a guest post/giveaway. On the last day of my sponsorship I got 1 FB/twitter shout out. I was not happy.

But other "big box blogs" have been great - and truly helped me. And become true friends. So much so that we pretty much promote each other without even trying to.

So yeah, this is a long comment - but I totally agree with you. If someone is charging $50+ for (any size) sponsorship - they better be ready to put some time into promoting me.

Thanks for this post!

Ashley said...

I had never heard of paid sponsorships before this - definitely an interesting topic...

Natalie said...

Like everyone - thanks for this post. I've only done the free advertising (ie: button swaps, guest posts) and am not really interested in gaining TONS of followers. But I did have someone give me good advice one - it's not about how many people follow your blog, it's about the relationship you have with them. The greatest part about blogging is this little community and if you don't get that from someone you paid to have sponsor you it's not worth it.

Alyx said...

Okay, so here's the deal.

You took the words right out of my freakin' mouth.

From the perspective of someone taking sponsorships as well as putting my ad on other blogs, this is actually one reason I've quit doing sponsorships on my blog. As someone who does swap sponsorships, I'm sick of getting requests to sponsor from people who don't even read or follow my blog. I'm all for promoting your blog, but if I have no idea who you are, don't like your blog, and have 350 more followers than you, chances are that I'm gonna say no.

I think that, no matter which side of the equation you're on, you need to be GENUINE. I don't care if you're paying me or not, I would treat you the same way I'd expect to be treated if I was shelling out the dough for a sponsorship spot. Furthermore, if I'm the one paying - I frickin expect you to treat me the way I'd treat you if you were buying an ad from me. It's as simple as that.

Besides, some of the blogs I've given my money to have not even brought me anywhere near as much traffic as the blogs that I switch with for free.
And that is all... sorry for the novel.

Whitney @ Everything Happens For a Reason said...

I totally agree with you!

I paid money to sponsor a blog awhile back (like a year amd a half ago) but I was left disappointed. There was traffic directed at my blog, but I didn't gain any followers. This blogger didn't follow me and never has. This made me sad and disappointed :( because I love their blog. It made me even more sad, when they mentioned how much they loved their other sponsors, but on my feature...I got one or two sentences with no picture of me. The description was true, but didn't reflect what my blog was about. (I didn't write it) I was so crushed.

It made me think....should sponsors follow the blogs that they sponsor? I just do button swaps, cause it's free and I pretty much read the blogs that have swapped me with me.

I don't think I will pay someone to sponsor my blog again. Like I said, I have before, but it just mad be feel even worse. I don't want someone to pretend they like my blog. Besides, I will see right though it... because they will never interact or comment.

Lindsay @ Trial By Sapphire said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. In fact, I haven't paid a single cent for sponsorship yet. I'm all about the ad swaps. I'm not in blogging to make money, and it seems like more hassle and gamble than it's worth right now. I'll just stick to reading my favorite blogs, posting what I want to post, and enjoying the experience!

Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

I'm dying to know who you're talking about. I also paid 20 smacks to someone who I could tell didn't give a rat about my blog. That's okay though. I hardly gained any new readers from her "big blog". I have much better luck with blogs that are more like mine: sarcastic, real, a little sappy.

I don't have any Samoas to offer you (because I'd just eat them and send you an empty box of crumbs), but if you have time email me!!!! (Is this a horrible request? I'm so curious!)

brixtonmakesthree@yahoo.com

Meg @ Mr.C and Me said...

so so so so so agree with you on this :)

p.s. BNW is hiring ushers/front of house staff part-time if you want to bring in some cash during your little bout of unemployment :)

B said...

I found your blog through my blogging buddy, Alyx.

I really love how honest this post is. Quite personally, I wouldn't really consider doing sponsorship because my blog doesn't necessarily fit into the "normal" types that you see doing the switching. And if I was to consider doing sponsorship, I would only do it with the people I heart and read on a regular basis. I want to be pals with someone. That way, when they do get huge, I'll be really happy.

Blogging is supposed to be fun. To me, when you start talking about money, it instantly turns me off. Very few blogs that do the sponsorship stuff are even worth the time in my opinion. I'd rather build my audience in my own way.

Sorry for the novel, but you really got me thinking.

*followed*

Paula said...

Your post sums up why I don't sponsor anyone, why no one sponsores me, and why I really don't care if anyone reds my blog or not. I write it for me, when I feel like it! Oh, and you know the saying about give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach him to fish, feed him for a lifetime? Honey, I've got THE. BEST. Samoa cookie recipe. You can make them during your off-time, in between packing and stuff...

kailyn marie said...

AMEN. Although, I am trying out my first paid sponsorship {$15 for two months} next month and the month after {which I decided to and paid for like 2 days ago} and I will absolutely update you on the growth of my blog, if it was worth it or not.

xo kay

Mrs. Pancakes said...

It's definitely a business and If people are going to charge to sponsor other people's blogs then they should at least have awesome customer service!!!

Courtney B said...

I don't think this post was offensive at all! I actually really appreciate you posting this! I've never done the paid sponsorship (or swap sponsors for that matter... I need to change my ways!) but I don't see myself paying someone to promote my blog unless I was being paid to promote other blogs. And I just don't see myself having sponsors in the near future. But I've wondered what it's like to pay someone to promote the blog... how nice and genuine are these bloggers that accept our money? Will I regret choosing them? Will I have a different opinion of them after it's all said and done? From what you wrote it totally depends on the blogger! But I think everything you said is so true! If we are paying money we should feel like we are appreciated!

Belle Vierge said...

I didn't even know paid blog sponsoring was possible. Very enlightening. I'm not sure it's something I'll ever do. I like my slow but steady growth of readership.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot said...

Totally had the same experience. 1 blog I sponsored I got SO many followers from, and shes amazing and totally interacts with her sponsors, the other, didnt interact at all and I got like 10 page views from the page, even though it was way more expensive.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot said...

P.s. I totally think I wont sponsor that many more pages. Only if its for a good cause maybe? I have gotten MANY more followers from linkup parties and finding bloggers on my own with my same interests

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot said...

P.s. I totally think I wont sponsor that many more pages. Only if its for a good cause maybe? I have gotten MANY more followers from linkup parties and finding bloggers on my own with my same interests

Lena @ Mom2MemphisAndRuby said...

how was I not a follower before now!?
great post! all of my advertising is free, and I do my best to promote my "sponsors" as much as possible. I get excited to meet new bloggers and I love when friendships form over time. I've only paid for a few spots... never more than $15 and only with blogs I had some sort if friendly relationship
to be honest, I think more traffic has cone my way via kinkiest & blog hops!
very interesting topic! I think you opened the doors to a much needed conversation!

Sarah Fontenot said...

New follower! Love this post. I do swaps and offer some cheap paid spots, but all my ads now are swaps. I've made a whopping $10 on paid spots!! Woohoo!!!! :) I don't mind paying for advertising on blogs that I know will promote me. I won a large spot on a big blog. I had more page views than ever in that particular month, but it dropped off right after the month was up. I couldn't afford the outrageous fees. I recently had this discussion with my husband. I have a cap on what I'm willing to pay for advertising. That automatically excludes me from advertising on the big blogs. I can see prices going up a bit the bigger the blog is, but honestly, when I see people charging way in excess of $50 for a spot, or even over $100 if you want something extra special, I don't understand it. Is this a business or is it a blog? How many of your spots on your blog were actually paid for - or were a bunch free in giveaways? Is the blogging community paying your mortgage or is the money going back into other blogs? The whole paid sponsorship thing is always a big debate in my mind. I'm just happy because I have found a great group of bloggy friends who actually do a great job of promoting mine - most of them for free! :)

Brooke said...

I loved this post! I've just started accepting paid sponsors for a very small fee. I also started a monthly feature that involves a small fee. I take your comments to heart and will make sure to remember this when interacting with them! I truly genuinely appreciate those who support my blog in any which way and want to make sure that they feel that every time they hear from me!

Ashley said...

I have done paid sponsorships and swapped and I honestly had bad experiences with the paid ones. I feel like if you are going to accept money from people and then you don't interact with them whatsoever..... it is annoying and frustrating. I have gotten more page views and followers from doing simple button swaps and all the ladies I have done this with have been super helpful and nice!

Ashley {hudson's happenings} said...

I just love you. And I just love this post. You are so honest and genuine...and so many times while reading this I found myself nodding my head and saying AMEN sister! :)

Analilia said...

I've been wondering the exact same thing. A lot of the blogs I see or have come across have sponsoring and it's paid. It makes me wonder if it's at all worth it.

Emily said...

Holy one billion comments on this post. Here's my two cents:

1.) Make sure you'll get a feature post. I would rather pay slightly more to get a solo feature than a group feature.
2.) Pay attention to how the blog has promoted past sponsors. If they say "check out my lovely sponsors this month" that is the blog equivalent of saying "you can skip this post where I talk about people who give me money."
3.) The blogger should introduce sponsors in a personal way, as a blog they personally like to read...and should avoid the word sponsor (in my opinion.)
4.) I wouldn't expect them to follow my blog indefinitely, but I do expect an email exchange and a genuine effort to get to know me enough to promote my blog effectively.

Sorry you had a bad experience :( I'm new to this and haven't had any paid sponsor posts yet, so I cannot speak about results.

Cheers,
Em

Megan said...

this post is great!! I'm trying to figure out sponsoring right now and this really helped me figure out what I should do and to be more genuine. I really appreciated your tips! thank you for speaking your mind and helping people be better at sponsoring! seriously. this made me think a lot and I really appreciate your honesty as I'm sure everyone else does as well. I don't want to turn into someone who people hate sponsoring so this helped put it into perspective for me!

Mary Kate said...

I was just considering writing a post myself about this. I have paid for a few sponsorships and one of them was good interactions but terrible traffic and then then one was Awful all around but good traffic. Then there was an in between one but because she had too many sponsors, I got lost in the shuffle making my money completely a loss. I do have two small options for paid advertisement on my blog, but I decided to limit it next month so I can really focus on promoting the paid sponsors and getting to know their blogs. I can't focus on too many advertisers all at once. It's not fair to them if they are paying and im not paying-attention! :)

Jessica @ O. Alouette said...

Awesome post. I'm glad someone else has the same thoguhts as me - honestly the whole "sponsoring" thing doesn't really make sense to me. A sponsor seems like something you get when you are working a charity event - not when you are trying to get extra cash in your pocket. I don't want to pay people to read my blog. And if I accept sponsors and also sponsor other blogs am I just cancelling out my money? It's like a popularity contest. If it's just to have more followers then I'd much rather make my blog friends by commenting and participating in link parties. But that's just me. At the end of the day it's MY blog and I don't want to feel like I have to write for other people.
Just out of curiousity, are the sponsors on your blog from swaps?

Brenda Wilkerson said...

I don't know anything about sponsoring or seeking sponsors, so this is good information.

Big box blogger. I like that. :)

twiggy@thedirtlife said...

good, good points. if you were to visit my blog, you'd see nada. no buttons of any sort. i don't think i ever want to accept payment for me to tell other people that i like other people. if i really like another blogger, i will mention them. for free. i won't be able to help myself.

the button swap? not a bad idea. i mean lets face it, the idea is to grow, right?

however, i have done one paid sponsorship. one blog has got my little button sitting on it's side page and it's been a pretty positive experience with me. she does keep in touch, if i comment, but that's about it. but to be fair, she's always kind and my blog has grown from it. so...

it's tough. i think when my time is up, i'm just going to pull it. go sponsor free and just blog. that's why i started the whole thing anyways.

Recently Roached said...

What happened to the LOVE of blogging? Man. I'm so anti-sponsorships/advertising on your blog. Like really? I also refuse any sponsorship requests/advertising gimmicks that I get sometimes.

Point and case, I want people to read and follow my blog because they found me and they genuinely like what they read. I don't want some fake bimbo with a few more followers than me to tell them "go read her stuff cause she's way cute" when in actuality she NEVER reads my posts. Hypocrite to the max.

Good post, L. :)

Krista Lynn said...

Love this post and you, Lauren! You were one of the first people that actually reached out to me in the bloggin world - and love you for that!

I blog...for me. I don't see the point in paid sponsorships unless you literally blogging for your full-time, professional business venture. I was SO disappointed when I paid for a spot on one of my favorite blogs and she didn't follow me, stopped commenting on my blog after I paid and completely ignored any emails I sent of getting to know her a little better/blogging advice.

I love that you brought this topic up, I've been trying to think of how to re-organize my 'swapping'. I want swapping on my blog to be a time where I really get to know other bloggers. I make sure to follow everyone I swap with and visit their blogs at least once a week and leave a comment. But I've found the most rewarding swaps to be with smaller blogs. They are more personable.

Sue said...

I'll admit, I'm doing paid sponsorship for the first time this month and I'm nervous about how it will work out. It might be my first and last time doing it! I'm glad you said it though, hopefully bloggers who take sponsor money will come through for you :)

The Detloff Family said...

I want to stand up and raise my hands over my head and yell "Sing it Sister!". ;)
I have looked into doing pd sponsorships, but really...I don't have money to throw at my blog. For me it is more of a hobby, an outlet for thoughts and a way to stay connected with friends and family. I blog for fun, and if I don't have anything to say I just don't blog. Man if I pd for a certain month and then got nothin' to say I would be kickin' myself for wasting money that could go for more fun things...like maybe hitting MN this summer since it has been 2 years and all.

krsball said...

Burnin' down the blogosphere. Get 'em Lo.

Clare said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with all of this. Not sure how I feel about it all (if I would ever pay someone for sponsorship), so it is great to hear about it - although I'm so sorry that all of your experiences weren't good ones, but I guess that's life.

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