“Online marketing is a set of activities that help businesses get more value from their relationship with internet users who are interested in their services and products”. (Wikipedia)
Using this definition, let’s learn how to use sponsored posts for online marketing.
Sponsored posts are not always beneficial. Running a successful blog means getting into your readers’ minds – even if you write sponsored posts, or content aimed at search engines, you’ll still need tons of quality content. Write good blogs and don’t overestimate sponsored post benefits – they’re just another valuable source of income for your blog. They can bring hundreds if not thousands of links back to your site and it’s very easy to determine what niches and topics give the best results for sponsored posts. You shouldn’t refuse working with companies that are not bloggers – your blog is a profitable business and any project can be a source of income, so don’t get picky – always try to find new partners.
Don’t focus on money alone! There are people who have blogs but they never write their own content (and I mean 100% original text), they just copy/paste articles from other sites or use content spinning software to produce different versions of the same article and then publish it under 1 byline! That’s why you should think how many links this post may bring you in addition to money as this is a great opportunity to boost your social signals too (remember about quality over quantity for links – no one cares about having thousands of links if they’re low quality).
More money doesn’t mean more profit. “How high a figure do you want for this article?” – some people ask without understanding that this is all about offering your readers the best experience, so think how much money you’ll get and how it can be spent to benefit your audience. No one knows which posts will go viral but if 5000 people read 30000 words article (about 1500-word average post) including comments, social shares and retweets, then you’ve got at least 25000 unique visitors to your site in one day and potentially 10000 longterm followers who are eager to see new content on the topic (just check Google Analytics stats to see what traffic sources bring the most traffic to your blog).
Many sponsored posts are not worth working on. There’s no point in making a $100 post for some small company (if they even pay you), because: A – You can make an equal or better post for a much bigger company B – If that $100 project looks suspicious just search Google with keywords like “company X bad service” and I’m sure you’ll find tons of complaints about them. In that case it’s not worth posting this content under their name because people will trust our opinion more than theirs! Same thing is true if you post content from sites which have unattractive design, old-fashioned website or if they look scammy/untrustworthy. Bad projects are harmful to your blog reputation, so always check the website and its history before starting a project.
Rewards are not just money. Let’s say you have an agency that creates websites – ask them if they need articles on programming languages or other related topics (if it’s a niche website) and make some posts to promote your company as well! Don’t forget to mention about it in the marked-up post when republishing on your site! You could also offer them free content creation for their social networks pages or promotion on Facebook groups etc.
Many companies don’t know what blogging is all about. If you work with agencies which offer online marketing services but don’t understand SEO, show them this article 🙂 Ask them if they’ve of heard about David and Patrick’s post on DesignCrowd which quickly became the most popular piece of content on the site – you’ll be surprised how many great stories like this get lost in agencies’ minds. The main point here is that big companies don’t know much about marketing, they just pay someone else to deal with it so if you can show them better ways to do things, your blog will get more opportunities for cooperation as a result.
Don’t share revenue 50/50! If you’re working with a good sponsor who wants money back from your work (and not just links), then try to negotiate bigger share for yourself since it takes time and effort to create related content. Remember that quality doesn’t cost too much but cheap services are a bad deal in most cases (that doesn’t mean all small companies are scammers, just make sure you check their work before accepting it).
Don’t forget that 40% of Americans spend less than $5 on a coffee. If you want to charge more for your posts, try not to ask something like “I want $1000 for this post” but rather talk about higher value and benefits your website will get by making it. Remember that lower income groups buy different things so if some company is targeting them, then they need to pay accordingly!
If you’re selling tons of stuff online, build your own affiliate program and use sponsored posts as part of the campaign – many big bloggers earn thousands per month via Amazon affiliate program so this could be a great way to boost sales!
Work with companies which need some extra exposure. If you’re making posts about software/hardware reviews, working with brands like Logitech or Corsair could be a great move because they already have millions of visitors but not enough content on their websites (you can use Alexa stats for that). Remember that big blogs are often too busy so it’s hard to get in touch with them and you’d better reach out to others instead .
Do your best to get high quality backlinks. If you write good content and it’s shared by many people on social networks, some of those shares could come from our blog – now try to contact company X asking if they want backlink(s) pointing to their content. They’ll probably say yes because the link will look natural and it can boost their search rankings (try to find places where they mention products you’re talking about). If you want, you can also offer them some extra exposure on your blog as well, just make sure you don’t go too far with that or Google might not like it.
Don’t forget that people often share content they like even if they have no relation to the topic – so if someone asks me for tips about marketing or SEO I’d just post this article since it’s a great way to increase traffic while helping others!
Always think in terms of readers/users when posting sponsored content. What would be most useful piece of information for my audience? Which brands could help them the most? What kind of product could they need (videos, downloads etc.)? How can I make my content look better than normal blogposts brands usually publish on their websites? Will it be long enough to cover everything important in details or should I split it into smaller pieces and spread them across multiple posts (some bloggers do that with software reviews, for example)?
Don’t think that you’ll never get any money from sponsored posts – if you’re not willing to invest even a few hours in your blog then why are you posting there at all? Tons of people try this approach and many of them start getting paid eventually. It’s true that “top blogs” offer higher rates but anyone can negotiate lower price if they try hard enough. And don’t forget that post is supposed to be beneficial for both parties, not only companies!
If you want to work with big brands but they’re too expensive for you, try smaller ones because their rates are often lower (just make sure they have enough traffic and offer something relevant – nobody wants to read about vacuum cleaners just because some cleaning company has a blog ).
Can your audience use this product? If no or it’s very hard to use then your sponsored post could end up being spammy .
Try not to write about something you hate/dislike unless it’s useless and really sucks so much. Remember that blogging is all about passion and interest which is why many bloggers create awesome stuff while working part time or making money from other sources.
Ask yourself if your post is really beneficial for readers. Could you make it better for them? Does anyone need this product and why would they buy it now (what’s the current price)? Is there any information missing that could be helpful for buying decision? If all these questions were answered in negative, create something else instead!
Advertise on social networks – many people use Facebook especially so try to reach most of them here. Share sponsored content with your friends/followers and ask them to do the same – paid exposure could be “boosted” by natural one as well .
Try posting breakdowns of new games, apps or websites because such stuff gets tons of traffic from reddit ;). Just don’t go spamming it all over the place.
Post your own stuff on social networks and do regular checkups. Make sure you’re not missing anything important and users are responding to those posts in positive way (shares, comments etc.). Reply to people who talk about your blog or give advice how to make it better – they might be interested in buying sponsored posts as well!
Check out new blogposts by other bloggers and try commenting there first – brands often check up on activity before posting something so mentioning them could increase your chances of success. People also love reading comments – just be helpful and funny while writing them 😀
Don’t expect that every piece of content will get you paid exposure because many companies don’t have enough traffic themselves for this! Unless you’re writing about some really huge stuff it’s impossible for them to reach other people without your help.
Try contacting smaller brands (websites or blogs) without traffic because they might be interested in free promotion . You can do the same if you think that brand is too big but costs are still too high – ask if they know anyone who would be interested instead.
Check official Facebook pages of those brands and see if they post their own content there by themselves. Are there many likes/shares? If yes then Facebook audience is probably ready and waiting for this kind of info!
Don’t go spamming sponsored posts everywhere – just a few original posts should bring enough attention from readers/viewers, more than that is just annoying .
Contact brand’s customer support (if there is one) or try finding them on social networks – reach out to companies directly and offer your services as a writer! Have you ever written anything for free before? Of course not, but if they’re interested in working with you maybe they’ll give you some exposure anyway. Use your imagination! And don’t forget to check their pages for any disclaimers that might prevent this kind of promotion. Please note that brands are allowed to refuse content created by someone else without permission so keep that in mind as well.