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Before I started blogging, I had a very limited understanding of how bloggers actually made money. Sure, I knew that many bloggers had ads on their sites. And I knew that you could make some money selling things. But were these the only options?
When I started taking my blogging course, I learned about something called sponsored posts. Sponsored posts are when companies pay you to write something (and promote that something) about one of their products. Not only can you get free stuff, but you get a paycheck as well!
Of course, knowing about sponsored posts and actually getting sponsored post opportunities are two very different things. To help other bloggers navigate their way to that first paycheck, here is a quick look at how to get started with sponsored posts.
Become an Influencer
So why would a company pay you, a blogger, to promote their product? Well, companies are smart. They know that a recommendation from a trusted source goes a long way in swaying people to buy something. So they can get a much bigger return from their marketing investment by having a blogger promote their product to her following versus spending that same budget on typical advertising.
The key word here is “following”. Brands are looking for “influencers” – aka bloggers with solid social media presences. The more followers you have on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the more brands will want to hire you for a sponsored post. So it’s important to spend some time building your social media following before diving into the world of sponsored posts.
Sign up with Networks
Does this mean you need to have 50,000 Instagram followers before you can become eligible for sponsored post opportunities? Not necessarily. While some of the bigger brands will want mega-influencers (and will pay a pretty penny to hire them) other companies work with bloggers of all sizes. To find those companies, you need to sign up with sponsored post networks that have a lower barrier to entry.
A sponsored post network is a company that matches up brands and bloggers. Brands come to the network with their needs and the network searches for bloggers who fit the requirements of the campaign. As a blogger, it is free to sign up with these networks as an “influencer.” You just have to make sure that you meet the minimum requirements to join.
Requirements usually revolve around social media followers and/or pageviews. For the more prestigious networks, it’s not uncommon to need a minimum of 10,000 followers on one social media network (such as Twitter or Instagram) before you can join. However, networks such as Linqia, IZEA, and Cooperatize are specifically looking for bloggers who are just starting out. Linqia requires only 2500 TOTAL social media followers (across all platforms) and you can start with Cooperatize (which is a travel specific network) after reaching just 1000 Twitter followers and 1000 monthly pageviews. These networks are a great place to start and get some experience writing sponsored posts (and getting your first paychecks!). As your accounts grow, you can sign up for more and more networks, leading to more and more opportunities.
Know How to Get Opportunities
Once you are signed up for a few networks, the trick is to know how each of them assign sponsored post opportunities. Because each of them do it a little differently.
The two most common ways are through emails or a dashboard. In the emails version, the network will email you whenever an opportunity arises that matches your profile (which means it’s super important to keep your profile up to date). All you have to do is follow their directions to apply for the opportunity. These are great because all you have to do is check your inbox.
In the case of a dashboard, the network will show opportunities to you when you are signed into their website. Each opportunity, and the requirements, will be listed on your dashboard as well as how to apply and the deadline. In these cases, it is up to you to check your dashboard regularly to make sure you see all potential opportunities.
As you can see, it is usually not a case of you being automatically offered a sponsored post (at least not at the lower levels). Most of the time you will need to apply for the opportunity. This can be as simple as clicking an “apply not” button or it can involve answering a few questions. When you are first starting out, you will apply for a lot of opportunities without getting them. But as you continue to apply – and to grow your social media networks – you will eventually get a yes.
Fulfill Every Part of Every Assignment
Once you are accepted for an assignment, take a moment to celebrate! This is a huge step forward in making your blog monetization dreams come true. Once you’ve done a little dance, it’s time to read through the project details. And then read them again. You want to make sure that you fully understand every single part of the assignment.
Does it require a blog post? Is there specific information (known as messaging) that must be included? What are the dates that you need to post it? Are you required to share on your social networks? When? How often? Do you need to tag anyone or use specific hashtags? Even if you’re confident you fully understand the assignment, always check the instructions one final time before you post anything. You want to make sure that you don’t miss any step of the instructions.
Rinse and Repeat
Once you get your first sponsored post in the bag, it’s time to get some more! Continue to increase your social media presence, find new networks, and apply for more opportunities. Before you know it, you will have a consistent income stream on your blog created from talking about products and brands that you truly enjoy.
Do you have any questions about sponsored posts? Maybe a tip to share? Leave them in the comments below!