Despite the vilification of mom bloggers building a business in a few business magazines, the Sponsored Post is alive and well in the blogosphere. Rather than rage against the unfair treatment we received by bnet.com, we'??re going to set the record straight about how to execute a fair and honest sponsored post and discuss the value of these posts on your blog. Some may view sponsored posts as selling out. We don't. We think well-executed posts have a place in our community.
What is a sponsored post?
First, let'??s start with what it IS NOT. It is not (or ethically shouldn'??t be) a paid review. A sponsored post is when a blogger imparts a brand'??s message directly to the reader. A sponsored post can't fairly compare and contrast products. The best sponsored posts are written in a blogger'??s normal language and are relevant to the blog'??s community. Here'??s an example. Last year Olay hired Momtrends to write a four-part series mentioning a new beauty product. We talked to the brand and came up with a concept: What is Beauty? We interviewed four of our favorite mom bloggers and asked them about beauty and how the concept of beauty changes after becoming a mom.
I'??m deeply proud of that series and think Olay got a great deal in the process. At the end of each post we featured the product and a few lines of information about the product.
Here are a few more examples of sponsored posts we'??ve written:
In many cases these sponsored posts contained content that is as compelling'??if not more compelling'??than our regular features. But enough about our standards. Let's talk about if these posts are right for you.
Should you write sponsored posts?
Yes. And no. If your site is commercial and a brand approaches you that is a good match, than by all means seek out an opportunity to increase your revenue with sponsored content. Never, and I repeat never sell yourself short. Our policy is that we will not write sponsored posts for free product (I equate that to stealing land from the Native Americans for shiny beads'??outrageous). You deserve cold, hard cash for this advertorial. So here are the top three reasons you should not write sponsored posts:
1. It doesn'??t fit your theme. I couldn'??t pull off a sponsored post about shopping for guns or Twinkies. Know what fits for you and what doesn'??t.
2. The price is too low. A $20 Amazon gift certificate (or worse a '??chance to win'? a $20 Amazon gift certificate) simply isn'??t worth your time and effort.
3. You don'??t like criticism. Blogging for a living requires thick skin.
You know I like to cut to the chase. Here'??s how I see the standards. If your traffic is over 5,000 uniques a month you should qualify for sponsored posts and a good starting rate is $50. Once your traffic is up to 15,000 uniques then you should start pulling in $100 per post. These are only guidelines. Consider each opportunity. Ask yourself: How long will this take? Am I getting cool content out of it? If it doesn'??t feel right, don'??t do it.
How you should write a sponsored post?
Make sure you can write in your usual voice. That means you shouldn'??t just cut and paste--and if the contract stipulates a cut and paste job--skip it. The post should be integrated into your features. Take this great job Jen did on the Theraflu post I commissioned.
She makes this sponsored post her own. And all the comments speak to that point. If you are commissioning sponsored posts be sure to have all your writers sign an independent services contract (I recommend echosign.com) and a W-9. The most important detail? The disclosure! Make sure you tell your readers how the post came into being. I like the clear concise language that www.moneywisemoms.com uses. If in doubt, spell it out about what you received in return for writing the post, i.e. products, cash or gift certificates.
Full Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post. Photo image from Ambro.