What The Bloggers You Sponsor Won’t Tell You

What the Bloggers You Sponsor Won't Tell You

I’ve sponsored a whole bunch of bloggers and have been accepting sponsorships for about a year. I’ve had good and bad sponsorship experiences. Mostly good. I’ve worked with bloggers who have helped my blog grow tremendously and those who helped me become a better blogger (and person).

Every once and a while, I wish there were things I could say to people who are considering sponsorship or perhaps have already jumped in. These are not all situations that have happened with me and my sponsors and some are just things I’ve heard about via other bloggers or the occasional twitter rant. But it would be nice if we put it all out there, so here goes:

1. If you don’t do your job, I can’t do mine.

Do not sponsor someone unless you are planning on blogging. I know, it sounds like common sense. If there’s no content, there is nothing for me to share with others and there isn’t much reason for someone to stick around if they do click your ad.

Here’s the thing: most bloggers are nice! If something comes up and suddenly you can’t blog for some reason (life happens!), email the blogger you’ve sponsored. Chances are, they’ll work with you on dates. I would much rather you ask me to postpone your sponsorship than you waste your money advertising when you won’t be adding content.

2. Your blog will not grow from sponsorships alone.

This goes hand in hand with #1. You can buy advertisements on all the biggest blogs and host giveaways galore but if you aren’t posting good content regularly, it probably will just translate to a lot of followers and not a lot of readers. I don’t really know what that does for you except maybe boost your ego a bit.

3. Not all posts are sharable.

Sometimes I cannot think of a singe damn thing to tweet about a sponsors post. So I don’t. And I’m maintaining my credibility by doing so. Some posts can’t be tweeted or pinned or Facebook shared. And that’s okay! Those are every bit as valuable but might not be sharable.

4. Sponsor Guilt is a real thing.

Often times when you buy an ad spot with a blogger, your ad may not start for several weeks or months. The truth is, blogging inspiration ebbs and flows. I’ve had a week or two when I just wasn’t having a good stream of ideas. That’s when I worry others can tell and that I’m not giving my sponsors their moneys worth. In those times, the guilt creeps in. A little good healthy guilt is the reminder of how much I care and don’t want to disappoint you. Can I get an Amen from the other Catholics out there?

One thing I have had happen to me that totally sucks is when bloggers essentially stop blogging during sponsorships. If you are accepting sponsors and stop blogging, you should feel guilty. Give people their money back, yo.

5. We might not be the perfect fit.

Are you a foodie blogger? A mommy blogger? Or a DIY blogger? I am not. Yay for variety! Though I read all kind of blogs, not everyone does. That means that if you buy an ad on my blog, I can’t say for sure that my readers will be in to what you’re in to. I’ve never advertised on a foodie blog but chances are, those readers won’t be as into me as another lifestyle bloggers readers might be.

I’m not saying stick to your own kind but recognize the risk. I won’t turn you down because a. I don’t want to be labeled the bitch of blog world, b. If you  have a quality blog of a different subject matter, it’s your decision to take the risk to sponsor blogs on a variety of topics, and c. the money doesn’t suck. That’s the honest truth.

6. Don’t start buying ads until you and your blog are ready.

It always stuns me when people start a blog and jump in head first buying sponsorships. How did they even know to do that? It took me months before I knew what a sponsorship was and why I could or should be doing it.

Though there is nothing wrong with jumping in head first, I think it’s a better use of your money to wait until you have a few months of content to start advertising. Trade ads with people, make friends, tweet other bloggers content and pin their pictures. They’ll love you for it. Once you’ve got enough history that people can back-stalk you when they click your ad (did I just make up that word? that’s when you stalk a blogger all the way back to their early days), it’s probably a good time to go ahead with ads.

7. Giveaways might sound good but probably aren’t.

If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll notice that I do very few giveaways. I don’t offer a giveaway with my sponsorship options and have not organized a big giveaway myself. If another blogger asks me to participate, I might (if I actually like what is being given away).

A lot of bloggers offer giveaways to their sponsors. Then what sometimes happens is they get a free entry (or two, or five) for being the hosting blog, even though they often didn’t include their own money/prizes in the giveaway. That means that your giveaway on their blog is really benefitting them.

I once sponsored a blogger and contributed to the group giveaway only to find that no one could enter the group giveaway until they liked her blog on Facebook. Though I wasn’t super pissed, it did just feel a little off. Giveaways don’t always make me feel good and as I said above, don’t always translate to readers. And I’d rather you be here because you want to, not because I’m always offering you free stuff. Mmkay?

So tell me, as a blog sponsor or the sponsoree, what bothers you or what do you wish that other people knew? Nearly two years into blogging, I still have a lot to learn so I’d love to hear what you think!

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  • What a great post! I’m guilty of the first one and now I hang my head in shame. How horrible is that for everyone involved when there is nothing new on your blog to promote or hold new visitors? Definitely working on that! And I am definitely sharing this post!

    • Nadine

      It just makes me feel terrible that sponsors are wasting their money. Sometimes it’s hard because you can buy a sponsorship that doesn’t start for several months so even though you might be in a blogging groove now, you might be in a rut when the sponsorship starts. That’s why I think it’s good to communicate with the person you are sponsoring to see if they could postpone it til you find your mojo. You know?

  • Hey pretty lady. Thank so much for these awesome tips and insights. I don’t sponsor but it’s still great information to know for the future! 🙂
    XO,
    Ginny

    • Nadine

      I hope it helps! It’s just something to keep in mind as you consider who to sponsor and what your part in sponsorships should be.

  • This is so great! You are one of the few bloggers I follow who I never miss a post from. No matter what the topic, your posts are always interesting, insightful and enjoyable to read. Thanks for keeping your focus on good content! 🙂

    • Nadine

      That means the world to me! I honestly try not to post when I’m feeling uninspired because I don’t want readers to waste their time and I try to avoid blogging just to blog. Thank you so much for sticking with me!

  • Thanks for sharing this post! I just recently jumped into the sponsoring boat (both by sponsoring other blogs and by being a sponsor.) Thanks for sharing your insights on sponsoring!

    • Nadine

      No problem! Hope it helps.

  • I absolutely love all of this. Our site just recently started taking sponsors — probably a bit earlier than we should have — but I feel like many of these apply to us. We’ve have sponsors who didn’t post content and it made our jobs especially hard. We’ve also sponsored blogs and heard absolutely nothing back from them except for the “wrap-up” email for the sponsorship. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing.

    -Kate
    http://www.theflorkens.com

    • Nadine

      I started accepting sponsors when the number of people who asked to swap with me started increasing and I didn’t have enough sidebar space to accommodate. That was my cue. I’m glad you commented because I just read some of your posts and I LOVE.

      I struggle when I’ve had a sponsor who doesn’t post. I’ve even sent emails being like, hey, you okay? Maybe sometimes people just need a reminder.

  • What a wonderful post, Nadine! I’ve never done any type of sponsorship, mainly because I just don’t know much about it. So I’m so glad I read this! Thank you!

    • Nadine

      It took me a long time to figure it out, as I didn’t know anything about blogging and didn’t know any bloggers before starting my own blog. I hope this helps and feel free to email me if you have other questions!

  • You are right on with all of the points you made! I’ve definitely sponsored a few blogs before I was ready…I wasn’t posting enough and just wasn’t in the “flow” of blogging all the time and consequently I felt like I should have waited. Likewise I’ve also been a bit disappointed when others haven’t followed through on their promises. Have a great day Nadine!

    • Nadine

      It’s happened to me too where I sponsor someone and then struggle to find my blogging mojo to post content worthy of new readers. I hope your good sponsorship experiences have outnumbered the bad!

  • So true! I have such a hard time choosing which sponsor posts to promote (or sometimes remembering to!) and I feel bad when I go several days without promoting them, but sometimes the material just isn’t something that can be tweeted/pinned/facebooked!

    • Nadine

      That’s honestly why I use Buffer. It helps me to keep track of who I have tweeted about and makes it easy to share.

  • People expect to see amazing results from sponsorship, when it reality nothing is “guaranteed”. Think about it- you put an ad in the paper, but there’s no guarantee that people will buy your product or visit your website. For my sponsors, I just host their ad and do social media shout-outs because that’s all I have time for. I’m not into giving everyone their own post, and I respect if no one wants to sponsor my blog because of that, you know?

    • Nadine

      That is a great way of looking at things! I think there are some people who have advertised on my site who have gotten more readers out of it than others, simply because my readers and theirs might mesh better. I do my best to make sure I do my part but it’s also a lot about content.

  • As a purchaser of ad space I look for bloggers that offer me a guest post. I don’t want to buy readers with a giveaway, I want them to read what I write and stay because they like it. I do sometimes buy larger spaces with giveaway options but I don’t do the giveaways, I just want the exposure.

    • Nadine

      I think that’s a great strategy and is very similar to my own. You pay to get your writing out there, then people will come follow you if they want to read more of it!

  • wow, this is so neat. i never thought of blogging that way, but i know lots of people make some money from their blog. and i think you point out the case perfectly.

    • Nadine

      Well thanks!

  • I hate when sponsoring a blog that the person you buy an ad from doesn’t follow you or even comments on your blog.. not even once! I know it is impossible to follow every blog (people who purchases an ad). However, if I don’t receive any comments (doesn’t have to be on all) from a blog that I bought an ad from, I likely won’t return. Also, if the blog doesn’t hold up to what the ad entails (whether it be tweets, guest post, giveaway, etc) that turns me off. I also hate when the blogger stops blogging, and I purchased an ad from them. It makes me want my money back!

    A long time, I sponsored a blog and was excited because of how they introduced the blogs. I didn’t get a picture of me and there was only ONE sentence written about me. It didn’t even fully capture what I was about. Sadly, I never returned to them for ads. Another time, I sponsored a blog and only got one tweet and it was pretty generic.

    The blogs that I have gotten the most traffic from are from blogs where I didn’t even purchase an ad.

    • Nadine

      That’s really interesting! See, in all honesty, I’m a bit of an under-commenter. I firmly believe that if you love a blog post, the best thing you can do for the blogger is share it on social media. I often read posts that I LOVE by tons of different bloggers but will chose to share it on twitter instead of commenting. I had no idea that the bloggers who sponsor me might take it that way. If I share it, it’s because I’ve read and enjoyed it. I truly thank you for this comment because now I know that some of my sponsors might feel that way!

      I try to be pretty consistent with my sponsor spotlights. Everyone has a photo (usually horizontal) and all of them are about the same length. If anyone was every unsatisfied with my write up (which has not happened, to my knowledge) I would FOR SURE want them to tell me.

      Thank you again for sharing your insights!

  • I don’t have much experience sponsoring blogs, though I have sponsored a few, and one thing that I wouldn’t like to see in any kind of sponsorship is just an add sitting on the side of the blog. In my mind, sponsorship is more than just advertising someone’s blog, it’s involving them in the blog, however that may be.

    • Nadine

      Very true. I offer both because I think some people might want the option of just an ad but most go for a sponsor spotlight or want to guest post.

  • I don’t think I will ever open up sponsors to my blog for the reason’s you’ve listed (not to say it’s not right for other people). I have a sidebar with some of my friends and blogs I like and want to share, but those people aren’t paying me, I think sponsorships are a lot of responsibility! I also never know if I want to spend money sponsoring other blogs because of this, but once in a while something might crop up where they donate the proceeds to charity and things and I hop on board, so I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the negative sponsored bloggers. I do hate the giant giveaways though, and hardly ever even click over onto a post that has one.

    • Nadine

      I mentioned in response to another comment, the reason I started accepting sponsors was because I started getting a lot of swap requests. My sidebar got quite full and I realized that maybe I needed to take things to the next level. I also struggled to find a way to say no to people who maybe I didn’t want to swap with. Blogs are so personal and I never wanted to offend anyone.

  • This is a great post! I’ve been blogging for over three years now, and I sponsored my first blog ever last month with Life of Bon. She was fantastic and I had a fabulous experience! I had a friend who sponsored your blog as well and heard nothing but great things! It takes me a little bit to work up the courage to sponsor a big-time blog when I think about how small I am =) . I was relieved to hear your perspective on the giveaways – I’ve been offered to participate in a few and have turned them down only because I have no idea how to work them or what to do. When I finally decided to enter a big giveaway a while ago and realized I had to tweet this, follow her, post that, just to enter I was like, really?? This is what these giveaways are? Bribing people for a following?? Some of the giveaways have really good causes behind them, but I was glad to read I’m not the only one a little aprehensive about them =)

    • Nadine

      I really don’t think that size matters when it comes to sponsorship. Don’t be intimidated! I think it has way more to do with consistent, quality content. If you are a “small” blogger but you post awesome stuff on a regular basis, by all means sponsor some bigger bloggers to get your great content in front of a larger audience.

      I always feel with giveaways that I’m like spamming people. I’d rather see a funny, off the cuff tweet or a tweet to a link of something I’d want to read than something like “win a whole bunch of money!” That’s the part of giveaways that I don’t love.

  • This is such a valuable post, thank you! I’ve wondered about sponsoring other blogs, but I haven’t decided if it’s for me yet. But this is all really helpful info! Thank you!

    • Nadine

      I’m so glad. Feel free to email me if you want to chat further or have any other questions!

  • Definitely some amazing tips! ♥ I only started with finding sponsors about 2 months into my blogging, I got in the hang of things, and in October I did a daily posting so that helped a lot to keep content on my page.
    But I definitely see what you mean, that some sponsors you don’t have for a couple months and you just have to hope that you are still writing and creative when that sponsorship becomes available.

  • This is a great post! Such great advice for everyone. I just had a sponsor of mine leave me some great feedback about how I can improve and promote them better on social media. I need to keep that in mind and really work on that! It’s a job, though…but a fun one!

    I also don’t understand the sponsors that don’t follow you or reply to your comments or anything like that. I mean, come on! I payed you so much money…how can you not follow me? You know what I mean?

  • awesome post- especially the first part- you have to blog too. and it’s not just about the social media shout outs, you have to have actually good content. I do offer giveaways. but only because I feel they are successful for the bloggers that sponsor me. there is nothing more upsetting than sponsoring a blog and the required entry is just to follow them and no one else!

  • Kay

    I love this! It’s kind of like “this is what everyone is thinking but no one is talking about”! I also love that you were so dang respectful about it! I’ve read a few sponsorship info posts where I felt like I was being lectured and yelled at, but this was well written!

  • Such a very good post!!!!

  • I completely agree with all of the above. I think a big part of the equation is sponsoring similar blogs. Even if they’re both lifestyle blogs, some might just have a different audience. I also agree with the above comment about actually following and responding to comments from sponsors. It’s like, at least pretend to like the blogger paying you money!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s insightful and very helpful!

  • Completely agree. And, so very well written. It’s a full on JOB to host sponsors and be sure that you’re promoting them as you should be. I try to do a giveaway once a month with all of my sponsors, but not always. I want readers to read because they enjoy my content, not to win cool stuff.

  • I love how candid and honest you are with your posts. Really great read!

  • Good post! Those are some of the reasons I’m really careful about who I actually pay to sponsor. It’s also why at this point I have never actually had anyone pay to sponsor me, I giveaway my different size spots all the time. I feel like since I’m still all over the place in my life and super busy if I had someone actually pay and I didn’t do a good job promoting I’d feel awful. It is something I’m working on though : )

  • These are such amazing tips – I agree with all of the them but my favorite is that not all posts are shareable!

    xx
    Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • I loved this post! I am new to blogging and have yet to really get into the blogging groove, plus my blog still looks jank (in the process of getting a design) so I didn’t want to sponsor yet, but everywhere I read, people are saying, “Sponsor, sponsor, sponsor”. After reading this, I am much more content to hold off on sponsoring and continuing to engage with blogs in other ways. Also, I hate big giveaways. I rarely even enter anymore.

  • All I have to say is that I found this post interesting

  • This is a great post! My biggest pet peeve Is when I sponsor someone and they don’t even follow me back. I don’t expect them to be my biggest fan and instantly follow me on every social media site but the least they can do is follow me on Twitter. I just don’t understand how someone would be able to promote my blog if they aren’t following me on any social media sites. Just bothers me! I love your piece of advice on giveaways. I have never thought about it that way. I will definitely be more selective with who I chose to sponsor. Thanks for the advice!

    • Agreed! I had that happen to me. it was one of those big blogs! lol

  • i agree with all of this! just because you buy an ad doesn’t mean your numbers are going to jump! you have to do your end of the work as well which means posting RELATABLE posts at least a few times during the month! i feel so guilty when i can’t sincerely promote someone on my sidebar because they have not posted anything new the whole month they are on my sidebar. ‘help me…help you’

  • Thanks for posting this Nadine! I really agree with #6. I had an experience where a girl wanted to put an ad for her Etsy shop on my blog, which was totally cool with me…except she had nothing in her Etsy shop when she bought the ad. So even when people were clicking on the ad to view her Etsy shop, they weren’t getting to anything. I feel like I shouldn’t have taken that sponsorship because I think it hurt my credibility a little, and it was sure a waste of money for her for jumping in before she was ready. I blame the fact that I was so new at sponsorships for that blunder. I stopped doing sponsorships for the time being because it was too complicated.

  • Nadine this is so spot-on and honest. I love that about you and your blog!

  • Being new to blogging (6 months), I think I pulled the trigger too soon on sponsoring. All I was thinking when I paid for the sponsor, which was 2 months ago, was that I wanted more followers, like I could grow that fast. I am still figuring out what to blog about!! There is so much to learn still it’s crazy. Thank you for this post!!

  • This is such a great post!!! I am new to the blogging world and this type of information is so useful! I obviously complete agree with number 6, I still am very confused as to what do with sponsorships. If you could give me a few-to tips on the how-to of them, that would be wonderful!!!! I hope all is well with you!

  • you hit this right on! the giveaways, i had to stop doing, i only do a giveaway if the sponsor wants to and its what they want to giveaway from their shop or whatever. I am starting to loathe giveaway for some reason…well maybe the bloggers who do it all the time. Anywho…some people think that when you buy an ad it will be the turnaround for your blog, but it take maybe buying a bunch if ads on other blogs and promoting yourself!

    Great post, Nadine!

  • You’ve hit the nail on the head with these. I stopped offering sponsorship on my blog because I didn’t want to have to fake it. The giveaways are definitely not effective in any way. They will gain followers, but not readers. I’d rather have a few good readers that I can interact with than a ton of readers that never interact with my blog. I stopped caring about the numbers because blogging should be for ME not for anyone else first and foremost. I am glad that you posted this because some of the things you mention are reasons why I don’t sponsor many blogs anymore. Bloggers end up not posting what they were supposed to or promoting me in the way that they said they would. I would have a great post up on the day I was featured and then the blogger didn’t follow through.

    I also blog for my greeting card and stationery business, so I mix that in with some of the more personal stuff. I’ve also noticed that since I may not be the most popular greeting card seller on Etsy or in this very small networked social world, that I don’t get the same treatment despite the fact that my product is of equal quality. In fact, multiple times, I’ve paid for advertising with a blogger, only to see them promote a different greeting card seller MORE despite the fact that the seller wasn’t even sponsoring them that month.

    Either way, these days I get that feeling that a lot of bloggers are more interested in what will make them look good, and if that means that jumping on what’s popular is better, they’ll do it. Very frustrating, but I guess what I’ve learned out of all of this is that sometimes you just have to carve out your own path and depend on yourself more than the help of others.

  • I’m so glad I found this post! I’ve been thinking of buying some ad space on a blog (my first time ever and i’ve been blogging for YEARS) but wasn’t sure how i should choose. i have my favorite blogs but i don’t know what the “rules” are for this sort of thing so thanks so much!!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

  • HI Nadine!
    I love your blog–your sense of humor really comes through and I really appreciate your candor. I still have no clue about how to do the blog sponsor thing (or why!) Just a thought–could you do a dummies post of the ins and outs of blog sponsoring–who should do it, why and how (step by step)? Dare I say, I may not be the only clueless one out here… (God, I hope so.)
    Thanks,
    Steph

  • Thank you so much for writing this post, I loved it! It took me awhile to decide to sponsor some blogs, but waited until I got into a good routine of blogging 5 times a week first. I am really glad that you are the first blog I’ve sponsored.

    — SarahChristine

  • Thanks so much for this post. I’m a newbie blogger who has not found her mojo yet. Seriously – how do you guys think of topics everyday? It’s definitely a learning curve but it still an awesome process!

  • I totally agree with you. I want people to actually read my blog, not just follow for a giveaway. Blog hops have put me off for this reason. I swear I want to virtually punch those “oh hey, stopping by from soandso blog hop. Go check me out!” bloggers. I mean did you even read my post?

  • AMEN TO GUILT. I always question whether I’m giving my sponsors the best bang for their buck… And reevaluating how I would/could/should do better.

    I hate guest posts. They’ve never done anything for my numbers and I find that readers interact with them very little, so, when I sponsor a blog, I don’t find that important (I’d much rather get a lot of social media love). Plus, in writing a guest post I’m often pouring myself into the post and not necessarily doing the same for my own blog. Double loss there in my head! 🙂

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  • I am just beginning,…starting a blog, getting content together, photos, researching, reading, ‘back-stacking’! I’ve been reading your posts, you have a LOT of great info., tips, and tricks! Thank you!

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