The delicate art of a sponsored blog post

22 Oct

The ideal picture. A blogger and a marketing manager working together towards the common goal.

2011, the year that bloggers decided that they wouldn’t make their blogs a hobby any more as e-books, sponsored posts and “how to monetise your blog” discussions spring up. There is nothing wrong with getting paid for blogging efforts if you do a really good job and make your clients (the company paying you, that you agreed to work with) happy. We all like money and blogging takes a lot of time and effort! Honestly.

Recently I have heard some stories from bloggers about companies paying them to write a post and then asking them to change a part of it. I have read the posts they planned to write for the money and can see why the marketing managers asked them to change the post. While some bloggers continue to behave so unprofessionally, marketing managers will over look talented bloggers and offer less remuneration for posts. Yes you are a blogger, work hard and may have a degree of talent and a strong readership… so act as professional as you think you are when dealing with companies.

Bloggers have a distasteful name in many marketing circles due to many behaving unprofessionally. Many bloggers seem to have a knack for tooting their own horns and thinking that they are better than they are, thinking they are entitled to everything for free and for being overly opinionated in life. I’m not being mean, it is a fact that most bloggers don’t have as much pull in the world as they think they do. There are a lot of bloggers out there (heck anyone can open a WordPress site and start typing… that’s what ‘m doing right now!) and the best of the best generally take their blog very seriously and professionally so deserve every success.

Sponsored posts. It’s about the blogger getting what they want and a company getting what they want. Also known as working together for a common goal. The common goal being a marketing message being presented to a bloggers readers by a talented blogger who will be paid for their efforts.

I am a blogger (I also write a beauty blog) and I am in marketing where I have approached bloggers to write posts about my brand and products. I can see both sides of the fence.

So i’m going to give you some pointers on how to think about writing a sponsored blog post from both sides of the fence.

As a blogger

  • Make sure you only accept sponsored posts that you feel meet your target audience or you think you can make work.
  • Do not tear a company/product to shreads. If you try a product/service and it didn’t float your boat or you really didn’t like it you would be best to apologise to your client, thanking them for letting you try the product but it really didn’t work for you. Advise them that you wont be writing a post about it. They will be thankful that you were honest with them and didn’t publish bad remarks all over the internet.
  • Remember the golden rule: Do to others as you would have done to you.
  • “Oh but I am a blogger and it is my job to be honest because it’s what my readers want” (see the golden rule above). Yeah, you can be honest but remember that there is a marketing manager out there who’s job is to get the word out about a product that they think is great. Pretend that someone was writing a review on your grandmother for example. You think your granny is totally cool and bakes the best cookies…. but someone out there just really didn’t like your grandma because maybe she smells a bit funny or the one time she made them cookies but she used the wrong flour so they were hard. You would be super upset if someone wrote a really mean post about dear old Nanna for everyone to read.
  • If you didn’t really like a product but still want to write about it then try and find the positives in the product eg. “This cream made my face break out in spots, but perhaps it would work better for someone who has a different skin type to me. It contains XYZ minerals and smells beautiful”.
  • If you have a problem with the product or service as you are experiencing it DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT take to twitter or Facebook to say how you are having issues with it. You have the brand/pr managers personal email address from speaking to them through your negotiation process so use it. Be professional and email the manager to explain your problem so they can explain and look into the issue for you themselves. Twitter posts tagging the company and telling your readers that you are having an issue is NOT alright when you are in a working professional relationship with a brand.
  • Remember, if a company is paying you (in money or product what ever you are agreeing to) they would like to see their marketing message ring through in your post. You can be yourself, shine your personality through! It’s your blog after all and that’s why the would have chosen you to write a post for them. Just make sure you are covering the key marketing messages in your post to make the company happy and earn your payment. They chose to invest their marketing budget in you rather than a magazine ad or a competition because they can see the value in the blog you have created. Do them proud for choosing you.
  • You should provide the client (the company asking you to to write for them) a copy of the blog before it is published out of courtesy in my opinion. Some bloggers can command $500 per post and for that amount of investment in a single post, the marketing manager is going to make sure their message and investment in you is going to come across well with the message they need to get out. Don’t be offended if they ask you to add a few more details in. Use your personality and writing style to weave the marketing message into your post. BUT again it is your blog and if you feel that they are being unreasonable feel free to pull the plug on the deal. In the same breath, the company also has the right to pull the plug if your post doesn’t meet their expectations.
  • Make sure you say the post is sponsored in your blog for the sake of transparency and your professionalism.
As a Marketing Manager
  • You find a great blogger who meets your target demographic, is creative and works really hard to write great posts. Make sure you are offering them a decent reward for their efforts. Some bloggers are happy with a free product and some will accept gift cards or cash. Be generous because honestly, blogging is hard work and if they are decent bloggers they are worth every cent. You are also paying for the pull of their readership. You wouldn’t get an ad in a newspaper for free would you? Some bloggers blog as their full time profession and a jar of face cream does not pay the bills.
  • Provide the blogger with lots of information up front so they know what your expectations are and they can work towards meeting them. deadline, payment, photos, marketing messages that must be covered, where to purchase etc.
  • If you are asking a blogger to write a guest post for you or a sponsored post remember that their blog is their brand. You are engaging them to be with your brand because you see them as a good fit and you would be happy for them to use their personality to discuss your marketing message.
  • If you review their post and find it distasteful or doesn’t give enough of the marketing message politely ask them if they would please submit x y z into the post using their creativity and flair to get your message across. If they are professional they will understand that you are paying them to get your message across.
And there you have a basic guide that I hope makes you think from both sides of the fence about bloggers and marketers. I hope this clears up some issues and gives both sides some insight into each others world.

5 Responses to “The delicate art of a sponsored blog post”

  1. DanniiBeauty October 22, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Great post! And so true, sponsored posts should be upheld with professionalism and a review should be conducted tactfully.

  2. Catherine November 1, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    I agree with your points about not posting negative reviews, especially when being paid. There is so much information out there, I look to my favourite blogs to bring THE BEST products to my attention, I don’t really want to waste my time reading reviews that aren’t great. I also don’t want to read complaining posts, I much prefer blogs that keep things upbeat… so it’s not just on behalf of sponsors that one shouldn’t trash their products and follow the ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all rule’… it’s also on behalf of their readers that bloggers would be wise to follow this maxim.

    So happy to have stumbled across your post!

    – Catherine @ The Spring (in Brisbane)

  3. Cheryl from BusinessChic September 3, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Hi Belinda, my first time to your blog and I found that this post hit the mark: “bloggers and brands working together to achieve common goal.” It sounds simple but I feel that it’s often forgotten.

    I’ve lots of great blogger friends who talk privately about some of the rings and hoops that brands make them jump through for paltry compensation so it’s something I haven’t actively pursued yet. Thanks for getting me thinking about how I may wish to approach things in future!

    • belindabel September 3, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks for the comment Cheryl. Glad I could help you think about both sides of the blogging fence 🙂

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