3.23.2015

Using Sponsorships to Grow Community

Using sponsorships to grow community

Blog sponsorships are kind of a strange thing, aren't they? We are paying other people to promote us and share our content. Recently, Jenny wrote a post called the "the blogging break-up" that really got me thinking. Essentially, she challenges bloggers who pretend to be in authentic community with their sponsors, and then just abruptly stop reading their content- even if they promoted it like it was the bee's knees for the last 30 days.

I have worked VERY hard to make sure this wasn't the case with those people who sponsor me, but I know I have failed at times. It's hard to maintain a relationship with previous sponsors, especially as the work load increases. That being said, I really do believe that we as bloggers can use sponsorships to grow authentic community. In order to do so, I think we need to work on some things.

1. Only accept sponsors whose content you believe in. If you don't enjoy someone's content, or it doesn't fit your niche, I would encourage you not to approve that person's ad. If you don't believe in something, your promotion of it will not be authentic. I know this can seem cruel, but in the end it's better for both of you. This also makes it easier to be in community with those sponsors you do accept, because you know you're likely to have something in common.

2. Invest in that person. Actually READ your sponsor's content and take the time to leave a quality comment. That person should feel like they are a part of your community when you take them on as a sponsor. If you're having a hard time investing in someone, you might want to go back to #1.

3. Get to know them. Every now and then a blogger I don't know very well will apply to sponsor me. After deciding their content would be a good fit for my blog, I spend some time reading their blog and getting to know them. Throughout an ads run time, I check in periodically with e-mails, engage them on Twitter, and mention them in things like #widn on instagram. This allows me to interact with them like I would any other person in the blogosphere, and usually it means I walk away with a new friend.

4. Don't cease to communicate with them once their ad expires. The majority of the people that have sponsored me have come back again and again. Believe it or not, it's not because I'm a tweet master but because now they are more then just sponsors, they are my friends! You can't expect to be best friends with everyone who sponsors you, but you can at least build some sort of relationship that continues beyond 30 days.

5. BE AUTHENTIC. It's great if you offer social media shout-outs to your sponsors, however, if you don't LOVE a sponsor's post or it doesn't fit well with your beliefs, share something different (hopefully this is kept to a minimum if you're following #1)! You need to tailor the content you share to your niche. Otherwise, your shout-out will go unnoticed, and your sponsor will not reap the benefits.

6. Take a honest look at your motivations. Do you offer sponsorships just to make some extra income? There's nothing wrong with that, but you'll have a hard time with all of the above and your sponsorship program might not be very successful in the end (especially if you're a smaller blogger). If community is more important to you then the money, take an honest look at your motivations and make changes accordingly.

7. Don't be scared to make changes. If one of your sponsorship options is making it difficult to grow in authentic community with your sponsors, don't be scared to ditch it. For example, I will never offer the option for people to pay me to pin their content because I only pin content I believe in and fully endorse myself. THIS builds authentic community.

8. Hold up your end of the deal. Keep your word. Produce quality content consistently. If something comes up that makes this a challenge be real with your sponsors and ask how you can make it up to them- just like a friend would.

The moral of the story is: VALUE your sponsors and give them the authentic community they deserve for believing in you and investing in your blog.

Are you really investing in your sponsors? Is monetizing more important to you than building community? Would you add anything to this list?

post signature

46 comments :

  1. I agree with all of these. luckily I've only had one blog I approved and she really wasn't a great fit. but now I know what to look for before I approve an ad. these are really great tips my dear!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have never done sponsorship, but for someone who believes in them, I think you have some great tips who will help those who use them!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Caroline, I sure hope so!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, you live and you learn! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this a lot. Like you, I know there have been times I have failed because life is so busy sometimes but I genuinely do try to stay in touch with people who invested in me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Agreed- it can be really hard, especially with the number of sponsors that add up over time!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes yes yesss!!! I don't expect blogs that I sponsor to continue to email me but it is kind of a let down when they just completely disappear. I've actually had someone stop following me on social media once my sponsorship ended! I didn't realize until I sponsored them AGAIN and I was receiving notifications that they are now following me .. I was like wait, huh?


    I also agree with investing in them but it doesn't stop with just who you is sponsoring your blog. I know myself it's a major bummer when you receive an email notification of a new blog comment then happily log in to see that it's just
    "Great post!
    Kerri.
    www.heykerriblog.com"


    It's like ... cool but did you even read what I wrote? I actually caught myself making a couple of comments exactly like that on blogs and really had to sit back and said okay do I just not have anything exciting to comment or am I not fully enjoying reading this blog anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I find myself doing things like that sometimes too, but I have it like ingrained in my head that any comment is better than no comment, which might not actually be the case. I NEVER unfollow people that have sponsored me, but I have had it happen to me and it totally sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi! I actually just found your blog yesterday and popped back today to spend more time checking it out. My blog is so new I am only JUST starting to explore the art of sponsoring. This post is so perfectly timed for me and I haven't heard/thought of most of these points simply because I haven't been there yet. Very helpful, thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Brooke, glad you found me! If you ever need resources or tips on sponsoring blogs, let me know! It's a great way to grow when you're just getting started!

    ReplyDelete
  11. These are great tips, thanks so much!! I have yet to sponsor any blogs as I am still fairly new and just starting to look into it, but this is great info to have!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh you definitely should! @Nina B has a great post on how to choose a blog to sponsor!

    ReplyDelete
  13. These are great tips lady! And yes, I will be back again soon because it's just too much fun not to be.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You rock. And thank you!!! I feel like we can get caught up with so many other blog-related things that we forget about those who really invest in us personally and help our blogs to succeed!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is SO good Cassie! I don't offer sponsorships but my favorite sponsorship experiences have come from people who've done these things.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's such great feedback Daisy, thank you. It's encouraging to know that these don't only apply to me :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such solid advice and work practices. I feel like in some ways, everything that you're point out should be obvious, but it so often gets overlooked. It all comes back to authenticity!

    Great thoughts as always. :)

    Always, Anita

    ReplyDelete
  18. I wish all bloggers who offered sponsorship opportunities thought like this. I've only tried sponsoring a handful of blogs and I was disappointed with all but one. It's really put me off sponsoring blogs for the time being. Which is such a shame because if more bloggers had the high standards you do, there would be a lot of great opportunities to make new, lasting friendships.


    V
    Life+1

    ReplyDelete
  19. Shouldn't they be? It's unfortunate that a post like this even needs to be written. Thank you for reading :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. That makes me sad, how unfortunate. I have had bad experiences too, but I have had far more positive experiences thankfully. If you want to get back into sponsoring, I can recommend some great blogs!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks Cassie, I will definitely do that. I think obviously yours is a good place to start!


    The one blogger who really went above and beyond for me was EmberGrey. She's such a great gal with wonderful readers.


    xx

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks! And YES Emily is great!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. While I don't offer sponsorships at the moment, the information is extremely helpful. The first blogger I ever worked with who reviewed my blog before accepting my sponsorship was Nina from Flowers In My Hair. I thought it was respectful and it made sense. Great tips Cassie!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Really great post, Cassie! Love this: "VALUE your sponsors and give them the authentic community they deserve for believing in you and investing in your blog."

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks Matthew! It really is the bottom line!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oh I love Nina, she runs one of the best programs out there! I'm so glad this was helpful to you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. this is fantastic! i appreciate what you say about the fine line of monetizing but still being authentic with sponsorships and ways to build community. we have to value ourselves and the people that choose to spend their most precious resource with us...time!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have to give a shoutout to Jenna of Dearest Love in regards to this. I bought my ad a bit in advance of when it would start. She didn't wait until my ad started to engage with my blog. She started looking at posts the day she approved my ad. Did she read every post I wrote? Probably not. But she commented on at least one post of mine a week, starting well before my 30 days on her sidebar.


    I also think there's a similar obligation from those of us buying ads. I gave her suggested links to promote, and I did my best to choose not MY favorite posts, but the posts I'd written that best matched her audience. I think she shared all of my suggestions except for one.


    I've also made a point of interacting with a blogger for at least a few months before buying an ad. I want to make sure that my blog and that blog will mesh well together.


    I'm gearing up to start my own sponsorship program, and I definitely appreciate these suggestions! I already have a few ideas of incompatibilities that I will probably spell out on my Ad page, just to be clear with other bloggers.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love all your thoughts on this. I've only just recently entered the blogging game but even in a short time I've experienced some sponsorships that seemed more for the money and less for the community? I understand page views and numbers are exciting, but honestly at the end of the day don't we all blog for the relationships and community that is formed? I want these to be meaningful, not another dash in the pan number and that is why I will often sponsor smaller blogs that I feel a kindred connection to. I think you outlined some wonderful ground rules to stick by and I will definitely be keeping them in the back of my mind (when/if) the time comes that I offer sponsorships.


    Hope you're enjoying a wonderful week tech-free!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Love these points! More people need to read this :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. I don't offer sidebar ads on my blog, but I've sponsored a lot of bloggers in the past. Most of them were really great, and I've maintained friendship with them, but there are some whom I just regret sponsoring at all. This isn't the right venue to talk about that unfortunate experience, but I learned a lot from it.


    P.S. I hope to sponsor your blog one of these days!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I think we have all had bad experiences, unfortunately! At least now you know what you DON'T want!! And YAY! That makes me so happy, looking forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I couldn't agree more. Thanks, Kendra.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks Kati. I couldn't agree with you more, sponsorships should be about making connections and supporting one another!


    So far my little break has been AWESOME! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Jenna is a rock star, that's what it's all about! And YES I couldn't agree with you more about holding up the other side of a sponsorship, it's hard to promote someone that doesn't post consistently or engage on social media. I would have to agree that it's key to interact beforehand. Sometimes I get ad contracts and I wonder who the person even is, which usually isn't a great sign. Good luck putting together your sponsor program!

    ReplyDelete
  36. YES! So happy that point came across in this post :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Dance With A DollyMarch 24, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    Thanks for the fantastic post!! (And the shout out). I think the you bring up some fabulous points. Most importantly, do not accept everyone who tries to buy an ad. I think this helps establish much more genuine connections and connections that will continue to some extent after the sponsorship. xo

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yes, definitely learned from that experience. So am I, Cassie! :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. You're welcome!!! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  40. You are fantastic I mean, what aren't you good at. You're a tweet master, you kill it on Instagram, and sponsorships is totally your thing. I want to be just like you, ha! ox.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Oh, don't give me too much credit! haha

    ReplyDelete
  42. I love this post and I loved sponsoring your blog for exactly the reasons you outline. I think it's important for bloggers to very clearly define sponsorship and expectations for their blog before they start accepting sponsors, so that everyone is on the same page about what they hope to get out of the experience. Have you read Betsy Transatlantically's (@btransatlantic) posts on sponsorship and relationship capital? They are soo good--I think you would enjoy and that you're both on the same page!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm so happy to hear that I live up to my own expectations of others. That's definitely what I'm going for. I haven't read any of Betsy's posts but you know I am going to go check them out right now! Thanks for the suggestion!

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear from you! I try to respond to all comments.