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Are Bloggers Selling Out?

Nothing Clothing Company Poncho

It is no news that bloggers make money through a variety of ways, with sponsored posts and product reviews, being a very popular way of making money in the blogging world. I for one, make majority of my blog income through sponsored posts, with product reviews coming close behind. So it comes as no surprise that there is a lot of huffing and puffing about bloggers selling out; publishing everything and anything, regardless of whether it is beneficial to their blog readers, as long as there is some money involved.

The truth of the matter is, many pro bloggers depend solely on their blog’s income, and they work tirelessly to earn it. I am not talking about a regular 9 – 5 weekly job. Pro bloggers work crazy hours everyday, including weekends and evenings, to keep the blog and their social media profiles active. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes you don’t get to see. I know I am always working on my blog whenever I have a moment, and when I am not working on Fashion and Style Police, I am thinking of working on it. In any other job, this would be pathetic, but it is not for me because I genuinely enjoy what I do, and I will keep doing it even if I no longer get press samples or sponsored post opportunities. But then again, Fashion and Style Police is more than a job for me, it is part of who I am.

Many bloggers publish multiple quality posts a day, with amazing photography shared on social media. Many of these blog posts are informative, engaging and entertaining, so it is only fair for us to be paid for our time and effort in publishing these posts. Having said that, I do believe many bloggers have sold out and I will tell you why.

 

OOTD A Tartan Dress

 

It is so hard to reject unrelated sponsored post opportunities these days because great opportunities that do come are few and far between. So many bloggers will grab almost anything offered. So if you are reading a beauty post, and the blogger is all of sudden blogging about life insurance or pets, now you know why. Does it make the blogger a sell out? Yes kind of, but if beauty brands are not interested in collaborating with this blogger, but pet brands are, I won’t blame or judge her for accepting such offers. A girl has to eat…

However if you want to make money blogging, and not look like a sell out, follow these 5 tips:

 

Focus on More Than 1 Niche

Sticking to 1 niche may do you more harm than good. Instead, go for related niches to open more doors of opportunity. Related niches like fashion and beauty, health and beauty, pets and lifestyle, fashion, beauty and lifestyle, are all good examples of how you could position your blog for a variety of sponsored posts and product review opportunities.

 

Always Disclose

I see a lot of bloggers not disclosing press samples and sponsored posts and they wonder why no one is reading their blogs. Transparency and honesty will attract blog fans, so you not disclosing is killing your blog. I know some of the famous and hugely successful bloggers do not disclose, but you have to remember they started their blogs back in the day, when blogs were few. They have established their blogs already so they can kind of get away with not disclosing. Their readers may not know any better or may still idolise them regardless. But as for you that started a year or so ago, think twice before you decide not to disclose.

 

Outfit Post OOTD 1

 

Limit your Sponsored Posts

I sometimes struggle with this as I usually have loads of sponsored posts request at the same time, but when you can, try not to have your sponsored/collaborated posts back to back. So maybe out of 10 posts, you can have 2 or 3 sponsored, but published days apart. I see a lot of bloggers publishing sponsored posts (even when some are not disclosed) day after day, and I wonder what they are thinking.

 

Review Products Honestly

Now this is a very important tip, so I need you all to take notes.

Regardless of whether I am paid for a review or not, or whether I am sent press samples, or they are products I bought, I always write my product review posts in the same style. So short introduction, product description, pros, cons, and if I would recommend said product or not. You won’t know the difference between a review that is paid for and 1 that is not on this blog because they are ALL written honestly, and that is what my readers really care about. However I had to work to earn my readers’ trust, and I did so by reviewing products I bought with my own money as well as press samples. So every week I review a press sample sent, may be paid or unpaid, and then I review a product I bought myself, to balance out. And I still do this.

The main reason why I review press samples and products I buy, is just so my blog is not all about press samples, but products I buy myself because I have interest in them. For instance, I bought these Boots No 7 Quick Thinking Wipes and Oil-Abosorbing wipes with my money, I was sent this Premae Face Wash to review, and I was paid to review this VITASTIK Vitamin Vaporisers. As you can see, my review style is the same, I always list the pros and cons for each product, and I make sure I state any negative or cons in the most polite way possible. I don’t believe in slating brands, so I check the tone of my review, but I make sure I don’t mislead my readers in thinking a product is great if it’s not.

I see many bloggers reviewing only press samples and I wonder what they are thinking. Don’t you buy products? Why don’t you review them as well? I realised I can’t trust a blogger that reviews only press samples because I am not sure how you will review products you buy yourself, and I also cannot trust a blogger that writes only glowing reviews, with no cons whatsoever. All products cannot be that great. For instance, here is a positive product review of 2 Acquablend Bottles I was sent some weeks ago, this review had no cons. Now, here is a not so positive review of MeMeMe Cosmetics I was also sent.

Blogs are not magazines, our readers expect to read real life reviews and posts, they can relate to, so having only positive glowing reviews will bore your readers. There is a very thin line between positive every time, and being a liar.

 

Be a Story Teller

If you are strapped for cash and you are keep getting offers unrelated to your blog, you may still be able to accept them if you have your story telling cap on. Think outside the box, and develop stories that can incorporate the brand in question. So if you blog about parenting and fitness, and you get an offer to write about a fashion brand for example, create an outfit post, and show off your style, or include the brand in a mummy outfit wishlist. There are many ways to include slightly unrelated niches if you think outside the box and let your creative juice flow.

May the forces be with you.

 

 

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How Much To Charge For Sponsored Posts

A sponsored post or a promoted post is a post on a blog that actively promotes the products and services of a brand. In other words, a sponsored post is classified as an advertisement. This post could be written by you or by the advertisers. Once you start blogging consistently, and your blog traffic, followers and engagement start to increase, you will begin to catch the attention of various brands all over the world and before you know it, the emails start dropping in your mailbox. Emails from brands and their PRs asking you to publish a sponsored post (an advert) on your blog. Once this starts happening, you need to have your rates ready. Most bloggers usually have a media kit ready to send out when requested. The media kit usually have all the information regarding the blog stats and the rates for  sponsored posts and other forms of advertisement. Some other bloggers just determine the price of each sponsored post, post by post. How Much To Charge For Sponsored Post

When I started blogging in 2012, I didn’t know much about sponsored posts or the various ways bloggers could make money. I wrote a post about how bloggers make money through sponsored posts some days ago. If you missed it, catch up here. I have been blogging for over two years now, and when I look back, I wish I had posts like this one to explain all this blogger jargons to me. I had to learn on the job. That is why I have decided to write more about blogging and I hope it benefits someone. Now back to the topic at hand. What you decide to charge for each sponsored post is a personal decision. Having said that, I believe there are some ground rules that should be adhered to regardless of the brand or post requirements. Here they are:

Do Not Work For Free

working_for_free

When I say this, I mean you should always have a fee in £ or $ or which ever currency you use. It is called Sponsored Post for a reason. Do not publish a sponsored post in return for a social media shout out, to go into competition or a “thank you”. I had a major meltdown recently and I wrote about it here. I got sick and tired of people trying to get me to advertise their products and services in return for nothing. Anytime you place a link to a website on your blog, it benefits that website, do not be fooled. Some brands send emails offering you guest posts. Guest Posts are requests from bloggers and any link on that post should be to the blogger’s blog, not a shoe shop. Press Releases on the other hand are just emails with new products information sent out to bloggers and journalists. I treat them as “information only”, I don’t act on them and they are not sponsored posts request. The subject line usually has press release or PR in it and they are usually worded differently from a sponsored post request. These emails do not tell you to do anything, they just inform.

Here is an example of a press release I received this week:

With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, June 21st, get Dad a tech-trendy gift at an affordable price with Kenneth Cole Connect. The sophisticated line of smart watches for $165 and less boasts 12 versatile unisex styles — from a sleek stainless steel bracelet to bold pops of color — so there really is something for everyone. Kenneth Cole Connect smart watches allow you to “Be Smart With Your Time” by staying discreetly connected with alerts that go straight to your wrist. With Kenneth Cole Connect, this Father’s Day you take a memorable family selfie — no matter how big your brood — with the ability to take selfies longer than your arm (like a selfie stick)! The smart watches start at $135 and are available worldwide, as well as online at KennethCole.com. If technology isn’t his thing, Ted Baker watches offer an array of whimsical yet practical styles that Dad will enjoy wearing. Stylish and contemporary, Ted Baker watches strive to embody that classic British flair. The Men’s Spring/Summer 2015 collections vary from the sleek Smart Casual to the chronograph-focused Sport to the elegant Dress Sport. Starting at $155 for high quality craftsmanship and available in various worldwide markets and at TedBaker.com. Please find the image links below and do not hesitate to let me know if you would like additional information

Here is an example of an email from a brand trying to get me to work for free:

Good Afternoon, I hope you are well. My name is Jade and I am currently working on increasing the online visibility of ——— While doing some housekeeping for the brand, I noticed that you mention our company, but have not linked to our website. To help with user experience and brand recognition (making life easier for your readers), would you be able to attach the link back to —– If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch as I would be more than happy to help. Kind Regards

Emails like the one above I just ignore. You can’t tell me what I should or should not include on my blog. If I buy a dress with my money and post on MY blog, I am not obligated to link back to the brand website. I will mention where I got it from so my readers know where to find it. If a brand wants a link back, that will be classified as an advertisement request or a sponsored post. I hope Jade is reading this.  Write or Edit All Sponsored Posts If you don’t write the sponsored post, make sure you edit it and also make sure the post fits in with your blog content. This is very important. I write about fashion, beauty, blogging and a bit of lifestyle every now and again. You won’t see me writing about food or pets ever. I usually charge more if I write the post myself and my rate varies.

How Much To Charge For A Sponsored Post

Blog Advertising Rates

Picture Source:blogadvertising rates.com

I go by the table above as a minimum guide. I won’t take anything lower than $50 and won’t want to believe any blogger would. I take a lot more than the minimum but a new blogger can start off with this. Google page ranks do not change anymore so I go by Domain Authority (DA), PR 2 should be DA 20 and below, PR 3 30 to 40, PR4 should be 41 to 50 and PR 5 should be 51 and above. Fashion and Style Police is currently on 31, so according to this table, I should be charging $150 per sponsored post, which I think is very reasonable. My sponsored post rate is around that figure. I usually follow the table above and base my rate on how many sponsored posts I want on the blog in a month, the brand or PR in question, how much time I spend putting the post together, and so on. What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comment section. I will be writing on some Sponsored Post Tips in the next couple of days so watch this space. Thanks for reading and do share.

How Bloggers Make Money Part 3

This is the final part of the ‘How Bloggers Make Money’ series. If you missed the last two parts where I wrote about how Bloggers make money through Google Adsence and WordAds, click here, or how Bloggers make money through banner advertising and affiliate marketing links, click here.

How Bloggers Make Money

I am happy many people are finding these posts very useful. Blogging and its vague financial rewards should be discussed frequently. I wish I had posts like this to read two years ago. I won’t have made the many mistakes I made in the early days. Here are some more ways Bloggers make money:

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are posts brands pay Bloggers to write and publish, usually with links to the brand’s site. Sometimes, the brand writes the post and all the Blogger has to do is to edit and publish. This is a very popular way Bloggers make money and it is my favourite way of monetizing Fashion and Style Police; I remember getting my first sponsored post offer just four months after I started blogging. What you could earn from one sponsored post could be anything from £20 to £200 or more, depending on the brand, your followers, blog engagement, whether you write the post or the brand writes it, the blog’s traffic, the blog’s domain authority, and so on. I know some Bloggers who charge hundreds of pounds for a sponsored post and some even charge a couple of thousands of pounds, these Bloggers have a huge following and a lot of traffic so work on growing your blog before you start requesting such amounts.

If you have at least 5000 unique visitors a month and you have a Domain Authority of 25 at least, you can charge £30 and above for a sponsored post. You can check your blog’s Domain Authority and other information here.

At the end of the day, charge what you are comfortable accepting, don’t work for free and always remember to let your readers know when it is a sponsored post. Transparency people! I will be writing a more comprehensive post on what to charge for sponsored posts using various examples so watch this space.

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Product Gifting

The difference between product gifting and sponsored posts is that the brands pay the Blogger by sending products for free in return for a post. If a Blogger has accepted a product, you see a post with the c/o (courtesy of) alongside the product details letting the readers know the product was gifted. I started receiving gifts from brands months after I started blogging. Many Bloggers still charge a fee alongside the product to guarantee a post depending on the brand and the product in question. Bills in 2015 cannot be paid with clothes and shoes unfortunately. Bloggers are usually gifted all sorts regularly by brands. In a month, I usually receive over 5 items by brands and their PRs and that is a small figure. Many famous bloggers can easily receive over 20 items or more in a month. This is a nice perk of the blogging job but I only receive products I will happily buy with my own money from brands I love and respect. I get offers from so many brands trying to send me a $10 sunglasses or shoes in return for a sponsored post, no thanks. Not on Fashion and Style Police. I have My Brand to protect.

Sponsored Giveaways

Sponsored giveaways are when brands offer your blog readers a product through a competition on the blog. You must have seen this on blogs, it is quite popular with Bloggers. Some Bloggers run a giveaway with their own money, I have done this in the past, and some Bloggers organise a giveaway sponsored by a brand on their blog. In other words, Brand A contacts Blogger A and offers to send a pair of jeans to a blog reader chosen by Blogger A, Blogger A gets traffic and readers are excited and eager to win, everyone loves a freebie. Brand A gets free advertising or paid advertising if Blogger A is smart enough to charge for this giveaway and also get a pair of the jeans for herself.

Most Bloggers charge to organise a giveaway. The figure varies depending on various factors like the brand and item in question, the blog’s followers and traffic, how influential the Blogger is and so on.

Brand Ambassador

This is when a Brand selects a Blogger or Bloggers to promote its products and services. Usually, the brand will send its products regularly to the Blogger and there should be a banner ad up on the blog as well. I know a couple of Bloggers that are Brand Ambassadors and they usually get free clothes and accessories monthly, and they publish sponsored posts for the brand regularly as well. There are so many cool blogs all over the web, so you will need to stand out from the rest to be noticed by the brands. Work on publishing the right content and market the hell out of your blog. Make use of all the social media channels and get noticed.

OTHERS

Many Bloggers are now making money by writing books and e-books, writing for other online sites and magazines, attending events, organising Twitter chats and Instagram takeovers for brands, vlogging on YouTube, the blogging opportunities are indeed endless and it is a profitable venture if you get it right.

 

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