A few weeks ago, I was talking about sponsored posts on Instagram and I got SO many questions! I thought I’d do a post in case you’re interested in how they work. This is for those who are trying to get sponsored posts and those who just want to understand how they work. I mean, it can be confusing! How do you make money online anyway? I thought I’d answer that and share all about sponsored posts.
how to you make money online?
Let’s start with the basics- bloggers make their money in four main ways.
1. Ads on their website/YouTube. The more visits/views a blogger gets, the more they get paid since more ads are shown.
2. Affiliate links. When I link to Amazon or other stores, I make a tiny percentage if someone buys something. It doesn’t cost you money, the company who sells the product pays me usually 90 days after the sale occurs.
3. Selling products. This can be anything from an ebook to t-shirts to virtual interior design.
4. Sponsored posts. This is when a company trades for product in exchange for coverage on a blog post or social media. OR the company may pay a blogger to share about a product.
all about sponsored posts
OK! Let’s dive in! I’ll answer all of the questions I got and tell a little about my story. First of all, I know sponsored posts may seem like a bummer. You’re seeing an ad where you’d normally hang out with someone you love to follow. Should you trust a blogger who does sponsored posts? If they’re doing it right, I’d say yes.
Simply, if a blogger makes fun and beautiful content and has an engaged audience, then they will get offers from companies about getting paid to share product. Lots of times this is an item the blogger already loves and uses. A blogger is smart if they use sponsored posts as an excuse to make even better content.
I like to see sponsored posts as a great way to do a project I couldn’t do without that company. For example, I dreamed of having a stock tank pool so I pitched a company to pay me and send me paint for the outside of the pool. The sponsorship money helped pay for the pool. This was a project I wanted to do and now had the means to do it. And it was so fun!
Of course, bloggers can and will make mistakes with sponsored content. Like saying yes to too many or doing collaborations for products that aren’t quite in their niche or something they wouldn’t actually use. I’m still trying to learn about how to juggle it all and thank you for sticking with me through it.
At the end of the day, I want to have a good relationship with my readers (you!) so I do my best to make my sponsored posts fun and engaging. I try to think of what else I can add to them to make them special and full of value. This is something I work hard on and don’t take lightly. If you engage with my sponsored content through reading it, liking it, commenting on it, or clicking on a link it supports me greatly- thank you.
This number will be different for everyone. I got my first sponsored post when I had 2000 followers. A little boutique based in Texas emailed me about woking together. They sent me a candle and laundry soap and paid me $20 to share a blog post, Instagram post, and Facebook post.
Can I just tell you how incredibly excited I was for this opportunity?! I’d been blogging and working long hours for over 6 months without making any money. I love blogging and decorating and sharing! But getting paid for my sharing my passion was a beautiful blessing. Plus it felt like validation to me. This meant that I could grow my blog and contribute to my family’s income!
I remember jumping up and down when I got the email about the sponsored post. I’m still so thankful for that first collaboration. And everyone since then.
So yes, in my experience, it’s possible to get sponsorships with a small amount of followers. Though I have seen bloggers with 100,000 followers who start to get sponsors later in their journey because they decide they want the revenue. Everyone’s journey is different.
any tips for sponsorships when you’re first starting out?
- Trade for Free Product– most influencers start out doing brand collaborations by doing trades for free product. I did this and looked at as a resume builder. It’s a great way to “practice” doing brand posts. At first, gifts will be small (think a candle or clothing) and so it’s a great time to build relationships with companies. Of course, you can’t pay your bills with free product, so don’t get stuck here.
- Paid Campaigns– as your account grows, you’ll get requests for paid collaborations! And lots of time this includes free product too! It’s super exciting because it means that you’re getting paid to do what you love! Lots of time this is a one time campaign, but any paid posts are a great thing! You’re doing something right! At first, you’ll probably have to apply for most campaigns you get. Eventually, you’ll get on PR email lists and you’ll get emails when you’re a good fit.
- Brand Partnership– At some point, as you grow your relationship with brands, you’ll get a brand partnership. This is when you work directly with the marketing team from a company and you have ongoing posts together.
how do you get sponsors?
Start by applying to influence networks. These are platforms that connect brands with influencers. Some of them post campaigns and you have to apply to the ones that you want. Others will email you about an opportunity and then you can apply or just give your rate (it depends on the platform).
- Acorn Influence
- Massive Sway
- Popular Pays
- Social Native
You can also email brands who you want to work with. I do that a lot and find much better fits for my blog that way. Plus I think it feels super authentic to reach out to someone who’s product I love and would buy on my own and want to share.
how do sponsorships work?
Once you are connected with a brand, you first agree to do a trade or get paid for advertising products. And then you agree on the terms- how many posts need to be made and on what platforms. Product is selected and you give the brand your address so it can be shipped. After dates have been decided for posting, usually a contract is signed.
Make sure if they do send you a contract that you read over it carefully. Mark on your calendar deadlines and schedule in time for creating content. Make notes of what is required of you so you can fulfill your end of the agreement. For example, lots of companies want to see a draft of the post before it can be published.
After the content is shared, you’ll want to send links to the brand and include a report of how it performed. If this sounds like a lot of work and emailing, it is. There are lots of behind the scenes work with blogging, more than most people would guess.
have you ever been scammed?
Once, I did a post and never got paid for it. Here’s the (kind of embarrassing) story- an influencer network emailed me about working with a tampon company. It was a last minute campaign so they needed a quick turnaround and so they would pay quickly. Against my better judgement, I said yes. Ugh.
I posted this picture. I tried so hard to make it cute! But I still felt like a sell out. And then the influencer network filed for bankruptcy. So I never got paid (even though yes, I filled out lots of paperwork to get the money that was due to me and I reached out to the tampon company).
That was a hard but good lesson to learn- don’t say yes unless it’s the perfect fit. I mean, it could have been a post about home decor and maybe I wouldn’t have been paid, but at least I wouldn’t have felt like a sell out.
But that’s the worst that has happened to me. I get TONS of emails about brand collaborations that seem like a scam or shady. I just delete those. It’s not worth the risk to me. While I was writing this post I got an email about advertising about a girdle. I politely said no thank you since I like most of my posts to be about home decor. I try my best to stay authentic with what I share and I hope you can see that.
Do you have to have money to get sponsorships?
Hmmm, probably. Why? Because you need to create lots of content that isn’t sponsored. A blog shouldn’t be all ads. So you need money to run a blog and to make things besides ads. To start my blog cost less than $300 and I go more into that in this post. Yearly, there will be hosting fees to keep a blog running.
I love making stuff and spend lots of time working on my house. It is truly my passion! So I adore that I have lots of opportunities to make whatever I dream of and share it! Sure it’s not paid work, but it’s fun and why I’m here.
When I’m on a budget, I work more with thrifted items to save money. I have to be more creative and scrappy, but I think that’s inspiring too. There is a way to blog and not spend a ton of money. But it does take a little money to make money.
Yes, definitely! If you make more than $1000 in the US in a year on your blog, you need to pay taxes. So, from the first money you make, you should save around 30% in a savings account so you can pay taxes.
Most companies send me a check once the campaign is complete. Some pay through PayPal. Others pay directly through ACH as well. I send a company an invoice and then get paid usually 30-60 days after I send the invoice. Make sure to have a banking and PayPal account for business income and expenses only in case you get audited.
If you’re a blogger and interested in my Instagram and business tips, I have an email newsletter specifically for you. Just fill out your name and email and you’ll be on my insider’s list![yikes-mailchimp form=”10″]
In 2015, my son Don was born late February. The moment I saw him, I fell in love and I couldn’t imagine leaving his side. I know that lots of moms know this feeling. But I had a full time job that I had to go back to- my husband didn’t make enough money for me to be a stay at home mom. So when he was 11 weeks old, I started at work again. It was a very sad day for me.
Every day for months, I thought “how can I work from home?” It was so hard to leave my sweet baby when I went to work- I just felt like I was supposed to be with him. Like I was leaving my heard behind. So I thought and thought about it and wondered- maybe blogging was the answer? I loved home decor and wanted to share that. Maybe that could lead to something?
So in September 2015, almost 5 years ago, I started my blog. I poured my heart and soul into it. I had no clue what I was doing, but I fought to figure it out. Slowly, often pennies at a time, it started making money. Mostly I did it for the love of it! I really enjoyed finding my community and sharing my projects and it was a nice bonus that I got a few paid posts here and there.
Every penny I earned from my blog went into a savings account. My family is everything to me and I was going to be smart about making my blog my full time gig. Finally, I was making full time money from my blog and I had built up a 6 months emergency account. So if my husband and I were not paid, we had cash reserves to draw from. This savings account gave me such peace of mind!
And then, I was able to quit my full time job! Don was about 2 and a half at that point. It really felt like a miracle! I am forever grateful. Somehow my little blog changed my life! Here’s a picture my husband snapped on my last day at my full time job-
To be honest, I’m just sitting over here crying while I type this post up. I’ll forever be grateful that it all worked out. And honestly, a lot of that is because of sponsored posts. It feels like a combination of luck, hard work, good timing, and skill came together. Mostly it’s my readers who I am grateful for- thank you for the support- it means the world to me.
I get to spend my day with Don. I don’t share a lot of that with you- like how yesterday we walked to his preschool together talking about dinosaurs. Or how we built Legos and listened to our favorite Disney playlist together. Or how proud he was when his teacher showed me how well he wrote out “Donald” on his art work. This is the heart and soul of everything I do.
I am fully aware that blogging for money has lots of stigmas attached to it. And, of course, that makes me kind of sad. I love and respect my community and trust me, when I do a #ad, it is well thought out and I poured my heart into it.
To a company who sells things, a blogger is a great way to do advertising. They have a loyal audience who trusts the blogger and so if that person suggests something, it can be an effective way to get the word out.
I get that it’s not always that cut and dry, but please know that if you see a blogger advertising, they are making their dreams happen. They are at home (usually with their kids) working long hours while they are contributing monetarily and putting food on the table. They are paying for basic things like preschool and doctor visits and the electric bill. And it doesn’t cost the reader anything!
There’s lots of things that bloggers do that they aren’t paid for like replying to comments and answering dm’s and creating non-sponsored content. There are hours and hours spent learning all of the parts of blogging like writing, photography, website coding, graphic design, videography, editing and way more!
Many bloggers work for years before seeing a single penny. And that’s ok- they are here for way more than that. At least I am. It’s all about the community. I am here because I want to share the love of home and how happy a well designed environment can make you. For the first year of my blog I made like $0.02 per hour. But I was trying to build a strong foundation.
I guess what I’m asking is that if a blogger you follow creates sponsored content that flows nicely with the non paid stuff, that you continue to support them. That you give them the benefit of the doubt. That maybe you remember the support and inspiration they gave you and that this is how they have time and can afford everything else.
Honestly, it’s such a cool thing that a job exists where moms can stay home with their kids and support them AND be able to work. What a beautiful miracle!!! Every day I try to bring value and inspiration and entertainment. Before I get on my phone I think “what can I offer today?” Because I don’t take this dream job lightly.
I hope this behind the scenes glimpse of sponsored posts has shown a bit of the hard work that goes into creating and sharing a #ad. To me, it’s deeply thought out. Yes, it’s still a commercial, but it’s full of love and effort and appreciation to our readers who make it all possible. Thank you!