Let’s Talk About Sponsored Content and Gifted Product
This post is one that’s long overdue, so today, I’m going to talk about brand partnerships, sponsored content, affiliates, and gifted product. How it all works, why it’s not selling out, and why getting paid is actually an important part of what we (bloggers/content creators) do.
I can’t speak for anyone else but wanted to share how this has worked for me over the years. I started blogging in 2007 and made nothing on my blog until 2015, but blogged almost every single day for years. Years. I was not and am still not in this for the money. I am also not trying to go full-time with it – I have The Everygirl/The Everymom and love what I do. This is something I do on the side for fun and yes, it has turned into a great little side gig that provides extra money for my family.
Not all partnerships are paid in cash. Each month, Shopbop (one of my favorite stores that I’ve shopped at for since before I even had a blog) gives me a set amount of credit in exchange for keeping an ad on my blog and sharing links with you. I’d share those links anyway and only link to items I love. Quincy Mae (a favorite online baby store) just offered me a gift card to pick up a few things for Margot, but didn’t ask for anything specific in return. They know I love the brand and that I’ll post. The same goes with rewardStyle. I never share something for the sake of making commission and if you follow anyone that you think would do that, I’d unfollow. Alternatively, I’m getting paid to speak on a panel tonight. The brand reached out and asked if I’d promote the event and speak for a set rate (determined in my media kit).
How partnerships happen
I do my best to be upfront whenever anything is gifted and always tell you when something is sponsored. Some bloggers reach out to brands and others have someone repping them. I have a full-time job running both The Everygirl and The Everymom, so 100% of partnerships happen because a brand reached out to me, and I only say yes when it’s a fit, which means I say no more than I say yes. If it’s a product I’m interested in, I’ll do my research, try the product, and if it’s a fit – only if it’s something I’d buy personally – will I discuss partnering.
I have no choice but to be more selective than ever about what I take on because the time I spend blogging is my “free” time at night after Margot is asleep or when she’s napping on weekends. Sometimes, I’ll take an hour or two to work on a post while she’s with Conor but if she’s awake and not with the nanny while I’m at work, I want to be with her.
The majority of my content is unpaid. In 2019, I’ve had an average of one sponsorship per month. I am very selective and say no a lot.
I can see how this would be annoying, product gifting happens. Styling, photography, and brand awareness are worth something, so brands do want to get their products in front of them.There is a value in what content creators or influencers (can’t tell you how strongly I dislike that word) produce. Much like sponsorships, when offered a product, I only say yes if it’s something I’m interested in and never promise to give a product a great review unless I truly love it. I’ve noticed people are getting a lot better at saying what’s gifted and what isn’t by simply thanking a brand in stories and some even hashtag #gifted.
Disclosing Sponsorships and Gifted Product
It’s more than being honest about who we’re working with, which I think comes first. There are actual rules about having to disclose partnerships, even if a brand isn’t requiring the use of #ad or #sponsored.
Making Money on Affiliate
For years I blogged without making any money and even now, almost all of my blog posts are unpaid. I enjoy creating product roundups and you all request them (and seem to enjoy them). I will almost always, no matter what the caption is about, get asked where I got something in an image. Using rewardStyle and LiketoKNOW.it allows bloggers to make a little something on what we take the time to share.
Someone recently referred to my readers as customers, and I do not see you guys that way at all. First, I have about a 1% conversion rate and most affiliate commission is 10% or less of a sale.
Why It’s Not Selling Out
If a content creator is working with a brand they love and getting paid to produce great content, it is definitely not selling out. If you’re following someone because you like and trust them, then why not support their paid content? Double-tapping on the work they produce or using affiliate as a way to thank them for producing content that you love, allows them (us) to continue to produce all that free content that we aren’t paid for.
If you don’t trust or like them and find yourself annoyed with paid content, ask yourself why you’re following them in the first place.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on sponsored content? What do you like? What don’t you like? If it bothers you or if you support it, I’d love to hear why. And as always, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.