The Business of Blogging – Sponsored Content

How to Transform Your Passion Project Into Your Business

The fourth installment of our Business of Blogging series explores another avenue for monetizing your blog: sponsored content. The proliferation of sponsored content has exploded in recent years; advertisers are devoting larger portions of annual budgets to editorial-like content and publishers are assigning dedicated teams to create interesting stories around dedicated brands and products. The rise of sponsored content has also seeped into the blogosphere and today brands are focused on facilitating sponsored opportunities with influential content creators.

As a content creator, you may be staunchly averse to the idea of blemishing your perfectly curated blog with advertisements, regardless of how sophisticated they may look or well targeted they may be. If you are in opposition to traditional adverts – in which you cannot control the creative or copy – but open to working with select brands, then sponsored content may be your best bet. Sponsored content is just as it sounds; it is when a brand sponsors a content creator to create a story around their brand and/or products. With sponsored content both sides benefit; brands gain access to blogger’s vast audiences through well-produced and flattering stories, while bloggers maintain authority over exactly what is written and published on their page.

The key to sponsored content is transparency; a common critique of sponsored posts is that the line between editorial and advertising is too blurred. While sponsored content is supposed to have the storytelling quality of editorial pieces, it is not supposed to trick consumers into believing that there are no biases or incentives behind the words.

One element of sponsored content that cannot be overlooked is relevancy. The point of sponsored content is to include brand-funded pieces that naturally fit in with the voice, aesthetic and content direction of the other posts on a blog. If a sponsored post feels too out of character, it will have a jarring effect and readers will immediately be turned off by the content and the brand message. Before you say yes to sponsored posts, ask yourself it is a brand you believe in and a product you would be interested in purchasing yourself. If the answer is no on both counts, then, most likely, your audience will say “no” too.

Another important aspect to remember before venturing into the world of sponsored content is volume. Your readers do not visit your blog in search of sponsored stories – what really draws them to your site is your original content and unique voice. While your sponsored posts may be entertaining, interesting and add value to your readers lives, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reader who remains loyal to a site for sponsored content alone. With this in mind, you should be weary of posting too many sponsored pieces. In other words, if your sponsored pieces outnumber your original content, you should take a step back and focus on re-balancing your blog; the last thing you want to do is lose readers because you abandoned your original content in favor of brand pieces.

To get started with sponsored content, make sure your media kit is up-to-date – this not only signifies to brands that you’re interested in sponsored opportunities, but it also addresses the sometimes uncomfortable money conversation out of the gate.

Have you checked out the rest of our Business of Blogging Series? Read Advertisements, Commerce and Affiliate Links to determine the best ways to efficiently monetize your blog!

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