Sponsorships are the best way of making money on your blog.
But how do you find them?
- Pick a good niche. This is good advice for blogging in general, and it certainly applies to finding sponsorships. Pick a niche, preferably one you know something about, and start writing! The more narrow the niche, the easier it will be to build up high quality traffic.
- Grow the audience. You’ll need some form of audience before sponsors are interested. Again, fairly obvious advice and applicable to all aspects of blogging. The important thing to remember is this – if you’ve got a really narrow niche, your audience doesn’t have to be big to attract sponsors that really want to target that niche. 100 prime potential customers is better than 1,000 random people to a sponsor.
- Turn Your Audience into a Community. An audience is great, but you’ll get even more value out of your blog and sponsorships if that audience becomes a community. Encourage comments. Encourage people to contact you. Reach out to people and they’ll reach back.
- Learn What Your Community Wants. Once you have a community, it becomes much easier to figure out what they want to see. This is true for the content of your blog, as well as for potential sponsors. What kinds of products is your community interested in? What does your community want more information about? I’ll bet they want what you want (in terms of information / product news / etc.) so try and answer the question yourself (“What do I want?”) and then extend it into the community.
- Ask for the Sale. Every great salesperson will tell you, “you need to ask for the sale.” That means you need to let people know that sponsorships are available on your site, how they might work and who you’re interested in doing business with. Note: I haven’t followed this rule yet (but I plan to soon.) For some in the blogosphere this might seem a bit aggressive or inappropriate, but it’s not. You’ve got something that others value. They won’t know it’s available to them for sponsorship unless you tell them.
- Target Specific Sponsors. Now it’s time for some direct sales. Create a list of companies that you feel would make great sponsors. This is going to take some research. If they’ve got a good online presence (and a blog!) then you’ll know they’re aware of online opportunities. That should make things easier. You know what your community wants, you’re openly promoting opportunities on your blog and now you’re going to contact specific companies and pitch them. Keep the initial contact short. There’s no reason to be long-winded and discuss every detail of every possible sponsorship opportunity. Tell them what you’ve got (passion, niche, community size) and open the door for further discussion. Lead them to your “sales page” on the blog where you talk about various sponsorship opportunities, etc.
- Build Relationships with Potential Sponsors. More than likely, you’ll get a low percentage of interest initially from potential sponsors. Some won’t respond at all. Others will say, “thanks, but no thanks.” Keep in touch anyway. Ask for advice on your blog. Ask if they know anyone else that might be interested. Find ways of building relationships and they’ll pay off over time, just like they did when you built your blog community in the first place.
Who are the best possible sponsors for my blog?
Try smaller, online businesses. Big businesses might not be interested in something smaller or very niche. So it’s unlikely you’ll nab Coke, Visa, etc. as a sponsor. Even finding out how to contact them will prove difficult. But there are plenty of smaller companies who are desperate to find a way of getting their name out, and reaching their target market. I like targeting online businesses (or businesses that already do a lot of marketing online) because they get it. They’ll almost certainly understand the value of blogs, and therefore by extension the value of sponsoring them.
How else can I find sponsors for my blog?
Here are a couple more ideas:
- Ask Your Network. Talk to your network of friends, family, contacts, etc. — including your blog community — and ask them for help. Do they know a company that might be interested? Do they have a contact at such-and-such company you could reach out to? You can leverage your network and ask for help.
- If You Get Pitched, Pitch Back. As your blog grows in popularity people are going to start pitching you. Mostly product reviews. I recommend that you pitch back.
You won’t find a blog sponsor the minute you launch your blog, but over time as you do everything you can to promote your blog, grow the community and become more successful online, the opportunities will start to appear.
It takes a combination of sales, marketing, passion and patience to find blog sponsors, but I still believe they’re the best way of making money online.