So, you’ve worked hard for the past year, two years, writing away on your little space of the internet when you receive an email from a marketing company offering to work together on a piece of content. And they’re offering money for your time. With your blog essentially being a ‘child’ that you’ve nurtured, maintained, loved and cared for, it seems a little daunting at first to suddenly start posting stuff you’ve actually been paid to do. But the thought of being paid to do what you love is appealing, and therefore – sponsored posts become a part (however small) of your little web corner.
Love them, or hate them, sponsored posts are very much a part of the blogging world and I personally believe that in moderation, and treated in the correct way, they are not detrimental to a blog. It can seem slightly weird at first ‘selling’ your content and your space, but dependent on how you approach the whole ‘sponsored’ aspect, and how you work together with the brand, they can and will be just as entertaining as the rest of your blog.
I do accept and run sponsored posts on a monthly basis and I’m not afraid to admit it. Of course I’m not. It’s the law to disclose when you have been paid for something and there’s no shame in admitting something has been paid for, as long as what has been paid for – is something that is entertaining to readers and fits in with the rest of your content. Instead of posting a huge long disclaimer at the end of my sponsored posts, I use three asterixes (***) to indicate that one link in that post has been paid for.
My reasoning for this (and can I just say, there’s no law on how you should disclose or what you should say, as long as it’s relatively clear and you’re not fobbing people off) is that the vast majority of posts that I have been paid to write, are thoroughly researched, planned, thought out and written – and it would be a shame for people to simply glance at the disclaimer and disregard the post entirely, which is what I know a lot of disclaimers tend to do. I work hard to make sure each post offers something to the reader. I want to provide interesting, entertaining content about something I perhaps normally wouldn’t consider writing about, instead of writing a generic advertisement filled piece.
Magazines often feature the equivalent of ‘sponsored posts’ in print, often referred to as a ‘promotional editorial’ or a ‘promotional feature’, so I don’t see why it should be a taboo or looked down upon for those on the internet either? I don’t know, maybe the comparison is slightly different.
My one rule with regards to sponsored posting is that I make sure that everything is written by myself. I never accept something that has been written by another person (whose usually only interested in the Google ranking rather than how it reads), as it’s my ‘voice’ that is scarlettlondon.com’s unique selling point, in a way. So I’d like to keep it that way.
Similarly, I want to make sure that any sponsored post I do is relevant to my blog and fits in with my content, in addition to being entertaining for readers. If I don’t think I can tie something into my site, I won’t accept the post. I have and will continue to do so, rejected sponsored post offers if I think they are irrelevant, or if I think I wouldn’t be able to turn it into an article.
As an aspiring journalist (which was the main reason I set up my blog – to practice my writing), I understand that writers and those in the print media industry often have to create and write stories based on briefs given to them by an editor, so to be able to practice writing to a brief is helpful in a way – although I often try and persuade those in charge of the sponsored posts (who already have an angle in mind) that my angle is better and more entertaining (this is something I need to work on) so perhaps not.
Essentially, sponsored posts are always going to draw a mixed response. Some may think bloggers who engage in sponsored content are ‘selling their blogs soul’ and writing about things that are irrelevant because they want a bit of cash. In my eyes, this isn’t true. No amount of cash would persuade me to post a crappy article on my site. I value what people think and I want to make sure readers believe in my site and trust me. However, earning a regular little bit of income (and I promise you, hosting sponsored posts occasionally is no way to become a millionaire) especially as a student, doing what I love at the same time is an amazing feeling, something I truly never considered when I first set up my blog.
I don’t know, maybe you have a different opinion and that’s absolutely fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t expect everybody to accept my reasoning. Sponsored posts are paid for content, so there’s always going to be a debate sparked by it. But I don’t believe that anyone should feel guilty, in any way for earning a little money from their pride and joy. It’s a lovely feeling to incorporate your hobby and your (potential) career path. I’ve been told I’m not cut out for waitressing by a previous employer, but I get emails and tweets on a weekly basis by those telling me they enjoy my blog, which means the world. So luckily (and hopefully) I will be able to combine what I’m good at and love, with how I pay my bills (well, student loan).
I guess you have to figure out what works for you and run with it.
Oh, and I just wanted to clarify, in no way is this a response to anything anyone has said. I wrote this post several weeks ago (and scheduled it ahead of time), after trying to desperately explain to a friend what a sponsored post was – and decided to go off on one (as you do). Everyone I’ve come across in the blogging world has been so lovely, and so supportive. I know there’s been a bit of talk on Twitter recently about sponsored posts, but this isn’t a reaction to that – purely just a little post I’ve been thinking about writing for awhile.
PS: this isn’t sponsored!