My name is Meggan Hill and I blog over at Culinary Hill. I’ve been blogging since 2011, and I’m making a living from my blog. A big part of that income is from sponsored posts, and today I’m passing along my knowledge!
Note: This is mostly only relevant to US-based bloggers. However, off-shore bloggers will receive opportunities on occasion from these networks. Nagi will be doing a separate post on how to find your own opportunities. Typically, going direct to brands is relevant for non-US-based bloggers and command a premium but require more effort on the blogger’s part.
Congratulations! Your food blog is up and running! You are feeling so good and confident about it that you are now thinking beyond your own borders. You are wondering, “How do I make money with this thing?”
You’re in luck! I have a lot to say about Sponsored Posts and I am just dying to talk your ear off (or whatever the equivalent of writing on a blog is). Let’s just quick cover the scope of things to come so you know what to expect… and so you can leave right now if this isn’t what you’re hoping for!
I am going to discuss sponsored posts from online networks and organizations.
I will not be discussing sponsored posts from working with brands directly or via a PR agency. The types of organizations I’m going to discuss act as your “middle man” and handle all the details and logistics. All you do is post, amplify, and get paid!
Okay, so it’s not quite that easy….
But it is absolutely doable! The more sponsored post you get, the more confidence you’ll have, and soon you’ll see a snowball effect.
But first things first….
Am I sell out?
I want to say exactly 74 words about this and offer my opinion. Only YOU will know whether a sponsored post is right for you and your blog. I only accept campaigns that get me EXCITED. If I have a compelling recipe and something to say, I’m game! But as you wander this battlefield, you’ll see campaigns that may give you pause. It’s okay to pass. But if you are true to yourself and if you know your readers, there is nothing wrong with doing sponsored posts!
A Note About Pay
Because pay is always confidential information (and varies widely depending on the campaign requirements), I have provided a scale that will represent the average pay of most campaigns within a network up until your monthly page views exceed 400,000.
$: Under $100
$$: $100 – $200
$$$: $200 – $500
Sponsored posts seem to come in waves. There might be a drought for a while with little-to-no activity, and then all of the sudden, there is a major surge.
Where to Find Sponsored Posts
Pay: Sponsored Posts – $$$, Social Influencer – $
An example of a Social Influencer Facebook post for Frigo Cheese can be seen here.
You must be an ad network member to be eligible for sponsored posts. However, there is a Social Influencer program that is open to non-network members. These campaigns involve sharing images or messaging (usually created by the brand) on social media channels during a specified time frame.
Here is an example: Post 8 social media posts (4 each to Facebook and Twitter) over an 8-week period for a flat fee of $50 total. You record each of your social media posts through a BlogHer system they call “Touts.” This type of post is also called “Content Seeding.”
Apply to Federated Media and DailyBuzz here.
As far as I can tell, you do not need to be a member of their ad network to be eligible for their campaigns. For “hobby bloggers,” they also have a group called DailyBuzz.
Pay: You set your own rate (brands may negotiate). $$$$
Apply to TapInfluence here.
I have completed one campaign through TapInfluence for Marzetti.
I don’t know what the minimum page view requirements are for TapInfluence, but the brands are premium and the pay is substantially higher than the other traditional networks.
Once you are a member, though, all campaigns are invitation-only. So, instead of perusing campaigns and applying, the brands peruse bloggers and invite them to participate in campaigns.
Apply to Pollinate here.
To join Pollinate, you must have at least 20,000 pageviews per month. Every Monday, they send an email with new campaigns and other information that might be useful to members.
Weave Made Media
Apply to Weave here.
This is Pollinate’s “little sister” for small and niche blogs. To join as a female blogger, you must have at least 7,500 pageviews per month. To join as a male blogger, there is no monthly pageview minimum.
Social Fabric/Collective Bias
Pay: Sponsored Posts – $$, Party Rounds – $$$$, Social Media campaigns – $
Apply to Social Fabric/Collective Bias here.
There is no ad network here – it’s just campaigns! And A LOT of campaigns. Social Fabric has, by far, the most campaigns I have seen anywhere. Not all of them are for food bloggers, but as you’ll see I’ve worked with them a number of times. There is no minimum monthly pageview requirement.
There is an online course called SoFabU (as in, Social Fabric University) that is recommended for all new members. Because SoFab has a lot of requirements specific to them, it is very helpful to go through their modules (and read their handbook, too). For example, they talk a lot about the “hero image,” they require you to shop at certain stores, and they almost always require you to take an in-store photo of the product (not just on the shelf; they want to see the whole aisle where it’s located). Some posts require Insight Surveys (a short survey where you offer information on your shopping experience) or Instagram videos. Nothing is a surprise; you will always know what you’re applying for up front.
For some shops, they will include Party Rounds. These pay a lot more money (sometimes twice as much as a basic blog post) and require an entire party plan, theme, tablescape, etc. Sometimes they even require you to host an actual party and photograph your guests. Although anyone can apply, if you don’t have examples of Party Posts on your blog already, you probably won’t be chosen. So, if this sounds like something that interests you, use your own posts and start building a collection of Party Posts that you can reference in the future.
There is one GREAT feature of SoFab that I haven’t seen anywhere else. For each campaign, they pick “The Best” post out of everyone who participated and pay for a weeklong Facebook ad. All the traffic goes straight to your blog. It’s great! It really keeps me motivated to always try my best.
Clever Girls Collective/Fanny
Pay: Sponsored Posts: $$, Social media campaigns: $
Apply to Clever Girls here.
You must have a minimum of 10,000 monthly visits (GA “Sessions”) to be accepted. They have both blog post campaigns and social media campaigns.
Massive Sway/SITS Girls
Apply to Massive Sway here.
There are no requirements to join; just create an account through their iSway portal and you can start applying for campaigns.
Apply to Sverve here.
This is another organization for campaigns. There are no posted requirements for monthly pageviews. I have joined but haven’t done any campaigns yet. I will update this post if that changes!
Apply to PopSugar Select here (create an account through the drop-down menu in the upper left hand corner).
PopSugar has an online presence in many areas including food. They offer campaigns, contests, and events. I am a member but haven’t done any campaigns yet. I have, however, received one of their “Must Have” boxes in exchange for 3 posts on blog/Facebook/Instagram.
Pay: On a sliding scale based on traffic. $$$$
To apply, first register with the site here, then start submitting your photos. You will receive an introductory email that will tell you how to apply for sponsored posts.
Pay: $$ – $$$
Join Honest Cooking here.
You must be a site contributor to be eligible. Honest Cooking is a recipe curation site where you can publish your own recipes or they will auto-publish one recipe of yours per month.
They email out campaigns when available. Some are not food-specific but you can still apply. For example, they had a campaign that advertised the Florida Keys which you would mention on your blog (but it did not include a trip to the Florida Keys).
I have no experience with the following companies… yet. Do you? Please let me know in the comments!
How To Do Sponsored Posts
The Application Process
Although you will apply for sponsored posts in different ways (through online boards or in email), 99% of the time, you will complete an application online. Always be aware of the application deadline so you don’t miss it!
Some information that may be in your online application includes:
- Your monthly pageviews and unique visitors
- Social media URLs and follower counts
- An acceptance of the required go-live dates and timeline
- Links to other sponsored posts on your blog
- Your recipe idea or pitch (not required for social media campaigns)
More often than not, part of your application will require you to pitch your idea for the post. Sometimes it is not obvious (Mode may ask for your recipe idea but not hold you to it). Other times, they are very forward about the Pitch. SoFab in particular is excited about the pitch. It’s all, “Tell us why you’re great for this post! Tell us why you’re excited! Tell us how you will tell a unique story and weave this product into it!” In the case of SoFab, the idea you pitch is the idea you must post.
I take the pitch seriously because it is my chance to evaluate whether a campaign is a good fit for me. If I have an interesting, compelling recipe idea and a story that I think my readers will enjoy, I will apply for a campaign.
Sometimes I will stew over a campaign for a few days. If I can’t think of something that is true to my vision, my brand, and my readers, I don’t apply. It’s not fair to my readers and it’s a waste of my time. My general benchmark is the recipe factor. If there is NO way to weave a recipe into the post, I’m not applying.
Sometimes, even if it is possible to weave in a recipe, I still won’t apply (this happened recently with a line of cleaning products; I accepted my invitation and then recanted a week later, plagued by unease. It just felt wrong!).
If you are accepted, you will confirm your acceptance formally, often with a contract. Then, you will receive instructions for the post.
Completing the Post
In your instructions, every detail, requirement, and expectation is outlined. You may find information on everything from imagery, themes, and slogans to disclosures, hash tags, word counts, ethics, social media sharing requirements, and the timeline for posting. In most cases, you will be responsible for obtaining the product you will feature in your post (they will not send it to you). They will also confirm your pay.
After that, all you have to do is follow the requirements outlined. I recommend several readings of the instructions before, during, and after. Links to brand-specific content must be coded “no-follow.” Install any brand logos if required. Double-check all your links by clicking through and seeing where they go. Disclosures should always be at the TOP of your post, before any content or pictures.
After the Post
Once your post is live and amplified across all (or at least the required) social media channels, you will need to report your links. This is usually time-sensitive and is required to get paid.
Another item required to get paid? A W9. You’ll either fill the information out directly on the company’s site or you’ll scan a hardcopy W9 over to them. I keep one on my computer that I can email out when needed.
The more sponsored posts you do, the more comfortable you’ll feel with them. The application process will become second-nature. You’ll start to get a feel for which campaigns you enjoy and which ones to avoid. And, you’ll be making more money than you were before!
Never be afraid to apply for a sponsored post… or to turn one down. Always trust your gut, but also give yourself a break. I have done a few sponsored posts I regret, but I don’t regret the learning!
Do you have any tips for sponsored posts? Preferred networks? If you’re brand new to this, be sure to comment below or tag me on FB and let me know how things go!
And if you found this useful, share it with your friends!
Meggan Hill is the blogger behind Culinary Hill. She’s been blogging full time since 2011 and makes a living from her blog. Contact her for more information. You can also follow Meggan on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.