A Beautiful Exchange

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to get sponsored post opportunities

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If you have been hanging around the blogging community for any amount of time, you have undoubtedly seen countless sponsored posts. They are on social media and blogs and come in all types. When you start thinking about the possibility of monetizing your blog in this way, it can seem kind of overwhelming. There are so many different ways to get opportunities for sponsored posts and so many different ways that you can do it, that it's almost impossible to keep up with it all! I have had many of you email me asking questions about sponsored posts and there are honestly so many little things that go into the opportunities, that I thought it would be great to give you all a resource for those things! If you still have a few questions at the end of this post, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me! OR sign up for one of my blog consultations so we can talk about the best opportunities for your goals and your blog (and have a cup of coffee together for an hour)!

 Here's the rundown:

Work with media companies
There are a ton of these out there as well, so I will share some of my personal favorites with you. Most of them require you to apply and be accepted, but even if you are denied, you can apply time and time again until your blog is exactly what they are looking for.

  • Linqia: Application required. The company chooses campaigns that they think will work well with your blog and social media following and then you are given the decision to accept or decline based on deadline, pay, and topic. For these campaigns, you get paid per click until you hit a "threshold" that is determined by the interaction within your "community." The more clicks you get over your threshold, the higher it will be next time. *I would also like to note that it is completely against the ethics rules of Linqia to ask people to "click around" on your posts or your direct links. You are able to direct people to your posts, but not specifically ask people to click to help you make money. Also, the link above to sign up is an invite from me and is a referral link.
  • Collective Bias/Social Fabric: Application required. These campaigns are called "shoppertunities" and you must apply for each one individually. You share your ideas on how to feature a specific product or service and then are chosen based on your ideas, your reach, etc.! You are paid a flat fee for your blog post and sharing on social media, which is something that I prefer. At the end of each campaign you are evaluated by your campaign leader and they do track your analytics with a plug-in that is required to be installed before being chosen for any campaigns. Collective Bias is my favorite company to work with.
  • Clever Girls Collective: Application required. These campaigns are usually some of the "cooler" opportunities, but I have been a member for about a year and have applied for at least 5-10 campaigns and have never been chosen. They also use an analytics plug in to determine how much money you are able to make off of a campaign (Your profile will say "You are eligible to apply for campaigns worth up to $___") so if you are a smaller blog, that could also work against you. I'm not sure exactly what determines whether or not you get campaigns, but I have also heard from others that it takes a while to get chosen for opportunities!
  • SITSgirls/Massive Sway: This is more of a community than a "media company," but because they do offer opportunities for sponsored posts, I wanted to include them! I have found that their featured posts and forums are really helpful (and you can even find some forums about sponsored opportunities) and then you can apply for campaigns that are highlighted in their newsletters. If you are only interested in the sponsored opportunities, visit their sister site that focus on that, Massive Sway. They rely on Google Analytics stats (like many of these media companies do) and your stats do effect your probability of being chosen.
  • Pollinate Media: Application required. Works through newsletters to let members know about opportunities and then you have to apply for each individual one. I was just recently accepted into this community, so I haven't had an opportunity to work with them yet. This is among the most respected of this list and I'm excited to work with them more in the future. Since my experience with Pollinate is limited, I asked Brittany from Happy is a Choice for her input:
    "I love working with Pollinate. They are professional and very timely. Pollinate typically is looking for a unique and creative "pitch" on how you will showcase their products in a organic and original way. The have high standards for creativity and photo quality, and I enjoy that it pushes me to create awesome content. If you don't get selected right away for a campaign, keep trying because each campaign is looking for different things. For instance, I don't get picked for all of the food/drink campaigns because I only blog about that on occasion. What Hayley said about always creating posts you are proud of is really important-pollinate will look at your typical content and photos and that will in large part determine if you're selected for a campaign!"
  • Weave Made Media: Application required, but is meant for those blogs that are still building a following and growing. Weave is still a fairly new group, but branches off of Pollinate Media, dealing with "smaller" bloggers that aren't all that experienced with sponsored posts yet! They work in a similar way to a lot of the others I have mentioned, sending out a newsletter mentioning opportunities with links for you to go apply for each individual campaign. I have yet to work with one of their campaigns (I just haven't applied to any out of interest/theme of my blog yet), but the reputation of Pollinate Media makes me really trust the quality of work that they will turn out and their service to the blogging community! If you are still in the process of growing and figuring out exactly where you want to head in the land of monetization, I would definitely apply to be a part of Weave Made. I think over the next year or so, they are really going to grow and become a really great opportunity for bloggers!
Send pitches to companies whose products would work well with the theme of your blog.
Sometimes people tend to forget this, but compensation doesn't have to come only in the form of "cash." If you work with a boutique, store, or local business and they are giving you something in exchange for your time--that is a sponsored post. A lot of times, businesses that are trying to grow their social media reach will contact you after viewing some of your posts that you like. Even if they don't, you can reach out to them, sharing why you and your blog would work well for the growth of your business. You should be careful about who you are reaching out to and don't let yourself get bogged down if you get a lot of "no's." There are a million things that go into the marketing decisions of businesses (especially small businesses) and just because they are saying no right now, doesn't mean all ties with them are severed. Never "burn a bridge" just because you are disappointed. For those of you that think your blog could work well with opportunities like this, here are some tips for sending pitches:
  • Always start with your name and the name of your blog. You also want to hyperlink your blog name if you can, but simply put your URL in parentheses beside your blog name if that is not an option.
  • Do not email every single business just because you want opportunities. Businesses will be able to see through that and you also don't want to harm the integrity of your blog by writing about anything and everything that you can receive for free.
  • Include a few compliments about the business and why their products or services would make a good fit for your blog.
  • Explain the overall theme of your blog and mention the top three categories that you write about or that are the most popular with your readers.
  • Include a few statistics (like monthly page views or unique visitors)
  • Mention any businesses or companies that you have previously worked with in the past.
  • Add a link to the bottom of your message that is similar to the work you would do for their business. For example, if you have previously done a sponsored fashion post for a local boutique, include that in your pitch to an Etsy shop that sells monogrammed sweatshirts, etc.!
  • Always sign your message with your name, blog link, email, and maybe even your Twitter handle. This gives the business multiple ways to get to know you better and contact you if they would like to continue a relationship.
Join blogging communities or Facebook pages
There are a ton of options out there for you in this category! There are all kinds of communities and Facebook pages based on blogging niche, state/location, faith, etc.! A simple Google search should bring up any that are in your area and the same should happen on Facebook! I already mentioned SITSgirls above (which is my favorite community), but there are many others that you can try. Some are even devoted to posting sponsored opportunities for bloggers that you can apply to! I have been put in contact with many companies looking for bloggers to do reviews and sponsored posts through this group, although it is closed and you have to be "approved" to join! Just do a little searching and find some that you think you might like!! The best part is if you join a few that you just don't love, you can simply leave or stop interacting!

Make sure that you only click "publish" on posts that will be something you are proud of.
I know this kind of sounds like a no-brainer, but the type of posts that you do from day to day are really going to make your blog into whatever it is going to be. If you are consistently posting things with high quality photos, interesting stories, and meaning, people will notice!! A lot of businesses these days are searching through the blogging community for people that will be a good representation of their brand and you never know when someone could click over!! Always do your best and always keep the overall theme and vision of your blog in mind when writing!!

I think I have pretty much covered everything when it comes to getting sponsored opportunities that help you grow your blog, monetize in this way, and expand your potential! Because I have only scratched the surface when it comes to sponsored content, I will be sharing some tips in the coming week for choosing campaigns, applying for campaigns, and writing awesome posts!! Be sure to stop by!

If you know of any companies or techniques that I haven't mentioned, please feel free to leave them in the comment section and I will add them in (crediting you/your blog, of course)!


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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Your life doesn't end when you have kids

Our culture has convinced people that having kids ends your life and it's truly, truly sad. Sure, having children ends your life as you know it, but just because you pop out a few babies doesn't mean that everyone you know and love will desert you. If there are people that decide to leave you in the dust because you have chosen to create a beautiful new life with the spouse that you adore, then they probably weren't doing all that much good for you to begin with. It also doesn't mean that all of the items on your bucket list now have to be put on hold or that the tiny life (or lives) you are now responsible for holding are you back from your biggest hopes and dreams for the rest of your life. If anything, having children enhances those hopes and dreams and grows them into something you gladly share with everyone in your life--even those that can't brush their own teeth or properly dress themselves yet.

It boggles my mind when I see articles like this one floating around Facebook and Twitter, telling people my age the opposite of that--to check a bunch of things off of a list before "giving their lives away to kids." I guess it drives me crazy because a lot of the things labeled in our society as "necessary" prior to having kids can be done with kids. When I think about all of the cool things that my husband and I could be doing if we didn't have our son, I have no choice but to consider all of the fun things that we have been able to do with him. Going to certain places and doing different things is obviously a little bit more challenging with kids, but a little preparation can allow you to do almost anything that people without children can do. I also really love the idea that we won't have to sit around and tell our children about the fun times that mommy and daddy had before them, getting out all of their "living" before getting locked down for more than twenty years.

Rather than trying live life before kids come into the picture, why don't we focus on trying to give them enriching experiences and live our lives with them. Even the smaller things that were included in the aforementioned article are a little ridiculous--are you really telling me that Sunday brunch is impossible when you have little ones? If you think that for a second, then please know it's a huge lie. In fact, my husband, son, and I just recently had a really nice Sunday brunch (with a couple that doesn't have children, mind you), and I think it's safe to say that we all enjoyed ourselves greatly. Sure, our two year old put his hand in a bowl of syrup and stirred my coffee for five minutes straight just because he wanted to, but we were still able to sit down and enjoy a nice hour or two of fellowship with people that we liked--with our kid!

The last thing our society needs is another check list that allows us to compare and contrast our lives with every other person around us--there's enough opportunity for discontentment out there already. When you conjure up a list of things that you really, really want to do before having kids, you begin to focus on those things like they are a need. What happens when your car breaks down and the money that was supposed to fund your trip to Coachella has to be used for something else? Does that mean that you put off having kids for another year because you can't afford this year's tickets? Traveling and enjoying the freedom of being young is great and a blessing that many do get to enjoy, which is so amazing. Unfortunately, we didn't really have the option, but I am pretty thankful that I didn't have to worry about comparing myself to the standards and to-do lists of everyone else. When people are convinced something is a prerequisite to having children it just becomes a hinderance to experiencing the uniqueness of their life.

Even when it comes to your friends, things will change, but starting a family is not the end-all be-all to the relationships you have spent years building with your fellow newlywed couples or pals that are still single. One of the greatest truths that our personal situation has taught me is that you can be friends with any people at any stage of life. If my husband and I locked ourselves into only having friends that were just like us and experiencing the exact same things as us then we would never get socialization outside of each other. Having friends that are in all stages of life is a beautiful thing. You should work hard to establish friendships with people that are older than you, younger than you, the same age as you, or any combination of those. When you build lasting relationships with older couples they are able to disciple you, teach you, and comfort you because they have a good idea of what you are going through. When you build lasting relationships with younger couples, you are able to offer them advice and encouragement. When you build lasting relationships with people that are the same age as you, regardless of whether they have kids yet, are married yet, etc., you open the door to good conversations and the opportunity to appreciate all kinds of people and where God has lead them at a specific point in their life. Buying into the lie that we can only hang out with people exactly like us leaves no room for growth or education, and completely shuts out opportunities to be used by God in the lives of others as well as the opportunity to be blessed by someone else who is being used by God.

At the end of the day, there are tons of things you can try to do to prepare yourself to have children, but none of them will really work. You can save money like crazy, but you never know what kind of costs a new life can bring with it. You can read every book, visit some of your favorite destinations, and attempt to land your "dream job," but at the end of the day, you will never be ready. You will never understand the joy, frustration, pain, happiness, excitement, laughter, disappointment, or love that is involved with being a parent and you should never let worldly things get in the way of experiencing that. I don't think that another check list is needed, but if I were to create a check list for things to do before having children, it would include one thing: Spend quality time with your spouse, praying, diving into the word, and praying some more. No one knows the best route for your family except He who knew the plans for your life before you even existed, so give yourself to Him fully and freely. He will provide all that you need--especially the answer to "when should we really have children?."

*Read more of my faith based posts here.

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