This guest post is by Lina Nguyen of Words That Influence.
Influential bloggers are being paid top dollar to write sponsored posts (thousands of dollars per post is not unheard of). They’re gifted with luxury items, cars and overseas trips, and invited to events previously exclusive to A-List celebrities and long-established journalists.
Bloggers worldwide are proving to be fierce competition for mainstream media, as companies decide how to get the best return on investment for their marketing buck.
If you have the following seven things, then your blog and social media networks will be highly valuable digital assets, sought after by major companies.
Even if you don’t quite have the same reach and clout as some of these bloggers, you can still apply these principles to negotiate your own deals with smaller businesses in your niche.
ProBlogger Training Day event speakers Craig Makepeace and Caz Makepeace are travel bloggers who landed a corporate sponsorship deal with a major airline, to cover a high profile international sporting event. At the end of this post, we’ll see these seven points in action, as we take a look at their success in attracting sponsorship from a major brand.
1. Your audience is a profitable niche market
The people in a profitable niche for major companies tend to be decision makers, consumers or influencers in the buying process, for either highly priced items (like cars, technology, travel or finance), or highly consumed items (like food, health products, household goods).
How do you know if your niche is profitable? Just take a look around in mainstream media. If companies are already paying big bucks to advertise to your audience on TV, radio, magazines and newspapers, then you’re in a profitable niche.
2. You’ve built a community
If you’ve created a group of people who gather on your blog and social media networks, then what you’ve created has the potential to be extremely financially valuable.
Companies always want to know where their target market is hanging out and get in front of them. Trouble is, as outsiders, whose primary motivation is to sell, they’re not exactly welcomed.
That’s why they’re willing to pay to get access to your tightly formed online community, which has its very own culture, rules and etiquette. Your intimate knowledge of how your community thinks and behaves has a valuable price tag on it.
3. You have reach
Being in a commercially attractive niche and having impressive reach in numbers (in terms of blog traffic, subscribers and social media followers) makes your community really valuable. A big corporate client will be after the exposure you can give them.
What kind of numbers are valuable? That all depends.
Essentially, it comes down to the demand to reach your niche, how targeted your audience is and what other advertising avenues are available to the company to reach that specific audience.
The more profitable the niche, and the harder those communities are to access, the more money a company will be willing to pay you to get in front of them.
4. Your community is highly engaged
This is what makes a blogger much more appealing to companies for advertising potential than say, television, print media, billboards and flyers.
Bloggers engage with their audience, who eagerly share their thoughts and feelings. In addition, they actively give bloggers permission to communicate with them, by following or subscribing.
Engaged communities also show clear signs of activity, through comments, posts and tweets. This is valuable in the eyes of a potential marketer, because an active community gives the company a way to evaluate and measure a campaign’s success.
An indicator of a successful marketing campaign is one where the target market responds to it, hopefully positively (although a highly engaged negative response can also be seen as successful, depending on the company’s objectives).
5. You have influence
A blogger with a highly engaged and active community is more likely to have influence, which is what’s really going to make a company take notice.
A company will pay for your ability to help get the word out, your referral or your endorsement.
If you can do all three, to an audience who will listen to you and believe you, then you are in a very strong negotiating position to command a price.
A bigger company with a large marketing budget is most likely interested in building brand awareness, exposure and chipping away at a longer-term objective to improve market perception.
The good news for a blogger is that they’re unlikely to expect a huge spike in sales from working on a one-off campaign with you. This eases the pressure off you, relieving expectation that you’ll influence your readers to rush out and buy the product.
Having said that, if you do have the clout to change attitudes, beliefs and market perception about a particular product or service—or you can get people to buy in noticeable numbers—then that will clearly make you extremely valuable in the corporate marketplace.
6. Your brand is strong and clear
If you have all of the above advantages, then what a company wants is to align with your brand. You’re obviously credible and your brand says something that they want to be perceived as being.
They want your audience to think they’re worthy of attention, too.
7. Your prices are competitive
Is your going rate less than the cost of advertising with traditional media power houses, or a celebrity endorsement? Most bloggers are. You’re instantly more appealing, price-wise—especially if you’re willing to accept non-cash payments which the company can offer you at low cost to them.
More importantly, if a major company is willing to do business with you, then they see you as a profitable return on investment.
To demonstrate these seven points, let’s take a look at a blog that’s had success in attracting big-brand sponsorship.
Case study: the yTravel blog’s and Qantas sponsorship dealAfter blogging for a little over a year, Craig Makepeace and Caz Makepeace secured a sponsorship deal with Australia’s leading international and domestic airline, Qantas, to travel around New Zealand and cover the Rugby World Cup.
If you would like to hear more about the specific steps they took to secure this sponsorship, you can listen to my exclusive interview with Caz on my blog, Mother’s Love Letters.
Blog: y Travel Blog
Niche and Community: Travelers, world-wide.
Sub-niches: Independent world travel, working holidays, family travel.
- 50,000+ visitors a month
- 70,000+ Page Views per month
- 3,000+ Facebook fans
- 5,000+ Twitter followers
- 1,200+ subscribers
Level of engagement: Average 15-20 comments per blog post. Daily social media interaction. Reply to almost every blog comment. 12,000+ Tweets to date. Facebook fan page is the most interactive and engaged in this niche.
Influence: Klout Score: 70
Brand: Fun-loving, friendly travellers who are about making your life a story to tell. They believe life is all about the memories, so they make sure they live their life in a way that creates many memories through travel. Their goal is to help people get inspired, get informed and get going.
The deal: All expenses paid 12 day tour of New Zealand, doing activities and attending Rugby World Cup matches. Qantas will also be promoting the bloggers. In return, all Craig and Caz have to do, is have fun, blog, Facebook, and Tweet!
What impressed Qantas most: The bloggers’ level of engagement with their active community.
A key secret to their success: Guest posting. This was key to growing traffic.
Their top tips: Be clear about your brand and make it authentic. Network and build relationships in order to build your community. Social media is crucial, but look at offline networking opportunities, too. Value yourself. Consider how short-term income opportunities for advertising and sponsored posts that compromise content quality may affect your blog perception and brand in the long term. Learn how to write a sponsorship proposal. Don’t be limited by the fact that you’re a new blogger. Every big blogger starts off by being a new blogger.
Is corporate sponsorship for bloggers something that’s common in your niche? Are you looking at aligning yourself with a company, as a monetization strategy?
Lina Nguyen is a blogger in the Australian Mummy Bloggers niche. She is also a copywriter, digital media consultant and online communications expert at Words That Influence.