This is a guest contribution from Katie Moseman.
In my first few months of writing my food blog, I ran across a lot of impassioned opinions about how publishing a sponsored post on your blog constituted “selling out.” I didn’t immediately agree with that idea, but I hadn’t ever written a sponsored post, so how would I know?
A few months later, I had the chance to find out when I was tapped to write a sponsored post for a wine company.
It certainly didn’t feel like selling out. It felt like being paid to write, which for me was a very good feeling.
After that, I was accepted into several groups that help match bloggers with brands looking to pay for sponsored posts. I went from making absolutely nothing from my food blog, to making a decent part-time income almost immediately. And that was entirely due to writing sponsored posts.
Since I blog about food, almost all of the sponsored posts were for foods. Although the occasional post was sponsored by one of those marketing organizations like “Got Milk” or “California Raisins” that promote a whole food, most foods that got featured in a sponsored post had been processed in some way. That didn’t always mean they were always unhealthy, but there was certainly an abundance of ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat convenience food.
I tried very hard to stick to products I’d actually serve my own family. That standard eliminated quite a few of the assignments that would have been available to me. That meant less money overall, but it also meant that I didn’t feel bad about helping to convince people to buy products that I wouldn’t use myself.
However, the more I wrote about the convenience foods that I was buying, the more I realized that I’d had a habit of buying them since long before I had started blogging. The more convenience food that I was required to buy for work, the more it made me think about the food I bought for my own reasons.
Constantly blogging about what I was eating and drinking made me much more aware of my long-entrenched shopping habits. I started making more conscious shopping decisions. And I started experimenting with whole foods for meals (like breakfast) where I had previously reached automatically for something ready to eat. Perhaps that’s not a flattering admission for a food blogger to make, but it’s a truthful one.
Being hired for all those assignments showed me that I was being taken seriously an influencer. And if you’re being taken seriously by commerical interests, you should take your own influence seriously, too. You have to start thinking about questions like, “What am I saying to my audience?” and “Do I feel positive about my effect on their choices?”
With those questions in mind, I started playing a little game with my sponsored posts. If I wrote a sponsored post for a frozen main course, I’d include a recipe for a side dish made from completely fresh and unprocessed ingredients. If I wrote a sponsored post about a sweetened beverage, I’d create a recipe with it that reduced the total amount of sugar.
Writing sponsored posts can feel like selling out, if you’re picking the wrong ones for you (or your audience) and writing them in a formulaic way. But writing a sponsored post can be empowering if you weave in your own messages in a way that you know will speak to your audience.
Sometimes, I can’t find a good way to fit an extra message within a sponsored post. In that case, I just follow it up with another post. In a sponsored post, I might write about a children’s snack food; in the next, I’ll spread the word about a children’s charity.
This method can work for almost any blogging niche. If you write about photography, find a spot in your editorial calendar to bring attention to a photo scholarship in need of funding. If you write about children’s clothing, pick your favorite children’s charity and give them a spotlight. The possibilities are endless; let your influence be wielded not just to sell, but to help those in need.
Individually, bloggers may not have the power of the New York Times, but collectively we influence millions of people every day. We can’t ever take that for granted. Being mindful about your influence is the key to finding the balance between getting paid for your work and staying true to yourself.
Katie Moseman writes about food and restaurants at her blog Recipe for Perfection.
This is a fascinating read. Our bond with money is weird sometimes, right? Selling out is an idea created by broke folks or by jealous folks. Nothing more. Money is 1 way for folks to show thanks. You do this. I will give you money for it. Easy. Simple.
I wrote a few sponsored posts on my blog and had no issues with it. One involved promoting a prominent individual. I worked his name in, giving him props, in a post designed to help bloggers with boosting their traffic and sales and all that good stuff. It’s kinda crazy how easily I detached from the getting money side of the post when I focused on sharing something useful and helpful for my audience. I worried about writing sponsored posts initially because I felt like I was selling out, worrying about receiving money for my services. I realized this worry was my own stuff, my limiting beliefs. I let go the stuff and focused on having fun and writing something that my audience would dig, something valuable.
Shifting my attention helped me write one of my more popular blog posts at the time. I created a gem – my audience thought so at least – because I was less focused on the money aspect of the post and more on the giving aspect. I moved the attention from getting to giving and opened myself up to more creative, helpful ideas which I recorded and shared with my awesome readers.
Fun read Katie. I betcha more bloggers will see sponsored posts differently after reading this ;)
Hey, Admin, I am writing articles with personal websites as well on technologies basis. Can You Suggest me I write an article after that I want to sell articles for online, which is the best platform to purchase in my article. Please Responsive me I will wait for your answer.
Great read, Katie!
I’ve been toying with the idea of adding sponsored posts to my blog, but was definitely wary of the stigma that many people associate with sponsored content. I love your idea of adding your own twist or vision, to stay true to your brand. Thanks for the tips!!
Suzi, I think as long as the content is relevant to your site, no one will mind the occasional “guest blog”. But I by occasional, I mean, every 2 months or so. Gotta go with the 80/20 rule on this one.
What a great way of finding that balance between getting paid for your work and staying true to yourself! Good for you. :)
This is a lovely article…I have been getting many sponsored posts opportunities lately and I have had to reject many of them because it doesn’t go well with my or my site’s ethics. I loved the way your perceive it..
One of the things that I most admire is when bloggers can take sponsored content and write it for their audience – which is, of course, what the sponsor was hoping for. I love the way you’ve got the side dishes included in your sponsored posts about processed foods. It’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it? And shows that it can be slow steps. :)
Well, nice post. Sponsored posts are the best way for increasing blog post and some extra money BUT the main problem with them is, sometimes they are totally off-topic or post sender(sponsor) just want to publish it, they don’t care quality. So, everyone publishes these kinds of posts but keep in mind quality and your niche. Thanks
Writing sponsored posts have some disadvantages too, like people lose the trust on you because you favors too much, unless you write natural (which i think is less possible) since a person is hiring you to write a post.
Anyway, nice tips, appreciated.
Very true. Sometimes, we feel like, it is an obligation that we give information to our viewers. But as we go along with the profession, we realize that it is more than just an obligation or responsibility to write. It is more of concern and compassion to our audience that we keep the quality of our blogs. We want them to learn something from them. This is more than money and self-fulfillment because we are able to influence and inspire other people.
A truly nice post you’ve got! A genuine writer does need to be very neutral. Since posts normally aimed to help and give their unbiased insight about any topic they have to write. And that makes a quality post.
My first food blog went so far off track from my original intent once I started accepting sponsored posts. At some point, I realized it didn’t feel good to be promoting foods I wouldn’t actually eat. I couldn’t go on and shut my blog down. I may not make money on my current food blog, but I am content with the fact that I create original recipes using primarily fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients. Hopefully people will be encouraged to try new ways of cooking and maybe even stick around long enough to buy my forthcoming cookbook. It’s all a process and I love what I do.