Sponsored posts, amirite? We know that bloggers love how a sponsored post can supplement their income. But we also know how uncomfortable some bloggers feel in incorporating this type of content.
We're here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way.
There's a common belief that sponsored content doesn't perform as well as nonsponsored content. We're here to debunk that myth, and show you how you can analyze and improve your sponsored content performance.
What do YOU believe about publishing sponsored content?
For various reasons, many bloggers aren't comfortable posting sponsored content. We get it. But we challenge you to change your attitude about it.
If sponsored content is a part of your blogging income, embrace it! Bloggers deserve to make a living and sponsored content is a huge money maker for influencers. Most audience members are not surprised or offended by sponsored content. If the content is good and they like your style, they'll keep reading.
If you are uncomfortable with sponsored content, analyze why. It's time for you to determine what's causing those limiting beliefs and work through it.
Analyze your sponsored and non-sponsored content.
Until you've crunched the numbers, don't assume that all of your sponsored content does poorly and that your audience doesn't respond to it. If after reviewing the numbers you see a notable difference in your sponsored content performance, then it's time to investigate possible causes.
Sponsored Post Reach
First, measure the reach of your sponsored posts. If fewer people are reading the posts, you need to ensure that you are treating the sponsored content the same way.
- Do you write similar headlines that will attract readers?
- Are your visual elements and photos styled similarly?
- Are you promoting the content the same way and on the same channels?
Many bloggers promote their sponsored content differently. First, they don't share it enough. (Remember what we said above about some bloggers being hesitant to post sponsored content? It comes back to that.) Additionally, we see too many bloggers rest solely on the minimum required deliverables in the contracts. Even though the contract says that you only need to share three times on Twitter, if you would normally tweet ten times about a post, it's not surprising that there is a difference in the number of people who view the post.
Sponsored Post Engagement
Next, measure the engagement on your sponsored posts. Do you see a significant difference in the engagement on your sponsored content? If the reach on your sponsored posts is lower, that can also impact the overall number of engagements, so make sure you consider the engagement rate— not just the total number of engagements.
If your engagement rate is significantly lower, consider the reasons why.
- Is your storytelling style different in your sponsored content? Does it sound like you just cut and pasted the brand's talking points and didn't inject any personality into the post?
- Does your visual content vary significantly from what you typically post?
- Is the topic far outside of the type that you typically post?
- Do you promote the posts on different channels because of campaign requirements? (If you normally see a lot of activity on Pinterest, but it's not a required channel for this campaign, do you then ignore your usual Pinterest strategy as a result?)
Remember, if you want to see the same results, you need to ensure that you are doing the same things for both your nonsponsored and your sponsored content.
Survey your audience.
If you feel that you are doing everything the same way and that your audience would be interested in the content if it weren't sponsored, we recommend doing an audience survey to see if you can pinpoint the issue. A survey can also help you determine what kind of content your audience is most interested in.
Make sure you answer the right questions about sponsored content.
When we've participated in this type of survey in the past, we've seen questions like: do you like to see sponsored content on the blog? Yes or no. When it comes to your surveys, make sure you are asking more specific questions than this. If given the choice, most people will say that they don't want advertisements. If sponsored content is a big part of your blog's income, cutting sponsored content entirely isn't an option, so this question doesn't really give you information that you can use.
Instead, consider the following questions:
- What kind of content interests your audience? Provide a list of categories.
- What kind of sponsorships do they think would be most appealing to them as audience members? Give lists of different kind of categories.
- Find out some of their favorite brands. (This could be a great tool to have when you are pitching if you find a brand that a number of members of your audience want to see featured.)
Don't automatically believe the myth that your sponsored content can't and won't perform as well as your nonsponsored content.
Get to know what your audience really wants. When you create the kind of content that your audience wants to see and give it the same overall treatment that you use for your nonsponsored content, you should see a much smaller difference in the performance of your sponsored vs. nonsponsored content.
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Need help pricing your work for blog posts and sponsored content?
We'd like to introduce you to the PRICE™ Method, a better way to price your sponsored content.