Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
At some point in your blogging career, you’re going to reach the point where companies are going to want to pay you to blog about their products or services. Recently I’ve had a few emails come in where people asked me about starting a blog and how could they make money from there current blog. So, I decided to do a series of posts that cover the topic of blogging since it’s been a while since I have put out any advice on this topic. And as we all know the blogosphere is constantly changing.
Therefore, to begin this series of posts I’m going to jump in with how to write a sponsored post that drives sales because I feel that is the most important goal when working with brands.
Make Sure the Company Aligns with Your Brand
Trust is everything in blogging. One study revealed that 78% of US consumers are withdrawing their loyalty from their favored brands. And there’s no easier way to turn people off if you give them something they don’t want.
With a sponsored post, you need to feature something that fits in with your target market. You should trust that product and use that product.
And if you must turn down money and the opportunity it is better for your blog in the long-term.
As a beginner blogger, it can be tempting to work anyone who is willing to pay you to feature them. However, I strongly recommend not doing so as it will hinder you before you’ve even had a chance to explore blogging.
Not only will it make blogging seem like a chore on your end, since the company cannot be naturally inserted into your lifestyle, but it will also send off the vibe to visitors of your site that you’re just chasing money.
This isn’t going to benefit the company because you’re not going to be sending them any sales and it’s not benefiting you because you’re going to lose loyal readers because of this.
It’s okay to say no and let a company know that they aren’t a good fit for your site. They’ll respect you more for being upfront and honest with them and they can still refer you to their potential partners who may be a better fit for your site.
For example, I have companies reach out to me all the time about featuring their diapers and other infant-related products to my audience. I always must politely decline because while I am a mom, none of my boys use those things anymore. However, I was offered the chance to partner with Bengay last summer and was able to blow the post out of the water since it was a brand that I had already been spending money on, therefore, I was already familiar with their products and I even remember my mom using it when I was a kid up until this day.
Check Your Analytics to Ensure It’s What Your Customers Want
Do your customers want to hear about that type of product in the first place?
You may find a product that does match your brand but isn’t what your audience is currently seeking. But how do you find out about this?
Use a customer success software option, such as User IQ, and you’ll find out more about the content spiking customer interactions. Then you can tailor the products you feature on your site according to the data you’re getting back.
For physical products, you can also look into product engagement software to find out how your market is responding to different types of physical product.
If you want to know more about what people are doing when they hit your website, the best option is always the free tool Google Analytics.
These three tools are guaranteed to give you an insight into the types of sponsored post likely to drive sales.
For example, based on my last 30 days of analytics I can see my most viewed pages were relating to Valentine’s Day Gifts with health and finance related posts coming in afterward. Therefore, since obviously, Valentine’s Day is over now, it means I need to be posting more health and finance-related content.
Write Content That Your Readers Can Relate To
What’s the key to getting someone to buy a product you’re promoting?
Keep in mind that you’re the driving force behind your brand. Your voice and personality are what keeps your readers coming back for more.
You must be able to write content your readers can relate to. The way to do this is to show how a product influences your life.
Show yourself using it by telling personal stories and featuring videos and images with you and the product in it.
For example, you could show your readers how to use a product in a video, where you go through the various functions and features. But don’t stop there, remember to update your audience on how the experience is going months after the initial post (even if it’s just featuring it in another post to show that you’re still using it).
It’s also an excellent way to build trust as you’re giving readers an insight into what happens behind the screen.
Now, I know not everyone wants to take photos or be on video. I’ve been there myself. However, when you made the decision to become a blogger your life is no longer private anymore (unless you’re blogging under a persona/anonymously). Your audience wants to see you.
Even though I’m a blogger, I still watch YouTube videos from Influencers and read other blogs. When I go to their site I expect to see them and their family (since I read mostly lifestyle blogs) and feel like I have a personal connection with them. I trust their recommendations and I can relate to their content and if they say something worked great I’m 90% open to purchasing it if it’s something that I’m in the market for (the other 10% goes to me researching to make sure it’s something that 100% a good match for myself).
For example, I love going over to Lou’s blog, Product Review Mom, whenever I’m planning a trip. She does such detailed travel reviews that I feel like I was with her when she had the experience.Check out @MissLouMae for the airlines to trust and other travel-related content! Click To Tweet
On the other hand, if I’m looking to up my beauty product or skincare game I head over to Stacie’s blog, Stacie Raye.Check out @StacieRayeblog to be in the loop about the must-have bath and beauty products! Click To Tweet
Avoid Doing a Promotional Piece
Ads are incredibly ineffective in this day and age. ‘Banner blindness’ is common across every generation. People hate commercials and they hate ads, so if your sponsored post sounds like an ad it’s not going to drive anything, except readers to your competitors.
Did you know that 380 million people use ad blockers on their mobile devices alone?
Now you can see why your sponsored post must be useful, not promotional.
So what can you do about it?
The answer is in a storyline. Turn your post into a story that just so happens to include the product you’re promoting. For example, include a story about how the product in question enhanced your life.
Not only will a promotional piece not drive sales it will reduce your readership.
The only exception to this rule is when you’re publishing information that your readers may potentially benefit from and it’s not a sponsored post (i.e. those press releases you receive from PR companies that you’re not being paid to post about, but personally love the deal and would/have taken advantage of it yourself). However, those prewritten posts companies offer to you to post should be avoided at all costs.
For example, I’ve recently done some promotional pieces about Great Wolf Lodge. I wasn’t being paid to post about what they have going on, however, I’m planning a trip there with my boys very soon and I have an upcoming trip to Mexico later this year, so I felt it was important to keep travel posts frequent on my blog since in August that’s virtually all I’ll be discussing since I’ll be on the go.
Consider Doing a Gift Guide
An easy way to slip in a product is to do a gift guide for the upcoming holidays. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Christmas if the product in question would make a great gift for a specific time you should include it. However, again, at the same time, you want to make sure it is something that you would truly recommend and, or, use yourself.
This is an easy way to feature a product as it never gets old and people find gift guides \ useful for their holiday shopping. If they’re legit recommendations (i.e. you have experience with the company), you’re good to go.
You can even do more general gift guides, such as birthdays and engagements. They’re also great for promoting multiple products at the same time and they’re relevant during all times of the year.
Put Call to Actions Within the Post
Don’t be bashful when it comes to telling your readers what you want them to do.
Studies have shown that posts without a call to action are far less likely to accomplish their goals. A call to action doesn’t have to devalue a post.
For example, you could enter a call to action asking readers to tell you what they think of the product or whether they found one of your videos informative.
A call to action is an extremely powerful tool.
Use Proper Disclosures
Remember to include a disclosure that you’re being paid to promote a product. FTC guidelines require this. If your blog ever goes viral this could come back to bite you if you didn’t include a disclosure.
It’s also ethical and preserves trust. If readers later find out that you were paid to include a product and you said nothing it will destroy your brand.
For example, when I do sponsored post, review, or affiliate posts I make sure to always disclose that using a plugin called Disclosure Picker.
Constantly Promote It
Do your readers love a product?
Then keep mentioning and promoting it, even if you’re only paid for a certain number of mentions. Always keep sight of the most important thing: your blog.
If readers love something there’s no reason to stop using what works.
It could even give you more sponsored post opportunities in the future!
For example, most sponsored posts are going to pay a flat rate, and occasionally, you could be an affiliate as well. This doesn’t mean you should only do their minimum requirements to get paid. Instead, promote it every chance you get to increase your chances of gaining new readers.
See Also: 20 Tools All Bloggers Should Know About
Final Thoughts on How to Write a Sponsored Post That Drives Sales
Overall, sponsored posts should be treated in the same way as your non-sponsored posts. The goal is to make sure that you’re being honest and ethical with your audience and making sure your sponsor is happy with the results. Implementing “No” helps keep this balance.
What tips do you have to offer to bloggers who want to write a sponsored post that drives sales?