How my blog gained its first sponsored content – it was simpler than you might think

How my blog gained its first sponsored content - www.alliepottswrites.comMy story begins in June in London.

I was there to participate in the Bloggers Bash, an international meet-up and conference for bloggers from all walks of life. Suzie of Suzie Speaks approached the front of the room. I’d followed Suzie for a while, I knew she’d walked away from a teaching career and had begun blogging professionally out of necessity as much as interest. I’ve applauded her courage, admired what she’s achieved and was thrilled to finally meet her in person.

I opened my notebook as she began her presentation eager to record all the secrets of the professional blogging universe. Then she said something that made my note-taking hand pause in mid-motion.

Size doesn’t matter…

I blinked. I looked around the room. Light shone down through stained glass windows depicting images reminding me I was far from home. I couldn’t have heard that right, I told myself. It must have been the accent, but did she really just say that a blog of any size (or style) can gain sponsors? Even one like mine?

Well, yes … just don’t expect them to call you first.

Emboldened, I set out to try to find a sponsor.

Earlier, I’d joined Massive Sway where I published a guest piece on logo design through their sister site, The SITS Girls, so I knew they provided a list of companies looking to amplify their reach through social media and were willing to pay for it. All I had to do was fill in a profile detailing my interests and list my social media links. Then they would send me a list of companies willing to pay for posts, tweets, or other social amplification.

Dog condiment coat
Her Royal Highness was not amused. (affiliate link)

For example, one campaign listed was for a flea collar and all you had to do was purchase the product, take a picture or two with your furry family member and write a story. I have a dog, neither of us like fleas and I write stories. It was perfect.

Except for one catch. You had to be on Instagram too.

I wasn’t on Instagram at the time (I am now). So, I let that opportunity pass me by, excited by the possibility that adding sponsored content would be easy, confident that more would come. The next one to catch my eye was for wine. Not a brand I was hugely familiar with per se, but I do enjoy wine. This was it. My first sponsored content … I hit the button to apply.

Then nothing.

A few weeks later I learned my application had been declined. My profile hadn’t been enticing enough to the brand. A red flag should have gone up the moment I thought it might be easy.

…It’s what you do with it.

It was disappointing, but as I read through more and more corporate pitches I realized something else. Just as I wasn’t a fit for that earlier company’s strategy by the numbers, many of the easy pitches coming my way weren’t a fit for me or this blog by the content either.

Pinterest fail truck cake -
One of the many reasons I am not making a killing on Pinterest

My blog isn’t about handcrafted lipstick or yogurt made from the milk of a coconut, nor is it about hidden uses for deodorant or strappy sandals that perfectly compliment the color of your favorite cough syrup. (I’m sure that last one comes in especially handy.) I have nothing against those sort of sites. In fact, I use them all the time. This site just isn’t one.

I realized I had been going on about this all wrong. I was wasting time waiting for the ‘perfect’ opportunity to appear in my inbox when what I really needed to do was create that opportunity on my own.

As almost every business today has contact information somewhere on their website, I decided to use it.

How did my blog gain its first sponsored content?

Simple. I sent an email.

In it, I made my pitch which included the following:

  • Who I was
  • What I wanted to do to promote their product on my site (post length and content bullet points)
  • Where I was active on social media
  • When I would post
  • Why they should take me up on my offer, making sure to provide monthly blog stats, social reach, and audience engagement
  • How much my proposal would cost

I then prepared myself mentally for their response (because as an author I need more rejection in my life). I reminded myself I had nothing to lose and only acceptance or experience to gain.

And would you know it? We reached a deal!

All I had to do was ask.

For those who are interested, Suzie also offers help growing your blog and social media presence and really knows her stuff. And no, she is not paying me to say that (though she’s welcome to). This is just my way of saying thanks to her for giving me the confidence to take that first step.

OVER THERE - An American's experience at the #BloggersBash -

Over There – An American’s experience at the London Blogger’s Bash

Earlier this year, my hubby surprised me with tickets to attend the Annual Bloggers Bash in London. For those of you not familiar with the event, it’s an international get together and conference for writers of all interests, sizes, and platforms wishing to network as well as learn about how to take their writing and/or blogging to the next level. I’d seen the videos from prior events. I’d read the testimonials about connections made and the impact the event had made on others’ lives. I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get to go. I felt like Cinderella finding out she would be able to attend the ball. I was so excited – nervous about traveling to another country all on my own – but excited all the same.

Then . . .

Well, then there was an event in Westminster and the news broke with stories about women and children exiting a pop concert being targeted in Manchester followed by others about shoppers and pub-goers on London Bridge, and my nervousness took on a slightly different flavor. I wasn’t the only one to wonder what might happen next. I saw a message from another attendee suggesting the event might not still go on in light of recent events.

The response from one of the event’s organizers was simple – as long as London is open, the Bash will go on. I should have expected nothing less from the land of “Keep Calm and Carry On”. And so, on I would go as well, coincidentally packing my bag while a bit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the song, ‘Over There’  played on the radio. Yes, I thought as the music played, the Yanks were coming. I would show my grit, do my bit – over there.

I might say a prayer, but I was prepared for over there. While the idea of traveling solo still made me nervous, it wasn’t my first visit to the British Isles. I’d taken a bus tour with my husband a few years before. It was a trip that started in London, took us up through Scotland, across to Northern Ireland, down to Dublin, and across the water once again to Wales, where we visited Cardiff Castle.

WWII poster in Cardiff
I found this cautionary sign rather amusing at the time. Where’s the trust?

Tunnels beneath the castle grounds had been converted into a museum dedicated to the Welsh soldier and featured exhibits from over three hundred years of conflicts. As we walked into an area detailing World War II, speakers hidden in the walls played radio broadcasts of the times broken up with the sounds of air sirens and bombs falling. As I looked at posters and read placards I could only imagine what it must have been like to live through times like those while being told to keep calm and carry on while chaos and fear played so loudly in the background.

And yet carry on they did, with a stiff upper lip, going on to produce many of the smiling faces and open arms which eventually greeted this relative stranger from across the ocean without fear or hesitation. As I was welcomed out to meals and into homes as if we’d known each other for years, I reflected on just how appropriate the conference’s theme word of the year – connection – really was. I might have met them first as allies, as it were, in the field of writing, but we departed as friends. (You can ‘meet’ many of them or learn more about the event itself here courtesy of Hugh’s Views and News.)

While we got to better know each other over books, blogs, cocktails and chocolate cake, I found it interesting to hear the most recent attacks referred by the locals as “that business on the bridge,” when our American headlines read terrifying things like ‘Britons Reeling’ and ‘London on Lockdown.’ Neither US headline was true as evidenced by the thousands of people who filled the London streets as I walked around town or by the banners proclaiming “London is Open” as part of a campaign following the EU referendum (also known as the Brexit vote). This is not to say the people I met weren’t concerned about safety nor viewed the loss of life as any less tragic, they just weren’t beaten by the news or willing to hide away in their homes.

The contrast in our headlines was also a reminder about the power our words can bestow or take away from events as well as people. Which is why it is all the more important we use our words wisely and never, never give in to fear.

While I may not be able to attend the Bash every year, I hope my reasons in the future will be limited to economic or scheduling ones rather than the alternative. We live in a world made smaller thanks to constant connection which is good and bad. It may at times feel less safe, but that is because news travels faster now. The fact of the matter is there have always been those who wish to strike fear into the hearts of others, which is all the more reason to go out there – explore, connect, to expand your worldview and find strength in numbers. To keep calm and carry on. For while it may be difficult to overcome fear, it is harder still to live a lifetime of regret.

While I loved meeting so many, I’d like to extend my thanks to Sacha, Geoff, Ali, and Hugh in particular for their incredible generosity as well as their hospitality. Truly, while I may have suggested in this post that it was my duty to attend the Bash, know it was my pleasure and privilege to do so as well.

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