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.