This interview is super packed with helpful tips and actionable steps you can take to start getting sponsored posts TODAY – even if you are a new or smaller blogger!
Ashley is the writer behind A Lady Goes West and she was kind enough to give us an inside look at how she gets sponsored posts, works with sponsors, and charges for her efforts. I’ve been following along Ashley’s blog for a few years now and it is a lovely mix of her life, travel, fashion, food, and fitness.
I noticed over the years how Ashley would write sponsored posts that were unlike many I had seen on other blogs. She actually used the product(s) in her everyday life and she was really good at incorporating products into her posts without making the reader feel like it was a “sponsored post.”
Ashley’s posts make it evident that she goes above and beyond – no wonder sponsors want to work with her! And I can attest to the fact that the girl over-delivers by her detailed and valuable answers she provided for this interview!
Ok, I like to keep these intros short so we can get right to the good stuff! So without further ado, meet Ashley…
Where to find Ashley:
On her blog: A Lady Goes West
Facebook: A Lady Goes West
Can you share a little bit about how you got into blogging?
I had been interested in blogging for a very long time before I got started. Initially, I began my blog when my husband and I decided to pack up and move our life from Orlando, Florida to San Francisco, California four years ago.
What started out as a way to document our fun, adventures and new life for our people back home to read, ended up becoming more than just a hobby as A Lady Goes West grew into a healthy lifestyle website with a much bigger audience than just my immediate family and close friends.
How did you initially find sponsored posts and make connections with brands?
My first foray into working with brands on sponsored posts absolutely came through my involvement in blogging networks like SweatPink, FitFluential and CleverGirls (some of which you have to apply to be a part of).
It was easy to sign up for the network emails and apply for campaigns that way. I took notice of the requests and themes to see what brands were looking for in a blog campaign. In that case, the network does a lot of the legwork for you, so sometimes you don’t even communicate directly with the brand, just follow instructions and do your magic on your blog and social channels – a little bit easier to do.
After doing a few of those, I started to get contacted by PR agencies or brands directly who found my blog – which means I had to negotiate my rate and even provide my own invoice – usually allowing me the ability to make the campaign fit better for my needs.
And then after a few of those, I started to reach out to brands myself. I would say a mixture of all three is a good way to diversify.
What advice would you give bloggers about keeping sponsored posts authentic and not coming off sale-y?
When it comes to sponsored posts, you absolutely MUST use the product or service that you are talking about.
I have turned down a number of great campaigns because they just didn’t fit with my life. If I am going to talk about something in a sponsored post, you can bet it’s somewhat related to my healthy lifestyle.
Also, when I do a sponsored post, I always try to include information about myself and little tips for readers – so they get to learn something, get to know me better, and also authentically be exposed to the brand that I’m working with.
And I always disclose that something is sponsored. That’s important to do. Sometimes at the top of a post or sometimes at the bottom – but always in there.When it comes to sponsored posts, you absolutely MUST use the product or service --> @apstyle #bloggingtips Click To Tweet
For a new blogger who may not have a huge following yet, what could they do right now to start pursuing sponsored posts?
If you are brand new, I would suggest trying to get involved in the blogging networks I mentioned above, like SweatPink, FitFluential, CleverGirls, Collectively, and more. You can see the kinds of campaign opportunities that come up and start applying.
Sometimes brands will work with smaller bloggers because
(A) you cost less and
(B) you are easier to schedule with and work with.
Brands like to work w/ newer bloggers bc they can be more flexible & cost less! Interview w/ @apstyle via… Click To Tweet
Bigger bloggers may need way more lead time to work on a campaign, whereas newer bloggers can be very flexible. If you get the chance to pitch yourself, explain how you will go way above and beyond what is asked of you, explain if you have a very loyal or engaged audience, and also give anecdotal evidence that the brand may not be able to see on your blog or social stats, giving you more credibility.
For instance, do you get multiple comments on your personal FB page of people asking where you buy your clothing or food and then you see interactions of people following your advice? Let the brand know. Are you a group fitness instructor in front of a lot of people on a daily basis with a wide reach in addition to your blog? Let the brand know.
Give them all the reasons why you are WAY more than your social following, and hopefully, some will give you a shot!
What would you do if a sponsor reached out to you and was interested in working together? How do you come up with your fee?
When a brand reaches out to me, I go to the website and look around in case I’m not familiar with the product. I read reviews and then ask the brand to send me a sample of their product or service so I can try it out before agreeing to work together.
If I like the product or service, I ask for a larger supply to start incorporating into my life. Then, I work with the brand rep to come up with ideas for the post.
As far as payment – my fee for sponsored posts has gone up every couple of months since I’ve been blogging. I charge a certain rate for a dedicated sponsored campaign and social shares, and I charge a reduced rate for a sponsored mention only on my blog, or just a social post. I list all of those prices on my media kit, along with my stats.
I raise my fee every couple of months. And I started very small. My very first sponsored post was for $75.
For coming up with rates, I like to take into account the time it will take me to research the brand, try the product, take photos, write the post, and share the post… which is a lot. That being said, I am much more confident asking for more money now than I was at the beginning. And I want to keep growing and keep asking for more!
There have been a few brands that have asked to work with me again, and I’ve had to tell them I’ve raised my rates. It’s hard at first to stay strong, but your time and your blog is very worthy!
Get + negotiate sponsored posts w/ @apstyle: It’s hard at 1st to stay strong, but your time + blog are worthy Click To Tweet
How has working with sponsors impacted your blog?
I really enjoy doing the occasional sponsored post because sometimes it pushes me to try new things and get extra creative with my content.
Also, it’s been great for my blog to do sponsored posts because those brands will sometimes share my posts on their social channels, and that income has been helpful, in addition to the extra recognition. (By the way, I also make money from my blog through ads on my site and affiliate links as well.)
However, outside of making money from my blog and enjoying the writing and sharing process, perhaps my favorite thing has been meeting other bloggers in person in the Bay Area and at blogging conferences.
Last year, I was able to do a small speaking presentation at IDEA BlogFest in L.A., and I also attended this year. And based on the relationships I’ve made with brands through sponsored campaigns, I was able to reach out to some of those brands to send me products to use for an event I held myself and called the “First Annual Bay Area Bloggers Meet and Sweat.”
I put on a workout, invited a bunch of bloggers, and had time for socializing, pictures and eating healthy food – all of which was donated by sponsors. And as a thank you to my guests, I gave away gift bags full of swag from brands that I’ve worked with. Fun for us all!
I’m planning to hold another event later this year. Overall, blogging is totally about the people and I love the connections I’ve made along the way.
Have you done sponsored posts?
Any tips or advice to share with fellow bloggers?