Sponsored content is a way to get paid by brands to create content. For food bloggers, this allows you to be paid for doing something you'd be doing for free - creating recipes and writing content to build out your blog content.
Each piece of content (recipe, product review) you put on your blog is a chance for you to build up you writing abilities, photography skills, drive traffic and build a following, cross-promote related recipes on your blog and
This is especially beneficial at the beginning to help pay for expenses related to the blog, but can be useful throughout the life cycle of your blog.
Doing sponsored content gives bloggers a way to interact with brands and brand managers, developing professional skills that carry-over into all aspects of life including:
- Planning, scheduling
- Proposal writing, pitching
- Negotiating, sales
- Portfolio building, testimonial acquisition
Contrast this to working with ad networks, who intermediate away all of this - which is great for simplicity - but turns you into a pawn, to be knocked over or discarded once you've outlived your usefulness.
Any small business (such as a food blog) absolutely requires multiple sources of revenue for the eventual scenario that one runs dry. Sponsored content work not only provides additional revenue, but helps develop those professional skills to pursue other avenues.
There's no end to the debate about how to price sponsored content, and there's only one clear answer: it's a personal decision.
And it should be in on way tied to your sense of self-worth. Every case is different, with some brands willing to pay more, and some willing to pay less.
What we generally recommend is that you start at what you'd be making without any "sponsor": $0. From there, your only goal is to increase your earnings over time. $50 one month. $100 the next. $150 after that. And on and on.
Other forms of compensation
We noted the professional development opportunities above, and this is by far the most lucrative compensation you can get. Every project brings experience and knowledge, multiplying your future potential earnings.
Learning to listen to what clients need so that you can cater your proposal to them, uncovering what they're willing to pay for, what their budget is, and finding non-monetary points (such as mutual promotion) pays off in much larger ways than another $10.
Building out a portfolio of companies you've worked with adds "social proof" and enables you to charge more in the future. Showing that you've worked with 10 companies is better than the client not knowing if you've worked with any.
Showing you've worked with 100 puts you on a different level than someone who has worked with 10. This all ties back to professional development - the more clients you've worked with, the more confident the brand is that you've been vetted, and have a good understanding of the professional world.
Blogs with Ad Revenue
In the case of established blogs with ad revenue, you have a good alternative pricing method and starting point.
If you know you make $10 CPM and the post will generate 1,000 sessions per month, you know that the post is worth $10/month. This requires a good understanding of your analytics, good keyword research, a few years of blogging experience, but provides another way to arrive at a price.
Alternatively, if you really love a specific product or brand and they can't agree to your price, it may make sense to meet them on price.
Cost of living
The reason that "you should charge $X" isn't useful, is because $X is different to different people.
Living in a low-cost area means that money goes much further than living in a high cost area. $100 on a $100,000 mortgage is worth literally 10x $100 on a $1,000,000 mortgage.
For some people, their career and livelihood depends on maximizing the earnings per post. For others, it's just a little extra to help out with the household income.
There are two approaches to licensing, and what your long-term goal is will determine which you pursue:
- Lifetime licensing, no restrictions (including online, social, print, media)
- Limited licensing (eg. time-based,
The vast majority of small businesses will find #2 overly burdensome and you'll be turning away a lot of work. This is because contract agreements need to be reviewed by legal departments, and re-visiting the terms at a later date. This administrative and legal burden adds hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to the cost of working with a particular content creator.
Compound this with the fact that marketing departments in small businesses are limited (sometimes it's the business owner) and there's a million other things they have to worry about, few will have the time or patience to deal with this.
Our recommendation is to start with #1 and over time, if you absolutely feel the need to, move towards #2 as you gain more experience. You'll need to be able to prove to higher-end clients (who are higher paying) that the work you are doing is.
The "influencer" market has gone haywire in the last few years, with stories of people being paid absurd sums for social media posting. While the reports of these are widely popularized, they actually represent a very small minority of the real world. It's the classic tip-of-the-iceberg metaphor - the most visible cases don't reflect reality.
Coming from the small business side of the equation, social is essentially worthless. It's untargeted, which means it has extremely low conversion rates.
Our recommendation is to split the option for "social" out as a separate price, so that brands that are willing to "invest" (cough) in it can pay for it. Those brands that don't value it won't get turned away by your proposal if they can opt out of the social portion.
Sponsored Content Platforms
Here's a list of known platforms where you can find sponsored content work. We haven't vetted or used any of these.
Top-end bloggers can also work with a brand manager, who finds and negotiates sponsored content posts and contracts directly with brands. This can pay higher than the sponsored content platforms, but comes with some associated fees and minimums.