So, in this post, I want to give you a complete guide to getting sponsored post opportunities for your blog. If you’re interested in working with brands and companies to create content on your blog, then please read on! I guarantee this blog post will teach you everything you need to get started with sponsored blog posts.
In this case study, I have outlined, from start to finish, how I pitched a brand for a sponsored blog post, how we worked on the details of the content, rates, contract, timelines, and more. Includes exact emails that were exchanged + lots more!
Singing up will add you to my email list, FYI.
Sponsored Posts Basics
In this section, I’ll try to outline some of the basic information you need to know about sponsored posts before we get into the details of landing sponsored blog posts from your favorite brands and companies, and making money.
What are sponsored posts?
Sponsored posts are blog posts or social media posts that brands and companies pay bloggers and influencers to write or create. Companies pay for sponsored posts because they want to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, get more leads, generate revenue, etc.
For example, last year, Canva—the online graphic design tool—paid me a previously agreed-upon fixed amount to write about their newest Instagram direct publishing feature right from within Canva’s design editor. That was a sponsored blog post.
Typically, a company pays a one-time fee to a blogger to create this sponsored content.
In this post, I’ll be focusing on sponsored blog posts, but many of the same rules apply to sponsored YouTube videos, Instagram posts, reels, TikTok videos, etc.
Also, FYI, in this post, I’ll be using “brand,” “company,” and “advertiser” interchangeably, but all three refer to whoever is paying you to create sponsored content.
Why do companies pay for sponsored blog posts?
There are plenty of reasons why a company may want bloggers and influencers to create content for them. Here are some examples:
A new company may want to spread the word of its existence by paying bloggers and influencers to write about them. Imagine that you’re a fashion blogger advocating for sustainability in the fashion industry. Understandably, you have an audience that cares about the climate crisis. So, a climate-forward clothing company may want to tap into your audience to grow their business.
Even a not-so-new company may want to partner with bloggers and influencers for things like increasing brand awareness. Using the same example as above, let’s assume that there are many other sustainable clothing companies, and one such company that has been around for a while needs to increase its visibility to compete with the new players. What better way to do it than having a blogger or influencer promote its products to their audience?
A company may also want to work with bloggers and influencers to promote a new product or feature. The example I shared above where Canva paid me for a sponsored blog post promoting their Instagram direct publishing feature was such an instance.
The thing to understand here is that we—bloggers and influencers—have a dedicated audience and this audience trusts us. So, when we recommend a product, it carries some weight. It is different from just running paid ads.
Allow me to demonstrate this with an example:
Consider a hypothetical situation where you have sensitive, acne-prone skin and you need a moisturizer that would help without making your condition worse. You see ads on Instagram about such products, but you’re even more confused because you don’t which product will actually help.
However, a certain blogger you follow who has a similar type of skin and only recommends the best products, writes an in-depth review of a particular moisturizer that promises to help specifically the sensitive and acne-prone skin like yours.
Wouldn’t you want to try that instead of the barrage of ads for products you’ve never heard of?
Well, that is the power of bloggers and influencers who have a dedicated audience that trusts them. And companies know how effective of a marketing tactic it is, so they’re more than willing to pay said bloggers and influencers for a myriad of content such as reviews, tutorials, products in-use, etc.
A few more things of note:
- In-browser ad-blockers pose a problem for many companies, so they’d often rather pay for sponsored content.
- Ads can become pretty expensive pretty fast, so, depending on the kind of product or service it is, some companies find it more useful to directly pay bloggers and influencers who can help them reach their ideal audience more easily and effectively, and often for much cheaper. Some companies may even decide to invest their promotional budget between traditional ads and sponsored content.
- Science of persuasion suggests that people are much more prone to buy products based on recommendations by those they trust than traditional ads (as demonstrated by the hypothetical scenario above.)
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for companies to want to work with you.
These are the steps to working with brands for sponsored blog posts
- Pitch a brand you’d like to work with (or, find them on influencer networks, and apply to the opportunities that fit your profile.)
- Figure out what the sponsored content will be, topics to cover, blog post and other content details.
- Decide on a rate.
- Create a plan of action.
- Do the formalities (contracts, if applicable.)
- Create content and get paid.
In the rest of the blog post, I’ll expand on all of the aforementioned steps. Let’s get started!
What You Need to Know and Do Before Getting Started with Sponsored Blog Posts
It’s neither feasible nor advised to start working with brands from blog-launch-day-1. It requires some know-how, some preparations, and a good understanding of what you’re getting into before you consider working with brands. In this section, we’ll look at what you need to get started.
While you can’t expect to work with brands as a complete beginner, if your goal is to eventually work with brands, then it’s good to know all that I’m about to share with you so you can start preparing your blog (and social outlets.)
Set up an amazing blog
First things first: set up a blog that looks professional, easy to navigate, loads fast, and leaves you with a great impression. To that end:
- Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog with SiteGround.
- Use a great theme—Astra, for example.
- Optionally, you could also use a page-builder such as Elementor to further customize how your blog looks and feels.
For example, this blog is built on a self-hosted WordPress platform using SiteGround hosting. I’m using Astra as my base template, and then I’ve used Elementor to design how the blog looks. If Elementor poses too much of a steep learning curve for you that you have no time for, then I’m sure you’ll love Astra Pro as it comes with lots of built-in features to customize the look and feel of your website.
Build a readership and grow your audience
Companies want to work with bloggers and influencers who create quality, helpful content for their readers. They also want to work with folks who have a dedicated audience. So, first things first, build a blog that people trust. I mean, that’s the entire point of landing sponsored blog post deals: to connect brands with their ideal customers.
To that end, do the following:
- Write amazing and super valuable blog posts to build trust between you and your readers.
- Publish high-quality blog posts often (aim to post at least once a week.)
- Grow your newsletter subscribers (I’m using ConvertKit to build and maintain my email list.)
- Try to use at least one social media platform to grow your blog. I recommend Pinterest to all new bloggers for driving traffic. Aside from that, Instagram and/or YouTube can also be great for landing sponsored post deals.
Set up a “Sponsorship” page on your website
Some companies have people in their PR or marketing team whose job it is (or at least part of their job) to look out for bloggers and influencers in their niche. Over the years, I have had plenty of people who reached out to me to offer some form of paid or unpaid partnership. You’ll make their life (and your too) a lot easier if you set up a dedicated page on your site with some general information about how you work with a potential sponsor. Also, make this page easily accessible (in your main navigation, for example.)
If you’ve been blogging for a while, then you may have really impressive data to brag about on this page. But no worries if you don’t. Not all brands are looking to work the super hot-shots. Some people actually prefer smaller bloggers and influencers with a more dedicated and engaged audience.
Things you may consider putting on this page:
- Who your audience is (so that potential sponsors can understand whether or not you have overlapping audience demographics.)
- Your website and social stats only if they’re relevant. For example, my social media presence is laughable, so I skip that part entirely. What I AM proud of is my email list. It’s not huge, but at around 9K subscribers, with around 35% email open rate and almost 5% click rate (at the time of writing this,) my subscribers are pretty engaged with my content.
- What type of content you can and are willing to create for a potential sponsor.
- What type of content you do not create.
- Examples of past sponsored partnerships (such as links to sponsored blog posts you’ve written for companies.) If you do not have them yet, that’s fine. Just keep this in mind so that once you have some experience and a few brand deals under your belt, you can remember to go back and edit this page with all the relevant information.
- Your email address so that brands can reach out to you. (I recommend having an actual email address here rather than a contact form.)
In any case, it’s a good idea to update the info on that page every couple of months or so, to keep things current.
Prepare a media kit (template)
You should create a media kit even if you don’t think that you’re ready to partner with brands. Sometimes opportunities may come knocking on your doors (I’ve heard stories about brands wanting to partner with relatively new bloggers) and you want to be ready when that happens.
Essentially, you’d want to add the following in a media kit:
- Who you are
- What your blog is about and the type of content you publish
- Who your audience is + blog stats such as monthly visitors, pageviews, etc. (make sure to add Google Analytics tracking code as soon as you’ve set up your blog so you can access these data)
- Social media and/or YouTube following (I recommend you add them if you have at least 500+ followers)
- What kind of sponsorship opportunities you’re offering (blog post, part of a blog post, link inserts, etc.) You may want to customize it based on the brand you’re communicating with.
- Namedrop some previous sponsored partners (optional; don’t worry if you haven’t worked with any brands before, but links to previous sponsored posts, if relevant, can help companies get a feel for the kind of content they can expect from you.)
- Testimonials from past partners (again, optional; don’t sweat these too much.)
- Your contact information
I personally do not recommend that you allow access to your media kit to just anyone. Some people might say that you should have a link to your media kit somewhere on your website, but I respectfully disagree. Instead, you can say something like “contact me for a media kit.” (Hint: you may want to say this on your “sponsorship” page.)
I personally do not have a public link to my media kit for a few reasons, but mainly because I tend to customize packages and pricing based on the brand I’m working with.
So, just have one ready so that if you’re pitching a brand or a brand reaches out to you, you can easily customize the packages and pricing, then send them over. A Canva template works great because it takes only a few minutes to customize the wordings and prices from a template and save it as a PDF document.
Prepare a contract (template)
Just like a media kit, it is useful to prepare a contract and have it ready to go. Also, like a media kit, you’ll be sending a contract customized to the company you’re working with and the specific content type, pricing, etc. So, it is useful to have a contract template that you can easily and quickly customize.
Now, you may not always need to provide a contract. Sometimes the company you’re working with may have their own contract too. But even so, it is still good to have a contract ready just in case.
Since I tend to cold-pitch brands rather than find them through influencer networks, I have had to prepare contracts myself. I spent days scouring the internet trying to find everything I could about how to create a blog sponsorship contract. But once I made one, now all I have to do is customize the same template with brand-specific information, and I’m good to go in minutes!
In fact, if you want the same contract, with the exact words and terms and all, then feel free to check out this Canva template that I use for myself:
This is a 5-page contract Canva template that has the following:
- Contact information for both blogger and advertiser.
- Partnership specifics: Services to be rendered, details about content, and timelines.
- Deliverables and payment details and timelines.
- Copyrights and disclaimers.
- Signatures and dates.
And, FYI, the copy in this contract template is the same that I use for all of my contracts! You get everything I have compiled based on my days’ worth of research into how to create a thorough and complete contract for blog sponsorships.
How to know when your blog is ready to partner with brands
As I’ve mentioned previously, this blog post focuses on partnering with brands for sponsored blog posts.
But I do want to mention, briefly, that there are plenty of other sponsorship opportunities such as YouTube videos, Instagram campaigns, TikTok videos, etc. For social media and YouTube, most brands look for at least 1,000 followers. You can definitely work with some brands (especially new companies with a small to no budget) with a smaller following, but a lot of influencer networks, which I’ll talk about shortly, will want you to have at least 1,000 followers to get started.
With that said, let’s now focus on sponsored blog posts.
There’s no strict parameter when it comes to blogs. Which numbers do brands look at? Is it blog traffic? Engagement? The number of comments in blog posts? The monthly pageviews?
Honestly, I have no idea. Each company seems to have its own ideas about which blogger or influencer they want to work with.
So, here’s a general benchmark that I think should be safe for most bloggers. These are not strict rules, and exceptions are abundant. But at least, for most bloggers, this is a good starting point. You don’t have to meet all of these criteria, but if one or more of these satisfy, then you can start thinking about partnering with brands.
- You have been consistently (at least one new blog post per week on average) blogging for about a year and have built up a decent readership with at least a hundred+ daily visitors to your blog.
- You have an email list of 1,000 or more subscribers.
- You have at least one social media channel (or YouTube channel) with 1,000 followers.
- You’re starting to get emails (or DMs) from companies who want you to become an affiliate for them or review their products or pay you to publish content for them.
Again, it’s not like you cannot start earlier before hitting those marks. In fact, I’ve heard of bloggers who managed to partner with brands with a smaller following or with almost a brand new blog. But, ideally, reaching these numbers should give you a better chance at landing brand deals. And the higher those numbers, the better offers you’ll get (better offer = more money!)
How to Find Brands to Work with
I started getting emails from all kinds of companies and individuals about wanting to work with me around the time this blog was barely six months old. However, many of those were from unrelated companies.
Here’s the thing: You can work with just about anybody who offers you some petty cash for inserting a link or sharing a pre-written blog post and then lose the trust you’ve built up with your audience. Or, you can be picky about who you partner with, making sure you’re recommending and reviewing the right products to your readers.
I’d suggest you do the latter.
You see, sponsored posts, used without discretion, can ruin your blog. You can lose your readers’ trust, and that can be fatal for your blog in the long run. Don’t prioritize money over ethics.
With that out of the way, here are some ways to find brands to work with:
You can join influencer network platforms
I’ll be honest with you: I have never been on an influencer networking platform. Most of my sponsored content has resulted from either the companies reaching out to me or from me reaching out to brands directly (cold-pitching.) I’ll be talking about both methods shortly, but since many other bloggers and influencers find quality opportunities through influencer network platforms, I feel obligated to share this with you.
Influencer networks are third-party platforms that connect brands to bloggers and influencers. Many companies post opportunities on these platforms, making it easy for you to find a deal that works for you. Some well-known influencer networks include:
- Social Fabric
- Blog Meets Brand
- Popular Pays
- Soapbox Influence
And there’s many, many more of these!
In fact, there are so many influencer networking platforms that:
- I’m certain one could never run out of opportunities
- Or, one may never find an opportunity because there’s simply way too many to choose from…
In any case, it can get tedious pretty fast. So, I recommend that you try to find just a few platforms where the opportunities align more with your blogging niche and content type.
Also, there’s another awesome resource for finding sponsored content opportunities: the Blogging Money Update Newsletter. Basically, the owner of this newsletter scours the different influencer networks and compiles a list of 10-15 of the best opportunities, and sends out a newsletter three times a week! So, you know, you don’t have to do the tedious task of looking for opportunities yourself.
You can sign up for a month of Blogging Money Update and see if you like it. If not, you can always unsubscribe. Also, when you sign up for the newsletter, you also get a list of 150 influencer networking companies!
Pitch a brand yourself
If you love a brand, you can always reach out to them yourself. I’ve heard many amazing stories about bloggers and creators landing sponsored content deals with high-ticket clients using this method.
In fact, a recent sponsored blog post deal here on The Side Blogger resulted from me cold-pitching a company I really wanted to work with.
A few things of note when cold pitching a brand:
- Since you don’t always know whether a company is looking to work with bloggers or influencers, try and craft a compelling pitch that makes the other party want to consider partnering with you.
- If you do not hear back the first time, don’t be afraid to follow up. Follow up a few times (four or five?) before you call it quits.
- If you do not hear back after 4-5 tries, give it a break, but feel free to reach out again with a new pitch/proposal 6-8 months after.
- Make sure you have a good proposal when you pitch the first time. Do not mention money right away; just try to woo the brand to work with you. Once they’ve shown interest, you can open up the money conversation (more on that later!)
- Have a media kit ready. However, when you’re pitching a brand, in addition to attaching the media kit PDF to your email, share (in plain text) within the email what you’re proposing. For example: is it a blog post? A review? A tutorial? An Instagram post? TikTok video? YouTube video? A combination of multiple content types? Etc.
- Don’t share pricing in your first pitch email. Wait for that convo until you’ve heard back with positive interest from the company.
How to find companies to pitch to
Your goal should be to partner with companies that will actually help your audience. To that end, you should already have a good idea of what type of products your readers will be interested in. Once you know that, the rest is easy: Start looking for companies that make these products.
A good starting point for finding brands to pitch to is by looking at the products and services you yourself use and like. For example, I’m a blogger and my audience is also comprised of other bloggers. So, if there’s a blogging tool that I love, chances are that my audience will love it too.
Another method I like to use is to look at the products in my affiliate networks. For example, I’m part of some affiliate networking platforms such as:
Sometimes I like to look around the merchant lists in these platforms and see if a company or product I find promising.
One other thing you can do is look at who’s sponsoring your competitor bloggers or influencers. Chances are that the same companies may be willing to partner with you too.
How to find contact details
There are a couple of things of note here: First, you need to figure out who to pitch, and then you have to find out their contact information/email.
Who you contact typically depends on the size of the company. If it’s a smaller company (0-100 employees,) you can easily find out the name of the CEO/owner, and email them directly. If it’s a larger company, then you may want to find out if there’s a media or press contact.
To find the name and email of a CEO, the process is fairly straightforward. Use Google! Search for “Company Name CEO” which should give you a name. You can also use Owler to find the names of CEOs of companies and other relevant company information such as the number of employees, yearly revenue, funding, and more.
Once you have the name of the CEO, do a bit of stalking. Find out their LinkedIn profile (again, Google should help) and see if there’s contact information/email.
Below I’ve shared a couple of other tools you can use to find CEO emails.
A good place to look for CEO contact information is RocketReach. When you sign up for a free account, you get up to five monthly searches (more with paid subscriptions.) Just enter the name of the CEO (that you’ve found on Google or Owler,) and then search on RocketReach. You should get a list of results. Make sure the contact name matches the name of the company; that way you’ll know that you’ve found the right person.
For example, if I wanted to search for Canva’s CEO’s email, I’d start by searching “Canva CEO” on Google. Which gives me the name: Melanie Perkins. Then, I’ll head over to RocketReach, and enter the name in the search box. This gives me the following:
Make sure that the name of the person matches the company name, because, as you can see in the image above, there’s more than one Melanie Perkins!
This is another tool that you can use to search for relevant email addresses, and not only the CEO’s address. Sometimes, if a company has a dedicated “press” relations or media person, then Hunter can come in handy.
You can get up to 25 searches with a free account with Hunter. Instead of the company name, you’ll be asked to enter the website URL to see relevant email addresses.
Hunter also has a pretty useful Chrome extension. All you have to do is click the extension when you’re on the website of a company of interest, and it’ll pull up the email addresses. In the example below, Hunter is showing me relevant email addresses for a company called Loom — the screen-recording software.
How to write an email pitch
Many people say to keep a pitch email short because nobody has time to read it!
I’d like to be contrarian here and say that a pitch email should be as long as it needs to be to convince someone to be a sponsor.
Think about it. You’re reaching out to a person you’ve never met, and you’re asking them to pay you! How can this be a one-paragraph email???
So, for example, here’s an example of a pitch email (very similar to an actual email I sent to a CEO):
As you can see, it’s a fairly long email with a smiley face emoji and all, but it shows that I’ve done my research; that I know a thing or two about their competitor, and that I personally loved their product more than their competitor’s.
And guess what? I got a reply back after this email, and we even ended up working on a sponsored blog post!
In any case, feel free to use the sample email above as inspiration to craft your own pitches.
Work with companies that reach out to you
A common form of brand partnership for sponsored content actually comes from affiliate merchants.
Basically, from time to time, a company that you’re already an affiliate for may reach out to you to create specific types of content in exchange for a flat fee. I remember when Grammarly offered me a fixed amount for writing a review. A few other brands that I’m an affiliate for have also extended similar offers over the years.
These are always great because you get a chance to earn a fixed sum in exchange for creating content, but then you also get to use your affiliate link within the content to earn extra money.
Aside from receiving offers from existing affiliate merchants, you may also get an occasional proposal/cold email from a company that is actually of interest to your audience. These are always a good way to make new connections and pave the way to paid gigs in the future. (Having that “sponsorship” page on your website definitely helps with the right brands finding you more easily.)
Instances where you do NOT want to work with a brand that reaches out to you
Once your blog starts to get traction, plenty of random brands will reach out to you with various different types of requests. Some of them are legit and actually good companies, while a majority are spammy.
The most common types of spam that land in my inbox are:
“Can you please share a link to our product in your blog post?”
Chances are that they want a free link. Typically I do not even bother to respond to these emails. I’m running a business, why ask for free backlinks??? This is especially infuriating when a company is very obviously capable of running paid campaigns but is still asking for free services. Cheapstakes be damned. Ugh!
“Can you please share a link to our client on this particular blog post? We’ll PayPal you $100!”
Red flag! When you get an email like this where they don’t even bother to mention who the client is, you’re better off trashing the email and forgetting about them, $100 or not!
“We’ll write a guest post for your blog and the content will be something your audience will be interested in. We’ll pay you $100. It will have a link to one of our client’s websites.”
Again, red flag! Steer clear! Partaking in such shady exchanges will only weaken your readers’ trust in you. Don’t do it!
How to Decide What Type of Content to Create for a Brand
If you’re finding opportunities on influencer networking platforms, then they’ll already have some kind of content plan. If that’s the case, you don’t need to worry about creating a content plan yourself.
Sometimes, if a brand reaches out to you, then they may also have something in mind. For example, They may ask you to do a general review, or they may ask you to review a specific feature.
If you’re pitching a company, that’s when you’ll need to sit down and think about exactly what you’re offering. Here are some tips:
Look at your strengths, and focus on what’s working for you.
For example, when I pitch a brand, I don’t even mention Instagram or Facebook, because social media isn’t my strong suit.
My strength is in creating engaging content. My strength is also in email marketing. So, when I pitch a content strategy, I focus on those things: writing a long-form blog post, and sharing that post with my email list.
Now, if you’re someone who has an engaged Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube audience, feel free to highlight those or even pitch a content strategy involving those platforms.
The Money Talk: How Much to Charge for a Sponsored Blog Post and How to Get Paid
This is stressful, even for some of the best bloggers: How oh how to charge for a sponsored blog post???
I’m going to list a few things that can affect how much you can earn from a sponsored blog post, and yes, this is going to confuse the shiz out of you, but that’s just how it is: confusing, annoying, migraine-inducing, but oh well.
Just remember that you’ll make decisions you’ll regret. You may charge someone $500 for a blog post, and the marketer will agree to it all like lightning-fast, making you think that you should have asked for more… a lot more.
This might impair your judgment for a minute and the next time you quote the same price for another partnership, the marketer may come back to you saying their budget is only $100 for a 2,000-word blog post + video tutorial…
So, here’s something before we get into the factors that can affect how much you can and should charge a brand for sponsored content:
Do NOT make sponsored content your only method of making money from your blog. Some bloggers may be able to make four or even five figures from sponsored content per month, but they’re veteran bloggers with pretty high monthly traffic volume who’ve been around the block for a few years already. If you’re a newish blogger, start slow and steady, and have a few other earning streams such as affiliate marketing, digital products and templates, online courses, etc.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s look at the factors that affect sponsored post pricing.
Factors related to your blog:
- How long has your blog been around?
- How much traffic do you get per month?
- How many email list subscribers do you have and what’re the email open and link-click rates?
- How many social media channels are you active on and how many followers do you have?
- Where do most of your traffic come from? (If you’re promoting a business aimed at the UK market, but your traffic is from the US, then you have a problem.)
- Are you also an affiliate of the company?
- How many clicks and conversions can you expect from writing the blog post?
Factors related to the marketer:
- What’s their budget? (There’s no way for you to know this for sure, so it’s always a bit of a gamble.)
- Do they have money in the first place? (A financially struggling company won’t be able to pay much.)
- Are they proactive about working with bloggers and influencers?
- Will they benefit from working with you? (Do their audience and yours align?)
OK, now that I have sufficiently stressed you out, let me give you some helpful tips when deciding how much to charge for a sponsored post. This, by no means, is going to be a perfect formula and you will still make mistakes (I know I do!) but this should help you figure out a starting point.
For brand new bloggers: Calculating a minimum base rate
This is the minimum rate for creating content for a company. Ideally, you should be charging more than the minimum rate; it’s simply a baseline to build upon. But this can help you set boundaries for yourself.
Here’s a simple guide to calculate your minimum base rate:
Step 1: Calculate the per-word rate
Let’s say that a company wants to pay you to write a review of their product, and they want a minimum of 1,000 words. Assuming you’re a relatively new blogger with no previous experience with sponsored content, you can set up a base rate of 10-cents per word. That means, your per-word base rate is:
1000 * 0.10 = $100.00
That’s 100 bucks for 1,000 words.
Step 2: Add hourly rate to create collaterals + publish the post
Now, most blog posts include a featured image (at the very least) and sometimes they may include additional images.
Let’s assume that, for this example, your sponsored content partnership includes writing the 1,000-word blog post + a featured image, a couple of screenshots, and a short 3-5 minute video.
In this step, figure out how long it will take you to create these additional materials. Do not include time for writing the 1,000-word post because you’ve already calculated that to be $100 based on your per-word rate. (I do not recommend charging a per-hour rate for the actual 1,000-word post because some writers are way faster at writing and typing than others. So, to be fair, I personally prefer a per-word rate to an hourly rate. But for everything else, an hourly rate makes more sense.)
Now, most companies prefer a flat rate for sponsored content. So it’d be unwise to give them an hourly rate. This exercise is for your own record, not for sharing with anyone else. So, let’s assume that you have a pretty good idea of how long it takes to create the additional material (the short video, the featured image, and the screenshots.) For the purpose of this exercise, let’s also assume that you’ve decided it’d take roughly 2.5 hours to create all the additional material.
Now multiply the total hours with your hourly rate.
You should figure out what the hourly rate is and this will change based on your expertise and location. But, if you’re a US-based blogger, I’d recommend setting your hourly rate to at least $20 if you’re a beginner blogger. So, for two and a half hours, your rate is:
2.5 * 20 = $50.00
Step 3: Add the per-word rate and the hourly rate to get the minimum base rate
So, now that you know your total per-word rate for the written post, and the total per-hour rate for the additional material, add the two to get the minimum base rate for this particular sponsored blog post:
Total per-word rate + Total per-hour rate = Minimum base rate $100 + $50 = $150
So, there you have it. For a 1,000-word post with a featured image, a couple of screenshots, and a short 3-5 minute video, you should never charge any less than $150.
You can adjust your hours and hourly rate if you’re also creating content for social media such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
An alternative method to calculating base pay: Cost per mille, a.k.a, CPM
Some bloggers may use this method to calculate their base rate. This method makes more sense for traditional advertising rates. Sponsored blog posts are not like traditional ads because you’re doing the bulk of the work (writing a blog post, creating additional material, etc.) For this reason, I much prefer the method I shared above to calculate the base rate to this CPM method.
But still, since I’ve seen some bloggers use this method, I decided to share it with you just in case.
CPM stands for Cost Per Mille, which basically means cost per 1,000 impressions. See, even the language suggests a traditional advertisement and not a sponsored blog post. But oh well, I digress…
So, to use CPM as your base rate, do this:
Step 1: Find out your average monthly traffic. Assuming you have set up Google Analytics for your site, log into your Analytics dashboard and find out your average monthly traffic (users) over the last three months. To do that, use a custom view to find out the total number of users that have visited your site in the last three months. Then divide this total number of users by three (number of months) to get the monthly average traffic.
Step 2: Figure out CPM. CPM varies by platform, topic, and many other factors, and can be in the range of $0.5 to tens of dollars. You can consult Google Keywords to get a feel for a typical cost a traditional advertiser might pay, but at the end of the day, this number is pretty arbitrary for someone creating sponsored content.
Just as an example, let’s say that Brand-name Z wants you to write a review post on your blog. You can go to Google Keywords Planner, enter the brand name, then search for relevant keywords. The first row will show you search info for that brand name only. Pay attention to this row. It will also show you what advertisers typically pay for this specific keyword to rank on Google’s SERP. The first number is the lowest bid, and the second number is the highest bid.
Again, this isn’t actual CPM, but at least it should give you a starting point. I’d recommend you set your CPM for this sponsored content for Brand-name Z to something in-between the lowest and the highest.
I have grayed out the brand name in the image above, but let’s say that these are the search terms relevant to Brand-name Z. In the first row—which shows search data for the brand name only, has a top of page bid from $2.13 to $7.11. If you were to create a sponsored blog post for this company, I’d recommend you choose your CPM somewhere between that range.
Step 3: Calculate the base rate with your CPM. The formula for calculating the base rate is:
(Average monthly traffic calculated in step 1 / 1000 ) * CPM
Let’s say that your monthly average traffic is 20,000 and you’ve decided your CPM to be $4. Then, using the equation above, your base rate is:
(20000/1000) * 4 = $80
Using this method, you shouldn’t charge any less than $80 for a sponsored blog post.
But of course, if you’re a high-traffic blog (let’s say, 100,000 users per month) then this base rate will jump to $400.
I’ve said this before, but let me say it again: I hate the CPM model to find a base rate for sponsored blog posts. This is fine for traditional ads, but NOT for sponsored posts. Sponsored content requires too much work, and you deserve better.
Once you start gaining traction and build up confidence, you can increase your per-word rate and per-hour rate.
So, how do you actually quote a company for sponsored content?
At the end of the day, it really comes down to how much the company has set aside for marketing, how much of it is set aside for sponsored posts, and how many partners they wish to work with.
Well, since you have no way of knowing that, I recommend learning with trial and error. When you’re a newer blogger and just starting to work with sponsors, feel free to start at the base rate, and then increase your rate as you gain more experience and confidence. Also, with experience, you’ll start to get a feel for which companies are eager to work with bloggers and influencers and willing to pay more.
How much you charge depends on more than your pageviews and followers. For example, consider the following scenario:
Blogger A has 100K visitors per month, but the audience doesn’t engage, and the audience is also not very interested in the product being promoted. Whereas Blogger B has 20K monthly visitors, an engaged readership that comments on posts, clicks on links, signs up for the email list, etc. This audience may also be more interested in the product. Chances are that the marketer will be more willing to pay Blogger B than Blogger A in this scenario.
As I’ve said, there is no way to know for sure, but you do start to develop a feeling for such things the more you work with brands. So, if you’re a complete beginner, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or even lose a chance or two to work with an amazing brand, or make more money. You’ll learn from your mistakes, and the experience will only make you wiser.
If, on the other hand, you’re using influencer networks to find opportunities, then some of them will share their fixed rate, so you won’t have to worry about giving them your rate.
When is it OK to work for less than the base rate?
Some companies ask you to insert their link for free, others may want you to write a review in exchange for being an affiliate for them.
Be careful! I don’t like it when people try to get us to do things for free. It’s one thing to promote your aunt’s brand new hand-made jewelry business for free, but why would you do that for some random-a** company that you’ve never heard of before?
Worse, when it appears that the company reaching out to you has money, but still asking you to promote their product for free???
Below are some instances where you may want to consider working with a company in exchange for being an affiliate or for less than your base rate:
It’s a brand new company with little to no marketing budget but you love them, and your readers will actually benefit from them.
In this scenario, when you know that the product will help your readers, and you have complete faith in the people running the company, you may choose to promote them either in exchange for being an affiliate (where you’ll earn a small commission for every successful lead/purchase,) or for a small fee. Or, if they’re willing, both!
This company offers a really high affiliate payout, and/or it’s a product that your audience absolutely needs.
So, I’m an affiliate for a hosting company called SiteGround. I love them. This blog is hosted on SiteGround and has been since day-1. Over the years, my blog has grown and this hosting company has accommodated all my needs, scaling alongside my growing website and traffic.
I have created a lot of content promoting SiteGround but they’ve never actually paid me a flat fee to write any of it.
But it doesn’t matter because I’ve made thousands with their affiliate program already! They have a high commission rate, so each successful sale generated from my blog makes me money.
When a company without a marketing budget offers you a free product that you love.
A couple of years ago, when I was still considered a new-ish blogger, a small company (which isn’t so small anymore) reached out to me and offered me a lifetime of pro-membership for creating some content for them.
I didn’t do it.
And now I regret it.
They have a really good product, and it’s something my audience benefits from. I eventually did become an affiliate for them, but I wish I agreed to create content in exchange for the lifetime pro membership.
If you like a product, and they offer it to you for free in exchange for creating some content, think about whether it will be useful to your readers or not. If yes, then feel free to consider taking the gig even if they’re not paying you with actual money. And well, the experience doesn’t hurt, and especially so if you’re a brand new blogger!
How do you get paid?
If you’ve secured a deal through an influencer network, then you may have to set up payment details (bank info, PayPal, Stripe, etc., depending on the network platform’s requirements) on those platforms.
Some companies may decide to pay through their affiliate platform (if you’re already an affiliate for them, this may be something the company would prefer to do.)
Other times, it may be up to you and the company to decide the best way to get paid. Ideally, these are the primary methods of getting paid:
- Wire transfer
- A check in the mail
- PayPal invoices
- Stripe invoices
Don’t be afraid to suggest a payment method of your choice. Most companies should be OK with whatever payment method you’re comfortable with unless they already have a different system in place.
Create a Plan of Action
Let’s revise the system of blog sponsorship once again before going any further, just as a refresher:
- Find brands to work with (either through influencer networks or by cold-pitching.)
- Decide on what type of content you’ll create (blog post, social media posts, videos, etc.)
- Figure out a flat fee for your content
- Create a plan of action
- Take care of the formalities such as making and signing a contract
- Create content and get paid
We’ve already talked about finding brands to work with or cold-pitching brands, deciding on the type of content you’ll create, and setting a price.
Now you have to create a clear plan of action for yourself as well as the brand you’re working with.
Make sure that both you and the partner brand are on the same page when doing this. The plan you create will be the contract you’ll sign in the next phase, so this is important.
Here are some things to decide:
- Make sure both parties are crystal clear about exactly what kind of content you’ll be creating. Pay attention to details such as blog post minimum word count, the minimum number of images/screenshots, the minimum number of hyperlinks, minimum video duration (if applicable), etc. The more details the better.
- Specify the type of content and the topics to be covered (Review? Tutorial? Something else? A mix of different things? Focus on a specific feature? Etc.)
- Who will be creating content? (Note: Ideally, you’ll be the one creating content, but in some cases, the brands may want to add some of their own content too. If that’s the case, make sure to clarify which parts will be done by you and which parts will be provided by the brand.)
- Duration and renewals. For example, how long will a blog post live on your blog? I like to specify a contract term such as 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months but ideally no more than that. After which, I may choose to keep the post on my blog at my discretion or remove it if the content becomes outdated. Setting a duration can also help open up a future dialog about creating new content for the brand.
- Who does the copyright belong to? Naturally, whatever content you create belongs to you, but I recommend making it clear with the brand you’re working with, even if it feels redundant. Better to be redundant in the beginning than regret it later.
- Content timeline: When will you finish your first draft and when will you publish your final content?
- Payment timeline: When will you be paid? Some companies pay after the content goes live. If it’s up to me, I try to secure payment before I publish anything, ideally after a blog post draft has been approved by the brand to be published, but before the content goes live on my blog. But I’ve also had brands pay me after. Whatever the case is, make sure both parties are on the same page about these timelines.
- Exactly how much you’ll be paid and how you’ll be paid.
Once you’ve figured out these details, clearly communicate them with your brand partner. These are the same details that will go into your formal contract, so make sure you’ve covered all your grounds.
Create and Sign the Sponsored Post Contract
Once you’ve clarified and communicated the plan of action, it’s time to get things rolling. First things first: create and sign a contract.
If you’re working through an influencer network, you probably do not have to worry about creating a contract because the company will likely send over their own. In that case, make sure to carefully read and understand the terms before signing.
But in some cases (especially if you’ve landed a blog sponsorship deal after cold-pitching) the task of creating a contract may fall on you.
Now, if you’re rich enough to hire a lawyer every time you need to craft an official-looking document, great! Personally, I can’t call up a lawyer for drafting a contract for a sponsored blog post that costs a few hundred bucks. So, I scoured the internet to see which information folks add to a sponsored blog-post contract, and created my own contract template on Canva.
In terms of what goes into a contract, they’re basically everything I’ve shared in the previous section under “Plan of Action.” Make sure to add contact details (both yours and the company you’re partnering with,) spaces to add signatures and dates. Because it’s a template, all I have to do is customize the text for each partnership (such as contact info, price, dates, content terms, etc.) and I’m good to go. I haven’t had any problems so far and nobody has complained about my contracts.
In fact, if you want the template that I use, with the exact wording and everything, then check out this contract template I made!
This contract template will save you hours if not days’ worth of research trying to find out what goes into a blog sponsorship contract. Because I’ve already done the research for you!
Once you’ve crafted the contract, sign it yourself, and then send it to your contact on the side of the brand partner to be signed. Typically, these are digitally signed.
I personally use Adobe Sign to send over PDF documents for signing.
Create Content and Get Paid
Once the plan of action has been defined and a contract is signed, it’s time to for the fun stuff! Create your content within the agreed-upon timeframe.
Now, based on your contract terms, you may get paid after a draft has been accepted, or after you’ve published your content. In any case, by now you should have a clear understanding of what you need to do. Just follow the plan you and your partner brand have set out, and things should go smoothly.
Sponsored Post Best Practices
Here are some more details about sponsored posts (legal matters, search engine requirements, etc.) you should know about.
Sponsored post disclosures
Always make sure to let people know that a blog post or content was sponsored by a company. It’s pretty easy to do, and very similar to affiliate disclosures. At the beginning of the post, let people know that it’s a sponsored post. As long as that message is clear, it doesn’t matter how you word it.
I’ve seen examples such as:
- “Thanks to [company name hyperlinked to company website] for sponsoring this blog post.”
- “This blog post was sponsored by [company name hyperlinked to company website]; all opinions are mine alone.”
- “This is a sponsored blog post by [company name hyperlinked to company website].”
For social media posts, simply use #sponsored in the post/description.
If you’re creating content on YouTube, they have a feature that you can check for paid content in the video settings. If you do not see this option, make sure to expand all options by clicking “Show More.”
Proper link tags
All sponsored blog posts must use outbound links to the sponsoring company’s website with the following “nofollow” rel-tag:
Additionally, it is recommended to also use the “sponsored” rel-tag:
So, here’s an example of what the link should look like in plain HTML format:
<a href="example.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" rel="sponsored">Company name</a>
FYI: The <target=”_blank”> in the example above opens the link in a new tab in the browser, which is what I recommend for all outgoing links from your blog.
If you’re using WordPress, then you can use the ThirstyAffiliate plugin to automate these rel-tags without having to tweak the HTML code.
For example, on ThirstyAffiliate, you can add a link to have both nofollow and sponsored tags, like so:
Some More Useful Tips Regarding Sponsored Blog Posts
Whew… I know, it’s a LOT! But well, this is supposed to be an “ultimate” guide to sponsored blog posts, so… might as well give you everything, eh?
Don’t worry, we’re almost done. I just have a few more remarks regarding sponsored blog posts:
- I’ve said this before, but allow me to say it again: You have to customize your offers and prices based on the company you’re partnering with. That’s why I do not recommend that you share the same media kit with everyone. Instead, have a template ready at hand with the basic information, and customize the offers and pricing based on the company you’re working with.
- Always share your email address on your website (ideally, on the contact page.) You may have a contact form already, which is fine but share the email address also. I often get sponsored post offers from companies who reach out to me directly via email, so make it easy for them to email you.
- Additionally, feel free to create a “sponsor” or “work with me” page with more information about how sponsorships work with your blog. You should add your contact info (email) on this page. You can also share examples of sponsored blog posts and content you’ve created in the past.
- Feel free to list the kind of content you create or do not create on this “Sponsor” page. For example, I’m strictly against paid guest posts on my blog, or content provided by companies. I prefer to write my own posts and content because that’s the kind of brand I’ve created on The Side Blogger. Here’s my Sponsor page if you want to take a look.
- In terms of frequency, try not to post too many sponsored posts in a short amount of time. Ideally, you shouldn’t publish more than two or three sponsored posts for every ten blog posts.
- Finally, no matter what, do not compromise your blog’s quality or branding, no matter how much a brand is willing to pay you. Only partner with brands whose products align with your blog’s niche, and companies you trust. Your readers trust you to share only the best; respect the trust!
OK, that’s about it. Whewww!!! I know, I know, this was HUGE! But working with brands is hella confusing, so I had to be thorough. If you have any questions or thoughts about sponsored blog posts, feel free to leave them below in the comments.
Also, sign up using the form below to get a free copy of one of my brand sponsorship case studies: It has everything! How I decided to work with a particular brand, the cold-pitch email, follow-up emails, the whole process from start to finish, and lots more!
And finally, if you want the blog sponsorship contract template, you can grab it here.
In this case study, I have outlined, from start to finish, how I pitched a brand for a sponsored blog post, how we worked on the details of the content, rates, contract, timelines, and more. Includes exact emails that were exchanged + lots more!
Singing up will add you to my email list, FYI.