A few weeks ago, Jess wrote an awesome post about knowing when and if you can leave your corporate job—a question many of you have likely asked yourself at some point. If you’ve ever considered the idea, or had even the slightest thought about quitting your day job to blog full-time or even part-time, it’s a worth a read.
If you want to pursue blogging full-time or part-time, you’ll need a source of income. Thankfully, blogging offers a number of different revenue streams that allow you to get creative. Some of the most common we hear about are affiliate links, ads and sponsored content, but that’s not all! You can guest post on other blogs, start a podcast, sell a product (physical or digital), offer services like consulting or photography, or anything else you can think of! That’s the beauty of owning your own blog and business—your business plan is completely customizable to you and your skills.
For a lot of us, the first step we take to monetize our content is signing up and implementing affiliate links through networks like ShopStyle, RewardStyle, Amazon Associates or Commission Junction (these are just a few). Maybe you add some banner ads in there too! The next step is often offering sponsored content for a flat fee. Sponsored content or paid posts (whatever you want to call it), is a great way to highlight a brand, product or service in a unique way that’s written in your voice and usually features original photography. These posts should look and feel like a natural extension of your regular programming. Jess and I find that this type of content, when aligned with our brands and readers’ interests, performs very well and can become a sizable chunk of your blog’s income each month.
Diversifying your blog’s income streams is one way to make your full-time blogging dreams come true! Our biggest tip though? Just make sure you pick products, brands and services that make sense for your readers. If you don’t have children and your readers aren’t moms, a sponsored post featuring the best products for your newborn probably isn’t a good fit, and if you have a food blog you probably shouldn’t be selling your services as a lawyer. Make sense? Good!
Okay, let’s say you’re ready to start taking on sponsored content, and maybe you’re already doing this! You might have asked yourself what you should be charging, or if you’re charging the right amount. To be honest, there’s not one “right” way to price yourself, and at the end of the day, you have to decide what number you’re comfortable with. But, if you have no idea where to start, here’s a simple formula for you to come up with a baseline idea of what you can reasonably charge for sponsored content.
For the sake of my example here, let’s say that you’re coming up with the price for a single sponsored blog post with a round of social media (one post on all of your platforms to amplify your blog content). You can offer your sponsored content this way, or you can break it down into pieces—it’s simply whatever you’re comfortable with!
Grab a piece of paper and write down the number of followers on each of your social platforms—Facebook Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and any other platforms that make sense for your blog.
Next, log into your Google Analytics and look for your monthly “Sessions”, not “Pageviews”. This has been debated a lot, but ultimately, Jess and I realized that we both charge based off our “Sessions” so that’s what we’re recommending. Again, this is up to you, but it’s a good place to start.
Next, we’re going to add those up! I made up some numbers for us to play with below:
Blog Sessions: 3,000
Total Reach: 5,000
Now that we have our total reach, it’s time to do some calculations! Don’t worry, they’re simple!
So, before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s define some terms. CPM means the cost to reach one thousand people. An average CPM for a sponsored post is anywhere from $5 to $10. When you’re first offering sponsored content, a good place to start is a $5-$7 CPM. To calculate your sponsored post rate, take your total reach (which is 5,000 in our example), divide by 1,000 (now we’re at 5) and multiply by the CPM rate (either $5 or $7) here. Here’s what your rates would be at those two CPMS if we have a total reach of 5,000 people:
$5/CPM and 5,000 person reach = $25 per sponsored post
$7/CPM and 5,000 person reach = $35 per sponsored post
If you calculate your rate and think it should be higher, you can do that. Again, how you price yourself is 100% up to you, but be realistic. If you have a reach of 5,000 and want to charge $1000, most brands are probably going to say no.
Another way to justify charging on the higher end is to throw in bonuses. You could offer an extra round of social posts, a certain number of Insta Stories or Snapchats where you mention the brand, or even extra photos (from your shoot that didn’t make it on the blog) for the brand to use on their social accounts. Maybe you have a big email list—offer to feature the brand in your weekly newsletter to sweeten the pot! You can get creative here, but those are a few things that Jess and I have used in the past to justify a higher price point.
When coming up with your pricing, you should also consider the amount of work that will go into the post. The amount of work that goes into shooting an outfit versus a Thanksgiving menu and tablescape is very different. The latter will likely take you 2-3x the amount of time to plan, style and shoot as a regular outfit post would. Whenever you do up your rates for something like this, just be transparent to the brand about why the prices are higher and explain how much work will have to go into it on your part to make it happen.
If you get to a point where you’re finding that you have too many projects and every brand is saying yes to your prices, it might be time to raise them. We both find that having fewer, higher paying projects is better than more, lower paying projects. When I don’t have as many things going on, I’m able to fully dedicate myself to those projects and do them really well, and that’s better for the brand, your sanity and your bank account—win win win! One thing you shouldn’t do is up your prices every single time someone pays you that amount. Every brand and company works with different budgets, and you don’t want to price yourself out because of that one time someone paid you $1000 for a project. Make sense? Cool.
Lastly, remember that your time and work are valuable. Yes, there are definitely times where I’ll lower my rate to work with a brand I really love. But, know your worth and never feel like you have to lower your rates just to secure a partnership. You can always say no when if you feel the fee is too low and not worth your time—we do that frequently! At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what your time is worth and how low you’re willing to go.
Do you offer sponsored content on your blog? Do you have any questions about how to come up with your rate? Leave them below!7