Creating business websites & Google advertising to boost your sales

How To Get Blog Sponsors

Mar 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Marketing

The husband of a blogger called me. “I’m told you do advertising. Can you get sponsors for my wife’s blog?” Her do-it-yourself home decor blog has a clean and inviting style, some sponsors and some advertising. It sounded like he wanted more income from his wife’s efforts.

The advertising on the blog is very subtle. There’s two words you don’t hear together very often: subtle and advertising. It reminded me of the challenge I have with a friend who has a food website, a food blog, a cooking website, a cooking blog, videos on YouTube, DVDs for sale and a monthly newsletter. In an effort to consolidate her work so that her fans could find everything from one website, I built a spec website for her. She loved it, but she hated the catch. I wanted to put advertising on the site. By consolidating the food, cooking, recipes and how-to videos, I could create a compelling marketing strategy and attract sponsorships that would pay for the web work. I know how to get sponsorships, but she was afraid advertising would make the site look tacky. So a year has slipped by.

Advertising is Your Friend

Some people think advertising is bad the way children think vegetables are bad. But advertising can be very nutritious, as in “you need money to keep going.” I suspect that the home decor blogger (let’s call her feels that keeping the “organic” quality of her blog is crucial to long-term audience growth. And she’s right. So here’s how to add national sponsors while retaining the design purity and increasing revenue.

Rotation – It Makes the World Go ‘Round

Blog Sponsorships

Most national brands use television advertising which is sold in rotation. This is a concept that advertisers and media buyers are familiar with, but few bloggers are aware of. This panel shows six squares of sponsor ads. If DIYgrrl want to limit advertising space on her blog to this area, and to triple the number of sponsors, all she has to do it ROTATE the ads. Think of each square as a slot with three flash cards in it. One flashcard appears in the square each time the web page is loaded. Simply sell the ads “in rotation” and you can have 18 sponsors in the space of six.


As your audience increases and you increase your advertising rates, explain to your original sponsors that prices have gone up, and that you will honor the old rate if you can show the ad in rotation with new advertisers. If a long-time sponsor insists on paying for all three “flashcards,” make three separate, similar ads to create visual interest in the spot each time the page loads.


Where’s the Big Sponsorship Money?

DIYgrrl will not do paid product reviews, but she has developed a preference for some national brands and the husband has these targets in mind. Most are paint and hardware products typically marketed to men, so let’s use the hypothetical paint brand “Coatorama.” I recommended putting together a compelling presentation showing

  • existing articles that put the brand in a favorable light
  • comments from visitors grateful to learn about the brand
  • photos showing the brand being used in creative, innovative ways

The husband needs to persuade the Coatorama brand Product Manager that the blog is a channel to new markets — women who are unafraid of tools. The blog often shows how different Coatorama products can be used to get fabulous home decor results. The Product Manager, who works for Coatorama, is always looking for new categories of customers and ways to reach them economically. This blog would be a great way to showcase his product to a market segment (homemakers) that is a small but growing portion of total sales.

Can the Product Manger (PM) make the sponsorship deal? Maybe, but he will probably say, “I can’t sign this, all the media buys are made by our ad agency.” Husband persuades PM to set up an appointment with the Account Executive (AE) at the ad agency. AE says, “Our client Colorama likes this idea, but you have to talk to the media buyer.” Husband takes the media buyer to lunch, she signs the contract giving the appearance that it is her decision, but it is really the PM’s decision just going through the chain of command. Note: this process does not work in the other direction.

Two ways to sell sponsorships

Nearly all advertising is purchased on “efficiency” which means getting the most for your advertising dollar. On the web, it means that you reach a lot of people in your target market for a reasonable price. Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens have great websites, many more visitors, plus they throw in magazine ads to get the “efficiency” ratio that media buyers want.

DIYgrrl has a great blog and the audience is growing, but the numbers are still too small for a national advertiser to consider it in the ordinary “efficiency” calculation. Time to go to the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl Sell

You know what that means… the ad costs so much money you can’t possibly justify on “efficiency” but the client wants it regardless of cost. That’s the strategy this blog needs. Locating the Product Manager and getting the meeting takes a lot of work. Linked in and Facebook contacts may help. A Skype meeting may be easier to set, and he can make an almost-in-person pitch that allows him to demonstrate the blog while selling. He need to show the PM the enthusiastic product comments and photos. He will talk about the rate of growth and project this growth into the future so that the PM is looking at some decent audience numbers one or two years out. He needs to have some dollar figures ready, to be willing to negotiate, to have a contract ready to email, to make sure the ad is sold IN ROTATION for a year, and that the sponsorship runs until canceled.

Who can sell this?

So, if I know all this, why didn’t I take the job? Because a sponsorshp like this can be sold only by the blogger herself, or the husband. The “Super Bowl Sell” requires you to have substantial skin in the game. The PM and AE must be convinced that there is a continuing commitment to the blog and that the quality will continue for the years necessary to build the audience that they are buying on the come. They must believe the blogger and her husband can go the distance before they buy the sponsorship.

A Fine Line

There will be some discussion with the PM and the AE about the content of future articles on the blog. The husband must be charming, diplomatic, and crystal clear that Coatorama has exactly the same amount of content control as if they were advertising on The Daily Show. None. The PM and AE will ask, and he must say no. It’s part of the dance.

I hope they succeed because it is a great blog. And I hope my food friend comes to realize that advertising is a valid source of information to readers and income to writers. What do you think is the best way to get a sponsorship? Any special sponsorship tips?

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  1. I think that’s true… sponsorships have to be sold by the blogger herself.

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