Welcome to our latest food blogging Podcast and here we are with Food Blogging FM 017.
You can listen to the Podcast on the link above, read all about it below or click to download the ebook version on the banner above.
What Is Featured In This Podcast?
Understanding Sponsored Opportunities – Before you even apply for sponsored opportunities you need to know what to expect and fully understand what they are about. We will also be sharing with you what success we had at each of the places we tried out with highlights of the best and the worst of the bunch!
Recipe This Case Study In Progress – In this section we will be sharing with you how we personally got along with all the different sponsored opportunities we applied for verses the ones we looked for ourselves.
Links & Resources Mentioned In Food Blogging FM 016:
- Recipe This Advertising Page
- Recipe This Social Media Ads
- Project Wonderful
- How to get brands to send you stuff for free
- Google Adsense
Today I wanted to talk to you about sponsored opportunities and making a good living from your food blog. This is a very big part of running a food blog or a blog in any niche for that matter and is something that you should be thinking about from day 1.
I used to read in the past that food blogs should not try to monetise their food blogs until they hit 100,000 page views. Well I have never heard anything so crazy in my life as when you hit this level should be the time when your income has really taken off, not that it should start at that level.
I also know of two very popular food blogs that have been around for 6 years and didn’t actually monetise at all until they had passed the 250,000 monthly page views threshold. I cry for them when I think of when they could have started and how far they could have gone by that point.
So whether you are just starting out or have an older blog that has got traffic but you have not quite figured out how to monetise it then this is for you. It is also a Podcast based on our own case studies of what has happened to us as we have gone from zero traffic to 60,000 page views a month.
So get comfy and let’s dive straight in!
Understanding Sponsored Opportunities
First things first let’s think of this from an earnings point of view. If you read income reports (or write your own like we do) then you’ll know that unless they do a lot of recipe development work for other bloggers that the bulk of their income will be sponsorships.
Advertising networks are of course great and we have been with Adsense for 10 years now so we appreciate what they are all about and how they bring us regular money. But the sponsored reviews, recipes, social media is what will make you the most.
The worst thing for us though is we live in Portugal, we have a good US, UK & Australian readership base and many American companies will not touch you if you don’t have a US address with a US Amazon Prime account. It can make it very difficult and frustrating for a lot of people.
On the other hand with the Advertising Networks a lot of them wont touch you if they think that your readers are NOT American and some didn’t even bother to check where our readers actually came from.
But don’t let this get in your way as I wanted to share with you how I did it so here goes with our own experience.
#1 – Make sure you have applied to all relevant Advertising Networks
The point of advertising networks is that they are all (or most that is) are like Google Adsense. You place their ad code on your site and you either get paid each time someone clicks on the ad i.e PPC or for every thousand impressions which comes in at CPM.
For every advertising network that you join you will find one good one in every ten. It really can be that bad. Google Adsense is of course the leader and people complain that they don’t pay very well but I have never had a problem and if you think of the rules of the other ad networks in comparison you can see why everyone always goes back to Adsense.
I have not included Adsense in my case study just because it is so easy to get on board and everyone wants to go beyond just Adsense so these are for your back up plans!
Here are a few highlights out of the 50+ advertising networks that we applied to:
Conversant Media – Though we were turned down by Conversant Media. They told us it was down to low traffic. But it would have been nice if they had said what their minimum traffic was for a later date when we could then re-apply!
Blog Her – they are rather popular but have too many rules and expect to have free ads running on your site for a fortnight without earning any money from those spots.
Momumentric – this site was a real disappointment as you had to pay in order to sign up.
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Linqia – turned down and said we have no USA visitors when we have 60% therefore clearly didn’t read our application.
We also never heard back from Yellow Hammer Media, Ad Media.
We were turned down by buysellads but we are not surprised because apart from a site we sold in 2014 they always turn us down and never give us a reason why.
These are also quite popular among long term food bloggers but we didn’t apply to them due to the low traffic. When we have 60,000 page views and they have less traffic than us it kind of looks rather worrying.
They were Federated Media, BlogAds, Passion Ads, Brand Influence & Mom It Forward Media.
We also avoided these because they have either damaged our site in the past due to bad code or they have ruined our SEO. They were Clicksor, propellerads, sovrn, blogvertise, swerve, link vehicle.
We were also approved for Project Wonderful.com, Chitika & Chicory but we are yet to try each of them. We are also previously approved on content ad and media.net but we have found that the pay out is very low and not worth our time.
You are probably reading about all those feeling rather depressed for me and I am sure if I was starting out online I would have got depressed for myself. But I have the best Adsense placements we are working with Adsense whenever they have something new coming out and we also bulk up with Amazon affiliate ads. That way there is no pressure.
But we also know that from a money point of view that advertising networks are only ever there for a filler. While you are getting good sponsored review opportunities, while you are creating ebooks and that they are not the main income source from your site.
Plus many people are on a lot of advertising networks because they use the backfill option where they have another ad coming on if the other one didn’t show. But the problem when you go down this route is that it can end up slowing down and damaging your site.
So always try your best to keep it at a maximum of 3 advertising networks to keep your readers and Google happy.
However if you are into your food blog just for money and don’t care about SEO or your readers then go after blogvertise and other similar sites as they do pay a lot even if it is your blog at stake. Clearly I am joking about doing that though!
#2 – Make sure you have applied to all relevant Sponsored Review Services
You have done the advertising networks and next on the agenda has to be the sponsored review sites. These are sites that you can set up an account with and they will let you know when a good sponsored opportunity opens. It might be a review a product for x amount of money or it might be to send out some social media updates or even join a Twitter party.
We applied for loads of these as the way we see it, you can set it up, forget about it and then if a sponsored opportunity comes up then great, if not you haven’t really lost anything in the long term.
Just like with the ad networks we really went for it and this was the outcome:
Sponsored Tweets & Sponsored Reviews we kept our distance from thanks to their reputation. Sponsored Tweets you get paid for every time your tweet is retweeted or someone clicks on the link. Therefore it has become very shady with a lot of sites specialising in click exchanges to get these numbers up. It was good once though many years ago! Sponsored Reviews is not that bad but its known for customers that practice black hat SEO that just want a click and will often pay you just $5 per review.
IZEA is really not much better. We paid for the upgrade and the end result was someone offering us $4 for a review. I just can’t believe he thought I would take him up on it!
Tomoson we didn’t bother applying to again after it being a disaster last time. We didn’t receive any offers and most wanted you to review their products for free. Plus most of the products that they seem to be promoting tend to be diet pills and other things that most bloggers don’t want to be associated with.
Sulvo was the best laugh I have ever had from a sponsored place and that’s with a decade working online. They actually wanted you to have 15 million page views a month to sign up in order to earn $500. Well I would expect $500 for a review on 250,000 page views and that’s after the place has taken its cut!
Kitchen-Play.com was the biggest let down. We had only applied to them because we had seen them mentioned on a few old income reports. Though with their Alexa rank we did wonder if it was going to go badly wrong! Well we paid the $27 upgrade only to realise that their marketplace had not been updated in a long time. I think from memory it was 2 years but it could have been longer. I was really offended that they were selling a membership site with no decent membership area and did get my money back.
Both Blog Dash & Tap Influence we are approved for but we are yet to have an offer from either.
So that was us with the sponsored places and the ad networks. I don’t think all of it was to do with our location, I think a lot of it was poorly run third party places and the fact that you are probably better off doing the whole thing yourself. So that’s what I did and what I wanted to highlight in this Podcast.
Apart from our advertising revenue all income we have gone out looking for. We have contacted brands and asked about sponsored reviews, we have contacted bloggers and sold social media packages to them and best of all it has given us great results. Below you can see it in more detail in our case study!
Recipe This Case Study In Progress
Back in early 2009 Twitter was just taking off. Sponsored Tweets had become the site to watch and I remember being paid about $20 to tweet about pet food on one of my Twitter accounts.
I then realised that I could make a lot more on my own. So on my Warrior Forum account that I had at the time I offered a daily tweet service for $250 and sold 4 a month. I couldn’t believe that my Twitter account was bringing me $1000 a month in revenue.
It was amazing and I thought that even though I would always register with these other places (as and when they came up) that I could do much better myself. That is when a long love affair started working with brands.
But here you are with a site with not much traffic. I started this case study when my food blog was generating just 1000 page views in traffic. Even though it has doubled that now I wanted to prove that you could go out and get them and that it was easier than you could possibly imagine.
You need to have the things below in place first:
A MediaKit – a PDF that you can give out to interested parties with details of your traffic, social media stats and of course your prices. These are traditionally 2 pages long and are really good for spreading the word.
A Price List – You have to have prices in mind and don’t let brands take advantage of you and make you drop them. I get brands that say to me that they have no budget for sponsorship but would like to work with me anyway. Well unless they are offering me a product worth more than $200 that I can resell or something that I am desperate to promote, and then they will be turned down.
If you have good social media and SEO traffic you want your starting point to be somewhere between $1.50-$2.00 per 1000 impressions. Therefore as a bare minimum if you have 30,000 page views a month you should be charging $45 or up to $60.
I started my rate at $75 but I was taking into account the time and effort in the first place to do the content and wouldn’t go below this. Though if I was to do a review for a sponsored place I would add 30% because they often have high agency fees and you don’t want to end up with $20 for a review.
Though as your traffic grows you can give yourself a pay rise. We are currently on 60,000 page views a month and once we hit 75,000 we will put up our rates.
A Plan Of Action – this is the best bit as you want to plan who you are going to contact, how often, how many people, whether you are going to outsource it and all those other finer details.
Just today for example we received a cheque in the post from an Irish man for a review for 100€ as well as two online payments one for another 100€ and then the third for 125€. So not a bad day in the world of freelance sponsored opportunities.
We have done the maths and since we hit 30,000 page views a month we have made over $5000 between the months of April, May, June, July & August. Most of this is during the summer when it becomes harder to get traffic and to get clients. But we have not really put that much effort into it.
You just need to find 20 hours a week spare, or be able to outsource it and you can see results. You also need to understand what your assets are. If you have a big social media following on a particular network then sell ads on there, if you are good at SEO then tell the brands this as they love the idea of long term traffic.
Also if you are a new site start off with sponsored reviews in exchange for good quality products, that way you can have a portfolio to offer to people when they are interested in advertising with you. We did many of these until we hit 30,000 monthly page views and it has really paid off!
That’s A Wrap
Thanks for listening to our Podcast and don’t forget to sign up with as many sponsored opportunities and advertising networks as you can. Then fine tune them for which ones work for you.
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