Since taking over as the accounts manager for The Broke-Ass Bride nearly four years ago (whoa), I've seen it all -- from PR companies pimping big-name brands "with no budget for advertising" to advertorials being passed off as styled shoots in hopes of scoring some free clicks to little bitty Etsy sellers taking a gamble on spending their dollars and winning big time with the BAB audience and everything in between.
And while it can get frustrating fielding PR pitch after PR pitch (and responding with our media kit), there is nothing that grinds my gears nearly as much as a company inquiring about sponsored posts only to turn around and ask that we give them the post at a fraction of what our price is. This is especially infuriating working with a blog such as The Broke-Ass Bride, which has been around since 2008 and has earned its stripes in Blogland. There has been quite literal blood, sweat and tears poured into the work to get BAB where it's at over the last eight years, and that work is worth something.
Now, we have a good-size following for a niche blog and our social media standings are nothing to scoff at. But we also realize that in order to attract the kinds of advertisers that our readers will be drawn to, we need to have our prices set accordingly -- so we hover around the approachable $250-$350 range for sponsored content (find our full list of offerings here) which is in the mid to low range for a blog of our size and standing. We recognize that our advertisers need to see results from their investment -- the draw has to be there, as do the clicks and hopefully purchases (though we have no way of tracking the latter). If they don't see the traffic, then they've just paid good money for, well, nothing. And that means they won't be advertising with us in the future. And that means we've lost revenue. And that sucks.
However, we have a lot to consider as well when discussing prices for advertising: Namely the time, energy, effort and space required to put together a sponsored post and push it out to our readers. For blogs, posts are valuable. Very valuable, as they're what the whole damn thing revolves around. Our content, sponsored or not, is what has helped establish us in the industry. Our voice, approach, tone and format are what keep readers coming back time and time again. If we lose that, then we lose readers ... and with that the revenue they bring. Especially as a niche blog, we have to be selective about who we partner with -- the brand has to be in line with what our readers would expect from us. If we stray too far off the cuff, we risk alienating our audience that we've strived so hard to cultivate.
It's for this reason (at least partly) that The Broke-Ass Bride has largely turned to affiliate marketing as a source of revenue. Direct advertising can be so difficult, whether it's meeting specific criteria from the brand or gathering the materials or ensuring both the brand and blog's messages are on point, and it's not always worth it from a work or click perspective (yeah, I'm looking at you, Company Who Insisted On Four Revisions). With affiliate marketing, the blogger is firmly fastened into the pilot's seat, determining which merchants and products to promote and how to do so. There are no requirements on clicks, and no having to explain that a merchant maybe didn't see a return this time, but it takes up to seven instances of "meeting" a brand before a click or conversion takes place. The adverse, however, is that sometimes you end up promoting a brand for free, because they just aren't one that resonates with your audience ... but even in this case, you can go back and update the post with a new merchant to see if they fare any better.
However, the same guidelines apply in affiliate marketing but in reverse: Bloggers can't just expect merchants in the affiliate space to pony up the dough for sponsored posts or send us a bunch of free shit if we don't show that we have the value to make it worthwhile.
That said, direct advertising is where the real (and immediate) money lies, and it remains the bread and butter of many blogs. So, advertisers, before you reach out to a blog to see about "working with them" (pro tip: be prepared to either get ignored, get sent a media kit or get a big no if you don't state that you're willing to compensate them -- and reasonably -- for a feature), make sure you know what you're dealing with. Many blogs have their media kits readily available on their site -- The Broke-Ass Bride has an Advertise page that lists our social media followings as well as all of our sponsorship options -- so it may behoove you to do some research before you reach out.
If you're in it just for the press, brace yourself for a rejection. As businesses, blogs rely on advertising revenue, and unless you have some ingenious way to really make the partnership mutually beneficial, there is little reason for a blogger to write about your company and wares when they won't be receiving anything for their efforts. You don't just go giving away your product for nothing, just because someone asked, do you?