The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts - 6 Important Questions To Ask Before You Start

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The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts - 6 Important Questions To Ask Before You Start

Today's post is the latest in my series on working with brands. So far, I've covered how to decipher and deal with brand/PR emails relating to both unpaid collaborations and paid opportunities, and in the next couple of instalments, I'm going to guide you step by step through the process of working with a brand on a sponsored post.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm no Fleur De Force, but I do have a fair bit of experience in working with brands. As a small blogger myself, I feel that navigating the world of sponsored posts is harder for us than for the big successful influencers. Blogging full time is out of the question for most of us. We haven't got the weight of huge followings, a network or agent behind us, we can't afford/justify a professional photographer, etc. That's why I've specifically tailored my advice to smaller bloggers, and I really hope you find it useful.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts - 6 Important Questions To Ask Before You Start

In today's instalment, I'm going to be focussing on the initial stage of the process. I'm talking about the moment you receive email correspondence from a brand, telling you that they love the content you create and would like to offer you paid work. This can be very exciting, especially for us smaller bloggers who perhaps don't get to experience it as often as we would like, and it can be so tempting to fire off an immediate response, agreeing to everything before they change their mind. Don't! Before you even think about saying yes, you need to be absolutely sure that you and the brand are on the same page, and that means understanding exactly what is being asked of you.

In my experience, the correspondence from PRs when discussing sponsored posts can often be vague and confusing, so it's really important that you ask the right questions. Through trial and error, I have learned that it's essential to be clear on the following six points before agreeing to start work on a sponsored post. Some of them are questions for the brand, while others are things you need to ask yourself. One thing is for sure, though - taking the time to consider them at the outset could save you a whole host of problems further down the line.

Street style fashion

6 Questions To Ask Before Accepting A Sponsored Post


1. Is the brand and product a good fit for my blog? 


Our blogs are built on our audiences, who come to us because they enjoy the type of content we create. That doesn't mean we shouldn't embrace a little variety every now and then, but if I were to write a post about light bulbs, for instance, I don't think it would be very exciting for my fashion and beauty loving readers! The post wouldn't do well, the brand wouldn't be happy, and more importantly, I would risk alienating my audience for the longer term. The product you're being asked to write about doesn't have to be your favourite in the whole wide world, but you do need to be interested in it. If you're not, chances are it's not a natural fit for your blog and probably not the right collaboration for you.

Tan suede skirt from Mango

2. What is the nature of the campaign, and can I deliver the content required? 


In some cases, sponsored posts can be very straightforward. You might be sent products to try out or asked to select clothing from the brand website, after which you will be free to take photos and create a blog post around the items as you normally would. Sometimes, though, there are more specific requirements to take into account. For example, when I worked with No7, I had to set up a giveaway using Rafflecopter. It wasn't something I was familiar with, so it took a little more preparation than usual. A House Of Fraser campaign I worked on earlier this year was fairly simple, but there was a requirement to focus the content on styling an outfit for a wedding, so I had to take that into account. 

When I worked on this campaign with TK Maxx, the requirements were a lot more complex. First I had to go into store with my photographer (read: husband), to meet the PR and put together a clothing rail of my favourite items. That took a good few hours, at the end of which I was gifted an outfit to style. I then had to set up a second photoshoot wearing that outfit (again, with my husband) all before actually writing the post. I don't have full time hours to devote to my blog, and Mike definitely doesn't, so it took some careful thinking and planning before I was in a position to agree.

Mini skirt and over the knee boots outfit

On yet another occasion, part of the campaign involved making a short teaser video for the brand's social media pages. This was before I had started my YouTube channel, so it wasn't an easy task for me, although I eventually found a way to do it.

What I'm trying to say here is that you need to be sure from the outset exactly what you are being asked to do. Can you find the time and do you have the necessary skills and equipment? If not, you run the risk of it all ending in tears later on.

turtle neck and mini skirt ootd

3. What is the deadline? 


I've probably covered this in point 2, but it's vitally important to know how much time you have to play with. Chances are, as a small blogger you will be working around your day job, so you need to sit down with your diary (and possibly, as in my TK Maxx example, your husband's diary!) and work out exactly when you can fit in the tasks required.

How to style over the knee boots

4. What am I going to charge? 


Sometimes a brand will have a fixed budget available, which you can either accept or not, but more often with this type of sponsored post, you will be asked to provide your rate. It can be difficult to know what to charge, but there are some examples online that suggest how to calculate a reasonable fee, and I think the table given in this article is very handy to use as a guide. 

Essentially, you need to take into account the time it will take you to do the work required, as well as your blog stats and engagement. In my case, although my monthly views are not currently where I would want them to be, I get good engagement on my posts and have a decent DA (Domain Authority - find yours here!) so I take all this into account when calculating my rate. While I think it's important to be honest and realistic, and won't be charging anything like the rates the big influencers charge, I also know that my blog has value, as does my time, and I don't see the point in committing myself to work without fair remuneration. In the case of the TK Maxx project, for example, the fee was higher than I usually charge, because there was so much more involved than simply styling up an outfit and writing a post.


Autumn High Street Fashion

The brand may accept your proposed fee, or they may come back with a counter offer. In this case, you need to weigh up whether or not the project is still worth your time, depending on what that counter offer is.

One final point on payment - make sure you clarify whether you will be paid via bank transfer or through PayPal. Some brands seem to like using PayPal, which is OK, but if this is the case I always ask them politely if they will cover PayPal's fees. If you've agreed on a figure then it's only fair that you receive all of it!

How to wear cream and black

5. Will the brand agree to proper disclosure and no-follow links? 


I have occasionally had to turn down paid work because the brand either don't want me to disclose that they've paid me to collaborate with them, or because they want me to include follow links to their site. It's maddening, but you could get into trouble and have your blog penalised for these practises, so they simply aren't worth the risk. That said, most reputable companies play by the rules, so it's not a scenario you should find yourself in too often when working on this type of sponsored post.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts - 6 Important Questions To Ask Before You Start

6. Will there be a contract to sign?


I have worked on paid campaigns both with and without contracts. Usually, it is in the interests of both parties to have one as it offers mutual security. Make sure you read every word, though, because sometimes brands put requirements in there that they may not have discussed with you previously. For example, they might ask you not to work with any rival brands during the campaign and for a certain period of time after the post goes live. If there is anything you are not sure about, ask before you sign.

If there isn't a contract, I will email them something like, "Could you please confirm that I will be doing X, X and X and that you will pay me £X?" and wait for their positive response before starting any work. That way, I have written evidence of what has been agreed on in case of any problems later.

The Small Blogger's Guide To Sponsored Posts - 6 Important Questions To Ask Before You Start

Shop The Look


In my experience, being clear in your mind on these six important questions can help to make working on a sponsored post a much more pleasant and worry free experience. After all, getting paid work through your blog is a fantastic achievement and definitely one you should be able to enjoy!

I'll be following up with my guide to the next steps in the process soon. In the meantime, I hope you found this of use! Have you worked on any sponsored posts, and do you have any tips for being prepared?

Kate x

Some links may be affiliate links. This poses no extra cost to you, the customer. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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46 comments

  1. I love this series of posts, Kate. So informative and a great help to those who are starting to have contact with brands xx

    Beautylymin

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    Replies
    1. I'm so pleased you're enjoying them, Siobhan! x

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Candice, I'm obsessed with it! x

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  3. I am always looking forward to this series of posts, I learn a lot. Personally I haven't done a lot of sponsored posts and I am not often approached by someone with a serious offer.

    Anne - Linda, Libra, Loca

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately they don't come along that often for those of us with smaller followings, which is a shame because we still have a lot to offer brands. Glad the tips are useful! x

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  4. These are all so important to remember and think about!

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

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  5. These are fantastic tips! I think in the beginning I just accepted most PR offers without really thinking about it. Now, 4 years down the road I realize to only accept what is actually something I believe in or would personally use. The payment thing has always been hard though!

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    Replies
    1. I think we all do that in the beginning, we are just so pleased to have someone approach us with an offer that we forget about the bigger picture. x

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  6. Thank you for sharing this very useful information! I also love your outfit :)

    http://innapishtoy.com/

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  7. You looks amazing! Information what you shared with us are really useful!


    http://nikolaknazikova.blogspot.com/
    New post/ http://nikolaknazikova.blogspot.com/2018/09/natural-cleaning-products.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Nicole, so glad you found it helpful! x

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  8. This is such a helpful post. I've never done a collaboration but I would definitely like to!

    www.poutineandprada.com

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    Replies
    1. Glad if it was useful! Hopefully in the not too distant future you will get the opportunity! x

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  9. these are all important questions to consider
    New post
    https://www.melodyjacob.com/2018/10/5-tips-to-collaborate-successfully-with.html

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  10. There is so much to consider when working with brands. It's good that the blogger community chat about this - so we all know how the process works. Great piece!

    Aicha | thefashionheist.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Aicha! I agree, sharing our experiences is so useful, after all you can't study this at school - yet! x

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  11. Thanks for sharing this beneficial information! And it is good to consider when working with brands. Also, I love your shoes:)
    Toms Shoes Coupons

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  12. Thank you for sharing this! I find it super useful and indeed, as a small blogger, you have to be very cautious :) I myself am a small blogger and I often post my content on https://fashionpotluck.com which is a social media platform for women only! :)

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  13. Great tips and insightful information. I think this will be quite helpful to many small blogs and those brands that do not want to agree to the disclosure could also find their brand at risk to too.

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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    Replies
    1. Yes! You're right, the brand can also get into trouble for this, as well as the blogger. Whenever I'm approached by a brand who want follow links and non disclosure, I try to point this out. x

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  14. Oh, I won't see you are not a pro because I see you really ask the right questions! Your post is absolutely helpful, thank you! And I like your elegant fall look btw.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Rena and I'm so glad you find it helpful! x

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  15. Your style is awesome! It#s the perfect combination for fall ♥
    xx, Kathy from Trend Love Shop

    www.trendloveshop.com

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  16. You've listed some really important points in this post Kate, with my favourite being the very first one - whether the brand/product is a good fit for the blog! It's so clear when this point hasn't been considered by a blogger, making it all the more important! On a different note, I love your Autumn look here babe! :)

    aglassofice.com x

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    1. I agree, it really does come across when a post doesn't fit. Thanks Gabrielle! x

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  17. These soft and nude colors suit you perfectly.
    Casual and yet feminine. And I think you ask the right questions. Thank you for this helpful post my dear.


    take a look at my BLOG and my INSTAGRAM

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  18. This post is just great and I love your outfit too!

    Mira Audrey’s

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  19. Thanks for sharing.
    Super handy.
    xx
    https://theonethattravels.wordpress.com

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  20. What a great post Thanks babe love your outfit too xoxo Cris
    https://photosbycris.blogspot.com/2018/10/the-beach-look-from-heaven.html

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  21. Such an insightful post Kate! Thanks for your tips and I loveeee your outfit <3

    Have a lovely rest of the weekend <3

    Serene XO

    http://www.surrealserene.com

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  22. My DA is pretty good or at least I think so and I have done a few sponsored post myself but never occurred to me to ask them to cover PayPal fees which is 3% I think? I'll need to start doing that moving forward.

    Shireen⎜Reflection of Sanity

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    1. Yes definitely do! Often as smaller bloggers we are working for modest rates as it is and I think it's only fair that they cover the fees. I've never had a brand refuse, but they might try to get away with it if you don't ask! x

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  23. Your tips are so on point and make perfect sense. Thanks for sharing!

    www.fashionradi.com

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