As you start to promote and monetize your blog, you’ll need to find opportunities to work with brands. Fortunately, a number of groups exist that allow you to apply and get engaged with brands. These programs often protect you as a blogger, including ensuring you get paid and have a contract. I’m going to give you a glimpse inside my favorite – and most profitable – influencer and affiliate marketing programs.
Influencer Programs and Sponsored Campaigns
In a sponsored campaign project, a brand engages you to write a post to their specifications, manage a Twitter or Facebook party or send out social shares in return for a fee and/or a product. Brands and PR reps generally want to see no more than 20% sponsored posts on your blog, but there can be some wiggle room within that, especially if you are a real deal blog.
Social shares can earn you between $3-10 per shares (a very good reason to build your social media presence) and sponsored posts can run from $25 to $300, depending on your page views, skill, expertise and reach. The following are some of the top influencer programs I have worked with:
New and Low Traffic Blogger Programs
- IZEA: This is a great service which has 3 affordable price levels: free; $1 a month; and $5 a month. I’m currently using the $1 a month and it’s already made my income back several times over. There are no other criteria, simply sign up and review the offers, most of which are tweets and quite easy to do.
- Activate: This is both an influencer program and blogger community. You earn an Activate score based on your social influence, your blog influence (such as your Google Analytics), and your Activate influence, acquired by gaining endorsements and posting articles that help others. While Activate does not offer a lot of campaigns, it gives you a chance to build your reputation and community, which is critical if you get selected for a campaign.
- Tomoson: Primarily for review items, some of their campaigns do pay out. Many of their products are well known brands and often the requirements are low, such as 100 Twitter followers. It’s a great way to get started with brands you may already love.
- Moms Meet: Focusing on allergen-free and organic foods, Moms Meet offers a blogger sampling option and a home host option. You only get products to review, but the sample is large. You earn points toward their rewards program. This is a great way to get involved with big-name specialty food brands.
- She Speaks Blogger Society: This is another community and blogger forum. While the campaigns don’t pay as high as some others, She Speaks is a great way to get started and you can share product reviews. While there are not a lot of offers on this service, they do feature big name brands.
- Double Duty Divas: Run by two lovely ladies who also manage the iRetreat conference, the Divas are a supportive network that works with big brands like P&G as well as running sponsored campaigns and Twitter parties.
- BlogHer Influencer Network: BlogHer is a great publishing platform for bloggers to wet their feet, but they also have influencer networks. If you qualify, you can get on some very good sharing programs for social media or for your bog.
Over 10,000 Page View Blogger Programs
- Influence Central: Formerly MomCentral, this influencer program has a heavy focus on baby products. I’ve done a number of campaigns for them in their early days. They may compensate in Amazon or client gift cards along with product.
- Real Clever: I’ve had great success with Real Clever campaigns. They pay well and offer a number of sponsored posts and social media campaigns per month. They pay on time and as a bonus, keep track of your past programs and income.
- MassiveSway: This is the blogger program for SITS Girls. They pay well and have great infrequent campaigns, some are regionally based. They are highly selective.
- TapInfluence: Formerly BlogFrog, TapInfluence was the program that invited me to be a Silk ambassador last year. You can set up your media kit and rates, but keep in mind that programs are invitation only.
High Traffic Blogger Programs (Over 25,000+ Page Views):
- Mom It Forward: They offer some really neat projects, but I think the pay is a bit low for the required views. However, it’s easy to become a member and sort the opportunities as they come.
- Social Fabric: This is the community for the company, Collective Bias, which works with very big name brands. I know many bloggers who are happy with them, so if your reach qualifies, apply to them.
Naturally, there are many other groups, however, these are the ones I've had some experience with.
Affiliate Marketing Groups:
Affiliate marketing depends on traffic, niche and blog, but these are some that have proven successful. Even if you are a small blog, you can make it work by being creative (creating a gift guide) or positioning relevant ads above and below your posts. You can choose which merchants (brands) you work with. You may not qualify for some programs because of location or sales tax laws.
- ShareASale: This is one of my favorites because they have great brands that turn over well for mom blogs, like Zulilly and StudioPress. Very easy to work with.
- Amazon Associates: Easy to work with, but I don’t care for the links. That said, you have lots of options for creating sidebar or review widgets or other tools with them. If you cater to book reviews, this program is for you.
- Affiliate by Conversant: This is the most popular affiliate program. I don’t like it as much as Share A Sale, but it’s worth joining for even more merchants.
- ShopHer: In addition to traditional merchant campaigns, ShopHer allows you to post grocery coupons, making this a very valuable program for deal bloggers.
You should be careful to avoid these – and keep in mind for when you start to get direct pitches:What to Avoid
- Paid content: I often get pitches from people wanting to pay me money to post canned content. Your readers deserve fresh, original content from yourself and guest bloggers that you know and trust.
- Text links: Within a sponsored post, these are fine, but random text links scattered about your blog look unprofessional and are misleading. Use standard image advertisements instead.
- Unethical clients: Only work on campaigns that adhere to basic blogger etiquette: full disclosure that your post is sponsored, “nofollow” attribute selected on client links, clear terms of payment and deliverables.
- Losing money: We all have had that time that a client did not pay. I recommend putting safeguards in place (basic contract, consequences like pulling a post for nonpayment, etc.). These basic safeguards can help protect you, or at least get your delinquent client to negotiate with you.
- Losing your rights: Please read every word of contracts that you sign. You usually sign over copyright for your sponsored post, but you do not want to sign away the rights to your entire blog. Avoid signing contracts that hand over rights to “any” or “other” content added to your blog at any time. The company is attempting to grant itself rights to your entire blog.
Keep in mind that when you sign up for any of these programs, you must provide payment information, a W9 form and possibly your social security number. That’s why it’s best to work with trusted groups, some of whom you can meet at conferences. Talk to the reps to see if you are a good fit -it can your odds of getting assignments.