Sidebar sponsors are becoming the norm on most blog sidebars these days. Not long ago we were busy apologizing for their mere presence, remember?!?
Times have changed. Bloggers are finally realizing their social media flare is worth something and sidebar advertising has become the norm.
Whether one likes the ‘look’ or not, it’s about business. If you’re visiting a blog with lots of sponsors, consider the fact that they are paying for your free viewing privilege.
Welcoming sidebar advertising is a personal choice with no right or wrong. If you prefer a carefree clean blog or blog for pure hobby reasons, perfect! However if you’re wishing to slowly flip your passion into an income, sidebar sponsors may be right for you.
I’m personally extremely appreciative of those that wish to help support FJI! They are all a wonderful bunch of small businesses that have heart and personality. I couldn’t ask for a nicer group to do biz with. 🙂
What are sidebar sponsors?
Sidebar sponsors are small businesses that pay for exposure on the face of blogs. They sit on the sidebar for a predetermined time frame that is established between the sponsor and host.
Most hosts do much more than take their funds and let them just look pretty though. 🙂 So consider the following facts before jumping in head first. Sidebar sponsors flip your casual blogging habit from hobby to career with business expectations attached.
How much should a blog charge?
Costs for a sidebar sponsor is very individual. However a rule of thumb I generally go by is: if one has 6000 followers, approx $60 a month is reasonable. 4000 followers = $40/mo, etc. I don’t count the subscribers because they don’t see the buttons on the sidebar when viewing from a reader. I also offer a cut rate for 3 months at a time because it’s less bookkeeping for me, therefore feel I can extend the time savings back to them.
An amount can also be based on how high the volume is on that given blog. Or how often new content is posted. Or any little extras you practice. It’s all up to you!
When is a good time to add sponsors?
I believe I started offering this service when I had a couple thousand followers. Before that, I didn’t find it all that feasible for the work involved. You really do have to consider the time it takes to add/remove buttons and host reviews and giveaway events and occasional promotion.
Frequent posting is better exposure for your sponsors. For this reason I generally post every other day with exception to this 31 Day series. Just know, you should be posting regularly to be fair to your sponsors. If you take a blog break, let them know and either offer a refund or extend their term.
Having a weekly link party is also extra exposure, so make sure they’re aware of it!
I will also casually mention my sponsors in regular blog posts with a link back for added exposure where it suits.
Offering a review and or giveaway event is actually beneficial to all. It’s a wonderful highlight for the sponsor, a chance to hear about a fun new product for you, and a chance to land it for free too. 🙂
Being a BlogHer hosted blog, I cannot accept payment for reviews, however I can exchange the item for the service. If you do this, ensure the item you’re exchanging is valued appropriately vs. your required time. Reviews that involve you making a project take even more time so adjust accordingly.
I always like to suggest a giveaway be in conjunction with a review so you have an audience that is responsive and involved. I have a $50 value rule so the response is good. But know, the higher the value, the better the response. It simply generates more buzz.
An additional rule I have is that a Canadian can be a potential winner (because I’m Canadian!). Bad for biz if I can’t support my own country. 🙂 Sadly, most sponsors are not willing to gamble that a non American may win. So be sure to mention during your giveaway event who’s entitled to win because blogging is worldwide.
Consider what your sponsor is gaining from this event. I send participants to their blog in order to qualify for a possible win. It may bring in less comments, but a giveaway is really about promotion, not the freebie. Sponsors would rather have less comments and more traffic!
I also like to offer another opportunity for a win if they LIKE their Facebook page or some other such thing. Be creative. Dream up ideas on what can benefit your SPONSOR the most and they’ll be back for another month of advertising because you pulled out all the stops. 🙂
How to work with sponsor buttons
A sponsor button can either be a jpg or html. If the button comes as a jpg, I upload it into my photobucket account so I can generate an html myself. Then I simply install the button in an html widget through dashboard, resize, and link it up to the desired Etsy or website. I like html’s because they are easy to resize and center.
To center an html: < center > the button html goes here < /center > (with no spaces!)
I personally don’t use the side by side sponsor columns but most do. Google ‘sponsor button codes’ and you’ll be sure to land a code that works.
Most sponsor buttons should be no smaller than 125 x 125 and it’s best if they are done in a square shape with an outline to work on all backgrounds.
Charge to host giveaways and reviews.
If there’s income involved on one side, it ought to be two sided. Your time is worth something! At the very least, exchange a worthwhile dollar value of goods for your service so you are comfortably compensated. Offer things free and you undercut what everyone is working so hard to establish.
Keep the advertising on the blog in good balance with your usual content.
Your viewers are there to see you first, so refrain from becoming a TV commercial and promote sparingly. My motto is no more than once a week unless you’re doing a big promotion with many involved. The perfect scenario? Create a project WITH the item you’re reviewing/giving away so you’re still feeding your niche market.
Social media highlights
Once a week I go through a sponsor’s store and pick something I adore and highlight it on Facebook. It’s always so fun to view the comments that are soon to follow! Many highlights can have a product selling out so I do my best to ensure there’s enough in stock prior.
Twitter is all about promotion, so advertising is expected there more so than anywhere else. Go for it, but resist the urge to auto RT or spam at a high rate, otherwise you may lose followers.
Keep your sidebars neat, tidy and aligned properly so it’s an attractive spot to shop in. Remove anything that doesn’t need to be there to reclaim some clean space.
Bring up your sponsors periodically in a subtle manner through blog posts from time to time for ongoing support.
Consider tracking the promotion progress.
You can activate a code to help track how effective the ad or event was for promotional purposes. This can be done in the program bitly – place in the long url, auto shorten, then use that shortened code for the new url. bitly will continue to track the hits for you! It’s totally BRILLIANT.
Create an ADVERTISE page
The more info you offer, the less they will email you repeatedly for questions. I offer all my info publicly so only those ready to purchase will contact me. Click HERE how I lay out my own terms. Just make sure you provide enough info so your sponsor can be an informed shopper.
I’ll also be covering the wonderful world of advertising campaigns, so stay tuned!
Disclaimer: many of these statements above are of my own opinion and are mere suggestions.
If you appreciate visiting my blog, please take a moment to click on those that help support me to be here as much as I am. They really are making this possible. 🙂
All 31 Day posts to date can be found HERE.
Day 7 – all about sidebar sponsors – this entry