Recap: Sponsorship and Monetizing

Last week’s Blog Brunch was full of brilliant answers and great insight into the world of Sponsorship and Monetizing. Fresh off the heels of Altitude Design Summit many of the attendees were excited to comment and give their thoughts on a topic that was also hot at Alt Summit. 

So let’s get right into the goodness and let you guys see what we enjoyed so much about last Saturday. 

Question #1

How do you know when or if you should start monetizing on your blog?

Parkeretc: When your blog has started getting online clout, is active & has an average & consistent potential daily traffic

HitchDesign: It is important to have a site tailored to giving advertisers a platform that they want to be on.

sister_mag: Biggest point is always reach in Page Views and even more important Unique Users

vmacandcheese: Think it’s important to have a biz plan. What are your goals? The impetus these days is to say yes to the first opp.

Inredlipstick: Be committed! If you have the audience & the content, your time IS worth something. But, no one wants to invest in inconsistency

mspinkandblue: I think when inquires and emails start coming in, but only do it if it works with your audience and blog aesthetics.

teachinginheels: When you have consistent readers, consistent posting

mackenziehoran: When you’re posting consistently, people are reading consistently, and the RIGHT opportunity comes along

moniqueprevost: When you have interest from sponsors, but also when it makes sense to you. Don’t think a cert. # of page views is necessary

moxee_: when your blog is steady + consistent. when you hear sponsors REALLY want to be apart of your “brand.”

HitchDesign: Your goal with your blog should never begin with making money it should be a real upside instead

Imwaytoobusy: Depends on your niche, too. if you have 200 views per day by enthusiasts, that’s valuable. It can be quality vs quantity

YourSouthPeach: 1,000 pageviews was just a recommendation from another blogger to me. But certainly there are many opinions out there.

eatdrinkshopluv: When you have a steady engaged readership!

tinar0727: I think if you do decide to monetize and host sponsored’s always important to NOT lose your essence!

melaniebiehle: You have to consider more than pageviews. An engaged audience and social media interaction has something to do with it too.

moxee_: be true to you + your blog, always. quality > quantity. readers will come and sponsors follow.

vmacandcheese: A good start is to give away space to brands you love. help you work out kinks.

Question #2:

Besides ads on your blog, are there any other ways of making money from “being a blogger”?

sister_mag: Can use blog as a portfolio as a designer and get reputation,also your expertise on a topic can help you to get speaker jobs

todaysnest: My blog has resulted in jobs for design, photography, and baking.

kdesignthoughts: being at the right place at the right time. Networking with the right people. opportunities always come!

moniqueprevost: Affiliate programs

Imwaytoobusy: Depending on your niche, it can give you fantastic career leverage and open doors through connections.

quintessenceblg: I have gotten freelance jobs thru my blog.           

Eatdrinkshopluv: Freelancing for publications is a good way to make extra cash. Before blogging I was a freelance writer PT

HitchDesign: Having companies offer to sponsor a shoot you may do for your blog whether a dinner or friends or etc

Somekindofstyle: still not sure about the whole monetizing thing really! … perhaps a better way is to freelance in different projects!

moxee_: my blog became a gateway for freelance design projects! it’s SUPER rewarding to get inquiries from readers. :)

mspinkandblue: You can submit to magazines with articles or ideas, contribute to other people’s blogs or “ghost blog” for companies

vmacandcheese: Somewhat related to ads & affiliates — be sure to disclose in your blog policies that you’re making money!

WhiteTableStyle: We started doing affiliate programs a few weeks ago

melaniebiehle: I joined @clevergirlscoll & have done sponsored posts, just one so far. But I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t fit with my blog.

Inredlipstick: A lot of companies want to know your strengths and a (well-curated) blog can highlight your aesthetics, writing style, etc!

Cookieandkate: I have gotten freelance web design jobs through my blog and just partnered with a local shop that fits with my philosophy.

decormusings: Possibly via guest blogging for brands on a regular basis being a brand ambassador, etc.

ElembeeEtc: Blogging has introduced me to new clients for my graphic design studio.

joyofallcrafts: Blogging provides a platform for people to see your talent. I’ve been asked to teach many craft workshops via my blog

AvgGirlsGuide: I’ve made money through affiliates: google, commission junction, etc. not much via reward style, and love @ebates

melaniebiehle: I also just got hired to design someone’s business card because they liked the one I designed for #altsummit.

jillianmanger: If your running a business {event planning for me!} it opens you up to so many new client that you never would have met!

Shannondarrough: Just make sure “sponsored” is clear from the start! RT @HitchDesign: Anyone done any sponsored posts? How did that work out?

Cookieandkate: A small, local grocer is going to promote my recipes in store. I get free groceries in exchange for mentioning them when used.

Question #3

How do you know how much to charge for ads or sponsorship opportunities on your blog?

 @hitchdesign Don’t be afraid to do some research. It all weighs on your page views per month, bounce rate, and time on pages.

 @moxee_ Trial and error! I would say start free with friends and gather their thoughts. Average it out.

 @inredlipstick  Pricing is not standardized in the blogosphere. Get a feel for what others are asking. You don’t want to be too high or too low! #blogbrunch

  @artfuldesperado Shop around, see what others charge (“competition”).  Ask your friends how much they charge and compare.

 @joyofallcrafts I’ve heard trial and error, start at $10-25 per month & adjust. Also, start by giving away ad space to small shops; Etsy for example.

 @quintessenceblg Don’t feel you have too do the same as everyone else - thinking out of the box works too!

 @notetosarah What is that saying? You miss 100% of shots you don’t take. Just ask!

 @vmacandcheese Best tip from #altusmmit: When asking for money, your stomach should hurt a little. Don’t undervalue yourself or your content!

 @ParkerEtc - Be sure to know how they’re paying you, per clicks, per impressions, by the month, etc. It’s ok to start small. This is a marathon not a sprint!

 @sister_mag - I try to find out best practice prices from other bloggers.

 @ inredlipstick - Offer different options and opportunities. Having only one of each can limit involvement.

 @mackenziehoran Email bloggers with similar readership and ask what they charge. Most are happy to help and I learned it was ok to up my rates!

 @inredlipstick Be open. An opportunity may be worth more than the monetary value offered. Sometimes you need to build a relationship first.

Question #4

What are the best ways to reach out to potential sponsors?

 @decormusings  Just do it, right? With creativity and confidence.

 @quintessenceblg: Don’t feel you have to do the same as everyone else - thinking out of the box works too!

 @jillianmanger A media kit is detailed info you send to sponsors when you are making a pitch.

 @mackenziehoran Usually they do. If not I charge extra or direct them to a designer.  RT@LisaMackay Do you design the ad or does the advertiser?

 @inredlipstick First show you’re passionate before attempting to get something from them. Relationships are far more valuable in the long run.

 @mackenziehoran To contact a potential sponsor, I email a little about myself, my brand, and include an ad kit with relevant analytics

 @ParkerEtc: Can’t stress enough about not cluttering your blog space with ads. Be picky and precise on your layout of the ads.

 @cookieandkate Stats, audience info (demographics, interests), summary of your blog all go into a good media kit.

 @chelsea_costaLots of folks offered to share theirs at Alt! Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance from a blog you love.

 @vmacandcheese People looking for press kit examples: Google “brand name” media kit and you’ll find tons of examples (try Daily Candy!)

 @mspinkandblue Write a personal email that doesn’t sound like a form letter, show that you know what their brand and offer trial space

 @moxee_ Don’t be afraid to reach out and say hi. If your blog’s content is strong, people will give you a chance!

 @hitchdesign Do a feature on them and their product and shoot them a link. You will be able to give stats and so on to them.

 @artfuldesperado Contact them directly! Go get them, don’t wait passively for it, be proactive, build a strong/stylish media kit.

 @tkpleslie If it’s for our clients, I prefer email.  RT @blogbrunch: Q4: What are the best ways to reach out to potential sponsors.

Question #5

How do you manage your partnerships and how should you be paid; paypal, checks, etc?

@hitchdesign  Think about what is most convenient to your advertisers. You are providing a service

@moniqueprevost  As far as how to be paid, paypal is probably best for everyone, that way you’re not putting all kinds of info out there.

@mspinkandblue I love ical 4 reminders (which goes to ipad, phone and computer) and have freshbooks for billing

@artfuldesperado also ALWAYS soak your style in everything you do - from kits to posts - Your personality is ur bread & butter

@mspinkandblue I hear good things about google checkout instead of paypal, does anyone do that?

@artfuldesperado  perhaps as a beginner u should go for paypal, get aquatinted with transactions/accounting, know the ins and outs

One bruncher did not show up in our feed last Saturday and wanted to make sure everyone caught the great answers she had! Thanks luvfromafar for letting us know you were not showing up.

luvfromafar: when you aren’t actually in it for the money! 

luvfromafar: blogging has allowed me to meet new people + make great connections, so I consider that a way of getting paid!

luvfromafar: I wish there was a calculator for how much one should charge—it’s not common for bloggers to share rates, I’ve found. 

luvfromafar: I’m realizing from today’s #blogbrunch that we should consider our ROI when setting our rates!

luvfromafar: one of my biggest partnerships came from a post I did first—then emailed the brand directly with the post. It helps! 

Alt Summit 2012: The Recap

So many wonderful things can spring from gathering in one place with a lovely group of likeminded creative’s; add some snow, great wine, a little food and you may get something as awe-inspiring as Alt Summit. We had a hunch when we dreamed up Blog Brunch that bloggers like us craved the ability to share their talent and experience with each other, Alt is the proof that bloggers thrive in collaborative environments. 

After choosing to go to Alt this year, the Blog Brunch Staff decided to share some of the wonderful things we learned during the conference with our fellow Brunchers!

*As a simple disclaimer, we took notes furiously and tried to quote accurately. Some of the things said are opinion and open to interpretation.  

First things first, here are some of the highlights from the classes we attended. 

image via: Justin Hackworth

Successful Collaborations

Design Love FestThe Jealous Curator, Simple Lovely, SFGirlbytheBay

  • Common rules of collaboration: 
    • Ask yourself what you hope to get out of the collaboration.
    • If there are several of you in the group do no pair off to gossip or side against each other. 
    • Stand up for what you’re passionate about. 
    • It’s okay to walk away. 
    • Make sure you pull your own weight.
    • Take care of each other… you are in it together.
  • Step outside the blogging world, be untraditional and pitch ideas for content to the print and alternative media; i.e. online magazines, they are looking for bloggers who have strong ideas that are good and will build their brand
  • Don’t host too many giveaways, they can make your blog seem like a game show
  • Stay organic with your content and giveaways; strive to incorporate collaborators you can stand behind.
  • Tools for collaborations: asana, wunderlist

image via: Justin Hackworth

Building Relationships With Ad Networks and Sponsors:

Design for MankindSway Group, A Practical Wedding, Say Media

  • Provide a service to your community
    • Give them what they are looking for in terms of products when thinking of your advertisers
  • Know your brand and your value 
  • Have enthusiasm for your sponsors, if you don’t like them, neither will your readers. 
  • Don’t take an advertiser that doesn’t fit you and your readership.
  • Partner with your advertisers and make relationships that are lasting you are team members
  • When inquiring for sponsors, talk about why you love their brand and why they are the perfect fit for you and your readers
    • Don’t forget your followers 
  • Picture in your head where you want to be 2 years from now.
  • Brands don’t care about you, find out what their business goals and explain how you will help them get there through your dedicated readers. 
  • Avoid broadcasting your pay.
  • Build relationships with the bloggers that are already doing what you are doing and learn from their progress.
  • Find ads that compliment your design
  • Be aware of what your content says about you.
  • Create authenticate and engaging conversation that interact with your readers
  • $25 is a good place to start per month for an ad rate.
  • Your stomach should hurt when you ask for money

image via: b.a.d. photography

Work Life Balance

Inchmark, Chrysula WinegarSnippet & Ink, Sarah Jane Studios 

  • “Balance is an uncluttered life” – Snippet and Ink
  • Knowing when you are reacting (to emails, tweets and comments) vs. being proactive with the content and work you are creating.
    • When you are in state of reacting to other people’s inquires and activity you are not able to achieve the items on your to-do list. 
  • Break the addiction to the “gogogo” and know when you close your 20 tabs open, the noise from your emails and your twitter feed in order to devote the necessary time to your craft/work. 
  • Give yourself permission to stop, to step away and accept that your blog may not be the biggest and the best- blogging isn’t your only measure of success.  
  • Give yourself a break by “unplugging” yourself from technology in order to feed a different side of your creativity. 
    • Allow yourself “little luxuries” i.e. read a book, take a walk, eat lunch away from the computer. 
  • Value your time, and never do what you do for free!
    • Know how much time you can commit to projects.

image via: Justin Hackworth

The Relationship Between New and Traditional Media

Pilar Guzman, Deborah Needleman, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, DesignMom

  • Nurturing your community by answering questions and interacting with comments. 
    • Be a host and not a teacher.
  • Take the value of print and marry to new media. 
    • Give it substance.
    • Make your content modern and recognize what content will thrive in a new media environment. i.e. with video, tutorials, creative ads.
  • So you don’t fit the mold, maybe that’s a good thing? ;)
  • Make the printed word worthy of the printed page.
  • Print and New Media are not mutually exclusive… you can appreciate print but still make your content/site modern. 
  • Whether in print or online, know the value of the story you are telling and always ask yourself, how can you make it better. 
    • Find the real story for your readers. Taylor it for them.
  • Everyone wants legitimacy and page views

image via: b.a.d. photography

What Small Sites Can Learn from Big Online Communities

Dooce, BurdaStyle, HGTV, Blogstars

  • Listen to your site and think ahead of what your community wants.
  • Give your readers a peek into “whose posting”… pictures aren’t enough.
  • Don’t feel scared to share our life with your readers- people care. 
    • Let your personality shine through.
  • Use your voice honestly as tastemakers. 
  • Create a platform for others to succeed and feel like their opinion matters.
    • Let those who rise to the top in your community become leaders and moderators.
  • Create rules or parameters i.e. terms of service for commenting.
    • Don’t be afraid to put your foot down within the community.
  • Know the demographics of your reader (focus on one): give this person a name, age, job. 

image via: Justin Hackworth

Kick Starting Your Next Project:

The City Sage, Lisa Congdon, Say Yes to Hoboken, Rena Tom

  • Traditional guidelines for jumping into a new daily project:
    • Pick something separate from your day-2-day life.
    • Have passion for your project.
    • Give your project rules or constraints to keep your project consistent.
    • Make sure it is challenging. 
  • Creative projects create discipline, bring in a new audience, and invigorate a shift to your routine. 
  • Let your project introduce a new side of your personality/life to your readers.
  • Let your projects lead into other goals.
  • Some of the things that come from projects:
    • Broaden your visibility
    • Raise your credibility
    • Generate new skills
  • Make sure you are crazy about your project.
  • Stick with it and have an end result in mind.
  • Set goals, and write them down.
  • Offer surveys to get an idea of what people want and/or think.
  • Find comfort in chaos.

image via: Justin Hackworth

Growing a Readership:

Oh Happy Day, Design Crush, Making it Lovely, Mighty Girl

  • Most importantly- create original content!
  • Maintain constancy with posting content.
  • Have a professional design (dress for the job)
  • Have confidence in your content.
  • Be able to determine if the frequency of your posts affects the quality of your posts.
  • If you have a great idea, don’t wait to introduce it to your readers.
  • Handpick several links at the end of your posts that are relevant, “If you liked this post, check out ______”
  • Post your content on social media sites that compliment your blog.
  • Contribute to other sites and offer new contributors to your readers for different points of views. 
  • Invest in your blog
    • Offer giveaways.

From Blog to Book:

Amy Butler, Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, Julia Rothman, Kate Woodrow of Chronicle Books, Lia Ronnen of Artisan Books

  • Know every book in your category and read their reviews.
    • Examine who is publishing these books 
  • Ask yourself what value you can offer to the book industry.
  • You never get a second chance to make an impression
  • Questions to ask:
    • Is there an audience for your book?
    • Why are you unique?
    • Who are the people reading your blog and would they want to read your book?
    • Who understands your voice the most?
  • Bring your personality and creativity into the proposal.
  • You can use a lawyer instead of an agent if you are not interested in an agent
  • Advances are paid in thirds and that money is yours 100% this is paid against royalties. So you have to sell enough books to make that before you receive anything beyond that.
  • If you don’t ask for something you will not get it and remember your time invaluable
  • You are responsible for making your book sell.
    • Book Tours 
    • Brainstorm sponsors.

image via: b.a.d. photography

From Blog to Shop:

Little Alouette, One Sydney RoadFreshly Picked

  • The life you want shapes your vision
  • Be active in other people’s communities, meet people and talk with them honestly
    • Find your tribe: figure out what you can offer and get your readers involved in what you are doing, that way they feel part of it all. 
  • Write posts about what is happening your shop. 
    • Nurture your buyers and your readership. 
  • Focus on quality not competition
  • Find what you are passionate about and run like hell at it.
  • Think of a way to make your shop real and emotional for your readers and buyers
  • Find places to advertise that are “your people”. 
  • Make a list of goals at the beginning of each quarter.
  • Connect with each person who gives you a business card
  • Ask individuals for feedback that will be honest.
  • When something is not working let it go. 
  • Find ways to show people a little inch of your life. 

      January Blog Brunch Recap: Collaborations

      Hello Everyone! We are absolutely thrilled with how our last Brunch about Collaborations went; here are some of the highlights! For more information, or a full transcript please visit this link.


      1.     Name what you feel are the key elements of a great collaboration.

      Chevronseclairs: Key elements would be organization and consistency

      HitchDesign: Being open and receptive to giving and receiving ideas. Being humble, kind, and responsive

      Sister_mag: I find an open communication really important! Changing thoughts without the fear of “stupid ideas”

      ParkerEtc: Honest communication, shared common goals, embrace the others unique perspective, sense of shared responsibility & have fun!

      Amandagenther: key elements=people from similar backgrounds but with different strengths. I think this avoids headbutting

      aQuickStudy: Definitely clear expectations and organization

      inredlipstick: Fluidity and being organic. Definitely key elements.

      Calliopeboutiq: an inspired idea, of course. Strengths that complement areas of improvement. Ideas that feed on/build on each other.

      Decormusings: collaboration requires drive/passion, stellar ideas and a willingness to compromise at times.

      pure2raw: staying true to yourself while being open to new ideas, being honest and being motivating to others

      4loveofexplorat: A team that encourages and inspires each other to execute 1 goal with the same heart and enthusiasm!

      Thee_AOF: Collaborating with those who don’t compromise your own success by having different goals and intentions.

      Janeklementti: partnerships work best when different skills are combined to get the most out of each partner

      Melaniebiehle: Remain open to your idea changing as the collaboration progresses. Don’t get too attached to how you think it should be.

      2.     How have you found the right people to collaborate with?

      Dcoopsd: YES! Twitter has brought to me some amazing people to work with, to bounce ideas off of.

      Imwaytoobusy: I look for bloggers who inspire me and seem to have authentic passion. Nothing beats collab with people that motivate you!

      HitchDesign: Each time I have been approached by people to collaborate. for whatever reason I must appear to be open to it!

      Youstirme: blog world has been a huge resource! Find people who inspire you and reach out to them, build a true relationship with them!

      Mspinkandblue: Twitter has been great! That’s how Megan and I met also @linkedin, @elance are great resources too.

      KateLainey: i believe friendship starts before collaboration…finding someone who inspires you and makes you a better blogger

      ParkerEtc: Don’t be afraid to ‘dream big’ in your collaborations & whom you ask to collaborate. Ppl want to a part of a great idea.

      Writerobinson: The key to collaboration is trust & recognizing the mutual interest is > the individual. Expand the pie instead of hoard.

      MyCraftyHomLife: Reach out to people who comment on your blog!

      3.     How have you found it fair to split up work, money, etc?

      HitchDesign: Usually someone is better at something than someone else so it always find a way of evening out.

      Inredlipstick: Even appreciating what you love about a blogger and what they do can open a relationship that can turn into a future collab!

      ArtOfTheSpa: it’s so funny my main goal in doing twitter was to meet folks with like interests - turned out to be so much more!

      Blushandjelly: All depends on the collaboration and what each person has to offer. Find out what are the strengths of your collab partner

      mspinkandblue: I say 50/50 in terms of work load & money- its good 2 think of a project as potential business who know where it can take u!

      ThN26987: Money = performance based … however it IS hard to track that still

      SavvyYoungSarah: I think the idea of splitting money and work holds some ppl back from higher levels of collaboration

      aQuickStudy: With money, all I can say is open conversation, up front clarity and good planning. And TRUST.

      JessicaLNewell: I think what matters beyond the split is that both partners truly trust each other. Just a thought.

      PassageHill: Folks more experienced at collaboration should also be willing to take newbies under their wings, and encourage fresh talent.

      decormusings: I’m still learning but discuss details from the beginning and it’s important to speak up if you dislike anything.

      Inredlipstick: Don’t be vague in whats expected or leave out detail. Talk about everything. It’s best to be clear upfront then surprised later.

      Thee_AOF: Sometimes it’s worth it to make a bit of an investment, at ur own cost - but it’s important to be aware of all biz matters

      decaporter: Collab for free —> An exchange btwn both parties can exist other than $ exchange. That would be ideal but always other ways

      eatdrinkshopluv: It’s about about the relationship not the money.

      4.     Is there any software, apps or file sharing systems that you use for collaborations?


      Google Docs



      You Send it


      We Transfer








      5.     What collaborations have you seen work in our community? Why do you think they have worked?

      ParkerEtc: @kinfolkmag is a great example of likeminded, gifted people from differing industries collaborating for an amazing product

      HitchDesign; I thought @amandagenther features of bloggers going to #altsummit were awesome!

      Thee_AOF: The best collabs are when both brands have faith in the other, and fully support each other.

      dcoopsd I love Selby’s though. The photos of the interiors and those gr8 hand drawn pages. AWESOME

      Lostphotographs: artists and businesses are great collaborators because they bring different things to the table

      JessicaLNewell; I think its neat to see bloggers who have a similar vision but a completely different skillset/experience work together..

      tkpleslie: I have reco’d formal blog collabs for our clients with @quintessenceblg @abcddesigns @A_Interiors @decaporter

      melaniebiehle: Have you seen THE GLOW? It’s like The Selby for creative moms. I’m obsessed with it.

      Loveandreason: I love @designlovefest's closet & casa on @ohjoystudio, or @habletextiles and rinne allen’s handmade books!

      Youstirme: @magrouge is another great collaboration! loving all the online mag prettiness! so inspiring!