How to Get Sponsors for Your Blog (at Any Level) – Rachel From Joyful Derivatives

Partnering up with awesome companies I LOVE has been one of my favorite parts of blogging, and today, pro blogger Rachel from Joyful Derivatives is here to share some solid tips for obtaining blog sponsorships and other collab opportunities! Enjoy!

“Hey Pete, are blog sponsorships a good way to monetize my blog?”

Yes, and…

“But are they really? Some seem totes spammy.”

Yes, but…

“But honestly–I don’t have a ton of traffic. Can I still work with cool companies?”

Of course you…

“but I don’t know how to even approach…”

Well let’s learn how, shall we?

Listen to my episode with Rachel from Joyful Derivatives

or listen on \\ iTunes \\ Stitcher \\ Google Play \\ Overcast \\ Spotify

Let’s dive into some show notes and takeaways 🙂

First, why are sponsorships awesome?

Partnering with brands actually brings a TON of opportunities–not just money-in-exchange-for-blog-post.

  • Gives you authority and social proof
  • $$$$$
  • Potentially free products (my own experience!)
  • Potentially special deals for your audience
  • The X-Factor

The “partnerships X-factor” = When you build relationships with companiess/brands/influencers in your niche, you’re opening the door to great future opportunities you can’t even identify yet.

  • Maybe a company comes back and wants to work with you again.
  • Maybe they offer you a job (I know a blogger this happened to)
  • Maybe the relationship opens up an even bigger relationship

Ya never know, but as my dude Nick True would probably say…

Relationships are the most under-utilized marketing for bloggers.

Before we go any further, there are 2 important “rules”

Repeat after me:

“I shall not accept inbound sponsorship requests for products MY AUDIENCE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT or get value out of.”

“I shall ONLY work with and promote brands and products that I fully believe in.”

You screw either one of those up, and you’ll be selling your readers’ trust.

Stick to companies you love, products you’ve used, etc–and promote them heavily.

Movin on.

blog sponsorship tips:

1 – Your blog isn’t “small,” it’s “growing”

No traffic? No problem (sorta).

Whenever you are pitching anybody for anything–it’s important to highlight your prettiest features, not your stinky feet.

So if you don’t have 10k Pinterest followers or a 40k email list or 500k views/mo–perhaps you have some growth to report!

highlight grow
growth % makes you look good

This looks good.

2 – Have a (well-designed) media kit!

Simply put, a media kit is a 1-2 page PDF that gives a broad overview of

  • your blog brand
  • your audience
  • your size
media kit example
My friend Kelan’s media kit is on his site

FAQ: Where should you literally put your media kit?

On your blog about page? Somewhere else?

Rachel’s vote is to treat your media kit like a resume–and tailor it slightly for each pitch!

This requires that you NOT keep it public on your about page.

What else should go on a media kit?

  • your photo–my vote is to make these personal and show that YOU are an influencer. People don’t buy stuff from your blog, they buy it from you.
  • traffic stats
  • email list stats (open rates and CTR too!)
  • audience demographics
  • social proof–in the form of other companies you’ve worked with! BONUS points if you can show results from those campaigns.
  • anything else relevant that’ll show the company you can provide them value.

Brand awareness, traffic via social shares, paid referrals, anything.

3 – How you view $1 and how large companies view $1 is totally different

Let’s say you’re pitching The Home Depot for a blog sponsorship.

I dunno about you, but $3,000 sounds like a lot to me.

However, The Home Depot spends over a million dollars A DAY on marketing. $3,000 is nothing.

It’s important to realize that even small and medium-sized businesses simply look at money in a different way than us broke bloggers!

4 – Make a dream partnership hitlist

If you’re seriously looking to start working with companies in connection to your blog–lemme just warn you: this process is work, and will need to be treated as such.

This is NOT slapping some Amazon affiliate links in your Tuesday blog post.

Working with your favorite brands requires a structured approach to outreach, pitching, negotiation, and collaboration.

And that starts with making a hitlist.

  1. Click over to your fave spreadsheet provider
  2. Brainstorm all the products you use on a weekly basis
  3. Jot down additional companies you’d love to be a part of

Bonus Hustler Step: Make additional columns to rank the companies based on their willingness to work with you, their top social channels you could use to get an “in” as far as outreach, a “date I pitched them” column, and a “date I’ll follow up with them” column.

Once you have a structured list–it’s time to start the real work.

5 – You’ll have to pitch. A lot 🙂

Repeat after me:

“I, [your-name], will not attach my self-worth as a blogger to any FAILED outreach.”

Good, padawan!

Rachel has made pitching brands a CORE part of her business model, and she pitches 5 a week.

You’re going to get rejected. Probably a lot. Count on it.

6 – Employ empathy!

What’s in it for the brand?

What do they get out of this deal? Is it seriously going to bring them anything? If not–find a way to add value.

This applies to ALL marketing, but especially outreach and pitching! Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to figure out what will make saying “yes” a no-brainer.

Also, Blogger U has an entire course on blogger outreach, and it’s cheap 🙂

How small blogs can still land paid sponsorships

Note: this goes for podcasts too!

If you dive back into some of my old income reports, you’ll note I made sponsorship income in month 1.

With less than 1k traffic.

income report

Boom. Made back my initial investment in my domain and hosting.

The “secret” to collaborating as a new blogger = utilizing every referral weapon in your influencer arsenal.

Here’s one of my old pitches (note that I tried to find every angle possible to drive traffic and awareness.)

sponsorship pitch template

The question is–where can you add value?

Furthermore–there was one last thing that helped me land early sponsorships (and have also gotten me access to lots of free blogging tools)…

Hustle.

Or at least convincing brands that I would hustle for them–in fact, I’d literally say something like “I will work my BUTT off to drive more relevant leads to you. I won’t stop until you’re satisfied and feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth.”

Find a unique way to add value to their cause–and show them how you’ll do it.

THAT’S how you make pitching, selling, negotiating, etc, 10x easier.

Drop me a comment below–What do you think of sponsored posts?

Both from a blogger perspective AND reader perspective.

Is this something you want to try?

Matt Mullenweg on simple productivity and the future of blogging.

Blog ttribe! Below are my ttakeaways from my podcastt chatt with none other than Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress and CEO of Automattic–which is spelled correctly 😉😉–the billion-dollar company behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, Akismet, WooCommerce, etc. Who needs a second sentence worth of bio after that??

To be honest, I HAD traditional show notes here.

In good Pete form—I got bored and deleted them 🙂

In their place below are what I think Matt would prefer to be written here—rather than “5 insane productivity tips from the creator of WordPress” or “How to start a billion-dollar company and literally change the internet forever.

#blogging.

I want to talk:

  • Productivity tips—Matt really did drop some nice bombs on focus and organizing.
  • What to expect in WordPress 5.0 and why you SHOULD switch to the Gutenberg editor.
  • What the future of blogging will look like (mainly Pete’s ideas extrapolated from this chat with Matt)

Let’s dive in.

Casual reminder: I did create a handy tour and tutorial on the new WordPress Gutenberg editor. Find it here.

Listen to my episode with Matt Mullenweg

or listen on \\ iTunes \\ Stitcher \\ Google Play \\ Overcast \\ Spotify

5 insane productivity tips from the creator of WordPress.

Sorry, couldn’t help but use that headline now 🙂

As you’ve probably figured out, working for yourself—or working remotely—tends to bring challenges with it.

  • There’s no boss making sure you do the work.
  • You’re responsible for your own productivity.
  • Distractions are everywhere and more “available” than ever.

Here are few quick thoughts from this chat with Matt:

1 – A pen and paper

When we started talking about productivity, that was Matt’s initial response to how he stays focused and organized.

Whenever he sits down to work–he grabs his notebook and jots down what he wants to get done.

Yes, that is, in fact, the most basic to-do list one could dream up–but still surprisingly effective.

My takeaway? You don’t necessarily NEED a fancy to-do list app, coupled with project management software, etc. There’s no “productivity hack” for organizing what needs to be done and then doing it.

daily to do list sketchnote
`

I’ve started doing this more and more in a sketchnote format, based on this fun new book I picked up.

2 – Programming your brain with music.

This is something I’ve been experimenting with lately.

The idea is to trick your brain into a certain state–using music as the trigger.

3 Examples:

When I’m facing a task I really do NOT want to do, I’ll put on my “angry work” playlist on Spotify.

This signals to my brain “Yo brain! It’s totally cool to NOT want to do this work right now–but you should sit your butt in a chair and knock it out anyway. Do the work.”

Music = Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave

When my brain is starting to fry and I KNOW I should wind down work and switch gears–even though I want to keep working–I’ll put on my “chill it’s time to breathe” playlist.

This signals to my brain “Yo Type-A personality brain! You’ll be a lot happier and fulfilled if you allow yourself to wind down now and sharpen the axe.

Music = Beck’s album Morning Phase

I’m essentially trying to “program” my brain and mood in order to accomplish certain objectives, using the same playlists over and over again.

3 – Listen to one song on repeat

This sounds like it could be seriously miserable, but it’s not. It’s awesome.

Both Matt and Chris Sacca have said they do this.

Don’t knock it till ya try it.

4- Matt uses the Pomodoro technique

the pomodoro technique for productivity

There are a TON of apps that can help with this–but it’s honestly just as effective using the timer on your phone.

The Pomodoro Technique = work for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes), then take a short brain break (usually 5 minutes).

If I’m honest, I have historically sucked at following through with this.

The first several times I’ve tried the technique, I didn’t notice substantial results. However, I’m always down to try new things–again 🙂 I’m using it as I write this actually! #meta

tomato timer

5 – Ask “what’s the most minimal thing I need to be productive?”

Let’s get one thing straight…

YOU DON’T NEED a perfect productive setting to be productive.

When I want peak productivity, here’s my ideal setting:

  1. no kids
  2. at a coffee shop–with fiber internet
  3. with mug of black coffee
  4. with my headphones on
  5. wearing comfy sweats
  6. and comfy socks
  7. having already stretched my legs and back for 10 minutes

The total number of hours a week I can manage all 7 of those?

Maybe 2 hours.

*

So what’s the minimum I need to be productive?

My laptop, a place to sit or stand and type, and an internet connection.

Theoretically, I can be equally productive with just those two things.

Waiting for the ideal setting to sit down and attempt work is just resistance at work (Stephen Pressfield reference from my fave book). This is the real “secret” to getting more done, in my opinion. Don’t wait for “prime productive conditions.”

Train yourself to sit and work whenever the opportunity presents itself.

What the future of blogging looks like:

Right after I got off the call with Matt, I took this question to the Blogger U Slack group:

will you be using Gutenberg?

If you haven’t heard already, the next major update drops later this month, November 2018, and with it comes the opportunity to use the new editor, Gutenberg.

Most WordPress users are less than excited, and I get that. It’s not perfect software, and it brings a new learning curve to drive around.

Totally understandable, right?

“WordPress’s mission is to democratize publishing.”

Matt mentioned that in our chat in response to “Why Gutenberg?” Why change things on us?

All WordPress changes are designed to make it easier for us to publish content effectively.

This brings comfort to me personally, and I’d like to tell you why.

Answer this:

Have you ever wanted to accomplish something on your blog–but struggled to implement it?

Perhaps it was a design you really loved from a blogger you look up to–and it took you several hours to even get close to replicating it.

Maybe it was a fancy marketing function–the perfect looking opt-in form for your newsletter–but you struggled with getting it designed and embedded JUST where you want it…

WordPress Gutenberg is the first step on a long journey to SHORTEN THE GAP between you having an idea of something you want to happen on your site–and actually having it happen.

democratize publishing

Does that make sense?

  • Is Gutenberg perfect? Of course not.
  • Is it going to be annoying to switch editors? YES.
  • Is it a step in the right direction? I certainly think so.

Here’s my manifesto:

Yes, getting a website set up, designed, and working is easier than ever before! But it’s going to get even easier.

In the future, you will not be held back by your limited knowledge of HTML and CSS, or from expensive plugins historically available to brands and experienced money-making bloggers.

  • You’ll have all the tools they have.
  • You’ll have every opportunity to design and format your content as the “pros” do.

WordPress Gutenberg is a big step in bridging that gap.

Why does democratization matter?

Once brand new bloggers can quickly and easily go from idea to implementation–what does that mean?

What will distinguish people?

Content 😉

*

Question for you–will you be switching over to the new Gutenberg editor later this month? Comment below!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

22 Perfect Gifts for Bloggers (and Side-Hustlers!)

Gifts for outdoorsy folks? Grab them a fleece.

Knitting enthusiasts? Grab some crazy yarn.

But what about gifts for bloggers? WordPress nuts? SEO slaves? Affiliate marketing gurus? Side hustlers?

(It’s ok if you don’t know what these words mean. We’re here to help😎).

Here are some solid gifts for bloggers:

Pro Tip to save cash: Make sure you’re using both Ebates and Swagbucks to save money while shopping online. Between these, you can often get up to 20% cash back from places like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and more.

(Click here to get $10 extra when you sign-up for Ebates, and $3 extra with Swagbucks!)

Blogging gifts under $25

1 – Books ($)

There are plenty of amazing reads for bloggers to help them grow their audience and learn!

2 – A GOOD set of Earbuds ($)

Anyone who works at a computer should invest in a decent pair of earbuds or headphones. Good news is….you CAN get a decent pair for less than $9.

The Panasonic Ergofit Earbuds ($9) are absolutely incredible, but if you feel like splurging a bit more, go with the Sennheiser HD 206 Over Ear Headphones ($29). Snazzy!

3 – A WordPress theme or three ($)

First, ask your blogger if they’re on WordPress. If so, write “5 Pro WordPress Themes” on a piece of paper and wrap it. Sit down together with your blogger and pick out the themes!

Let him or her choose why they want. It’ll be fun for you too 🙂

The blog you’re reading right now is built with a StudioPress Genesis Theme. They make beautiful themes at a great price. Creative Market is also a giant when it comes to website themes (and they have loads of themes for all platforms, not just WordPress)

4 – Laptop stand ($$)

For laptop users, the computers overheat on your lap and can get uncomfortable. Laptop desk and lap stands are affordable and effective.

The Amazon Laptop Stand ($19) is super easy, but the Rain Laptop Stands are bar-none. (It’s also rated 5/5 stars on Amazon, which is rare).

5 – A productivity app for focus ($$)

Distractions stink when you’re trying to get stuff done! Our personal favorites are Freedom.to ($30/year) and Hey Focus ($20) (Mac only). Both of these can block social media sites, etc to force your blogger into, ya know…blogging.

6 – Coffee, because. ($-$$)

No explanation needed, right? May we suggest Death Wish, The World’s Strongest Coffee($19)? Or for mere mortals, how about a tea variety box($11)?

7 – USB Flash Drive ($-$$)

These are pretty handy for everyone, but especially those of us constantly creating images, graphics, videos, and content for our blogs. These are incredibly cheap these days. Grab a metal Samsung 32gb for $14. This is an excellent gift idea.

8 – A Writing and Organization App ($-$$)

Bloggers = writers, and getting an app specifically designed to enhance the writing process can make a world of difference.

We use Bear Pro ($15/year and FREE!) for all-things brainstorming and writing, but Evernote ($40/year and FREE!)is still the gold-standard for organizing notes, to-do lists, writing, and pretty much everything you can think of.

9 – A Journal ($-$$)

This might seem like an odd gift for a digital-enthusiast, but a physical journal provides a much-needed break from computer screens. You can start basic with an Amazon Basic Journal ($9), nerd out with the Traveler’s Notebook ($25), or grab a more guided journaling experience with The Freedom Journal ($39).

Blogging gifts $25-$100

9 – Gift Cards ($$-$$$) Let’s be honest, this is the easy AND effective route.

You can never go wrong with an Amazon gift card, but you can also get discounted gift cards at places like Gift Card Granny. Silly name, but it’s an amazing resource to save a few bucks during the holidays!

10 – Personalized Mouse Pad

This is more fun and quirky, but we’d sure love a Do You Even Blog Podcast mousepad. Shutterfly is easily the fan-favorite for customized…well, anything really.

11 – A Pro upgrade to their favorite Social Media Management Tool ($$)

Managing social media can be a pain, but luckily there are fantastic (and affordable) tools to help with this.

Buffer ($120/year) is widely-used, but SmarterQueue ($20/month) is actually our platform of choice. It has just as many features as MeetEdgar ($50/month, it’s arch rival), but at half the cost. Click here to get a double-length free trial!

If your blogger uses Pinterest, grab them Tailwind. It’s the gold standard.

12 – ConvertKit Subscription ($$-$$$)

This is the single most valuable blogger gift idea in this entire guide.

Email marketing is crucial to the success of any blogger, and while there are dozens of platforms on which to host your newsletter, ConvertKit ($29/month) is the only one specifically made with bloggers in mind. If you really to support your blogger loved-one, grab her a ConvertKit subscription, a book, and one of the online courses below.

You’ll be her favorite relative by FAR.

gifts for bloggers convertkit

13 – Sumo subscription ($-$$$)

Another must-have tool for blogging is the ability to capture email leads. Sumo ($29/month to FREE) is the gold-standard for blog marketing tools.

The amazing thing about Sumo is, it’s a whole suite of products for that price. It’s just about every marketing tool a blogger would need. SO worth the money.

14 – A study laptop bag ($$-$$$)

Laptop bloggers often carry around a LOT of stuff. Journals, USB drives, External SSDs, Miss, Webcams, Chargers, and more. Their gear is expensive, so a solid bag is essential.

For anyone with lots of gadgets (mics, webcams, etc), the Case Logic DSLR bag ($63) should do the trick. For a more stylish and less gadget-y bag, try any CoolBELL messenger bags ($50).

14 – Premium Access to Design Tools ($-$$)

Canva and Picmonkey are both fantastic and widely-recommended, but we use Snappa ($15/month) for our own blog images and graphics. Their tools are incredible, and it comes with 200k+ free stock photos as well!

15 – Screenshot tool CloudApp ($$)

Recording quick explainer videos, annotating screenshots, and sharing them has never been easier with CloudApp (FREE to $8/month). The best part? All those files are NOT hosted on your computer, they’re hosted on…well, the cloud. This is a really fun gift idea for your blogger.

16 – USB Microphone ($$-$$$)

If your blogger creates any kind of webinar, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc, a decent microphone goes a long way. The Blue Snowball ($49) and Blue Yeti ($129) are by far the most popular choices for bloggers, along with the Audio-Technica ATR2100 ($65). (Oh, and here’s the desktop mic stand ($30) we use for the ATR2100. It’s amazing)

17 – A decent Webcam (and/or a light!) ($$-$$$)

If there’s ANY video involved, a decent webcam is mandatory. The Logitech C920 ($49 on sale at the time of this writing!) is the only choice. It’s the gold standard, and it’s affordable. If your blogger does a lot of video, grab them a cheap light! It helps more than you’d think. The tiny Neewer LED ($33) is fantastic, as are the LimoStudio Umbrella 2-kit ($52).

Online courses your blogger is sure to love (and find immensely valuable)

19 – Michelle Schroeder’s Affiliate Marketing Course ($$$)

Michelle makes over $100,000 a month from her blog. Yes, you read that correctly. Her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ($197), is a crash course on using affiliate marketing, in connection with a blog, in order to generate side-income (or full-time income!) It’s highly regarded as one of the best online courses for generating blog income.

20 – The New Blogger Bootcamp ($$)

This is THE course for new-ish bloggers in their first year (also great for those who haven’t started a blog yet).

At $99, this course contains a few hours and covers EVERYTHING a blogger need to know. It’s amazing. Click here to check out the course.

Side note:

Blogger U actually has a TON of awesome courses–ranging from SEO, affiliate marketing, blogging productivity, creating and selling digital products, and way more. You can browse all those courses here.

HUGE gifts your blogger would go nuts over ($$$$)

If you’re looking to really make someone happy, these are the drool-worthy gift ideas every blogger (and human) would love.

21 – The Full Blogger U Membership Bundle ($$$$)

This program is game-changing for bloggers. It covers all the basics of growing a successful blog: content, marketing, email subscribers, traffic…and comes packaged with a world-class support group of bloggers, monthly challenges, meetups, and more.

The full bundle comes with ALL courses.

22 – A new Laptop ($$$$$)

Mac-fanatics love their upgrades, and this very blog post is being written from a high-powered 2016 MacBook Pro w/ Touch Bar ($2,100). Expensive but worth every penny (for us).

However, the big thing every blogger should care about is the processor, and thankfully you can grab a Window’s based 2017 Lenovo Ideapad for under $300 that has an amazing processor. (Heck the 2017 Lenovo Flagship laptop is a dang supercomputer, and it’s only $588.) Amazing.

So that’s that. What else are you getting your internet-obsessed love one?