Being a blogger is great for so many reasons. I get to create my own hours and be my own boss, which also means that I get to choose what I want to post about and when. There’s a freedom that comes with this job that’s unbeatable.
What’s not so great? I don’t get a steady paycheck every two weeks like I’ve always had in the past. That can get really stressful, especially because my husband also runs a business and nothing is ever guaranteed for either of us.
With a mortgage and a baby on the way, it’s extra important right now that I’m bringing in a solid income for my family, and I do that in a few ways. I thought I’d share how it all works to take any mystery or confusion out of the game.
As you can probably tell, some of my posts here and on social media are #sponsored, but what does that mean exactly? Today, I’m going to break it down for you so you get a little behind the scenes look at how it works to be a blogger, and how we make our living. Bloggers can get a bad rap for taking on too much sponsored content, but it’s a fine line that we walk between supporting ourselves financially and keeping our content authentic and real. I hope that by the end of this post, you will understand it all a little better!
To organize this post, I am answering the questions I get asked most often from readers, friends, and family. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’ll answer them there.
What is a sponsored post?
A sponsored post can take on a lot of formats. Most of the time, it means that a brand is paying me to wear/write about one or many of their products in a blog post and/or social media post.
Other times, the brand might gift me product in exchange for a post. This is generally the case with bigger ticket items like furniture. I still count it as a sponsored post, because I have to pay taxes on the product and a contract is signed.
How do I know if a post is sponsored?
On my blog, I always write a sentence at the bottom of the post, indicating if it’s sponsored. It will say something along the lines of this: “Thank you to XX brand for sponsoring this post. All opinions, as always, are my own.” On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, I always include #ad and/or #sponsored in the copy.
Legally I have to do this on both fronts, so it’s something that I literally have to stay on top of, but I also never want you to feel tricked by my content for any reason so I try to make sure it’s super clear.
If a product is gifted to me and I’m not being paid to write about it, that’s a different circumstance. In the biz, they don’t refer to this as “sponsored” just as gifted. Which brings me to my next point…
What does c/o mean?
If I mark something as c/o in a blog post, it means it was gifted to me. If a brand or PR firm sends me a gift, I have no obligation to post about it, and only do if I feel like it. c/o doesn’t mean I’m getting paid to promote it, unless you also see a disclaimer at the bottom of the post indicating that the post is sponsored in addition to the c/o
Keep in mind that I get a lot of product sent to me (between two and 15 boxes per day, no joke), and I only share the things that I really like. Sometimes I have no idea how people even get my address! It can get a little creepy… but it’s always exciting.
How do you decide what campaigns to work on?
In the past, I’ve taken on campaigns just because they paid well, but after one particularly bad experience where I took a lot of heat last year I realized my mistake quickly and vowed to never do that again. So I have pretty strict rules around who I’ll work with.
It involves a number of factors, but first and foremost, I only agree to promote products or brands that I actually like or use. If a new brand wants to work with me, I request to try the product for at least two weeks before committing to a post about it. For clothing, I have to try it on for quality and fit. For food, obviously I have to taste it!
This process definitely adds an extra step to the process, but I don’t ever want to lose your trust by posting something that I haven’t tried, only to find out it’s no good.
How do you get in touch with brands?
I have an amazing manager, Ariana, who handles most of my communications with brands. I spent six years doing all of the back and forth myself, but when DBA (the agency I work with) reached out about repping me a little over a year ago, I felt a huge relief. They do all of the negotiating, and my checks come from one place, which means not having to deal with a million W9’s during tax season.
Sometimes brands contact me directly, and I’ll put them in touch with Ariana, but most of the time she brings campaigns to me and I say yes or no.
What about affiliate links?
I work with a few affiliate companies where I can create custom links to products I’m linking to on my blog or Instagram. If you buy a shirt from Nordstrom or a pair of shoes from J.Crew where I use an affiliate link, I get a kick back. I’m never required to use these links, but it definitely helps me because I get a check every month based on how much you guys buy.
On Instagram, you’ll see me using LikeToKnow.it, which is the same idea, but a little more complicated. In order to shop my Instagrams, you can download the LikeToKnow.it app and you’ll be able to click on all the pieces I’m wearing.
I think that just about covers it! Let me know if you have any more questions, and I’m happy to answer them in the comments below.