Building Relationships with Ad Networks & Sponsors

Hi everyone! Thanks for your great feedback on my first Alt Summit Wrap-Up post. I’m so glad that it was helpful to you. Today I’ll be sharing what I learned in the Building Relationships with Ad Networks & Sponsors panel, presented by Erin Loechner, Danielle Wiley, Meg Keene, and Sarah Stringfellow (thank you Deb for helping me out with the links I was missing). Once again (for the sake of actually making this post happen) I’ll be noting everything in bullet point form. If you have questions about any of the information or if you feel like I missed anything, please just drop me a note in the comment section below and I’ll do my best to find a helpful answer for you. I’ve made bold the tips that resonated most with me. Here we go!

Building Relationships with Ad Networks & Sponsors: 

  • If you’re wondering if you have to work with an ad network in order to run successful ads on your blog, the answer is you don’t. It is possible to do things on your own.
  • You have to do the work. There is no magic formula.
  • Put together a strong media kit for your blog.
  • Be picky about the sponsors you accept on your blog.
  • If you don’t know what you are doing because you are just starting out, that’s okay. Guess, pretend, and/or research until you get it right.
  • It’s okay to ask other bloggers for advice, just be sure to be up front about why you are requesting their help (i.e. asking to see another bloggers ad rates so that you can determine how to base your own rates).
  • Understand your community so that you can provide a valuable service to them through the sponsors and ad networks you work with.
  • You define the rules for your brand. Always keep your community in mind. Make choices and negotiate so that the end result still provides a service to your community.
  • Know your value and your brand, and be passionate about it.
  • Present passion driven content that is good.
  • Work on building a passion driven community
  • Have confidence in your brand and be prepared to let it go if a sponsor does not fit or see eye to eye with your vision.
  • Never take on an advertiser who is not right for your blog, it will dilute your brand and confuse your community.
  • Don’t be afraid to dive in and just test the waters.
  • Everyone has a moral compass…use yours and learn from it.
  • If advertisers don’t come to you, you should go get them.
  • Always keep your audience in mind.
  • Work to fit the content of your site in with the ads that you host.
  • Sponsors should only add to your brand, not confuse or dilute it.
  • Always ask for what you want. Be proactive.
  • When pitching to a potential sponsor, be creative and memorable. Be sure to talk about why you are passionate about their brand, and not just how great yours is.
  • Consider your complete online sway (i.e. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, blog traffic, and more).
  • Be up front about your strengths.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • Consider legal obligations.
  • Don’t forget about taxes.
  • Check in with your sponsors after a campaign ends for a debriefing so that you can learn what did or did not work for them. This helps to keep things open for future projects together.
  • If you can, create an outline showing the success matrix of their campaign.
  • Send a real thank you card.
  • When approaching a company for potential sponsorship, think of how you can solve problems for them.
  • Brands care about what you can do for them…not just how great your blog is.
  • In your approach, explain how you will meet their goals.
  • Don’t work for free!
  • Be aware that the other ads and sponsors you currently have may conflict with the new brand you are approaching, and plan accordingly.
  • Build relationships with potential sponsors before contacting them about possible sponsorship.
  • Social networking is a great way to do this.
  • Create a clean premium layout that supports the ad content you host.
  • Ads should be complimentary to your site.
  • Focus on your content and connecting with your readers. Advertisers love that.
  • Facilitate authentic conversations with your readers and make communication as easy as possible.
  • Sponsored content should be organic. Ask yourself: “Would it fit, not matter what?”
  • Be aware of your mobile presence. How are visitors accessing your site and on what devices?
  • Know whether your site looks good on multiple platforms.
  • Mobile ad networks are growing, and it is wise to stay ahead or on top of the trends.
  • When reaching out to a new company, if you don’t know who specifically to approach, ask to be put in contact with their “media contact.”
  • And finally…when it comes to negotiating the amount you will earn for a sponsorship, you will know you have the dollar amount right, when the number makes your stomach hurt a bit.

In case you missed my first post covering Site Design Do’s & Don’ts you can find it right here.

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  1. Susan Hazel / / Reply

    This post was really, really helpful. I plan to reference back to it everytime I feel that I am straying from my purpose and also as my traffic grows and I am able to attract different types of sponsors. Thank you for the insight.

  2. Emily / / Reply

    This is super helpful, Ez. Thanks for posting it! I'm wondering, though, what's in a press kit? I always get stumped there and haven't found anything really definitive in my research. Thanks!

  3. Shopping's My Cardio / / Reply

    Ez, thank you so, so much for taking all this time to share everything you learned. For those of us that didn't get to go, it's absolutely invaluable :)

  4. Ez / / Reply

    That's a great idea Susan! Smart thinking!
    Emily – A press kit is usually a document (generally saved in PDF form) that contains information about your site, who your reader is, where you may have been featured by the press (i.e. magazines or popular blogs), and most importantly statistics regarding the number of unique readers you have (this is different than page views, and is something that can be confusing when you are starting out).
    Along with this information you might also include information on the sponsorship packages you offer. For ad buttons advertising (such as seen on my blog) this would need to include the dimension of the ad(s) you have available (noted in pixels), the length of time the ad(s) will run for, and the cost. You may also specify whether the ads are animated or not and can charge different prices for animation if you choose to.
    Finally, always be sure to include your site URL as well as your name (or the name of the person in charge of advertising), and your email address.
    xo Ez

  5. rooth / / Reply

    Thanks for the helpful tips – it's definitely something worth thinking about if you're serious about monetizing and it does take a lot of work. We, your readers, are so lucky that you are such a good sharer

  6. tracy / / Reply

    Great writeup, Ez! I totally appreciate this, and you! Thanks for taking the time!

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