Blog Chat: A Conversation About Sponsored Content

Hi friends! So if you read my Alt Summit round-up post for the Building Relationships with Ad Networks and Sponsors panel this year, then you might have noticed a few common themes: authenticity and originality. It’s something I think about a lot. One of the things that really stuck with me during the panel is the idea that “Sponsored content should be organic. Ask yourself: “Would it fit, not matter what?”

Over the years I’ve turned down quite a few larger-scale sponsorships because when I imagined myself talking to all of you about the brand/products (whatever that brand/product was), it felt forced and left a bad taste in my mouth. At the end of the day, being authentic is more important than money (even though it has not always been an easy decision to make). To be honest, after all the ill-fitting proposals, I’d kind of written off ever working with a corporate sponsor. But when Method (also a sponsor at Alt) got in touch during the conference this January to ask if I might be interested in working with them this year, I was excited to hear more. As a long-time user of Method products, I knew that this was finally a product and company I could potentially get behind.

In between the time when Method first got in touch, and the phone call I would have with them to discuss their campaign ideas, I decided that if I was going to take the plunge with my first content sponsor, there would have to be a few things agreed to (and those things kind of felt like a long shot). To help me not lose my nerve, I kept another key point from Alt summit in mind: “Always ask for what you want. Be proactive.” It sounds easy enough…but it’s actually kind of nerve-wracking:

  • Firstly, I didn’t want to devote full blog posts to talking about their products. Not because I don’t love what they sell (because I really do), but because I don’t think that you guys value that kind of content. A monthly post about one specific product type just doesn’t seem to fit naturally in with what I already write about.
  • Secondly, what I really want, is to be able to share more of what you guys actually love. For the majority of you, that means DIY projects. Those however, take a lot of time and energy to create.
  • So I decided to ask Method if they’d be interested in sponsoring me to write DIY posts about whatever I think you guys would like to read about…not about their products. It really seemed like a long-shot, but fortunately they have a pretty awesome team of out-of-the-box thinkers and totally got where I was coming from right away. They said yes!
  • So now, I have the opportunity to team up with a really awesome brand that I feel great about working with, and in so doing, will get to create a handful of DIY posts that I’m hoping you guys really love. How cool is that?!

So here’s a quick run down on what this sponsorship will look like. Once a month I’ll be creating an awesome DIY to share with you (again, totally my original content written just for you guys…and not about Method products), and for the sponsorship portion, I’ll be sharing a nifty little video from Method within the post. I had the opportunity to watch all the videos for this campaign, and they are actually very entertaining. You might even like them so much that you’ll want to share them on facebook, pinterest, etc. Seriously….they are really that good!

So why am I talking about this with you guys? Because I really respect each one of you and want you to know where this new sponsorship is coming from. I didn’t just want to surprise you with a sponsored post later today. You all are an important part of how this sponsorship was negotiated, and that is something that really matters to me. I also want to assure you that there won’t suddenly be corporate ads and sponsored content filling my entire blog. All sponsored posts will always be clearly marked as such. Transparency is very important to me. As it stands I currently have a 5 month contract with Method (which includes 5 posts—1 per month) and I’d love to hear your thoughts along the way. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I really hope you’ll love the DIY posts that Method will be making possible. I’m excited to get to it! xo Ez

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31 Comments

  1. Margret / / Reply

    Hi there :)
    I regularly read your blog and love it. I think you have a very good attitude towards these things. So this seems to be a win-win situation for everyone; you get a sponsor, we get a diy-post and they get their video to your readers :)

    All the best

  2. Ez / / Reply

    Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback Margret! I really appreciate it! xo Ez

  3. Adri / / Reply

    Wow Ez! I'm so excited for you to be able to find a sponsorship that fits you and your brand. I think it's totally smart to move into a sponsored post format versus just blabbing about the products (there's enough of that on the web as it is). I know I've loved how Jean at Notcot has tied in sponsored posts in the same vein and I totally appreciate companies that see the benefit of sponsoring authentic content, it leaves a much better impression on the consumer!

    Can't wait to see this flourish :)

  4. Ez / / Reply

    Gosh, thank you so much for your enthusiastic support Adri! It really means so much to me! xo Ez

  5. Chez Loulou / / Reply

    I am totally behind and respect sponsorship like the one that you have agreed to. What drives me crazy are sites like…actually I'm not going to name names…who will take any sponsor, even if it is a product they don't really believe in.
    Bravo for finding the right fit and I wish you all the best from this new partnership!

  6. Ez / / Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your support and insight Chez Loulou. It means a lot to me! xo

  7. maggie s / / Reply

    I like your approach, having just seen it in action in the post before this. I don't blame any blogger making a living at this for taking a sponsorship so long as they are transparent about it and it's nice that Method agreed to sponsor content that is relevant to your readers, and not just relevant to Method. :)

  8. Emily / / Reply

    Good for you for standing up for your principles on sponsorship and using it to everyone's advantage! I much preferred this post over the other product-pushing Method posts in other places today. They're fine, of course, but this was way more fun :)

  9. truebluemeandyou / / Reply

    I follow you on bloglovin and think you've struck the perfect balance between content and sponsorship. Just a few minutes ago, seriously, I read through an entire DIY post and then realized that it was sponsored. The blogger never said it was sponsored, but after the mention of a certain type of bead numerous times with links I got the message loud and clear. The sad part? If the blogger had said it was a sponsored post I would have left happy, liking the tutorial and myself knowing I could substitute the beads. But now I'm just left with a bad taste in my mouth and the trust is gone. So thank you for open approach – it was obviously very well thought out, and you put your readers first.

  10. Charissa - The Gifted Blog / / Reply

    Awesome news, Ez! And thanks for your thoughtfulness in considering this partnership and communicating with us about it in a transparent way. I definitely took away some words of wisdom as I think about how to move forward with my blog and earning money from my hard work.

    I saw the sponsored post first and thought, "Whoa, that's different." But this post really puts it into context! Thanks, and congratulations on asking for what you wanted!

  11. Caroline Landon / / Reply

    Sounds like a good match! I'm excited for you!

  12. Ez / / Reply

    Thank you so much everyone for chiming in and sharing your thoughts and support with me. I appreciate it so much!
    @ Caroline – When I was visiting Method in San Francisco earlier this month, I had the delight of telling them that I first learned about Method from you. Remember that bottle of Red Currant (I think that was the scent) that you had in your kitchen and loved?! I don't know why the memory stuck with me so well, but it did. :-)

  13. Heather B / / Reply

    Good for you!!! What a great next step! Method is awesome and if they allow you to make your wonderful projects then that's fabulous! Congratulations!

  14. Steph Bond-Hutkin / / Reply

    Fabulous Ez! What an amazing brand to be working with, and I love your ideas for structuring your advertising in a way that still fits with your content. I've been really lucky to work with small companies that create products that fit with my site, so that when they release a new product, it's super-relevant to my readers. But I have always been puzzled at how to work with a big brand. Good on you for leading the way!

  15. Jacqui / / Reply

    Hi Ez, I just watched the Method video and read your DIY. I loved it! I think it's an excellent way for you to be able to create more cool tutorials. Method totally fits in with the cool vibe you have going on your website! Good for you for asking for what you wanted and getting it.

  16. Chantel / / Reply

    I think it is so special that you took the time to talk about this with us (your readers). It really explains why you have such a strong following. You are an inspiration, and such a wonderful blogger (and more!).

  17. Emily / / Reply

    Very cool for you! That sounds like a good balance between the need to support yourself but maintain your blog's focus. I get so turned off when a blog isn't transparent or choosy and you get a Very Special Post about the miracle qualities of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter interrupting the regular flow of a blog focused on an entirely different topic!

  18. amber / / Reply

    I think this is great, Ez! I have loved Method since they first came out with their "People Against Dirty" campaign years ago–I thought they were so clever and liked what they made. Now I like them even more that they were willing to sponsor your posts on your terms. DIY posts can be so time-consuming–how nice for you to have them sponsored. It is, as another commenter said, a win-win for us all. We love your DIYs, and I am happy to know that you are getting some compensation for everything you so generously give to us here! Thanks for being so open about it and caring about your readers so much. I couldn't think more highly of you! You are such an example. Congrats!

  19. Zoe / / Reply

    Good for you for asking for what you want! As you said, that is so hard. This sounds like a great approach and I'm all for more DIYs :)

  20. Julie / / Reply

    I LOVE Method!! And I love your blog! And this sponsorship! And the project! Plus, that video is awesome and I very gladly "liked" Method on Facebook, partly because I want to win a trip to the HQ and partly because it's so refreshing to see a nice, open, happy sponsorship like this. Keep up the great work. : )

  21. Lynne / / Reply

    I really don't mind sponsored posts at all – no matter whether the brand fits or not – as long as the blogger is open about it. You're just trying to make a living! But, I do like Method, too, so seems like it's a great fit for you.

  22. Erika / / Reply

    I've been seeing a lot of Method sponsored content on other blogs and it felt out of place and a little strange. I really commend you for your courage in negotiating and getting this sponsorship to work for you rather than the other way round. Can't wait for more of your lovely DIYs coming our way.

  23. Lilly / / Reply

    Hello!
    I have visited your blog on and off for a couple of years and I like you aesthetic and projects. I have to say I never comment on the blogs I visit (it's a weird thing I have, I know there is a name for readers like me, but I like to keep things to myself mostly). But I felt strongly compelled to comment on this post. I have been seeing Levi's, Clorox and Method sponsored content on most of the blogs I read a lot in the last few months. I have to say it is a little disheartening 1) because it all seem to have come at the same time and 2) because it seems out of place in some of the blogs. I am commenting to say I applaud you for negotiating terms you felt comfortable with and for letting your readers know what you were going to be doing before a sponsored post showed up on the site.
    I know blogging is how a lot of people are making a living but it just seem that sponsored content starting popping up out of nowhere on several blogs. A heads up is nice, it shows you don't take your readers for granted and it is a nice courtesy.
    Lilly

  24. Ez / / Reply

    Just wanted to pop in to thank each one of you so much for your insightful and supportive comments. It truly means so much to me. xo Ez

  25. AW / / Reply

    I have mixed feelings about this. I understand that blogging takes a lot of time, especially good tutorials. I don't have a problem with sponsorship and the way you've approached it is great. However… I really do think that the advertising in the content of the blog post itself is strange and distracting. It doesn't feel authentic *to me* at all. I would prefer to see it on the sidebar and not incorporated into the content. However, your peony tutorial was so fantastic, I'm willing to overlook it, and I presume that will be the case for many other readers as well. All other things being equal, though, I would personally choose a blog without in-post advertising if I had a choice. Just my 2 cents.

  26. Andrea / / Reply

    Hi Ez! I was just catching up on your blog & I had been noticing the Method DIY posts but missed this post. I just wanted to tell you I have so much respect for who you are & the way you blog! I see a lot of advertising on other major blogs & I tend to just skip over the posts that are blatant plugs. However, the way you mapped out your thought process really makes sense & I just adore you even more for that! Way to go you very clever lady! Looking forward to even more from you :)

  27. Ez / / Reply

    I really value all of the feedback each one of you has take the time to share with me. Thank you so much! xo Ez

  28. Monica Lee / / Reply

    Hi Ez, I think you wrote a great pots about the “how” of what you are doing with Method. But I think it is perfectly ok for people to realize the “why.” You run a very professional blog and sponsors and earning a living is part of what needs to happen. We don’t watch TV with advertising, we don’t read magazines without advertising. Whether they are boutique ads (which I feel are going by the wayside) or sponsored DIY’s posts, it is perfectly ok to earn a living at what you do so well. I also applaud forward thinking brands who contacts and work with bloggers on their own terms!

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