Last month, I asked on Instagram if you’d be interested in a behind-the-scenes peek at what goes into a sponsored post (both Instagram sponsored posts and blog sponsored posts), and the answer was a resounding yes!
I’m so glad to know I’m not the only person who is so curious about what goes on behind the curtain.
There were also so many great questions left in the comments, so I’ll also do a Sponsored Post Q & A on Friday (and if you have questions, leave them in the comments so I can answer those on Friday too!).
I also know that some readers would prefer that there never ever be a sponsored post and I totally understand that.
I’d love as much as anyone for every concert with a band I like to be free and no television show to have commercials and libraries not to cost tax money, but it’s just not possible.
The time, money, and other resources it takes to create books, movies, music, television shows, and blog posts means that it has to be paid for either directly by the audience (like ticket sales, a subscription to Netflix, or buying your own books) or through a sponsor (like television commercials, a tax-funded library, or sponsors providing a free concert).
I love that sponsors mean I don’t have to charge anyone to read my blog and I also love that instead of having a commercial break, I can just make the sponsor part of a post that is (I hope) useful and interesting even if you have zero interest in the product or brand itself.
I take the challenge of making the sponsorships feel natural and as unintrusive as possible very seriously, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate how supportive you’ve been of sponsored content over the past many years. I never ever want a post to feel like “YOU MUST BUY THIS” and instead I hope it’s just a little “hey, there is this product or brand that exists and here’s how it fits into what I wanted to share with you anyway.
Okay! After all that, here’s a little peek at what my process for a sponsored post looks like.
Behind the Scenes of a Sponsored Post
Finding a sponsor
I’ll talk about this more in detail in the Q&A on Friday, but this might be a possible sponsor reaching out to me (sometimes this is a brand directly and sometimes it’s an agency that has that brand as a client – every brand handles it differently) or it might be me pitching an idea to a brand and negotiating a deal or it might be through a third-party agency that works with brands and then opens up sponsored posts to bloggers and influencers so you can apply to ones that look interesting to you.
Writing the post
I usually have a very clear idea in mind for what my sponsored post is going to be about before I actually sit down at the computer, so once I’m ready to write the post, I can usually crank it out in about 30-40 minutes. Then I go back and look at the requirements of the sponsored post to make sure I’ve included everything they’ve asked for, used the right links, and included the proper disclosures.
If it’s a post through an agency, there is usually a 4-5 page document with all the requirements, including things like not having children under a certain age shown with the product unless a parent is also in the picture or not making unsubstantiated health claims or not including trademarked items in your photos (a GAP sweatshirt, for example or a DVD case with a movie title clearly on it).
Taking the photos
I used to take all my own photos, but about three years ago, I started having a photographer take them for me instead.
I usually get together with my photographer about once every 2 weeks and we try to do 4-5 blog posts each time. I keep a running list of posts I need photos for and try to have all the products I need ready to go so it’s as quick and easy as possible. We can usually do all the photos in 45-60 minutes and then the photographer edits them and adds them to our Pixieset so I can download them either on my phone or desktop.
In Arizona, my photographer Christie Knight would come to my house and take the photos there. When we moved here and Heather Mildenstein started taking my photos, I went to her house because we were living in my in-laws basement which had almost zero natural light. When we moved into our house, I’ve continued to go to her house because it’s just so convenient and her house has crazy good natural light and our house isn’t totally put together yet.
For a sponsored post, I make sure to review the requirements beforehand (or. . . while I’m there) so I make sure I get all the photos I need (I’ve had to do a few of my own filler shots when I didn’t realize I needed a specific photo and I HATE that).
Once the photos are back to me, I’ll drop them in the post and it’s ready to go.
Reviewing the post
Not every brand requires this, but many want to see the whole thing and approve it before it goes live. They very rarely ask for any significant changes – it might be making sure you’re calling the product by its full trademarked name or fixing grammatical issues – and I actually like when they ask to review it because it forces me to get it all ready at least a week or two in advance so I’m not scrambling at the last moment, plus I’m not getting a bunch of emails after it goes live with them asking me to change a link or finish a sentence I somehow dropped out of in the middle.
Once the post is live, I’ll share it on social media (every contract is different – some require full social sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, while other contracts are for the blog post only and some are for blog and Instagram only) and then send all the links along to the brand.
Often, my assistant is the one who does the social posts (except for Instagram) and I’ll forward along the requirements to her with the hashtags and links and then she’ll send me those links so I can forward them on to the brand.
Sometimes the brands will ask for more metrics – how many views did it get or how many likes or comments did an IG post get – and sometimes they have their own systems for scraping all that data themselves (like adding an invisible pixel to a blog post that captures that kind of data).
Nearly every sponsored post I’ve ever done gets paid after the fact. It’s usually between 30-90 days after the post and sometimes I get paid with a check that comes in the mail, sometimes it’s direct deposit and often it’s through PayPal. I keep a log in my accounting software of all the sponsored posts I’ve done so I know which ones I’ve haven’t been paid for yet (you’d be surprised how many times they fall through the cracks and I’ve had to send multiple follow-ups to make sure I get paid).
I love doing sponsored posts and I’m delighted to share a little more about them with you – if you have other questions, please leave them in the comments and check back on Friday for alllllllll the answers you can imagine!